In today’s article called “How to use Non?”, I am going to explain all the uses of this word, including the negative form, the pleonastic non, and the word non that forms an affirmative sentence.
If this introduction looks strange to you, keep reading the following lines, because you’ll find interesting information! :)
Do you know of the word non? It’s a really common word, isn’t it? Because of this, I’m sure each and every one of you knows it like the back of your hand and uses it constantly. However, I have a question to ask you: are you sure that you know every little nuance of this word?
In today’s article, I would like to highlight not only the simple and common uses of non, that of negation, but also other uses that are a bit more unique and less obvious, which will help us to refine our knowledge of this language even more.
1. Non as a negation
As already mentioned in the introduction, non is mainly used as a negation. Let’s take a look at some sentences in their negative form:
- Credo che Paolo arrivi in auto. (I think Paolo will arrive by car).
- Non credo che Paolo arrivi in auto. (I don’t think Paolo will arrive by car).
- Mi sembra un’opera interessante. (It seems like an interesting piece to me).
- Non mi sembra un’opera interessante. (It doesn’t seem like an interesting piece to me).
- Più tardi farò un salto da Luca. (I’ll drop by Luca’s house later).
- Più tardi non farò un salto da Luca. (I won’t drop by Luca’s house later).
In these examples, there is absolutely nothing difficult to understand, since they are simply sentences transformed from the affirmative to the negative form.
Let’s now concentrate on something slightly more difficult and less obvious.
2. Non as an affirmation
Everyone knows that non is used to negate. On the other hand, in Italian we have a rather bizarre occurrence: when there are 2 negations, the sentence becomes affirmative. Let’s look at some sentences:
- Visto che vi parlo della parola non, non posso non dirvi che due negazioni affermano.
- Seeing as I’m talking to you about the word non, I can’t not tell you that with 2 negations the sentence becomes affirmative.
As you can see, with “non posso non dirvi”, I am trying to say “I can (and I want to) tell you”.
- Se vai al mare non puoi non provare quel ristorantino sulla spiaggia
- If you go to the seaside, you can’t not try that restaurant on the beach.
Again, here this “non puoi non provare” means that you have to try or I recommend you to try that restaurant.
Let’s try a third sentence:
- In realtà non voglio che lui non venga alla mia festa.
- In reality, I don’t want him to not come to my party.
In other words, this means: “In reality, I want him to come to my party”.
3. The Pleonastic Non
Okay, wait a second, maybe I got a little too carried away with this topic and without noticing used a big word: pleonastic.
Do you know this adjective? Pleonastic simply means redundant, or in other words, in excess. To better understand this “redundant” use, let’s try to create some sentences:
- Non uscirai di casa fino a quando non finirai tutti i compiti! (You will not leave the house until you finish all of your homework!)
- Le risponderò non appena possibile. (I will get back to you as soon as I can).
- È stato un viaggio da brividi… per poco non finivamo nel burrone! (It was a thrill ride… We almost ended up over the cliff!)
The phrases above are all 100% correct, but there is one thing I’d like to point out: The non present in the sentences above could be considered unnecessary. In fact, each sentence could function perfectly even without this word. Let’s try this again:
- Non uscirai di casa fino a quando finirai tutti i compiti! (You will not leave the house until you finish all of your homework!)
- Le risponderò appena possibile. (I will get back to you as soon as I can).
- È stato un viaggio da brividi… per poco finivamo nel burrone! (It was a thrill ride…we almost ended up over the cliff!)
See? The sentences kept their meaning even after taking out a word. Do you find it strange or completely understandable and acceptable?
In this article called “How to use Non?”, I wanted to give you some more information about a widely used word in Italian. Non is a necessary word in Italian, especially when you want to create negative forms, but as you can see, this isn’t the only way you can use it.
Try and have fun and get out of your comfort zone by trying to use this word in other ways as well, so that you can immerse yourself more and more in this language and have an in-depth understanding of it!
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