Hi! It’s konkaz (@konkazuk) here.
With this blog post, we are going to have a look at the basics of “negative sentences”.
It’s very important to be able to say “No” to what you don’t want to accept, isn’t it?
When it comes to negation, I’ve got this story which is about what happened in the very beginning of my London life; the time I could hardly speak or understand English.
I was reading a book whose title was something like… “Japanese people cannot say No”, and having been encouraged by the book, I successfully turned the engineers who had come all the way to fix our washing machine away at the door three days in a row by just saying “No!”.
It goes without saying that my flat mates gave me a very cold look.
The act of negating is very important! W
Well, that’s enough of my appalling story and let me take things seriously from here.
The aim of my blog post is to improve our English-speaking skill, so I encourage you to read example sentences aloud without fail even if you find them easy.
Anyway, let’s get started!
- Basic negative sentences with “not”
- Expressing negation without using “not”
- Negative sentences that begin with “It’s not”
- “too … to 〜” structure
Basic negative sentences with “not”
Since there are several ways to express negation, let’s just begin with some basic ones that are frequently used in our everyday life.
As I stated earlier, the theme of this blog site is to improve our speaking skill by applying “self-talking” method, hence most of the example sentences here will be starting with “I”
Placing don’t (do + not) before general verb
“don’t” is the most commonly used one, isn’t it?
Let’s just deal with example sentences straight away.
Read them with a strong feeling of turning things down! w
I don’t like it!
I don’t have it!
I don’t want it!
I don’t want to do that!
I don’t know about it!
When you pronounce “don’t”, it’s fine that the letter “t” goes silent but let it still have a space for the letter “t” just like having a vacant chair rather than cutting “t” off the word.
Or it can be just like “a staccato note” with music.
Some of those who are often experiencing stressful occasions where you can’t really say “no” to your seniors at work might have felt better after reading all these examples aloud. Let’s practice several times so that you will be able to say “no” in real life.
You can also apply don’t (do + not) when the subject of the sentence is “You” or “They”, but when the sentence starts with “He”, “She” and “It”, you use doesn’t (does + not)
Placing didn’t (did + not) before general verb
Let’s go through the same examples with the past form.
I didn’t like it!
I did’t have it!
I didn’t want it!
I didn’t want to do that!
I didn’t know about it!
I guess you have read them aloud with a slightly calmer vibe, because it’s about the past… or maybe not. It probably depends on its situation. w
By the way, you can apply didn’t (did + not) for any sentences with past tense irrespective of their subject.
Furthermore, when you turn things down categorically, the word “not” is emphasised and is used separately like “do not” or “did not”.
I do not like it!
I do not have it!
I did not want it!
I did not want to do that!
I am + not 〜
You can simply apply your situation to “ 〜 ” to make your sentence.
Although there are exceptions, “adjectives” or “nouns” are normally used.
And… shortened form “I’m” is often used instead of “I am”.
I’m not happy with (about) this.
I’m not hungry, yet.
I’m not good at playing tennis.
I’m not interested in what you are offering me.
I’m not completely disappointed with the result.
I’m not you!
I’m not a machine!
I’m not there, yet.
It actually does sound stronger when not is individually pronounced, doesn’t it?
You can also apply aren’t (are + not) when the subject of the sentence is “You” or “They”, and use isn’t (is + not) with “He”, “She” and “It”.
By the way, are you reading the sentences aloud?
Past form / I wasn’t (was + not) 〜
This time around, “not” is combined with “was” and they will become “wasn’t”.
I wasn’t happy with (about) that!
I wasn’t hungry, yet.
I wasn’t good at playing tennis.
I wasn’t interested in what you were offering me.
I wasn’t completely disappointed with the result.
With the past form, when the subject of the sentence is “You” or “They”, you apply weren’t (were + not) and with “He”, “She” and “It”, you use wasn’t (was + not)
By the way, the reason why the word “was” sounds more like “woz” when it is pronounced by native speaker is because when they pronounce the letter “w”, they pucker up their mouth much more than we do!
So, keeping this in mind might help you pronounce it better.
I can’t 〜 / I cannot 〜
I presume we use the sentences that begin with “I can’t 〜 / I cannot 〜” very often.
I’m sure we go like… “Gurrrrrr, I can’t open this lid!!!!” when we try to open the jar of “Gohan-desuyo”, don’t we? w
I can’t open this!
I can’t do this!
I can’t call her now!
I can’t fix it!
I can’t sleep!
I can’t wait!
When you go emotional, the sentence that comes out of your mouth tends to be shorter than usual, I reckon…
Generally, those sentences are followed by “(It’s) Because ~“ to give some reason for why you can’t do it.
If you think you can come up with any reasons for each example sentence, then please add them to it and read them aloud!
Also, when it comes to pronunciation, “can’t” is a good example to hear the difference between British Accent and American accent.
I have found an interesting article that comes with YouTube video about it, so if you would like to have a look, here is the link.
…And one more thing.
As for the difference between “can’t” and “cannot”, it is said that “can’t” is casually used while “cannot” is preferrable for formal writing.
