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Online Quiz (Worksheet A B C D)

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Grammar, Punctuation, and Style
3.5 Put Statements in Positive Form

Putting a statement in positive form means that the statement tells or asks about what is. Most of us use positive form statements all the time. Negative form statements are not used as often, and therefore stand out because they tell or ask about what is not.

Positive form: I want an excellent, straight A report card! (This tells us exactly what the writer wants.)
Negative form: I donít want a failing report card, full of C's and D's. (This tells us what the writer doesnít want, and we're left unsure about what the writer does want.)

  • Make definite assertions. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating, non-committal language. Use the word 'not' as a means of denial or in antithesis, never as a means of evasion.

    He was not very often on time. He usually came late.
    He did not think that studying Latin was much use. He thought the study of Latin useless.

    Both of the above examples show the weakness inherent in the word 'not'. Consciously or unconsciously, the reader is dissatisfied with being told only what is not; he wishes to be told what is. Hence, as a rule, it is better to express a negative in positive form.

    not honest dishonest
    not importanttrifling
    did not rememberforgot
    did not pay any attention toignored
    did not have much confidence indistrusted

  • The antithesis of negative and positive is strong:
    Not charity, but simple justice.
    Not that I loved Caesar less, but Rome the more.

  • Negative words other than 'not' are usually strong, and make a better choice when a negative sentence is utilized:
    The sun never sets upon the British flag.

Directions: Read the sentences below. Determine is the sentences are written in negative or positive form. Then rewrite any sentences that are negative form so that they are now positive form sentences. Write five examples of negative form sentences, and change them so they are positive form sentences.
Q 1: The man did not tell the truth about his participation in the bank robbery.
Positive form
Negative form

Q 2: His boss said that he was not behaving in a professional manner.
Positive form
Negative form

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