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Jul 23 2012   1:12PM GMT

Don’t use no double negatives incorrectly; don’t never use no triple negatives incorrectly

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Can you show me some of the case studies on results-only work environments (ROWE)? You haven’t sold me yet but I’m ___________.
a. interested
b. not uninterested

Answer: Either.

Explanation:
You know what they say: Don’t use no double negatives — and don’t never use no triple negatives!

OK — those examples are decidedly out of place in any kind of formal writing, and most speech. However, there is a place for double negatives. In this case, “not uninterested” expresses a little more equivocation than “interested.” The boss who’s interested is well on the way to being sold; the one who’s not uninterested is going to take some more convincing.

Jim Loy examines some uses for double, triple and quadruple negatives.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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