Expletive negation

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The term expletive negation is often used (especially in the linguistics of the Romance languages) for a negative marker that has no negative meaning.


  • French Je crains qu'elle ne vient 'I fear that she comes';
  • Italian Io sono più alto che tu non sei 'I am taller than you are'
  • English We don't need no education. (Pink Floyd song)



See expletive (disambiguation page).


The term was apparently introduced only in the 1970s (cf. Muller 1978, Nocentini 2003).


  • Jack, G.B. 1977. "Negation in later Middle English prose." Archivum Linguisticum 9:58-72.
  • Jespersen, Otto. 1940. A modern English grammar on historical principles. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  • Muller, Claude. 1978. "La negation explétive dans les constructions complétives." Langue Française 39:76-103.
  • Nocentini, Alberto. 2003. "La cosidetta negazione espletiva in italiano." Archivio Glottologico Italiano 88:72-90.
  • Vendryès, Joseph. 1950. "Sur la nègation abusive." Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris 46: 1-18.