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May it not become nothing, like the clouds that pour rains and then disappear

May it not become anything like the clouds that pour rains and then disappear

I believe the first version is fine with a comma and the meaning is conveyed well.

However, the grammar tool I use suggests that I use the second version because the first one has double negation.

Why so?

2 Answers 2

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Grammar tools are notoriously prone to getting subtle distinctions wrong. They apply some general guide, such as "avoid double negatives" and make of it an absolute ruke, and flag anythign that looks like a double negative, ignoring both things that look like double negatives but are not, and things that are, but in the particular circumstances are perfectly acceptable. Such tools can be useful to point out oversights, but if a tool points out a sentence, phrase, or word that seems acceptable, feel free to override the tool. (Or check with this site if one has time).

The given sentence,

May it not become nothing, like the clouds that pour rains and then disappear

is not a case of a double negative in the sense that grammar books often frown on. It contains two negative words in the same clause, but they are not being applied to the same thing. The word "not" is used to modify the verb form "become" while "nothing" is the direct object of "become". As the answer by Mohsen from Iran says, this clause could be rendered as "May it not turn into nothingness".

However, both the original sentence and the suggested variant strike me as trying too hard for a poetic or old-fashioned flavor. I might, however, change this view if I saw more context for the sentence. In any case that is a matter of style, not grammar.

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I think both sentences are correct, but the two have a slightly different meaning; especially with the comma in the first sentence. If you omit the comma, the first sentence will sound grammatically incorrect.

The first one means:

May it not turn into nothingness, like the clouds that disappear after pouring rains.

If you omit the comma, part of the first sentence will be like "It's nothing like that", which is not the intended meaning there and would be wrong.

However, the second one with "anything" is different. It kind of means:

May it not turn into "something" like clouds that disappear after pouring rains.

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  • clouds that pour rains, not pours. So wrong.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 2, 2022 at 1:12

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