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Can standard negation be marked by a non-inflecting word (‘auxiliary particle’)?


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 do not inflect (i.e. change form depending on TAM, person, number and other categories of the core arguments). These markers are often described as particles in the literature, but are also analyzed under other labels. We are interested in grammatical marking, i.e. dedicated, productive and obligatory marking.

This particle does not have to be the sole marker of negation. There may be other markers in the language or the marker may be accompanied by other markers within the same construction. For example, the particle may be part of a double negation construction including both an affix and a particle.


  1. Find the section in the available descriptive literature that deals with negation.
  2. If you do not find any negators that do not inflect, code as 0.
  3. If a non-inflecting phonologically free marker clearly marks negation and does not inflect, code the language as 1.
  4. If it is not clear whether the marker is a negation marker, code the language as ?.


Swedish (ISO 639-3: swe, Glottolog: swed1254)

Swedish standard negation is marked by the particle inte, which does not inflect for anything (Teleman et al. 1999: 44). Swedish is coded 1 for this feature.

Han    fick inte köpa den  bok-en
3SG.M  get  NEG  buy  DEM  book-DEF 
‘He did not get to buy that book.’ (Teleman et al. 1999: 44)

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.


Teleman, Ulf, Staffan Hellberg & Andersson, Erik. 1999. Svenska akademiens grammatik, vol 1. Stockholm: Svenska akademien.

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