EDUCE Overview Copyright 2009 Nikolas S. Boyd.
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Normal Polarity


Convert a verb with negative polarity to affirmative polarity.


A verb can be expressed with an affirmative or a negative polarity. For example:

a storage building's drum count must not exceed its drum storage limit (negative)
a storage building's drum storage limit must exceed its drum count (affirmative)


Use affirmative polarity when


-- Sgt. Oddball in Kelly's Heroes
played by Donald Sutherland

Negative polarity may obscure intent and can lead to misunderstandings, especially when used in a complex sentence, or if a statement uses a double negative. Most negative assertions are oriented toward prevention. For example, policies sometimes dictate that a situation or state must be avoided.

must not allow => prevents

You can rephrase most negative assertions in the affirmative. As reflected in the example above constraining drum storage, simply removing the word not and swapping the order of the subject and object in a clause will often suffice. However, sometimes achieving affirmative polarity requires choosing a related replacement verb. Sometimes an equivalent positive verb must replace a negative verb.


A normal form sentence has an affirmative verb with a complete predicate, singular number, active voice, indicative mood, and appropriate tense.