You can’t negate a noun

Originally posted October 2011

Is this no bananas or no helicopters?

Is this no bananas or no helicopters?

I will maintain until I die, or someone proves me wrong, that the expression ”I have no bananas” is just grammatical nonsense.

I’m not picking bananas in particular, but any phrase that includes ”have no” in it.

According to the Oxford dictionary to have is to possess, own, or hold. How can you possess, own or hold something that is non-existent?

Still confused? Do this mental exercise. Picture two bananas. Now picture ”no bananas”. What so you see? An empty hand, empty bowl, empty space….

Couldn’t you also say that what you see is no apples, no people, no helicopters, no Great Wall of China?

Unlike other languages, you can’t negate nouns in English. But you can negate verbs. I do not have any bananas. Or even I don’t have any bananas. Not hard really.

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