Negative adverbs

Negative adverbs are used to make negative statements. English negative adverbs include no, not, never, and nowhere. This lesson explains how to form negative statements using these adverbs.

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The adverb no is most commonly used to answer Yes / No questions.

Are you Canadian?   No.
Have they left? No.
Does she smoke? No.

To respond with a complete sentence, not is required.

Are you Canadian?   No, I am not Canadian.
Have they left? No, they have not left.
Does she smoke? No, she doesn’t smoke.

Most negative statements are formed with the adverb not. When using the verb BE, negative statements are formed by placing not after the verb.

affirmative   negative
I am a student. I am not a student.
They are tired. They are not tired.
She was here. She was not here.
We were thirsty. We were not thirsty.

For statements that use an auxiliary verb, for example HAVE or a modal verb, the adverb not is placed between the auxiliary verb and the main verb.

affirmative

 

negative

subject aux. verb main verb subject aux. verb not main verb
I have eaten. I have not eaten.
She has left. She has not left.
We should run. We should not run.
They will come. They will not come.

To form negative statements with all other verbs and the adverb not, the auxiliary verb DO is required. See the lesson on Negation and the verb DO to learn more about this essential verb.

Never means "at no time." Never is always placed after the verb BE or an auxiliary verb.

subject BE never  
I am never lost.
He is never home.
They were never late.

subject aux.
verb
never main
verb
 
They are never returning.  
I have never been to Paris.
We may never see you again.

For all other verbs, never is placed in front of the verb.

We never talk to him.
It never rains in January.
Tom never spoke to her.

Nowhere means "no place." Nowhere is placed directly after the verb.

This road goes nowhere.
I went nowhere yesterday.
Tom has nowhere to go.

Related lessons:

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