About Double Negative

Hello guys.
I’m gonna ask about double negative today,

If somebody says,
“You know nothing.”
and if I think that’s not right, can I say this?
I don’t know nothing.
But I’ve learnt, double negative is ‘negative’!
So I reckon, “I don’t know nothing” means “I don’t know anything”
but in that case, above, does it mean “I know something”? or what?

I can’t get no satisfaction.
I never love nobody fully.

Those above mean
I can’t get any satisfaction.
I never love anybody fully.

Or, am I wrong?

Then, what should the response for “You know nothing”?
Should it be “I know something”? or what?

Thanks for answers in advance.

Hi Penny,

You’re right, you shouldn’t use the double negative. It is correct to say ‘I don’t know anything’. However, you do here people use the double negative of ‘I don’t know nothing’ to emphasise that they have absolutely no clue whatsoever.

Hi Penny

The use of a double negative to mean the same thing as a “regular” negative is considered to be improper grammatically, and it is not appropriate in formal or “standard” English.

However, the fact of the matter is that this use of the double negative has existed in English for a very long time. So, if you said “I don’t know nothing” to someone, they’d probably understand the meaning to be the same as “I don’t know anything”.

A contradictory response to that statement might be this, for example:

“You’re wrong! I do know something! In fact, I know a lot!”

Thanks Ralf and Amy.
But, I wonder about this as well.

What do you know?
Oh you know nothing!
But I’ll still take you home
Yeah, I’ll still take you home
What do you know?
Oh you don’t know nothing!

It’s a part of the lyrics of ‘Still Take You Home’ by Arctic Monkeys.
Then, does ‘You don’t know nothing’ mean ‘You don’t know anything’ here? Or the opposite?
(Oh, can I have just one more question? In this case, do I have to say ‘opposite’ or ‘reverse’ ‘contrary’ ‘contradictory’ ? I don’t know what’s the difference or what to use for this situation.)

Thank you!

Hi Penny,

You’re right again, ‘you don’t know nothing’ is not grammatical, but often used in spoke language in an emphatic way. And it does mean ‘you don’t know anything’.

To answer your next question, I’d like to tell you a little story.

Fat is the [color=darkblue]opposite of slim, and fat is usually considered bad. But fat can have the[color=darkblue] reverse meaning of its classical sense in colloquial language because some speakers decide to misapply it deliberately. This is [color=darkblue]contrary to accepted custom, but has become quite customary in some circles. You may find its usage [color=darkblue]contradictory, but well; language is fickle beast.