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Don’t use ‘not’ ever again! AKA: Negation in English
Ian Kime
February 2, 2021

Don’t use ‘not’ ever again! AKA: Negation in English

NEGATION IN ENGLISH - ESL EXPERTZ

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Recently, a student of mine asked me to prepare some exercises about negation in English. I thought it would be simple enough to cover in less than 10 minutes. But apparently… It’s not so simple, is it? Using this resource I’m sharing with you today, my students and I worked for 50 minutes!

How to use this resource:

Print a copy of the PDF for each of your students. If you are working online send a copy of the PDF or JPG file to your students, then display the necessary JPG file as you work through the activity (use this method, too, if it’s a one-on-one lesson).

  • Distribute the first page with the questionnaire containing only negative statements (if online, send them the PDF or JPG of page 1 and display the first page via screen share).
  • Give your students time to answer each phrase individually with true or false for them (if online, they can note their responses on their own or choose a color on the whiteboard and answer on the sheet you are screen sharing).
  • Then, students compare their responses with those of the others in the group. To do so, tell them to question their partner for 1 minute, then change partners in order to speak to several people in the group. They should note who they have points in common with in the far right column (if online, you can send students into break out rooms to discuss in pairs or simply find the groups of people with similar answers and have them explain what they have in common or how they arrived at this point).
  • Once the interview phase is finished, ask your students what they had in common with who.
  • Next, analyze the structures of negation present in the questionnaire. Can your students make an opposite statement? Note the opposites on the board (or, if online, next to the negative statements on the screen). Are there any statements that are pairs? For example anywhere and nowhere. How are they used differently? Also, explain any nuances between these pairs.
  • Once you are sure that your students understand the different forms of negation, go to the second activity on page 2. Cut out the cards and put them on the table face down. If online, use the JPGs in the “VIRTUAL CARDS” folder to display one card at a time.
  • In turns, students will draw a card (or read the card you display, if online) and make a guess about someone in the group by creating a negative phrase that does not use the word “not”

For example: WORK: I don’t think X has ever worked in a restaurant / Y doesn’t work anymore, she is retired. 

If the guess is correct, the student keeps the card (if online, they earn a point). If not, put the card to the side and move on. The student with the most cards, or points, once all the cards have been used is the winner.

I hope this activity fits one of your upcoming lessons well, and that negation in English will no longer be a hassle for your students!

Ian Kime

Ian Kime

I have been teaching English abroad since receiving my CELTA certificate in Poland in 2018. I enjoy tracking my individual students’ development but love having lessons with big groups! Now that I teach online, I am accompanied by my sidekicks Olaf, Mała, Pirate and Bandit on a regular basis.

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  1. La négation n’est plus difficile – A2/B1 | Les Zexperts FLE - […] Note : cette ressource a été adaptée pour l’enseignement de l’anglais ici : negation in english. […]

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