Do double negatives make sense in English?

I know all my English teachers say it’s improper English, but my Statistics teacher gave a really good case for why double and even triple negatives make sense.

Example

“There is not sufficient evidence to reject the claim that this drug reduces hair loss.”

English teacher logic: this drug reduces hair loss.

Obviously this is not what the statement is trying to say.

4 Answers

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  • 2 months ago
    Favourite answer

    That is not the kind of double negative your English teacher means. The "rule" against double negatives is given to stop students from saying "I don't want none." That is perfectly acceptable in some dialects, and is NEVER misunderstood to mean that the person wants some, but it is what linguists call a "socially marked" error. That is, it is not used in standard academic English, and when someone hears it, they think the speaker is ignorant and uneducated. English teachers try to give things in simple terms to have more impact on students (although it rarely works). No English teacher would find the sentence given by your statistics teacher wrong, or in violation of grammar rules. However, I can tell you that sentences like that are harder for the reader/listener to process. Stylistically, it is better to phrase things in a less convoluted way. "There is not enough evidence to know whether this drug reduces hair loss or not." 

  • 2 months ago

    You've misunderstood about double negatives. The sentence you gave is perfectly correct, just complicated.

    The answer from @gypsyfish says it all; I will only add that the sentence does NOT say that the drug reduces hair loss. It merely says that there isn't enough evidence to say that it  doesn't.

  • 2 months ago

    it might make sense

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Two wrongs don't make a right. 

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