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Grammar Police Monday - Double Trouble

Announcements first!

It’s release day for Betwixt, a YA paranormal romance by MelissaPearl! Congrats, Melissa!!! :D

You can find Betwixt on: 
Amazon  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Smashwords  ~  Goodreads 

It will soon be available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony and Apple, too.

Wednesday, November 7th is... 
Insecure Writers Support Group
I’ve scheduled an encouraging post I hope you’ll enjoy.

Today I'm cloning myself! (Apropos, yes?)  I’m posting here, and I’m also guest posting at Leave It To Livia about my blogging experiences.  I’d love it if you’d pay Livia’s blog a visit when you're done.  :)

Now for GPMDouble Trouble 
                Double Possessives & Double Negatives

Double Possessives
Save pronouns, we form possessives by adding an apostrophe + s to a noun—usually a name.

Sam becomes Sam’s
I went to the house belonging to Sam = I went to Sam’s house.

What if I said, “The house of Sam’s is blue.”? 
Is that correct?

Sort of.  It depends.

It's common in everyday speech—even found sometimes in writing—but it’s technically a double possessive. I’ve already said house of Sam, so tacking ’s onto the name adds a second indicator of possession that isn’t needed.

But, since ‘that house of Sam’ sounds strange, it’s better to simply phrase it Sam’s house.

You definitely want to avoid a double possessive is when the possessor is an inanimate object.

If I was speaking of a store’s cash register, saying the cash register of the store’s sounds strange. It should be said or written the cash register of the store.

On the other hand, when the possessed thing can actually be of that person, not just belong to them—such as a photograph or some other likeness—then consider breaking the rule for the sake of clarity.

If I say a panting of Caroline, do I mean a painting belonging to Caroline or a painting OF Caroline?

In this situation, if I’m speaking of a random painting she possesses (a painting of something or someone other than herself), then the double possessive, a painting of Caroline’s, would help clarify this.

Double Negatives

Two Negatives in English destroy one another, 
or are equivalent to an Affirmative.”  
 – Lowth’s A Short Introduction to English Grammar (1775)

A double negative is formed when two words are used together in the same sentence that have the effect of cancelling each other out—usually causing the sentence to mean the opposite of what the author intended.

For the record, the following words are considered negative: no, not / -n’t, none, nothing, nowhere, nobody, no one, neither, hardly, barely, scarcely. So...

don’t + nothing = negative + negative (double negative)
don’t + anything = negative + positive (correct)

I don’t have no pencils = I do not have no pencils
Meaning: I do have pencils.
Should be: I don't have any pencils.

I can’t hardly believe you said that.
Meaning: I can believe you said that.
Should be: I can hardly believe...

He ain’t got no smarts.

*the grammarian in me shudders, then takes deep breath*

First, ain’t is not a word. It’s an improper substitute for isn’t or hasn’t. 
But I digress...

He ain’t got no smarts = He has not got no smarts. *mini shudder*
Meaning: He’s got smarts.

The person speaking of him, on the other hand
...needs to come back Monday. Evvvery Monday.

Occasionally a double negative will be used on purpose to add emphasis to something (We can’t just do nothing!), but such construction should be avoided in almost all cases. 

Thanks for visiting!
Hop over to Livia’s blog if you have time.


  1. Such a cute photo! :) Thanks for today's GPM, Melissa. I'm on my way over to Livia's!

    1. Thanks! It's one of my most favorite ones of the boys when they were little. :)

  2. Thanks for the Monday lesson! And I agree with Carrie, what a cute photo! Double trouble but double cute too. (:

  3. I ain't had no trouble understandin' this one!

    What makes me shudder - mini and otherwise - is people using "them" for "those". ARGH! I hear it everyday when I live. *grinds teeth* Sentences should NOT begin with "them"... ever.
    /rant off

  4. Echoing the sentiment: cute photo! Yes, the only time these kinds of errors should show up would be if their appropriate to your character's pattern of speech. Otherwise, they're like nails on a chalkboard to most writers! Good, as always, Melissa.

  5. Betwixt sounds great. You are so funny! Very helpful as always. Hey could you do a post on I could care less/I couldn't care less? That has always confused me!

    1. Yes, it does!

      Ha! I try.

      Done! :D

  6. I try to avoid those!
    Already read your guest spot at Livia's blog.
    And thanks for mentioning the IWSG!

    1. Thanks for visiting the guest post.

      You're welcome! I love IWSG. :)

  7. I found your blog from Livia's post. And I discovered you're highlighting Betwixt--it's a wonderful novel and I'm really glad to see it here!

    1. I just won en e-copy! Can't wait to read it! :)

  8. Luckily, this is one grammar lesson I have a firm grasp on. Hey, Melissa, great post over at Livia's!

  9. Loved the double negative lesson! And LOVED your guest post at Livia's. You are always fantastic, Melissa! <3

    1. Aww. Thanks. I wasn't kidding when I said you're good for my ego. :)

  10. Good reminder about the double negatives! I'm hopping over to Livia's now.

  11. Another great post and such a cutie pie pic! I'm heading over to Livia's.

  12. Because of a certain dialect I'm trying to achieve, I've had to use a lot of double negatives, and it hurts! lol.
    Love your post over at Livia's.

    1. As long as you know the rule, you can break it with good reason. But I know what you mean. LOL

      Thanks to all you ladies for supporting me and visiting Livia's. :)


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