Negative sentences with continuous form
am + not + present participle (〜ing)
I presume that a negative sentence with continuous form can be typically used when somebody asks you a question like “Are you 〜ing, now?” and you reply… “No, I’m not 〜ing.”.
So, the chances to apply this form for self-talking practice might be slim… but anyway, let’s have a look!
I’m not doing very well.
I’m not taking it seriously.
I’m not thinking about what he said at all.
I’m not listening to her.
I’m not looking after myself.
was + not + present participle (〜ing)
The past form can possibly be used often when you look back at your past with regrettable feeling?
I wasn’t doing very well.
I wasn’t taking it seriously.
I wasn’t thinking about what he had said at all.
I wasn’t listening to her. I wasn’t looking after myself.
When you express something that is certainly going to be happening in the near future, the form of “be + doing” is often used, so let’s try negative version “am + not + present participle (〜ing)” of it…
I’m not playing tonight’s game.
I’m not seeing her this evening, because something urgent has happened.
I’m not picking him up this afternoon, because he is popping in his friend’s house.
And… you can also use the same form to give someone a flat refusal for what is happening in the future.
I’m not doing it (no matter what you tell me)!
I’m not leaving this place, because this is my house!
I’m not sharing the information with you!
Negative sentences with present perfect form
A negative sentences with present perfect tense is expressed with the form of “have + not + past participle”.
“have + not” is normally shortened as “haven’t” in a sentence and the word “yet” is often added to it.
I haven’t emailed him back, yet.
I haven’t had my breakfast, yet.
I haven’t done it, yet.
I haven’t heard from my sister, yet.
I haven’t told my dad about the news.
With the present perfect form, when the subject of the sentence is “You” or “They”, you apply haven’t (have + not)and with “He”, “She” and “It”, you use hasn’t (has + not)
Why not create your own sentences and speak them aloud?
Negative sentences with future form
There are two types of form you can apply to express negation for what is happening in the future.
One is “will + not (won’t)”; expressed by using an auxiliary verb “will” and the other one can be formed by placing “not” before present participle in the shape of “be + going to 〜”.
Let’s begin with the form of “will + not (won’t)”.
Keep this in mind that “will” is basically used when you are certain about what is coming in the near future.
And it also sounds stronger and slightly more formal than “I’m not going to 〜”.
I won’t have time to enjoy this cake.
I won’t be back home till tomorrow morning.
I won’t quit my job.
I won’t remember what I have learnt today because there’re too much of terminologies.
I won’t tell you the secret.
Since “will” is an auxiliary verb, “won’t” can be applied to the sentences with any subjects.
And as for the form of “I’m not going to 〜”, it is used when you mention something that has been planned previously.
I’m not going to help her unless she changes her attitude.
I’m not going to play outside even if the weather is fine.
I’m not going to eat this, because there are some tomatoes in it.
I’m not going to join the army.
I’m not going to see her.
Expressing negation without using “not”
There are several ways to express negation without using “not”, and some basic ones were selected and have been featured here.
Negative sentences with “no”
Since “no” is placed before noun, the sentence that includes “no” is created by using the verb “have” that expresses possession or with the form of “There is (are) 〜”.
Let’s have a look at the sentences with “have”…
I have no clue (idea)!
I haveno regrets.
I have no siblings.
…and with the past tense.
I had no money.
I had no time for you to talk about that matter.
Now, let’s try with the form of “There is (are) 〜”
There is no such a thing!
There is no way I can get out of here safely.
There are no bus stops on this side of the road.
There was no ketchup in the fridge.
There were no cashpoints in this shopping mall.
Negative sentences with “never”
“Never” is applied to express absolute negation meaning “not in any circumstances at all”.
So, let’s read these example sentences aloud with a strong sense of denial.
I never knew that.
Never talk to strangers in this town！
I will never see her again.
I have never been to Africa.
Never say never!
nothing / no one・nobody / nowhere
“Nothing” means “not a single thing” or “not anything”, so the sentences with “nothing” are created by using the verb “have” that expresses possession or with the form of “There is (are) 〜” just like how we did with “no” earlier.
I have nothing for you to give.
There is nothing for you to give.
I have nothing to lose.
There is nothing to lose.
The boy had nothing to wear.
There was nothing for the boy to wear.
“no one” and “nobody” are applied to “people” with the same manner.
I had no one to talk to.
There was no one I could talk to.
I have nobody to play with tomorrow.
There is nobody I can play with tomorrow.
“no one” is slightly more formal than “nobody”, therefore it is often used to write some documents such as dissertation and essay.
…and “nowhere” is used for places.
I have nowhere to stay tonight.
There is nowhere I can stay tonight.
“nothing” is often placed at the beginning of the sentence with a passive form.
Nothing is permanent
Nothing was said.
Nothing was delivered.
Nothing can be achieved if you don’t act right now.
“none” is often followed by a preposition “of” + collective noun, and its meaning is not even one of the group (often more than 3) of people or things.
“none” can be treated either as “singular” or as “plural”, but the latter is often used with spoken language.
