It’s as simple as “Yes.”, and “No.” These two words are their own part of speech: a complete and eloquent or crass sentence onto themselves. Academically placed into the Interjections category of English language, these two words defy that label and even can’t cozy up to being Adverbs either.
This page is for the Negatives in our verbal and written communications. The affirmative “yes” is relatively straight-forward in translation, while the negative can be more complex in the choice of a negative word, how it’s used, and how it’s located within a sentence. These are the issues a tutor will deal with in having students understand what’s going on. The Spanish language places their negative “no” before the verb phrase, while the English language places it after the verb phrase, and uses the word “not” instead of “no”. This means “They have six dogs.”, negates to “They do not have six dogs.”, while Spanish says, “Ellos tienen seis perros.”, in the affirmative and “No ellos tienen seis perros.”, in the negative.
English also complicates things by introducing the verb “do” into a negative sentence when there is no auxiliary verb to carry the load. “I have eaten dinner.”, negates to “I have not eaten dinner.”, while “I eat dinner.”, negates to “I do not eat dinner.”
Then, there are the negative prefixes; like “non”, “un”, “im”, “in”, “il”, “ir”,and “dis”; as well as negative suffixes; like “less”. It can get a little confusing when “invaluable” should mean “of no value”, and yet it means quite the opposite. There are other exceptions too. Both of these types of negatives fall under the category of Privatives.
Spanish has no problem with double negative; when used, it only emphasizes, not negates the negative. In English we all know that two negatives in a sentence cancels each other out and leave the sentence in a weakened sense of the affirmative; leaving one to wonder what the speaker is actually saying. And in today’s American society we have come to embrace the craziest of all double negatives: “irregardless”; composed of both a negative prefix and suffix. NOT!
Special thanks to the Cambridge Dictionary and the website English Grammar Today for some of the information in the downloads below. Credit is given where due.