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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.
I noticed this sentence in an episode of English drama named Downton Abbey. I was thinking maybe it is a slang?
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)
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
Thank you for all your answers. They are very helpful!
Its slang, and actually said very commonly including among well educated people in informal settings... I and my friends use it when joking about something they did indeed see "pretending" they havent (when all parties involved know its a joke).I disagree with people who think slang isn't "proper" language. Yes you dont want to write professional emails or conduct business meetings with it, just like you dont want to curse or talk about certain subjects in polite company, but if you want to fit in with locals, colloquialisms slang and set phrases, all of which could be quite wrong when it comes to "Propah Ehnglish" (<<Proper English>> with me making fun of linguist elitists) are very important.Its all about context and setting. There are also many things I learned as proper grammer in school that simply arent followed in every day speaking including double negatives and especially ending sentences with prepositions
"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."----Charlescuy
(1) Slang may "tell" you those things Charlescuy, but slang does not tell any foreign student of English those things. Foreign Students of English cannot distinguish between the following on the basis of Slang.
(A) a LOT about where any person is from. Slang informs no foreign student about the origins of any person. (Only a Native Speaker of the language can determine that, if it is at all possible. Also, "slang" is not geographically restricted.
(B) Slang does not inform any foreign student concerning MEMORIES. Slang demonstrates no Memories whatsoever.
(C) Slang does not inform any foreign student about "the company" or relationships that other persons maintain.
It is self-evident that you are fabricating a lot of data to impress upon foreign students of English the idea that they need your assistance to learn Slang.
That is not fair to foreign students of English, and unless you have objective data to suppport your published conclusions on the subject, your conclusions are dismissible as false statements.
Respectfully, Bruce R. Bain