Sentence Fluency: Avoid Double Negatives

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12624

You don't not want to miss this lesson! You can't never guess how much you'll learn! What am I trying to say? Like a battery can't have two negatives, neither can a sentence if you want to make sense!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Would you use this many “no"s in a sentence? No! How many are enough?

You would not if you wanted your teacher to give you a good grade on your writing assignment!

You want to avoid using a double negative. A double negative happens when you use two words in the same sentence that are both negative. For example, have you ever said, “I can’t see nothing”? The word “can’t” is a contraction with the word "not," and the word "nothing" is also negative. The correct way to write this sentence is, “I can’t see anything.”

Before moving on, if you need to see any of the previous Sentence Fluency lessons, go to Related Lessons in the right-hand sidebar.

These are some common negative words: "no," "not," "none," "never," "nobody," "nothing," "hardly," "barely," "scarcely." Contractions with the word "not" are also negative words, such as "isn’t," "haven’t," "couldn’t," "can’t," and "won’t."

Some words you can use in place of the negative words are "any," "anything," "someone," "ever."

Take out a piece of paper and pencil. As you watch Everyday Grammar: Double Negatives, from VOA Learning English, write down a couple example sentences using double negatives, then write the sentences the correct way:


  • Do you understand that you cannot use two negative words in one sentence?

Avoiding the use of double negatives in your sentences is another way to improve sentence fluency. It makes your writing easier to read and understand.

Continue to the Got It? section to practice correcting double negatives in sentences.

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