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Formation of the NEGATIVE

Posted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 3:08 pm
by Roby
To form the negative in Italian you place the word "Non" in front of
the verb.

Here is the construction of the negative statement:

NON + verb + second negative.

Ex. Non hai capito niente... I do not understand anything.
* Your example is correct. "Non ho niente." I do not have anything.

Nessuno and Niente can precede the verb. When they do, "non" is
omitted. This is used for emphasis.
Ex. Niente e' impossibile. Nothing is impossible
Nessuno vuole venire. Nobody wants to come.

The list was taken from "Oggi in Italia."
Here is a list of commonly used negative expressions

non...affatto not at all Non mi piace affatto questo libro.
I do not like this book at all
non...mai never Non parliamo mai inglese in classe
We never speak English in class
non...niente (nulla) nothing Non capisci niente
You do not understand anything (nothing)
non...nessuno nobody/no one Non conosco nessuno in Italia.
I do not know anyone in Italy
non ... neanche
... nemmeno not even Non c'e stata nemmeno
(neanche, neppure )una giornata di
... neppure sole.
There has not been even a day of sun.

non... piu' not any more Non vado piu' a scuola.
I do not go to school any more.
non...ancora not yet Non ho mangiato ancora
I have not eaten yet.

non'' neither ...nor Non fa ne' caldo ne' freddo qui.
It is neither hot or cold here.

non...mica not really Non capisco mica questa lezione.
I do not really understand this

The following was taken from "Lingua Italiana facile"
Double Negative
If "niente, nessuno, and nulla" are placed after the verb, they must
be preceded by "non."
Ex. A scuola non c'era nessuno
At school there was not anyone.
If the precede the verb, non is omitted.
Ex. Nessuno ha detto questo
No one said this.

Double Negatives
Taken from this website:

In English there are expressions which have a double
form according to whether they are used alone or with
a negative conjunction. For instance, the two
sentences there was nothing and there wasn't anything
have the same meaning, although two different adverbs,
nothing and anything, have to be used. The same
pattern occurs for nobody ~ anybody, never ~ ever,
nowhere ~ anywhere and so on.
Instead in Italian the equivalent adverbs have only
one form, which already has a negative meaning (i.e.
they match nothing, nobody, nowhere, etc.), but
despite this the negative conjunction non is required
all the same, so that the full sentence actually
contains a double negative, almost as saying "I can't
see nothing"; "she won't never come"; "we won't do
this neither"; and so on.
In Italian this is the only possible (and correct) way
of using such negative pronouns and adverbs.

nessuno (indefinite pronoun) = nobody, no one, none
niente (indefinite pronoun) = nothing
nulla (indefinite pronoun) = nothing
mai (adverb) = never
nemmeno (adverb) = not even, neither
neanche (adverb) = not even, neither
neppure (adverb) = not even, neither
Instead nowhere has no Italian equivalent, so the
expression da nessuna parte (literally: in no place)
is used.

Notice how among the aforesaid words, except mai and
nulla, all the others are compounds, formed by the
prefix ne- (from the Latin ne = not), and uno (one),
ente (archaic for entity, thing), meno (less), anche
(also, even), pure (also, even). Some of them have
slight changes for phonetical reasons, i.e. an extra
double s in nessuno, or a double m in nemmeno, or e
turned into i in niente to avoid the repetition of the
same vowel.
questo libro non appartiene a nessuno = this book does
not belong to anybody
in quel cassetto non trovò niente = in that drawer he
/ she didn't find anything
da lontano non vedranno nulla = from afar they won't
see anything
il lunedì non mangio mai a casa = on Mondays I never
eat at home
non lo guarderò nemmeno = I won't even look at him /
perché non vedrai nemmeno questo film? = why won't you
watch this movie either?
non conosceva neppure l'indirizzo = he / she didn't
even know the address
non vogliamo neppure quello = we don't want that (one)
Examining these examples, a first consideration is
that the basic structure of double negative
expressions is:

(subject) + non + (verb) + negative pronoun or
negative adverb.

