What are the different types of negation in English?


Negation means that you add something into a sentence that negates, or reverses, the meaning of that sentence. In English, there are two main ways that you can do this. The first is to add “not” to the verb, and the second is to add “no” to the noun. The first kind of negation is adding “n’t” or “not” to a word in the sentence, like these examples:

  • The movie was not good.


The addition of the word not (or, alternatively, changing was not to wasn’t) means that you reverse the meaning of the rest of the sentence. The above means that, in fact, the movie was terrible.

The second kind of negation is used when we use a word that means something opposite. For example, if you have negative words like never, neither, nobody, no, none, nor, nothing and nowhere. If you use these words in a sentence, you know that the meaning of the sentence is also reversed. For example:

  • There are no more drinks in the fridge. 

This means that the fridge is empty of drinks.


For any given sentence, that means that there are generally two ways that you can negate it, or say the opposite. If I say that everyone wants to try the new ice cream shop, someone else can contradict me by saying:

  • Everyone does not want to try the new ice cream shop.
  • No one wants to try the new ice cream shop.


The first example uses the not negation, and the second example uses the negative word negation.

In more colloquial speaking, you can add a phrase or exclamation that negates what you will say either before or after the sentence. These expressions include: No way, like hell, the hell, yeah right, my eye, bullcookies, and nonsense. Refer to the following examples:

  • No way Bobby will actually go through with the challenge.
  • You can recite the names of all the presidents in 30 seconds? Yeah right!


In some of these cases, especially yeah right, the spoken tone of the expression is very important. For that phrase, for example, you must sound more sarcastic and disbelieving, because your meaning is actually the opposite of what the words mean. If you say it with too straight a face, others will be very confused as to what your true thoughts are.

Adverbs Of Frequency

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