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         List of guides     

New guides will be added to the list as they become available

Basic Written English
by Bill Ball, Rhea Williams & Tony Scott
Basic Written English (Part 2)
Basic Written English (Part 3)

Business (formal) Writing
by Sidney Callis
Business (formal) Writing Part 2
Business (formal) Writing Part 3
Business (formal) Writing Part 4

Punctuation Guide
by Dr Bernard Lamb

The Double Negative
by Bill Ball and Tony Scott

Grammatical Attraction
by Bill Ball

The Hyphen Puzzle
by Bill Ball
The Hyphen Puzzle Part 2

....'Get off of my cloud'
by Douglas Hitchman

Verbless Sentences
by Bill Ball

My Husband And I
by Ted Bell

Substitute and Replace
by Ted Bell

Causative theme in English
by David Wulstan

Balancing correlative conjunctions 
by Bill Ball

Clause analysis
By Bill Ball

       The QES Helpful Guides To English         

                                       The Double Negative                               

by Bill Ball & Tony Scott

The use of the double negative for emphasis is, as we say, as old as the hills; and it was used in this way centuries ago much more frequently than it is today. But what is a double negative and why is it now regarded as an error? The easiest way to answer these questions is to give a few simple examples and then say why they are wrong.

      1. I don't want no lessons from you.
      2. I shouldn't be surprised if it didn't rain.
      3. He didn't say nothing.

In sentence 1. 'don't and 'no' are both negatives;
in sentence 2. 'shouldn't' and 'didn't' are both negatives;
in sentence 3. 'didn't' and 'nothing' are both negatives.

In English, as in mathematics, we now regard two negatives as making a positive, with the result that each of the sentences quoted has the opposite meaning to the one intended:

      'I want lessons from you'.
      'I should be surprised if it rained'.
      'He said something'. 

It should be noted that in the following sentence (and in many sentences like it) the double negatives, 'not' and 'unnoticed', are perfectly acceptable because they make a positive that is intended.

I do not want to go unnoticed. (I want to be noticed.)