Words of Negation – Examples and Uses

Words of negation are words that help us distinguish between fact and fiction, truth and untruth. Words of negation, like not and none allow us to form opposites in our speech and our writing. They let us say that something is not true, is not the case.

In this article, I’ll review words of negation and how they’re used. I’ll also review how we can use negative prefixes as well.

Let’s get started!

What Are Words of Negation?

According to Merriam-Webster, to negate is “to deny the existence or truth of.” When we deny, contradict, refute, or reject, we are negating. Words of negation are the tools we use to do this.

Words like no, not, none, and nobody are just a few of the words of negation that help us to deny and refute.

In general, we put negative words before the thing we wish to negate, often with the use of a helping verb like do or be. For example, if it’s untrue that you liked the movie you recently saw, you could say, “I did not like the movie.” 

Examples of the Most Popular Words of Negation

Below are some popular words of negation:

  • No
  • Not
  • Neither
  • Neither/nor
  • None
  • Nobody
  • Nothing
  • Nowhere

Sometimes we can use negative adverbs, as below:

  • Never
  • Barely
  • Hardly
  • Scarcely
  • Seldom
  • Rarely

Words of Negation Examples Used Correctly

Let’s take a look at some examples of words of negation. We’ll start with a positive statement and then use words of negation to negate the statement.

  • Positive statement: “I went to the store.”
  • Negated statement: “I did not go to the store.”
  • Positive statement: “He really likes barbeque.”
  • Negated statement: “He really does not/doesn’t like barbeque.”
  • Positive statement: “I bought two shirts and both fit me.”
  • Negated statement: “I bought two shirts and neither fit me.”
  • Positive statement: “He always does his homework.”
  • Negated statement: “He never does his homework.”

To explain a bit further, in the last example above, we negated the word always with its opposite never

Finally, this last statement below can also become a near-negative when we use a word like rarely or seldom.

  • “He seldom does his homework.”

Negation with Prefixes

In English, we can also make negatives by using certain prefixes, like “dis-,” “un-,” and “de-.” For example, to say the opposite of “He is helpful,” we could say, “He is not helpful,” or we could also say, “He is unhelpful.” 

Check out some more examples of negative prefixes below:

  • Positive statement: “He is respectful.”
  • Negated statement: “He is disrespectful.”
  • Positive statement: “She is interested in her work.”
  • Negated statement: “She is uninterested in her work.”
  • Positive statement: “The apartment was contaminated.”
  • Negated statement: “The apartment was uncontaminated.”


In the example above, uncontaminated implies that the apartment has never been contaminated. If we were to to say that “the apartment was decontaminated,” that would mean that the apartment was previously contaminated but is no longer.

Words of negation (like no, not, none, and nobody) are just some of the important tools in the writer’s toolbox. For more tools and tips to help your writing, be sure to check out other helpful articles on the EditorNinja blog.

Need Help with Words of Negation and More?

Getting these words right in your writing or speech is crucial for clear and effective communication. Many writers and content producers still occasionally trip up over these phrases, which can result in content that confuses the reader or, even worse, makes them think you aren’t a credible source.

If you find words of negation challenging or simply don’t want to worry about getting it wrong in the future, enlist EditorNinja’s professional editing services. We’ll ensure that your writing is clear, correct, and professional. Schedule a no-stress, no-risk, super-friendly discussion with our team to discuss your editing needs today!