Why do people say я никто instead of я не никто. It really confuses because I learned that everything needs double negation.

  • 7
    я никто means I am nobody. я не никто means I am not nobody.
    – Anixx
    Aug 15, 2017 at 1:55
  • The question is unclear, since the two variants actually mean two opposite things. Aug 17, 2017 at 11:10
  • How do you say: "I'm nobody important" with an adjective attached to nobody.
    – JakeDJ
    Aug 27, 2017 at 19:19

2 Answers 2


Because there's no verb. Whenever you have got a verb, you make it negative.

Я ничего не сделал. Он никому ничего не сказал.

But with the verb "to be"it's different. You say

You are nobody and your name is "nothing". Ты никто, и твое имя — «ничто».

If you put a negation (ты не "никто"), the meaning changes and becomes positive (you aren't "nobody", you are "somebody".


I'd clarify a bit V.V.'s answer.

1) There IS a verb, it is omitted and implied, indeed, but structurally speaking it is there, even if invisible.

The proper way to write down your examples would be "я - никто" & "я - не никто". Note long dash (тире) added - it denotes a spelling pause, that takes place of the omitted is/are verb (3rd person present tense "to be", есть/суть).

2) The double negation propagates from a negated verb to the noun it controls, but not backwards! The omitted implied verb here is non-negated. Just replace the dash with the verb itself. It would sound archaic and weird, but is possible.

  • я - никто => я / есть / никто
  • я - не никто => я / есть / не никто

Negation falls to the noun, not to the verb. The verb itself stays positive. So no negated verb to trigger the double negation.

  • 2
    The proper way to write down your examples would be "я - никто". First, this should be the dash, not the minus symbol, that is я — никто, second, as far I know, it is not required all the time. If one puts stress on the word, with pause, then yes, it should be written with the dash, but otherwise, not. rus.stackexchange.com/questions/25821/Тире-после-слова-я
    – d.k
    Aug 15, 2017 at 16:41
  • 2
    При обычной интонации без паузы, инверсии или логического выделения местоимения, тире после местоимений НЕ ставится.
    – V.V.
    Aug 15, 2017 at 20:19
  • How would you say: "This is nothing new" or like: "I saw nobody's bag" I see multiple variants and I get a little bit confused.
    – JakeDJ
    Aug 27, 2017 at 19:15
  • in casual style "Ничего [[нет]] нового" (implied omitted word bracketed). "Nobody's bag" - prb'ly "ничейная сумка", this a bit more accurate here than "ничья сумка". "I saw"... prob'ly "Тaм была" or something referring the environment, the encounter.
    – Arioch
    Aug 28, 2017 at 8:24

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