Notice how the negative pronouns and adverbs are
simply added after the verb; in fact, by dropping them
or by replacing them (i.e. words in grey in the
following sentences), these examples turn out ordinary
negative sentences:
questo libro non appartiene a me = this book does not
belong to me
in quel cassetto non trovò la penna = in that drawer
he / she didn't find the pen
da lontano non vedranno i dettagli = from afar they
won't see the details
il lunedì non mangio a casa = on Mondays I do not eat
at home
non lo guarderò = I won't look at him / it
perché non vedrai questo film? = why won't you watch
this movie?
non conosceva l'indirizzo = he / she didn't know the
non vogliamo quello = we don't want that (one)

When the verb uses a compound tense (passato prossimo,
trapassato prossimo, futuro anteriore, etc.), the
negative pronouns nessuno, niente and nulla follow the
standard pattern:

(subject) + non + (verb) + negative pronoun

Instead the negative adverbs mai, nemmeno, neanche and
neppure may also be alternatively inserted between the
two parts of the compound tense, i.e. auxiliary verb
and primary verb:

(subject) + non + (auxiliary verb) + negative adverb +
(past participle of the primary verb)

A few examples will make this clear:
il libro non era appartenuto a nessuno (only possible
form) = the book had not belonged to anybody

in quel cassetto non ha trovato niente (only possible
form) = in that drawer he / she didn't find anything

da lontano non avranno visto niente (only possible
form) = from afar they won't have seen anything

non ho mangiato mai a casa = I never ate at home
non ho mai mangiato a casa = (same as above)

non avevo guardato nemmeno la TV = I hadn't even
watched the TV, but also I hadn't watched the TV
non avevo nemmeno guardato la TV = (same as above)

non aveva visto nemmeno un film = he / she hadn't even
seen a movie, but also he / she hadn't seen a movie
non aveva nemmeno visto un film = (same as above)

non avrà letto neppure l'indirizzo = he / she might
have not even read the address, but also he / she
might have not read the address either
non avrà neppure letto neppure l'indirizzo = (same as

non abbiamo voluto neppure quello = we didn't even
want that (one), but also we didn't want that (one)
non abbiamo neppure voluto quello = (same as above)
When the alternative form is possible, in most cases
to use one or the other is a free choice, although the
first of the two would give the negative adverb a
slightly more emphatic meaning, especially in spoken
language (i.e. the voice pitch would slightly raise in
pronouncing the adverb), while the second form is less
strong, somewhat more stylish, and would be preferred
in writing.

A second consideration about the previous examples is
that nemmeno, neanche and neppure have the same
meaning. It would sometimes be more stylish to choose
a specific one according to the sentence, but in
common speech, or for a student's purpose, any of the
three may be freely used.
non conosceva neppure l'indirizzo = he / she didn't
even know the address
non conosceva neanche l'indirizzo = (same as above)
non conosceva nemmeno l'indirizzo = (same as above)
But these adverbs do translate two different English
expressions: not even and neither.
non conosceva neppure l'indirizzo = he / she didn't
even know the address
non conosceva neppure l'indirizzo = he / she didn't
know the address either
In most cases, which of the two is the actual meaning
is made clear by the context of the sentence, since
neither can only be possible if a first object has
already been mentioned (i.e. he didn't know my house -
he didn't know my address either).
The form we discussed so far may have both meanings
(see once again the previous examples), and is
stylistically correct.
However, in Italian it is still possible to
distinguish more clearly the two meanings by using
different arrangements of the words. In spoken
language, especially in central and southern Italy, to
strengthen the meaning of not even it is a very common
custom to drop the negative conjunction non by
replacing it with the negative adverb or pronoun,
moved to the front, and to leave the verb at the
bottom of the sentence:
non conosceva neppure l'indirizzo = he / she didn't
even know the address
but this may also be translated as: she didn't know
the address either
neppure l'indirizzo conosceva (colloquial) = he / she
didn't even know the address

il treno non ferma neanche a Firenze = the train
doesn't even stop in Florence
but this may also be translated as: the train doesn't
stop in Florence either
il treno neanche a Firenze ferma (colloquial) = the
train doesn't even stop in Florence

quella scuola non chiude nemmeno d'estate = that
school doesn't even close in summer
but this may also be translated as: that school
doesn't close in summer either
quella scuola nemmeno d'estate chiude (colloquial) =
that school doesn't even close in summer
This colloquial form is no longer a double negative,
having lost non. But remember that, although very
common to be heard, according to the official Italian
grammar this is an improper form.

When the object of the sentence is a personal pronoun,
the two different meanings not even and neither are
more clearly understood.
At first, let's see a couple of typical sentences that
contain a pronoun as a direct object:
non li incontrerò (standard form) = I won't meet them
non incontrerò loro (emphatic form) = I won't meet
them (i.e. I will meet somebody else)

il giudice non lo ha condannato (standard form) = the
judge did not sentence him
il giudice non ha condannato lui (emphatic form) = the
judge did not sentence him (i.e. he sentenced somebody

As explained in paragraph 8.1, forcing the pronoun at
the bottom of the sentence gives the latter a stronger
emphasis (in these example, the pronouns them and him
are emphasized).

