POLL: Is don't doubt a double negative?

Discussion in 'Community' started by NusuniAdmin, Aug 16, 2004.

  1. NusuniAdmin macrumors 6502a


    Nov 19, 2003
    Do you think don't doubt is a double negative. We are having problems deciding in the phil to do keynote thread.

    I vote for double negative.
  2. cujo91999 macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2004

    i'd better say my piece...

    ...I do not doubt...

    in other words...

    I do not regard as unlikely...

    if i happen to "not regard something as unlikely" that does not automatically imply that i regard it as likely. presumably (breaking down the numbers) i would deem something unlikely if it had less than a 50% chance of occuring and likely if it were greater than 50%. so what happens if it is exactly 50%?

    see my point here? i believe that by "not regarding it as unlikely" it has, in fact, two possibilities: likely and 'could go either way'
  3. Chaszmyr macrumors 601


    Aug 9, 2002
    It is loosely a double negative. The usage of it is double negative, becuase if you say "I do not doubt..." it's the same as saying "I believe". It's not really a true double negative thuogh, because doubt is a verb.
  4. kgarner macrumors 68000


    Jan 28, 2004
  5. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    it is a double negative
    i explain it a little bit more here

    again it is a double negative because doubt is a word that implies negation

    cujo91999, grammatically speaking and in all technicality "I do not regard as unlikely..." IS a double negative, because the not and prefix "un" negate each other causing the sentence to really be "I do regard as likely"

    the problem is that in spoken word it would be as you say above, the same with "don't doubt" but written word has much stronger rules simply because it is has to be much more formatted so people understand it across the board. The way in which you read something is totally different from the way in which you hear it.
  6. cujo91999 macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2004
    i refuse to believe the evil eye!


    i don't not refuse to believe the evil eye!
  7. iLikeMyiMac macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2004
    St. Louis
    I vote for not a double negative.
    In Word a sentence that I typed with don't doubt passed the spell check where as a sentence that I knew to be a double negative did not pass.
  8. King Cobra macrumors 603

    Mar 2, 2002
    Vote no.

    Double negatives involve opposing an opposition for any circumstance. Doubts relate to opposition of only circumstances relating to confidence, or certainty. (There are other existing circumstances, such as knowing something won't happen, or prohibitions, but those aren't relevant to doubts.) We can take a look at these circumstances in a more programming-like structure as so:

    Opposition to an opposition for any circumstance (double negative)
    Confidence, certainty, knowing, prohibition​
    Opposition to an opposition for only doubts:
    Confidence, certainty, null, null​

    As you can tell, the domain of all circumstances related to doubts is restricted to the first 2 items, which means it doesn't cover as many circumstances as a double negative. So not doubting isn't a double negative.
  9. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    "I don't doubt" doesn't necessarily equal "I believe"
    Let's say:
    I believe = consider to be more than 66% likely
    I doubt = consider to be less than 33% likely
    Don't doubt = consider to be more than 33% likely
  10. autrefois macrumors 65816


    Oct 22, 2003
    Somewhere in the USA
    "Don't doubt" is not a double negative.

    As someone else pointed out, a verb cannot be negative in and of itself. Adjectives (un-kind, in-frequent, etc.) and adverbs (not, n-ever, no-where, etc.) can have negative elements: more than one of these negative elements cannot appear in a sentence, at least according to traditional grammar.

    If everything that had a negative meaning was prohibited from being negated, it'd be pretty hard to put a negation on anything.

    "I'm not sad."

    Nope, sorry, sad is negative. You have to say, "I'm happy."

    "It's not hard."

    No way. You have to say, "It's easy."

    "The number 0 is not a negative."

    Here we have a problem. You can't say "The number 0 is positive," because it's not. So I guess you just have to drop the sentence all together.

    "I don't hate you!"

    Not allowed. You have to say, "I love you!"

    Anyone can see the difference between "I don't hate you!" and "I love you!" So whatever we call "I don't hate you!" it should be considered part of the language. In my opinion there's no reason not to use "don't doubt."

    Wait: "no reason not to"...Aaaah!! :D
  11. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    Well if Word says so, I don't doubt it's true... :D
  12. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    Rather than argue, I'll post a quote.

  13. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    "Don't doubt" is the verbal version of a limp handshake. You can't commit to a robust "I believe!" or an equally strong "No chance!", so you throw out a "I don't doubt it." to say "I have no strong convictions either way."

    As to being a double negative, however, I say "No chance!"
  14. iMeowbot macrumors G3


    Aug 30, 2003
    I'll say no. A lack of doubt doesn't imply belief, it can simply mean there is too little information to form an opinion.
  15. Hemingray macrumors 68030


    Jan 9, 2002
    Ha ha haaa!
    Um... why on earth would anyone think "don't doubt" is a double negative? Does that mean you think "don't like" is a double negative too? Why not just say "dislike"? It's a matter of preference.

