For example, I just saw this phrase on social media:

The way 2020 going, I ain't buyin' no PS5.

I mean, in this instance, I can ultimately see that what the poster actually mean is that "I ain't buyin' any PS5". But I actually saw many instances of phrases like this in the past that's a lot harder to decipher whether the poster actually meant the phrase to be a positive or negative.

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    In many languages - for instance, most of the Romance languages, "double negatives" like these are necessary. In French: je n' achète pas de PS5. This is called "negative concord" by linguists. Standard American/British/Canadian/Australian/etc. English does not feature "negative concord." However, some dialects of English do have negative concord. African American Vernacular English is one such dialect (and that's the dialect being used here; the "ain't" is the other big clue). Negative concord has been discussed on this site before. Type that term into the search bar to see.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Sep 19, 2020 at 16:34
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    The cited usage is probably deliberately "folksy" (there's no good reason to assume that whoever wrote it normally speaks like that). The reason for doing this is usually to inject a note of "authentic realism / genuinely-held belief" (it being supposed that simple-minded folk with limited command of syntax are somehow more "guileless", so anything they say carries "the ring of truth"). Effectively, it's as much a rhetorical technique as a reflection of "sub-standard" AAVE "grammar". Commented Sep 19, 2020 at 17:07
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    @Juhasz In colloquial French the "ne" is sometimes omitted. Etymologically, "pas", "rien" and "personne" are not negatives, so French grammar only came to express negative concord retroactively once these words were reanalysed as (largely) negative.
    – rjpond
    Commented Sep 19, 2020 at 18:34
  • @Lambie Ca -> ça ("ca" would be a hard C [k] sound in French pronunciation). I expect you know this, just pointing it out for others. Also "j'achète."
    – TypeIA
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 18:55
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    @rjpond, I was afraid of that. OK, let's try another language with negative concord I'm more confident about, but that fewer people will understand: من هیچ پی اس پنجی نمی خرم In Farsi, هیچ (/hiːtʃ/) is no or none and نمی خرم (/nemiː xæɹæm/) do/will not buy.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 0:03

1 Answer 1


For example, AAVE, which is African American Vernacular English, uses double negatives.


So do varieties of regional AmE such as southern English.

And ain't (though sometimes used on purpose by educated speakers) is generally classed as dialectal and often places the speakers in a lower social class though it is considered proper dialectal usage in AAVE.

"I ain't [verb] no [noun]" would be very, very common in dialectal speech.

These speech forms can be rich and beautiful and wonderful.

Check out this poem by the great Black American poet Maya Angelou: Ain't That Bad

First, English phrases are not written as double negatives for the kind of example examined here. Second, the sample sentence is an example of how people actually speak.

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