Negative Statements - Quynh Huong Center for Foreign Language Translation & Education

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2 Aug 2014

Negative Statements


Used to give a negative reply or statement: Just say yes or no. "Are you ready? No, I'm not." Sorry, the answer's no. "Another drink? No, thanks." It's about 70 - no, I'm wrong - 80 kilometres from Rome. No! Don't touch it! It's hot. "It was Tony. No, you're wrong. It was Ted." "It's not very good, is it? No, you're right, it isn't (= I agree)."
Used to express shock or surprise at what sb has said: "She's had an accident. Oh, no!" "I'm leaving! No!"
Not one; not any; not a: No student is to leave the room. There were no letters this morning. There's no bread left. No two days are the same.
Used, for example on notices, to say that sth is not allowed: No smoking!
There's doing sth: used to say that it is impossible to do sth: There's no telling what will happen next.
Used to express the opposite of what is mentioned: She's no fool (= she's intelligent). It was no easy matter (= it was difficult).
Used before adjectives and adverbs to mean "not": She's feeling no better this morning. Reply by no later than 21 July.
An answer that shows you do not agree with an idea, a statement, etc.; a person who says "no": Can't you give me a straight yes or no? When we took a vote there were nine yeses and 3 noes. I'll put you down as a no.
The noes [pl.] the total number of people voting "no" in a formal debate, for example in a parliament: The noes have it (= more people have voted against sth than for it).


None (of sb/sth) not one of a group of people or things, not any: None of these pens works/work. We have three sons but none of them lives/live nearby. We saw several houses but none we really liked. Tickets for Friday? Sorry we've got none left. He told me all the news but none of it was very exciting. "Is there any more milk? No, none at all." (Formal) Everybody liked him but none (nobody) more than I.
None but: (literary) only: None but he knew the truth.
None other than: used to emphasize who or what sb/sth is, when this is surprising: Her first customer was none other than Mrs Blair.
Have/ want none of sth: to refuse to accept sth: I offered to pay but he was having none of it.
None the less = nonetheless
  • Used with "the" and a comparative to mean "not at all": She told me what it meant at great length but I'm afraid I'm none the wiser. He seems none the worse for the experience.
  • Used with too and an adjective or adverb to mean "not at all" or "not very": She was looking none too pleased.
  • None of: When you use none of with an uncountable noun, the verb is in the singular: None of the work was done. When you use none of with a plural noun or pronoun, or a singular noun referring to a group of people or things, you can use either a singular or a plural verb. The singular form is used in a formal style in BrE: None of the trains is / are going to London. None of her family has / have been to college.


Used to form the negative of the verbs be, do and have and modal verbs like can or must and often reduced to not: She did not / didn't see him. It's not / it isn't raining. I can't see from here. He must not go. Don't you eat meat? It's cold, isn't it?
Used to give the following word or phrase a negative meaning, or to reply in the negative: He warned me not to be late. I was sorry not to have seen them. Not everybody agrees. "Who's next? Not me." "What did you do at school? Not a lot." It's not easy being a parent (= it's difficult).
Used after hope, expect, believe, etc. to give a negative reply: "Will she be there? I hope not." "Is it ready? I'm afraid not." (Formal) "Does he know? I believe not."
Or: used to show a negative possibility: I don't know if he's telling the truth or not.
Used to say that you do not want sth or will not allow sth: "Some more? Not for me, thanks." "Can I throw this out? Certainly not."
Not at all: used to politely accept thanks or to agree to sth: "Thanks a lot. Not at all." "Will it bother you if I smoke? Not at all."
Not mind: to not care or not be concerned about sth: "Would you like tea or coffee? I don't mind - either's fine." Don't mind her - she didn't mean what she said. Don't mind me (= don't let me disturb you) - I'll just sit here quietly.
Not mind doing sth: to be willing to do sth: I don't mind helping if you can't find anyone else.


Not at any time, not on any occasion: You never help me. He has never been abroad. "Would you vote for him? Never. I work for a company called Orion Technology." Never heard of them. Never in all my life have I seen such a horrible thing. Never ever tell anyone your password.
Used to emphasize a negative statement instead of "not": I never knew (= didn't know until now) you had a twin sister. (Especially BrE) Someone might find out, and that would never do (= that is not acceptable). He never so much as smiled (= did not smile even once). (Especially BrE) "I told my boss exactly what I thought of her. You never did!" (= Surely you didn't!) (BrE, slang) "You took my bike. No, I never." (Old-fashioned or humorous) Never fear (= Do not worry), everything will be all right.
On the never-never: (BrE, Informal) on hire purchase (= by making payments over a long period): to buy a new car on the never-never
Well, I never (did)! (Old-fashioned) used to express surprise or disapproval.
(Informal) used to show that you are very surprised about sth because you do not believe it is possible: "I got the job. Never!"
Never mind
  • Used to tell sb not to worry or be upset: Have you broken it? Never mind, we can buy another one.
  • Used to suggest that sth is not important: This isn't where I intended to take you - but never mind, it's just as good.
  • Used to emphasize that what is true about the first thing you have said is even more true about the second. SYN let alone: I never thought she'd win once, never mind twice!
Never mind (about) (doing) sth: used to tell sb they shouldn't think about sth or do sth because it is not as important as sth else, or because you will do it: Never mind your car - what about the damage to my fence? Never mind washing the dishes - I'll do them later.
Never you mind: used to tell sb not to ask about sth because you are not going to tell them: "Who told you about it? Never you mind!" Never you mind how I found out - it's true, isn't it?