    An example of a TRUE double negative (+slang bonus!) is "ain't never".
  16. pseudobrit macrumors 68040


    Jul 23, 2002
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    To doubt is an action. It doesn't matter if doubting is a negative type of action or not; it is gramtically a positive action. Hatred is a negative thing. You can not hate someone just as you can not doubt them or not kill them.

    A double negative only occurs in cases where more than one grammatically negative word (no, none, neither, not, can't, etc.) is used.
  17. Sneeper macrumors regular


    Aug 5, 2004
    San Francisco
    Maybe it is, maybe it ain't, but there ain't nothing wrong with no double negatives.
  18. iLikeMyiMac macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2004
    St. Louis
    Hey, don't doubt the the spelling and grammar check. It has saved me a lot of time looking up words when I'm typing a paper.
  19. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Jan 30, 2004
    having a drink at Milliways
    I wouldn't unnecessarily deny that I don't doubt is undoubtely not a double negative
  20. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    And me as well. I don't know what I woud do withoug Word's spellchicking.
  21. King Cobra macrumors 603

    Mar 2, 2002
    I do: Misspell the words "would" and "without." :D

    EDIT: And spellchecking. :D

    Hell, most of my applications don't have spell check. Hardly a big deal for me.
  22. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Jan 30, 2004
    having a drink at Milliways
    I don't doubt emw left those misspellings to make a point ;)
  23. Squire macrumors 68000


    Jan 8, 2003
    We can break down the question to make it simpler: Is doubt a negative? No. Therefore...

    Don't doubt is not a double-negative. First of all, the word doubt is not a negative because it does not indicate negation. Just because you can substitute a negative phrase for it doesn't mean it is a negative.

    Example #1:

    A: You hate my girlfriend.
    B: I don't hate your girlfriend!

    Not a double negative

    Example #2:

    A: Do we have to go to the wedding?
    B: Well, we can't NOT go.

    A double negative used to express emphasis.


    From Dictionary.com:

    Usage Note: Traditional grammar holds that double negatives combine to form an affirmative. Readers will therefore interpret the sentence He cannot just do nothing as an affirmative statement meaning “He must do something” unless they are prompted to view it as dialect or nonstandard speech. Readers will also assign an affirmative meaning to constructions that yoke not with an adjective or adverb that begins with a negative prefix such as in- or un-, as in a not infrequent visitor, a not unjust decision. In these expressions the double negative conveys a weaker affirmative than would be conveyed by the positive adjective or adverb by itself. Thus, a not infrequent visitor seems likely to visit less frequently than a frequent visitor. ·A double (or more accurately, multiple) negative is considered unacceptable in Standard English when it is used to convey or reinforce a negative meaning, as in He didn't say nothing (meaning “he said nothing” or “he didn't say anything”). Such constructions are standard in many other languages and in fact were once wholly acceptable in English. Thus, Chaucer could say of the Friar, “Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous” and Shakespeare could allow Viola to say of her heart, “Nor never none/Shall mistress of it be, save I alone.” In spite of this noble history, grammarians since the Renaissance have objected to the double negative in English. In their eagerness to make English conform to formal logic, they conceived and promulgated the notion that two negatives destroy each other and make a positive. This rule, vigorously advocated by teachers of grammar and writing, has become established as a fundamental of standard usage. ·The ban on multiple negatives also applies to the combination of negatives with adverbs such as hardly and scarcely. It is therefore regarded as incorrect to say I couldn't hardly do it or The car scarcely needs no oil. These adverbs have a minimizing effect on the verb. They mean something like “almost not at all.” They resemble negative adverbs such as not and never in that they are used with any, anybody, and similar words rather than none, nobody, and other negatives. Thus, in standard usage one says You barely have any time left, just as one says You don't have any time left, but You barely have no time left is considered an unacceptable double negative. ·Nevertheless, multiple negatives continue to be widely used in a number of nonstandard varieties of English and are sometimes used by speakers of all educational levels when they want to strike a colloquial or popular note, as when President Reagan taunted his political opponents by saying “You ain't seen nothing yet.” ·The ban on using double negatives to convey emphasis does not apply when the second negative appears in a separate phrase or clause, as in I will not surrender, not today, not ever or He does not seek money, no more than he seeks fame. Commas must be used to separate the negative phrases or clauses in these examples. The sentence He does not seek money no more than he seeks fame is unacceptable, whereas the equivalent sentence with any is perfectly acceptable and requires no comma: He does not seek money any more than he seeks fame. See Usage Note at hardly. See Usage Note at scarcely.
  24. King Cobra macrumors 603

    Mar 2, 2002
    Îm ∂øïñg †hí$ 2 $å√ê ƒÅçÉ. :D
  25. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder

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