Double Negatives And Double Possessives

Never use a negative verb and a negative qualifier (e.g. nothing, hardly, scarcely, nobody etc.) together.

  • Incorrect: I haven’t nothing to prove.
  • Correct: I have nothing to prove. OR I haven’t got anything to prove.
  • Incorrect: Alice can’t hardly wait until her birthday.
  • Correct: Alice can hardly wait for the holidays. OR Alice can’t wait for the holidays.
  • Incorrect: There wasn’t nobody at the door. Correct: There was nobody at the door. OR There wasn’t anybody at the door.

Note that nobody means the same as not anybody. In the same way, nothing means the same as not anything.

Double possessives

The double possessive (of + possessive pronoun) is used when we wish to emphasize the person who possesses rather than the thing which he/she possesses.

Compare:

  • He is my friend. (The emphasis is on friend.)
  • He is a friend of mine. (The emphasis is on mine not friend.)

Other examples are given below.

  • Is he not a friend of yours?
  • Once I lent him a book of mine and never got it back.

Note that when used with this, that, these and those, the double possessive often expresses ideas such as slight contempt, ridicule or indignation.

  • This cat of yours drank up all the milk.
  • These shoes of mine pinch me terribly.
  • That boy of yours has broken my window again.
  • Those dirty fingers of yours have stained the walls.
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Manjusha Nambiar

I am the founder and editor of http://www.perfectyourenglish.com, http://www.ielts-practice.org, and http://ncertguides.com

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