# Logic And Negative Sentences?

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Hi I have some questions to ask, I need to understand this stuff...

Let's say A, B, C, D and E are black. Let's call them "elements". So, none of them are white.

Now I want to say the same thing using a negative sentence, that is "aren't white".

I don't know if I can use "All of them aren't white",actually I'm pretty sure I can't. If you think I have some kind of mental problem for asking this question, please tell me. My mom tell me that all the time.

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all, each, every, and both (and maybe some others with the same sort of inclusive meaning) are all less than optimal as subjects of a negated verb.

The result is that English doesn't have anything that nicely solves the problem ____ aren't white. You're intuition about this is working!

The negation is best incorporated into the subject, thus:

None of them is/are white. / Not one of them is white.
Neither of them is/are white. / Neither one of them is white.
(if there are two)

That said, people do say things like All of them aren't white. The astute listener will sense something not quite right. Does it mean None of them are white or does it mean Not all of them are white (= Some of them are not white)? There are cases where the ambiguity is not so pronounced, but even so I don't recommend getting into the habit of saying things like [All / Both / Every / Each ] ...... is not ....

Drawing the negation into the subject resolves the ambiguity.
_____

An alternate solution is to find the corresponding negative adjective:

None of them are white.

=All of them are non-white.

This is more common with adjectives that take the prefix un-:

None of them were [interesting / productive / opened].
=All of them were [uninteresting / unproductive / unopened].

And of course the negative adjective might be a totally different word:

None of them were clean.
All of them were dirty.

CJ
Hi,

Let's say A, B, C, D and E are black. Let's call them "elements". So, none of them are white.

Now I want to say the same thing using a negative sentence, that is "aren't white".

I don't know if I can use "All of them aren't white", actually I'm pretty sure I can't. No, "All of them aren't white" leaves the possibility that some are white and some are black.

Things like this can be tricky. Native speakers would typically avoid the difficulty by using a positive form like 'All of them are black'.

Best wishes, Clive
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Thank you very much to both of you.
CalifJimThat said, people do say things like All of them aren't white. The astute listener will sense something not quite right. Does it mean None of them are white or does it mean Not all of them are white (= Some of them are not white)? There are cases where the ambiguity is not so pronounced, but even so I don't recommend getting into the habit of saying things like [All / Both / Every / Each ] ...... is not ....
I'd like to say if sometimes people also say this:

Mary doesn't like cheese. Mary doesn't like wine. Mary doesn't like peanuts. So Mary doesn't like peanuts, cheese and wine. (Or is more logical, but is it also more idiomatic? Do native speakes ever say and?)

CalifJim, Grammar Geek and Clive are not Japanese. (The same as above)

In other words, I'd like to know if, in English, what is logical and not ambiguous is also idiomatic. Take into account that idiomatic Italian is not logical. So, in Italian, using or in the blue sentences would sound odd.

Hi again,

I'd like to say if sometimes people also say this:

Mary doesn't like cheese. Mary doesn't like wine. Mary doesn't like peanuts. So Mary doesn't like peanuts, cheese and wine. (Or is more logical, but is it also more idiomatic? Do native speakes ever say and?) Yes, we often say 'and'. It's a bit hard to say that one is more idiomatic than the other. Perhaps 'and'.

CalifJim, Grammar Geek and Clive are not Japanese. (The same as above) This kind of thing hurts my brain. Using 'and' here does not seem illogical here to me, as long as we mean that all three are not Japanese, which is the meaning I'd take from this.

In other words, I'd like to know if, in English, what is logical and not ambiguous is also idiomatic. Generally speaking, I''d say that we don't much worry about being absolutely logical. In the kind of thing we are talking about, if clarity is required, then additional questions can quickly and easily clarify the meaning.

{ After all, there are lots of people who say 'I didn't do nothing', and we understand them quite well. }

Best wishes, Clive
The phrase "logical and not ambiguous" has no business being associated with spoken English. I don't know much about other languages, but some philosophical authors have theorized that it was written language itself that allowed for formal logical thinking-that, before langauges were written, formal logic in the sense that you are speaking of here was somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible. Another way of looking at this is that the goal of spoken langauge is not logical correctness, but mutual understanding. This is why courts don't necessarily hold someone to the literal text of their spoken words. It's also why advertising works-because advertisements imply things that are not, strictly speaking, logically required, but you still inevitably catch the implication that the advertisers want you to.
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Thank you Clive. So I understand and can be used like or, provided that nothing is ambiguous. Examples:

• I don't like wine, peas... umm... chees and... and milk. (This would be taken as a list)
• I don't like chees and potatoes (This could be ambiguous, it could be taken as chees with potatoes)

• I think structures like "both/all + negative" are more likely to create confusion, like the sentence you wrote:
CliveCalifJim, Grammar Geek and Clive are not Japanese. (The same as above) This kind of thing hurts my brain. Using 'and' here does not seem illogical here to me, as long as we mean that all three are not Japanese, which is the meaning I'd take from this.

Anyway, I feel that sentences like "all of them are not Japanese" usually mean "none of them are Japanese" instead of "not all of them are Japanese", at least in speech.

P.S.: Sorry AHahn, I didn't see your post, thank you to you too. I agree with you. Anyway I am interested in this things and I'll try to understand English structures as best I can, since digital electronics and probability are basically "pure logic".

Thank you.
as long as we mean that all three are not Japanese, which is the meaning I'd take from this.

But I think this somehow falls into its own trap, leaving us asking again Which meaning?

Is the meaning you take from All three are not Japanese that X is not Japanese, Y is not Japanese, and Z is not Japanese?
Or is the meaning you take from it that Not all three are Japanese, i.e., One or two but not all three are Japanese?

CJ

Anyway, I feel that sentences like "all of them are not Japanese" usually mean "none of them are Japanese" instead of "not all of them are Japanese", at least in speech.

I didn't see your post. This (quoted above) is a good rule of thumb, yes, and I'm inclined to think that this is gist of what Clive was saying as well. But of course he can speak for himself if he thinks we've misinterpreted something.

CJ
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