Monday, March 10, 2014

Grammar Fun: The Elusive Double Positive

Yesterday George Takei shared a cute anecdote about the MIT professor who was explaining about double negatives. In most languages, such as Spanish, a double negative simply makes things more negative: No tengo nada que decir. (Literally, I don't have nothing to say.) In English, however, a double negative makes a positive. In Standard English they're not allowed. "Nobody has no idea" would become "Nobody has any idea."

The professor tried to argue that there was no language in which a double positive meant a negative.

From the back of the room, a student who was at least paying attention yelled out, "Yeah, right."

Moral: Be careful when making grammatical proclamations. There is almost always an exception somehow!

For more fun with D.R. Ransdell's writing, please visit:

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