Magens Bay --San Thomas

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Not bad! Not bad!

The other day my older one was reading my younger one’s essay that she wrote for her literature class. I loved it so much that I have encouraged her to enter into Sandra’s writing workshop and Writing prompt of the week. (

After reading it, her only comment was “Not bad!”
I can't help myself but asking, “I don’t get it why do we use double negative words?”
“Mommy, double negative means positive!”
“Very true! But, there are so many positive words out there. Why would you want to illustrate something you like with double negative words.”
I went on, “To me, those words are used because we don’t feel like we want to acknowledge how good the other person’s creation that we tend to use double negative words.”

I guess my point was we don’t have to exaggerate the admiration or encouragement but we could truly pick something we like and elaborate on that. It is more meaningful than a generic word, “Good job!”
My girls know when I praise them …l always try to praise them on what I truly believe is good. If I have nothing better to say … I would try to keep it to myself unless my constructive feedback are meaningful for them to advance themselves, otherwise—keeping my mouth shut.

After couple minutes, she came back and told her younger sister, “You know what I like about your writing, it is the part where the conversation took place between the main character and the teacher.” Then she went on, “I also really like your endings and it reminded me of a movie where that monk spoke about…”
As you can tell, a very simple but truthful comments have sent the whole conversation into a very positive direction where they both chatted for a little bit more about the writing and the monk.

If you have a choice using a positive word versus double negative word, what would you choose?
I hope you enjoy this little visit on “Double negative words,” as much as I enjoyed writing it and experienced it thru my own life.

Until next stop,
Journey of Life


  1. I guess I would use the positive word, but maybe we should be trying both and see what the outcome is.

  2. lol. What a great literary conversation to overhear!

    1. It is, isn't it :-) Thanks for reading, Sandra!

  3. I always have the tendency to leave things on a positive note. I was always brought up to believe that if you had nothing nice to say it was better to say nothing at all. I usually can always find something nice to say. Positive words are the way to go!


    1. Kathy,
      I can feel it from your writings. You are such a kind soul and I believe your daughter is such a lucky girl!--Your hubby too, of course!

      Thanks for visiting and I will make my round tonight if not tomorrow morning.

      Take care!

  4. An interesting question. Language is a particular curiosity of mine, and I think the words we choose belie more than we often wish. For example, check news reports for how frequently reports on the ongoing wars say that this or that soldier "died in Afghanistan," for example. As if the act was a passive occurrence. Compare to the much more direct "was killed in Afghanistan."

    IMHO, People die of old age. People in battle are killed by the enemy. The choice of "died" I truly believe is a sub-conscious attempt perhaps to soften what truly is happening?

    Whatever the reason, the use of the 'double negative' here is not only English. As you know, just look at how people in, e.g., China sometimes acknowledge that something is good: "不错"

    Maybe it has to do with not being too effusive with praise, or to avoid the appearance of false flattery?

    1. Very interesting point of view. I totally have forgotten how Chinese also use the 'double negative' when they converse.

      Probably so. Thanks for opening my mind to look further!