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Would I say that I DON'T have any regrets with ...

No, I don't have no regrets

... or would it mean that I have at least some because of the double negation? I think I often saw something like that with double negation without actually becoming positive again. Or would it have to be ...

No, I ain't have no regrets

... for that to work?

Grammarly tells me the first version is wrong, but that might just mean I shouldn't use it in formal mail. Google Translator and DeepL both translate those two sentences the way I expected. So if the first and/or the second version would work for saying NOT having any regrets, in what context can I use it? Just when I talk to friends, in song lyrics, ... And besides that, why would that even work? Why isn't a double negation making something positive again? If I would say that in German, I would say that I actually do have some regrets.

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  • I ain't got no regrets, for Am Black English.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 0:08
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    @Lambie I don't think that that phrase is particular to AAVE. For example, here is a very similar phrase in a different dialect: youtube.com/watch?v=xyce4_7V5Mc Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 2:17
  • @MarcInManhattan Yes, for whites, it's uneducated speech as opposed to dialectal for Blacks.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 15:17

1 Answer 1

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Avoid this pattern.

The double negation form "I don't have no..." is possible in some dialects of English, such as African American Vernacular. Learners should not attempt to copy this. At best you will sound odd. At worst you seem racist.

The vernacular form would be

I ain't got no regrets.

If you need to ask in what context it is appropriate to use this, then you should not use it in any context.

Don't apply "logic". There is illogical about this, any more than the French "Je n'ai pas" (which features the double negative ne and pas)

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  • If you are trying to learn mainstream AmE or BrE (RP for example) then you should say "I haven't got any regrets" . My late mother and 2 aunts, who were all teachers, would have immediately come back with "If you haven't got no, then you must have some" whenever they heard a double negative. Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 0:48
  • Or I have no regrets. Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 9:28
  • "At worst you seem racist." Okay, thanks. That's a bullet I really want to ditch! I was interested in general, but in this particular case, it is about song lyrics. The sentences "I haven't got any regrets" and "I have no regrets" just wouldn't work length-wise. "No, I ain't got no regrets" works much better with the previous sentence "No, I didn't take my meds". When the rhythm is also important, it narrows down the possible selection. And I guess not taking your meds could also be an excuse for sounding a bit odd 😄
    – JuSchu
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 11:28

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