If you want to communicate clearly, use positive language. This is a basic guideline for writing plain language.
Negative language is inherently difficult to use because it has:
• conceptual difficulties (you may be writing about something nonexistent)
• psychological difficulties (negative language makes people feel bad)
• cultural implications (negativity can damage international business relationships).
Be especially careful to avoid using:
• two or more negatives in one sentence
• negative language in forms (application forms etc.)
• 'not only... but also'
• negative questions.
no, not, won’t, never, nowhere, never, nothing, nobody, no-one etc.
Negative bits of words:
un-, de-, dis-, non-, in-, contra-, counter-. anti-, -less.
Words with negative connotations or complications:
however, except, unless, only if, despite, default, remove, cancel, unfortunately, hesitate, refuse, withdraw, error, loss, poor
NEGATIVE Please do not hesitate to call me.
POSITIVE Please call me.
UNCLEAR (NEGATIVE) Under no circumstances must this be used [except] in the case of a fire.
CLEAR (POSITIVE) Use this fire hose if you discover a fire.
UNCLEAR (DOUBLE NEGATIVE) Do you agree that the number of police should not fall below the number employed nationally as at 31 January 1997?
CLEAR (POSITIVE) Do you agree that the number of police officers employed nationally should be at least 8000?