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Expressing "double negation"

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There are two main methods for double negation. The simpler method is to use a double negative with modal verbs like 会 or 能. The more complicated method is to negate both the subject and the predicate.

Negation Before a Negative Word

Structure

This pattern just uses 不是:

Subj. + 不是 + 不 / 没 + Predicate

This pattern uses modal verbs like 会, 能, or 可能:

Subj. + 不 + 会 / 能 / 可能 + 不 / 没 + Predicate

The predicate part of the pattern can be a verb or an adjective.

Examples

  • 来 的 。 huì lái de.There is no way he's not coming.
  • 可能 知道 。 kěnéng zhīdào.There is no way she doesn't know about this.
  • 她 太 害羞 了 ,不是 礼貌 。Tā tài hàixiū le, bù shì lǐmào.She's too shy; It's not that she's not polite.
  • 不是 没有 钱 ,是 不 想 乱 花 钱 。bù shì méiyǒu qián, shì bù xiǎng luàn huā qián.It's not that he doesn't have money; it's just he doesn't want to spend it recklessly.
  • 我 知道 你 想 减肥 ,但是 吃 早饭 。Wǒ zhīdào nǐ xiǎng jiǎnféi, dànshì néng chī zǎofàn.I know you want to lose weight, but you can't not eat breakfast.

Negation before a Singular Noun

This structure is used for saying things like "not a single one." often with topic comments. 没有一个人 ("not a single person") is equivalent to 没有谁 ("not anyone").

Structure

(Topic +) 没有 + [Singular Noun] + 不 / 没 + Predicate + 的

Examples

  • 没有 一 个 人 讨厌 他 Méiyǒu yī gè rén tǎoyàn tā de.There is not one person who doesn't dislike him.
  • 这些 菜 没有 一 个 Zhèxiē cài méiyǒu yī gè de.There is no single one that is not spicy among these dishes.
  • 我们 公司 的 员工 没有 一 个 会 说 英语 Wǒmen gōngsī de yuángōng méiyǒu yī gè huì shuō Yīngyǔ de.Our company doesn't have a single employee who can't speak English.
  • 他 的 女朋友 没有 一 个 漂亮 Tā de nǚpéngyou méiyǒu yī gè piàoliang de.None of his girlfriends were not beautiful.
  • 我们 学校 的 学生 没有 一 个 参加 高考 Wǒmen xuéxiào de xuéshēng méiyǒu yī gè méi cānjiā gāokǎo de.There wasn't a single student who didn't take the college entrance exam in our school.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books