When uncountable nouns or singular pronouns come after preposition “of”, it is treated as “singular”.
None of them are mine.
None of these mushrooms are poisonous.
None of these paintings are original.
None of this has happened.
“neither” is applied when you want to say two things that are linked are each untrue.
In fact, it is absolutely fine to apply the word “neither” when more than two things are mentioned, however it is popularly used when two things are referred to.
“neither” can be a slightly tricky vocabulary, so let’s slow down a bit here.
(And don’t forget to read example sentences aloud! 💖)
The word “neither” modifies singular nouns, therefore singular form of the verb is used in the sentence.
Neither guitar was broken.
Neither towel is dry.
When two things are mentioned, it is tempting to use the verb with plural form, but it actually is wrong.
Then how about these sentences? (Well, the answer is included in the sentences, though. w)
Neither of them is currently available.
Neither of us cares about throwing the rubbish away.
Neither of us was happy about the new place.
You might get confused because you see preposition “of” is followed by plural forms “them” and “us”, however, if you think like… the word “neither” is modifying each of “them” or “us”, you can treat them as singular ones, hence it makes sense that singular forms of the verb are being applied here.
However, in reality, usage of plural form of the verb has penetrated society as a spoken language.
By the way, if there are more than 3 people within “them” or “us”, the word “none” is generally applied in the sentence.
A common mistake that is often made by beginning learners of English
When you agree with someone, it often goes like…
A: ”I love piano jazz music.”
B: “Really? Me, too!”
But when you disagree with someone…
A: ”I don’t like smokers, to be honest.”
B: “Me too!”
If you translate what has been said by person B here into Japanese, nothing seems to be wrong, but it is actually wrong in English.
When you agree to someone’s negative remark, “Me neither!” is the correct answer.
If the remark of person A is “I hate smokers, to be honest.”, as you can see that there is no negative form included within a sentence, hence you can use the phrase “Me too!”.
By the way, the phrase “Me neither!” is used not just for replying to the sentences of “liking/disliking”, but you use it whenever you agree to someone’s remark with negative form.
Let’s read a few more sentences aloud so that you get used to the pattern of it.
A: I didn’t understand what she was saying.
B: Me neither!
A: I didn’t know that he was an Italian.
B: Me neither!
A: I don’t think that picnic will be happening with this weather.
B: Me neither!
A: I don’t care about the colour of it.
B: Me neither!
A: I didn’t know that it was your birthday !
B: Me neither!(w)
How do you pronounce “neither”?
When it comes to the pronunciation of “neither”, I guess you realised the fact at some point of your listening process that there are two ways of pronouncing it, and you might be wondering which one of the two to choose…?
To be honest, you can simply pick whichever one is easy for you to pronounce, however…
🇬🇧 British accent [naɪ.ðər]
🇺🇸 American accent [niː.ðər]
As you can see, the difference derives from the accent of these two countries, so if you are particularly aiming at achieving one of these, then you probably better stick to the one！
Negative sentences that begin with “It’s not”
Starting negative sentences with “It’s not” is very common, so let’s master it here.
Even though the example sentences here are pieces of cake for you, please read them aloud so that they will come out of your mouth automatically.
“It’s not 〜 for …”
It’s not good for me.
It’s not enoughfor Steve.
You can use the form of “It’s not 〜” for the sentences with past tense, however “It wasn’t 〜” is preferable so that the difference between present and past can be seen.
It wasn’t acceptable for them.
It wasn’t attractive for women.
You can also add “to + verb” in order to create sentences more specific…
It’s not difficult for me to use chopsticks.
It’s not really easy for Jade to resist these sweets.
It wasn’t possible for him to open the lid.
It wasn’t loud enough for them to hear.
nouns are also applied instead of adjectives…
It’s not a problem for me.
It wasn’t a good timing for the cat to cross the road.
The position of “for person(s)/thing(s)” and “to+verb” can be swapped sometimes.
(It depends on the “flow” of the sentences.)
It’s not difficult to understand for him.
It’s not a straightforward issue to solve for the landlord.
It wasn’t a practical way to carry out for the team.
“too … to 〜” structure
“too … to 〜” is a structure that is popularly used in our daily life to form negative sentences.
As you have heard the phrase “too much!”, the nuance of negation within the structure is in the word “too”.
It’s too cold!
This is too tight!
That is too small!
and then you add “to+verb” to complete the structure.
👉 It’s too cold to hold!
👉 This is too tight to take out!
👉 That’s too small to wear!
“for person(s)/thing(s)” can be placed before “to+verb” if necessary.
Anyway, read them out many times so that the structure will come out of your mouth naturally.
I’m too tired to walk.
I’m too scared to move.
She was too worried to sleep.
It was too complicated for his level to solve.
It’s just too dark to see.
It was too sudden for me to react.
The ball was too fast to catch.
The girl was too young to understand the meaning of it.
I was too shy to sing in front of everyone.
Anyway, try to create your own sentences with whatever adjectives that might come up in your mind, and speak them aloud!
Anyway, thanks for reading all the way through despite its volume.
“Otsukare sama deshita!”