Also in negative sentences vs Either

Xavier da Silva

Senior Member
Hello everyone,


I read that "also" isn't used in negative sentences in standard idiomatic English - in negatives you must use "either" at the end. However, the other day, I saw an American native speaker saying something more or less like this: "I also don't understand why they're here.''


My question: is "also" in negatives acceptable? Is it possible?


Thank you in advance!
 
  • lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    I read that "also" isn't used in negative sentences in standard idiomatic English - in negatives you must use "either" at the end.
    Where did you read this? I would say that it just isn't true. We can use "also" in negative sentences, no problem. And we do it a lot.

    Just some further demonstration; both these uses are possible:

    Scott doesn't want to do the dishes. I also don't want to do the dishes.
    I don't want to do the dishes. I also don't want to do the laundry.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Ouch! That grates. :D

    Scott doesn't want to do the dishes. I don't want to do the dishes either.
    I don't want to do the dishes. I don't want to do the laundry either. (and that's if I'm feeling footloose)
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Sorry to grate, Beryl!

    Maybe I should've said "slangy speakers from the West of the US can use 'also' in negative sentences, no problem."

    How great of a grate does this usage produce? Would you consider it incorrect, or just sloppy? How awful does it sound?
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Grates ... maybe that was bit over the top, and anyway I don't have a grateometer to hand. Maybe it was more like chewing on rubber. It sent me back to kindergarten for a while.
    With my back against the wall, I'd have to say it was incorrect. That said, I'm sure that I'd accommodate quite quickly ... its sense is being quite easily grasped.
    Besides, there are a considerable number of perfectly correct forms that grate on me more, for one reason of another.
    Let's just say that it grated on me as much as I suspect 'I don't want to do the laundry too.' might grate on you. (I'm grating in the dark here) :)
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Well no, that wouldn't be my recommendation, unless you specifically want to learn non-standard forms.
    Just pretend you hadn't seen 'I don't want to do the laundry too.' ... that didn't happen. ;)
    I agree with points 1. and 2. (broadly - which means that I haven't thought of an exception yet).
    But here are plenty of others here who are usually keen to offer their advice. Let's see what they have to say.
     

    Half_Prince

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hi,
    Sorry to resurrect this thread. I was wondering whether the choice between "also" and "either" didn't have something to do with the length of the phrase separating the subject from "either".
    For example:
    I don't want to do the dishes. I also don't want to do the laundry for my brother who is an amateur musician and never shows up on time to family dinners.

    Would you say the following sentence is grammatically correct?
    I don't want to do the dishes. I don't want to do the laundry for my brother who is an amateur musician and never shows up on time to family dinners either.

    I'm also curious as to whether there are any other stylistic differences between the two.
     

    RYW

    New Member
    American English
    Would you say the following sentence is grammatically correct?
    I don't want to do the dishes. I don't want to do the laundry for my brother who is an amateur musician and never shows up on time to family dinners either.
    The sentence appears awkward, since the "either" seems to be referring to his brother never showing up on time for family dinners. (It's also awkward because his coming late for dinner is a non sequitur that doesn't seem related to the rest of the sentence in any way.

    In spoken English a person might say "I also don't want to do...", but grammatically speaking, the rule is that one uses the word "also" in positive sentences to add an agreeing thought, and either is used in negative sentences to add an agreeing thought.

    In the example you use, instead of using "either," you could say: Nor do I want to do the laundry for my brother.

    Hope this helps.
     

    Sydge

    New Member
    English
    Hello everyone,


    I read that "also" isn't used in negative sentences in standard idiomatic English - in negatives you must use "either" at the end. However, the other day, I saw an American native speaker saying something more or less like this: "I also don't understand why they're here.''


    My question: is "also" in negatives acceptable? Is it possible?


    Thank you in advance!
    I would have to say both are possible, but the meaning, and hence the usage will be different.

    If you say: He does not want to go shopping. I don't want to go EITHER: It means you don't want to do the same thing as someone else.

    If you say: I don't want to go shopping. But I ALSO don't want to go swimming and dancing today. While he does not want any of it EITHER: It means in addition to not wanting to do something.

    I hope this helps.
     
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