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Can standard negation be marked by an inflecting word (‘auxiliary verb’)?


This feature refers to Standard Negation, i.e. the constructions that mark negation of (at least) dynamic (not-stative) verbal predicates in declarative mood. This question aims to capture phonologically free markers that inflect (i.e. change form depending on TAM, person, number and other categories of the core arguments). These inflecting phonologically free markers are often described as ‘auxiliary verbs’ in the literature, but are also analyzed under other labels by some authors (such as STAMP morphemes (STAM = Subject-Tense-Aspect-Mood-Polarity) or inflecting pronouns). We are interested in grammatical marking, i.e. dedicated, productive and obligatory marking.


  1. Find the section in the available descriptive literature that deals with negation.
  2. If you do not find any negation markers that inflect, code as 0.
  3. If an inflecting word clearly marks negation, code the language as 1.
  4. If it is not clear whether the inflecting word marks negation, code the language as ?.


Finnish (ISO 639-3: fin, Glottolog: finn1318)

Standard negation in Finnish is expressed with a negative auxiliary followed by the inflectional stem of the main verb. The form of the auxiliary varies according to the person and number of the subject (Karlsson 1999: 69–70). Finnish is coded 1 for this feature.

a. he  lukevat
   3PL read:3PL
   ‘they read’ (Karlsson 1999: 70)

b. he  eivät   lue
   3PL NEG.3PL read
   ‘they do not read’ (Karlsson 1999: 70)

c. luemme
   ‘we read’ (Karlsson 1999: 70)

d. emme    lue
   NEG.1PL read
   ‘we do not read’ (Karlsson 1999: 70)

e. tulet
   ‘you come’ (Karlsson 1999: 70)

f. et      tule
   NEG.2SG come
   ‘you do not come’ (Karlsson 1999: 70)

Further reading

Croft, William. 1991. The evolution of negation. Journal of Linguistics 27(1). 1–27.

Dahl, Östen. 1979. Typology of sentence negation. Linguistics 17. 79–106.

Dahl, Östen. 2010. Typology of negation. In Laurence R. Horn (ed.), The expression of negation, 9–38. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Dryer, Matthew S. 2013. Negative morphemes. In Matthew S. Dryer & Martin Haspelmath (eds), The world atlas of language structures online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Payne, John R. 1985. Negation. In Timothy Shopen (ed.), Language typology and syntactic description, vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Karlsson, Fred. 1999. Finnish: an essential grammar. (Routledge Grammars.) London: Routledge.

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