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Double Negation in Russian: When One Person’s “No” Is Another’s “Yes”

Although double negation is generally incorrect in English, despite sometimes being used in conversation or informal speech, it is an important part of the Russian language. To learn how to use double negatives and to speak Russian like a native, study Russian with a teacher.

How to Build a Negative Sentence in Russian

Let’s start with negative sentences. All you need is the negative particle “не” (ne – not), which is placed before the verb.

  • Я знаю. (Ya znaiu.)

  • I know.

  • Я не знаю. (Ya ne znaiu.)

  • I don’t know.

  • Я согласен. (Ya soglasen.)

  • I agree.

  • Я не согласен. (Ya ne soglasen.)

  • I don’t agree.

Double Negation in Russian

You can also create a negative sentence with the help of negative pronouns. Look at the list below.

  • Никто (nikto) – nobody

  • Нигде (nigde) – nowhere

  • Никогда (nikogda) – never

  • Ничто (nishto) – nothing

To build a sentence, you need one of these pronouns and the negative particle “не” (ne). In this case, usage of both is obligatory, and you cannot create a sentence without using double negation.

  • Никто не приходил. (Nikto ne prikhodil.)

  • Nobody came.

  • Это нигде не написано. (Eto nigde ne napisano.)

  • It is written nowhere.

  • Я никогда там не был. (Ya nikogda tam ne byl.)

  • I have never been there.

  • Ничто меня так не поразило, как этот фильм. (Nishto menya tak ne porazilo, kak etot fil’m.)

  • Nothing has impressed me more than this film.

As you can see, in English sentences there is only one negative, but in Russian sentences there are two. So, all you need to do is to learn the full list of negative pronouns, use the particle “не” (ne), and practice. You can also learn Russian with a tutor who will help you understand and practice Russian grammar.

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