Misc.: Negative constructions

October 29, 2009: Issue 312

Negative constructions are OK—sometimes even preferable. They often help us strike the conversational tone we want, especially in imperative sentences.

acceptable: Rather than trashing that old chair, take a paintbrush to it.
preferred: Don’t trash that old chair. Take a paintbrush to it.

acceptable: You can still have chocolate even though you have diabetes.
preferred: You don’t have to give up chocolate just because you have diabetes.

Before you edit the word not out of a sentence, think about whether you’re really improving the sentence.

Winners: Last week we asked you to name fictional Halloween recipes. For Most Likely to Be Developed as a Real Recipe, the winner is Gobblin’ Ghoulash, submitted by Jody Sanders. In the Made the Judges Laugh category, the winner is BBQ Bug Livers with Presto Sauce, submitted by Larry Erickson. We’ll deliver your frightful prizes today.

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