Stay positive!

If I told you, “You will not get paid Friday,” you’d probably be pretty upset. But that statement also leaves a lot in question. Does it mean that you’ll miss a paycheck altogether, or that you’ll be paid on a different day? Maybe you’ll get your check early. You just don’t know.

Usually, unless you’re trying to elicit intrigue or you want a very specific emphasis, it’s better to say what is happening, rather than what is not happening. (As with all things, however, there are exceptions.) That way, there is little open to interpretation. For example:

Negative form: She is not walking to work today.
Positive form: She is taking the train to work today.

Negative form: He was not happy with the results.
Positive form: He was disappointed with the results.

Keep in mind that “positive” form can include negative words and concepts. The idea is to avoid writing “not” and instead use one word to express that thought. If you’re struggling to come up with the antonym, check out Merriam-Webster’s dictionary or a thesaurus. Examples:

not smart → dumb, stupid, unintelligent
not happy → upset, sad, angry, disappointed
not fun → dull, boring
not attractive → ugly, unattractive
not dim → bright, luminous
not light → dark
not complete → incomplete
not long → short

 

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