1. A construction that employs two negatives, especially to express a single negation.
2. Double or multiple negatives are acceptably used when they combine to form an affirmative:
He cannot just do nothing (that is, “he must do something”).
3. An affirmative meaning is also assigned when not is used together with an adjective or adverb that begins with a negative prefix such as in- or un-, as in a not infrequent visitor, a not unwisely chosen plan. In these expressionsthe double negative conveys a weaker affirmative than would be conveyed by the positive adjective or adverb by itself; for example, a not infrequent visitor may visit less frequently than a frequent visitor. · A double (or more accurately, multiple) negative is considered unacceptable when it is used to convey or reinforce a negative meaning, as in He didn't say nothing (meaning in Standard English “he said nothing” or “he didn't say anything”). Such constructions—common usage in many other languages—were once wholly acceptable in English as well, so that Chaucer could say of the Friar, “Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous” ; and Shakespeare could allow Viola to say of her heart, “Nor never none/Shall mistress of it be, save I alone.” But in the 18th century the view was advanced that, as one grammarian put it, “two Negatives in English destroy one another, or are equivalent to an Affirmative”; and today this view is accepted as dogma by all but those few scholars who are aware of just how pliable such logic can be. · The restriction on multiple negatives extends to the combination of negatives with adverbs such as hardly and scarcely; therefore it is regarded as incorrect to say I couldn't hardly do it or It scarcely needs no oil. These adverbs are “negatives” not in the sense that they express logical negation but rather in the sense that they derive their meaning by reference to the negative case; thus, hardly means “almost not at all.” Multiple negatives continue to be widely used in a number of nonstandard varieties of English and are quite often used by speakers of all backgrounds and educational levels when they want to strike a colloquial or popular note, as in We don't need no badges or You don't go nowhere 'til you clean up that room! But constructions like these are considered marks of ignorance or illiteracy when they appear in formal speech or in writing. · The canonical stricture on the use of double negatives to convey emphasis is suspended when the second negative appears in a separate clause, as in I will not surrender, not today, not ever or He does not seek money, no more than he seeks fame. Commas must be used to separate the negative phrases in these examples. The sentence He does not seek money no more than he seeks fame is unacceptable, whereas the equivalent sentence with any requires no comma: He does not seek money any more than he seeks fame. See Usage Note at hardly, scarcely
当not 与一个带有否定前缀的形容词或副词，例如 in- 或 un- 连用时，也表示肯定意义， 如常客，明智选择的计划。 在这些表达法中，双重否定表达的肯定含义要弱于肯定性形容词或副词本身表达的肯定含义，例如a not infrequent visitor 要比 a frequent visitor 来访的次数少。 双重（或者更确切地说，多重）否定用来表达或加强否定语气时被认为是不可接受的，如在He didn't say nothing （在标准英语中意思是“他什么也没说”或“他没说什么”）。 这种广泛用于许多其他语言的用法也被英语完全接受。因此乔叟能说佛莱尔“Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous” ； 莎士比亚可以让维阿拉述其心怀“Nor never none/Shall mistress of it be, save I alone” 。 但在18世纪这种观点得以发展，正如一个语法学家所说：“英语中两个否定词互相破坏，或者等同于一个肯定语”。 今天除了少数学者清楚这一逻辑适应范围，这一观点被人们当成了一个教条。多重否定的限制可以延及否定词与某些副词，如hardly 及 scarecely 等的结合上； 所以说I couldn't hardly do it 或 It scarcely needs no oil 被认为是不正确的。 这些副词所表示的“否定”的含义，不仅是指逻辑上的否定，也指同否定情况有关而派生出的含义；因此hardly 意思是“根本不”。 多重否定在一些非标准英语变本中继续广泛使用，各种背景和教育层次的人为了显示口语体的或流行的特点也常用多重否定，如We don't need no badges 或 You don't go nowhere 'til you clean up that room！ 可是这种结构若出现在正式说话或文章中就被认为是无知或文盲的标志。这种公认的对双重否定表示强调意义的限制可以在第二个否定词出现在隔开的分句中的情况下解除，如I will not surrender, not today, not ever 或者 He does not seek money, no more than he seeks fame 。 在这些例子中，必须有逗号把否定短语隔开。He does not seek money no more than he seeks fame 一句是不能接受的句子， 而带有any 的等句就不需要逗号： He does not seek money any more than he seeks fame 参见 hardly， scarcely