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This is from the Beatles' song:

"There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say, but you can learn
How to play the game
It's easy.
Nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do, but you can learn
How to be you in time
It's easy."

I've got a problem with understanding those double negatives in the lyrics above. I'm a bit baffled by that, for example, nothing you can do that can't be done. Is it a pleonasm, sort of you can do nothing from nothing?

Comments  

The logic here is apparently that if you have love, then there's nothing that you can't do. But it's presented rather awkwardly, apparently for the sake of fitting the words and rhyme to a certain rhythm. So:


"There's nothing you can do that can't be done (if you have love).", rather then just: "There's nothing you can't do (if you have love).", which would not fit the beat of the song. "Nothing you can sing that can't be sung (if you have love).", rather than just: "Nothing that you can't sing (if you have love)." And so forth.

Anonymous"There's nothing you can do that can't be done (if you have love).", rather then just: "There's nothing you can't do (if you have love).", which would not fit the beat of the song. "Nothing you can sing that can't be sung (if you have love).", rather than just: "Nothing that you can't sing (if you have love)." And so forth.

Ah, I see it now. Thank you very much for the reply.

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?

I think the first answer misses the meaninglessness of the first two lines. Of course if you can do something it can be done! But what was Lennon actually meaning? Either he meant there is nothing you WANT to do that can't be done, in which case he could have written: 'There's nothing you would do that can't be done', or he meant 'can't be done' in the sense of 'is not permitted'.

There is nothing [that you can do] that cannot be done.


Everything that you can do can be done.