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Hi all, have you guys found an interesting English expression-"I didn't see nothing!"? was it wrong or was it English logic? I thought it supposed to be "I didn't see anythig!". Can any English native speaker tell me why is that? Thanks!
"I didn't see anything" is the correct way to say it. In some parts of the US "I didn't ___ nothing" is slang for "I didn't ___ anything", but it isn't correct in standard English. You should also say "I didn't ___ anything".
Logically, "I didn't see nothing" means "I saw something" if you interpret it literally, but it's hard to imagine a situation where you'd say it like that.
Jmat is right. The only language I know where double negations are correct is Spanish. You can use a double negation correctly though. I think it has a special meaning. I think this should be okay, for example:
It is not that you are not attractive.
The sentence could be used, when you say to someone you do not want to have a relationship with him. You are saying here that the reason is NOT that he is ugly (NOT attactive).
Do you want to be my girl friend.
Just no, please I do not want to.
Don't you like me? I am ugly?
No, it is not that you are not attactive.
I just think our personlities do not match.
Something like that.
I noticed this sentence in an episode of English drama named Downton Abbey. I was thinking maybe it is a slang?
For what I know, it is very common slang. So everybody will understand you. Nevertheless, it is slang, and if you write it in an English essay your teacher will flag it down. I mean, your English teacher will mark it as an error.
Why? It is because in the case of Americans who are the specific "Native Speakers" that I can refer to, children do not learn English by studying grammar. English is learned by speech patters and common phrases found in Songs and Nursery Rhymes. [See my Notebook Entries for examples.]
There are many speech patterns and idiomatic expressions which have been adopted as
colloquialisms and "Slang" which are not demonstrative of the Rules of Grammar.
This is why I caution foreign students against the study of "Slang" as a serious endeavour.
You can adopt the "Slang" expression; "I did not see nothing!" if you want to fit in amongst the uneducated; but remember, that if you intend to write for college essays, language tests, or business communications, you will embarrass yourself if you have adopted the practice of using Slang expressions.
Sometimes, many Americans, including myself, employ slang. I do it when I want to be "cute" and imitate people who simply do not know how to speak proper English. One of the common rural expressions that I can use is this one; "It don't make no nevermind to me!" It is a terrible construction grammatically, but I learned this from my ethnic group in my childhood.
Another example of Americans using an idiom that is a terrible expression grammatically, is when you hear them say, "Yorta" as in; "Yorta do this." "Yorta do that." It is a distortion of the words
"You ought to."
(hope that helps you)
By the way, is the second comment correct? I am almost certain it is good but maybe a native speaker can just confirm it.
Slang is important in the United States. It tells a lot about where a person is from, the memories they try to keep alive, the company they keep and the people they are NOT trying to impress. There are some Americans who even prefer to use the word nothing because of their fondness for Sgt. Schultz in the old television show, Hogans Heros. The world takes all kinds.
"memories they try to keep alive", I think the same way,when you use slang,even if it´s no more in use,you want to keep alive your memories of that time.
I don´t care if very young people find this olfashioned...
Quadruple negative (that's not slang!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAjFgVM0y5o