Seldom - Rarely

Seldom: Not often. SYN rarely: He had seldom seen a child with so much talent. She seldom, if ever, goes to the theatre. They seldom watch television these days. (Literary) Seldom had he seen such beauty.
Rarely: not very often: She is rarely seen in public nowadays. We rarely agree on what to do. A rarely performed play. Rarely has a debate attracted so much media attention.


Only just, almost not: I can scarcely believe it. We scarcely ever meet. Scarcely a week goes by without some new scandal in the papers.
Used to say that sth happens immediately after sth else happens: He had scarcely put the phone down when the doorbell rang. Scarcely had the game started when it began to rain.
Used to suggest that sth is not at all reasonable or likely: It was scarcely an occasion for laughter. She could scarcely complain, could she?


Neither... nor.../ not ... nor ... and not: She seemed neither surprised nor worried. He wasn't there on Monday. Nor on Tuesday, for that matter. (Formal) Not a building nor a tree was left standing.
Used before a positive verb to agree with sth negative that has just been said: She doesn't like them and nor does Jeff. "I'm not going. Nor am I."


Not one nor the other of two things or people: Neither answer is correct. Neither of them has / have a car. They produced two reports, neither of which contained any useful suggestions. "Which do you like? Neither. I think they're both ugly."
Used to show that a negative statement is also true of sb/sth else: He didn't remember and neither did I. I hadn't been to New York before and neither had Jane. "I can't understand a word of it. Neither can I." (Informal) "I don't know. Me neither."
Neither ... nor ... used to show that a negative statement is true of two things: I neither knew nor cared what had happened to him. Their house is neither big nor small. Neither the TV nor the video actually work / works.


Used after negative phrases to state that a feeling or situation is similar to one already mentioned: Pete can't go and I can't either. (NAmE, Informal) "I don't like it. Me either." (= Neither do I).
Used to add extra Information to a statement: I know a good Italian restaurant. It's not far from here, either.
Either ... or ... used to show a choice of two things: Well, I think she's either Russian or Polish. I'm going to buy either a camera or a DVD player with the money. Either he could not come or he did not want to.
Neither / either
After neither and either you use a singular verb: Neither candidate was selected for the job.
Neither of and either of are followed by a plural noun or pronoun and a singular or plural verb. A plural verb is more Informal: Neither of my parents speaks / speak a foreign language.
When "...neither... nor..." or "...either... or..." are used with two singular nouns, the verb can be singular or plural. A plural verb is more Informal.

Under No Circumstances

In / under no circumstances: used to emphasize that sth should never happen or be allowed: Under no circumstances should you lend Paul any money. Don't open the door, in any circumstances.
In / under the circumstances: used before or after a statement to show that you have thought about the conditions that affect a situation before making a decision or a statement: Under the circumstances, it seemed better not to tell him about the accident. She did the job very well in the circumstances.


Any or every, anything or everything: Take whatever action is needed. Do whatever you like.
Used when you are saying that it does not matter what sb does or what happens, because the result will be the same: Whatever decision he made I would support it. You have our support, whatever you decide.
(Especially BrE) used in questions to express surprise or confusion: Whatever do you mean? Chocolate - flavoured carrots! Whatever next?
(Informal, ironic) used as a reply to tell sb that you do not care what happens or that you are not interested in what they are talking about: "You should try a herbal remedy. Yeah, whatever."
(Informal) used to say that you do not mind what you do, have, etc. and that anything is acceptable: "What would you like to do today? Whatever."


(Also whatsoever) no, nothing, none, etc.: not at all, not of any kind: They received no help whatever. "Is there any doubt about it? None whatsoever."
(Informal) used to say that it does not matter what sb does, or what happens, because the result will be the same: We told him we'd back him whatever.


Not having, experiencing or showing sth: They had gone two days without food. He found the place without difficulty. She spoke without much enthusiasm.
Not in the company of sb: Don't go without me.
Not using or taking sth: Can you see without your glasses? Don't go out without your coat.
Without (sb) doing sth not doing the action mentioned: He left without saying goodbye. The party was organized without her knowing anything about it. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. Without wanting to criticize, I think you could have done better. (= Used before you make a critical comment)
Not having or showing sth: Do you want a room with a bath or one without? If there's none left we'll have to do without. I'm sure we'll manage without.

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