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Wednesday
Aug152007

italian double negatives

Ciao guys. We're going to take a break from the irregular nouns for a while and tackle a new Italian grammar topic this week (and sorry I'm late by the way) - the double negatives.

In English we learn from a young age that double negatives are verboten - you know, "I don't see no one", or "I don't have no money." In Italian however this is not the case - double negatives are completely kosher. So let's see how to use them. First, some common negative expressions. You already know the big ones (no and non). Here are some more.

nessuno
no one, nobody, anyone, anybody

niente / nulla
nothing, anything

mai
never

né...né
neither...nor

nessun
any (agrees)

neanche, nemmeno, neppure (interchangeable - opposite of anche)
not even

Now let's see them in action.

Non parla nessuno. / Nessuno parla.
No one is speaking.

Non vedo nessuno.
I don't see anyone.

Non voglio niente.
I don't want anything.

Non mi piace niente. / Niente mi piace.
I don't like anything.

Lui non va mai al bar. / Lui mai va al bar.
He never goes to the coffee shop.

Non ho né soldi né amici.
I have neither money nor friends.

Non compro nessun libro oggi.
I'm not buying any books today.

Non ho ricevuto nessuna lettera. (notice agreement)
I didn't receive any letters.

Neanche tu (nemmeno tu, neppure tu) lo fai.
Not even you do it. / You don't do it either.

Carlo non dice mai niente a nessuno. (a quadruple negative!)
Carlo never says anything to anyone.

Notice nessuno can be either a subject or a direct object.

Notice as well that with certain expressions (e.g. nessuno, mai, niente) you can omit non. When used this way these expressions go before the verb. Otherwise they go after.

And I don't think I'm forgetting nothing so C4N! (Ciao for now!)

Reader Comments (1)

can you please explain when/how you use neanche, nemmeno, and neppure or can you use any of them in any situation?

Thanks
September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGuest

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