Negation and Pseudo-negative expressions

This page is still in development, but does have some information ready, so I put it out there. Don't worry: More's on the way.


Negation means to render something negative. In English, we have several negative expressions. Some of these are as follows:

We use these expression to negate what has been said. See these examples:

I am not going to the store.
We know no one who likes that food!
She has absolutely nothing to wear.

Certain negative words can function as the subject of the sentence:

No one came to the party.
Nothing has happened to change my mind.

In English, you may not use a double-negative.

In French, negatives work in some ways the same, and in some ways, differently. Let's see:

Negatives are formed using "ne" and the appropriate negative expression. The "ne" normally precedes the verb with the companion negative term following the verb in simple verb constructions.

The most common negative expression is ne...pas, meaning not:

When the verb begins with a vowel sound, ne contracts to n':

Important negative expressions in French

Not = ne...pas

Never = ne...jamais No one = ne...personne

Nothing = ne...rien

None/not any = ne...aucun(e)

Nowhere = ne...nulle part

Neither...nor =

Pseudo-negative expressions


Certain expressions behave as though they are negative, but actually do not have negative meanings:

In certain circumstances, negative expressions are using as a combined unit.

Last updated: February 13, 2001 at 11:04 p.m. EST