tolerate no disobedience

Beautifully

Senior Member
Korea, Korean
Hello!

I saw this on the little prince novel, and I would like to ask you this

He would tolerate no disobedience, being an absolute monarch.

Isn't it possible to say like this, He wouldn't tolerate disobedience, ....

It would be the great sansation if you do point out of this.(clearfy)
 
  • mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    Completely off topic, I love the Little Prince!

    ...anyway, yes, you can write it either way:

    I have no way to get to the store.
    I don't have any way to get to the store.

    In your example, saying it as "no disobedience" carries a little more weight, it stresses the idea more than "wouldn't tolerate".
     

    Beautifully

    Senior Member
    Korea, Korean
    In my brain, not like yours, would tolerate no(negative) disobedience(another negative) , so I felt confused how to interpret. I need brain surgery.
     

    mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    Well, your thought process is not bad. It is true that double negatives are to be avoided, but there is a reason this works. Nouns that are inherently negative (by prefix...mis-, dis-, mal-, etc.) are not considered negatives in the "double negative rule".
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Beautifully, your change results in the same number of negatives:

    He would tolerate no disobedience.
    He would not tolerate [any] disobedience.

    Notice that in order to get the same meaning as the first sentence, you have to add the word "any". When you add that word "any", you now need six words to express the concept, but the first sentence expressed it in five words, which is both simpler and more elegant.

    Understand that "no" here is indicating a quantity:
    We have no milk in the regrigerator.
    There are no hot peppers in this recipe.
    No tigers have been seen in this area for decades.
    After dinner I had dessert, but no coffee.

    The sentence He would tolerate no disobedience answers the question "how much disobedience would he tolerate?"

    The sentence He would not tolerate any disobedience answers the question "What is it that he would not tolerate?"

    As you can see, the underlying ideas expressed by the two sentences are slightly different.
     

    Beautifully

    Senior Member
    Korea, Korean
    Thank you for explaining details for everything. Very difficult to undertand its inner different meaning.
     
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