2

This question already has an answer here:

A. There isn't nowhere I'd rather be than here with you.

B. There is nowhere I'd rather be than here with you.

Elsewhere I have read that two negatives in English destroy one another, although they are not always equivalent to an affirmative.

I'm not sure precisely what this means. So my questions are:

  1. What is the difference between A and B?
  2. Is A "standard" or acceptable English?

marked as duplicate by StoneyB, Deco, bytebuster, ctype.h, Mistu4u Feb 8 '13 at 5:08

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Although in the linked question it's stated that double negatives usually cancel each other out, there are some exceptions. This case is not an exception -- isn't nowhere is nonsense and shouldn't be used. However, an even more attractive manner of expressing this is There isn't anywhere I'd rather be ... – barbara beeton Feb 7 '13 at 23:17
  • 1
    @barbara, your comment tell me, at least as I understand it, that this question should not be closed as a duplicate. However I have opened a discussion on meta just to clarify what should it be the policy in case like this. – user114 Feb 7 '13 at 23:23
  • Related Meta discussion – Deco Feb 7 '13 at 23:38
  • 1
    @barbarabeeton Not nonsense, I think. A is a denial of B. Carlo, for instance, may wish to qualify his statement that "There is nowhere I'd rather be than here with you" by saying "Well, actually, there isn't nowhere I'd rather be than here with you; there's somewhere: I'd rather be on the Champs-Élysées with you." – StoneyB Feb 8 '13 at 1:42
  • @StoneyB -- with the addition of the two sentences you cite for context, i agree. but with no conteext, i still think it's nonsense. (sorry for delay. a blizzard intervened.) – barbara beeton Feb 10 '13 at 20:13
2

A and B are opposite statements. As you say, in standard English two negatives usually cancel each other out resulting in a positive. However in certain cases (often called double negatives, but that distinction is not always followed) the negatives are reinforcing or emphasizing. This is more common in colloquial English.

In the case here, A has a single negative, B has two negatives. They are opposite statements in my interpretation.

A is however not standard or acceptable English.

B is acceptable standard English English, also the following is acceptable English that has essentially the same meaning, with the negative moved.

There isn't anywhere I'd rather be than here with you.

An example of reinforcing double negatives include Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall, that includes the line:

We don't need no education

.. but this is clearly colloquial rather than standard English.