In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, a man was talking to a detective in a bar:

“Don’t forget, Mr. Blick—though a gentleman of your ability and experience needs no reminding of it, I’m sure—don’t forget that it’s always the unexpected that happens! The unexpected, sir!—Ah, there’s a great deal in the unexpected! No one knows, sir, what the morrow may not bring forth!”

I usually find this statement in a positive form, i.e "No one know what the morrow may bring forth", but what it's meant by making it in a negative form this time?"


1 Answer 1


It's double negation — something that is not allowed in formal English, but is very common in informal English. (For example, in the Rolling Stones song "I Can't Get No Satisfaction".)

What does it mean? It means exactly the same thing as the positive form would:

No one knows what the morrow may bring forth!

Why did the author use the negative form here? I don't know. Possibly to give a more accurate representation of dialog, or possibly to give some indication as to the level of education of the speaker. It would take more context to figure this out.

  • 1
    The specific implication I read is "No one knows what won't happen tomorrow, thus anything could happen"
    – bobble
    Jun 6, 2021 at 14:24
  • @bobble:you're right, in this case the slang double negation means the same as the standard English interpretation. So we can figure out what it means, but don't know what the exact grammar is.
    – Peter Shor
    Jun 7, 2021 at 0:01

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