I'm studying IELTS writing, and I just came across a confusing sentence from this band score 8 essay:

Nobody can argue that the acquisition of knowledge is more fun and easier with computers.

As I understand it, this sentence is saying that no one can argue for the opinion, that computers make learning more fun and easier.

But the rest of the paragraph is actually supporting the opinion. So it's supposed to mean the opposite: nobody can argue against the opinion.

Then I found another usage of the word 'argue':

He argued that America should stop Lend-Lease convoying because it needed to fortify its own Army with the supplies.

In this case, the author certainly means that "he" is in favour of something.

Is the first usage wrong? Or am I missing something?

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    It's worth pointing out that there are a lot of problems with that essay; I completely disagree with the blogger’s assessment. I woudn't characterize it as "excellent," and wouldn't think for a moment that it was written by a native speaker. These words and phrases strike me as off usages in that essay: amusing, expedited the data availability, constitutes, software interactivity, ever accessible, academic digital material, keep updated. Even the essay topic is badly worded: there will be soon no role for teachers. I would not consider that website a reliable source for learning English.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 8:49
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    "Nobody can argue with the statement that …" might make the statement read something closer to what it was intended to say. Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 15:47

3 Answers 3


You are right that there is something wrong with the sentence if the writer means:

The acquisition of knowledge is more fun and easier with computers. Nobody can dispute or deny this.

The sentence is an example of what the linguists at Language Log call misnegation. Here are some misnegations that they analyse:

There's no limit to what he won't do.

CIA unable to underestimate the effect of drone war.

Your clients are relying on you to help them avoid staying out of jail.

Here is a list of all the Language Log misnegation analyses.



to present reasons for or against a thing: He argued in favor of capital punishment.

Read the rest of the sentence

Nobody can argue that the acquisition of knowledge is more fun and easier with computers. The mere activity of touching and exploring this device constitutes an enjoyable task for a child.

So the word is used instead of the word deny and has an implicit against


in my point of view the writer wants to say that its is ultimate truth that acquisition of knowledge is much easier and fun with computers. so NObody needs to give an argument on that for it is generelly implied

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