The same form used with neanche, nemmeno or neppure
gives them a clear meaning of neither.
Instead, the standard form used so far (i.e. non +
pronoun + verb + negative adverb) would only have the
meaning of not even.
Furthermore, in the case of a pronoun used as direct
object, the colloquial form explained above is
considered correct (i.e. with the adverb moved in
front, to replace non), and may be used as an
alternative and somewhat stronger expression:
non lo guarderò neppure = I will not even look at him
/ it
neppure lo guarderò = (same as above, but stronger)
non guarderò neppure lui (emphasized form) = I will
not look at him it either

purtroppo non ti vidi nemmeno = unfortunately I didn't
even see you
purtroppo nemmeno ti vidi = (same as above, but
purtroppo non vidi nemmeno te = unfortunately I didn't
see you either

negli ultimi due anni non le abbiamo neanche invitate
= in the past two years we haven't even invited them
negli ultimi due anni neanche le abbiamo neanche
invitate = (same as above, but stronger)
negli ultimi due anni non abbiamo invitato neanche
loro = in the past two years we haven't invited them

Among the expressions discussed so far, the indefinite
pronouns niente, nulla and nessuno somewhat differ
from ordinary ones (personal pronouns, relative
pronouns, etc.).
First of all, they do not have a plural form, due to
their respective meaning, and this is also true in
Niente and nulla are both masculine, singular.
Also nessuno is a masculine singular pronoun, but it
may sometimes act as an adjective, when followed by
another noun (the equivalent in English would be no +
nessuno ha detto questo (pronoun) = nobody said this
nessun uomo pesa oltre 300 chili (adjective) = no man
weighs over 300 kilograms
nessuna persona tollererebbe questo caldo (adjective)
= no person would bear this heat
When nessuno is used as a pronoun, it never changes:
il direttore non ha chiamato nessuno = the principal
did not call anybody
nessuno è entrato nel reparto femminile = nobody
entered the women's ward
You will notice how the gender- and number-sensitive
past participles (chiamato, entrato) use a masculine
inflection, to match nessuno, although the second
sentence may clearly refer to female individuals.

Used as an adjective, instead, nessuno matches the
gender of the noun it refers to, and also combines
phonetically with the following word:
nessun impiegato entrò nell'ufficio = no clerk entered
the office
nessuna donna entrò in quella stanza = no woman
entered that room
nessuno straniero venne in città = no stranger came
into town
nessun'altra ragazza = no other girl
Since nessuno is a compound of uno (one, a), it
follows the same phonetic rules already discussed for
this indefinite article in paragraph 2.4, therefore
its possible forms are nessun and nessuno.
Matching feminine nouns, instead, its forms are
nessuna or nessun' (with an apostrophe).
Compare these examples:
un uomo = a man nessun uomo = no man
un altro uomo = another man nessun altro uomo = no
other man
un giardino = a garden nessun giardino = no garden
un treno = a train nessun treno = no train
uno straniero = a stranger nessuno straniero = no
uno zero = a zero nessuno zero = no zero

una porta = a door nessuna porta = no door
una casa = a house nessuna casa = no house
un'altra casa = another house nessun'altra casa = no
other house
una trota = a trout nessuna trota = no trout
una straniera = a (female) stranger nessuna straniera
= no (female) stranger
un'oca = a goose nessun'oca (or nessuna oca) = no

Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:47 pm
by Roby ... tives.html

negatives (i negativi)
A negative sentence in Italian us usually made by adding non in front of the verb: Mi piace studiare / Non mi piace studiare. There are of course other ways of expressing negation, as well. Here is a chart with negative expressions in English and their Italian equivalent:

NOT non
in America non mangiamo i cani
non ci piace quando le persone mangiano gli animali
NEVER non...mai
noi non studiamo mai il giovedì sera
NOT YET non...ancora
non hai ancora fatto i compiti?
non le ho più parlato da quando è andata via
NEITHER...NOR (non ...) né...né
non sono venuti né mio padre né mia madre
né io né lui abbiamo visto quel film
NOT EVEN (non)...neanche, nemmeno, neppure
non mi ha nemmeno salutata, che maleducata!
NOBODY, NO ONE (non...) nessuno
(takes singular verb and adjectives)
non ho parlato con nessuno di interessante ieri sera
nessuno è venuto alla mia festa!
NOT...ANY (non...) nessun/nessuno, nessuna
non mi piace nessun film italiano
nessuna amica è simpatica come te
NOTHING (non...) niente, nulla
io non ho fatto niente di male
niente ci separerà mai
NOT AT ALL non...affatto
non sono affatto innamorata del tuo ragazzo!
non sono mica pazza, io non potrei mai innamorarmi di lui!

Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:09 pm
by Roby

Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 6:13 pm
by Roby
Discussion about finche' non and Meno che non and other negatives used in Italian

Posted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 10:14 am
by Roby
Discussion about Nulla/Niente da fare