Sentence 009 Let the cat out of the bag.
009 There is no room to swing a cat.
There isn’t a room to swing a cat.
There isn’t no room to swing a cat.
There isn’t room to swing a cat.
Leslie: Which of these sentences is the worst?
Kriszti: For me, the worst is ’There isn’t no room to swing a cat.’
K: Because it’s double negation and it reminds me to Black Slang in the Bronx. Double negative is sub-standard English. It is understandable, but still incorrect outside the Bronx.
L: So, we can say that it is locally correct and communicative; a sort of language identification of a group of people.
Which one is also incorrect?
K: ’There isn’t room to swing a cat.’
L: Why is it incorrect?
K: It contains a singular noun ’room’ and it is without an article. That is wrong.
L: I agree with you. Is there yet another one?
K: I think that the other two sentences, ’There is no room to swing a cat.’ and ’There isn’t a room to swing a cat.’ are grammatically equally correct, but …
L: I couldn’t agree more. But …
K: Since I don’t really know the meaning of these sentences, I cannot really tell what is wrong with either of them.
L: Let me help you. One of the two sentences is neither really about a ’room’, nor a dance ’swing’, nor even a ’cat’. It is about a very crowded place; about a space that is like a tin of sardines.
K: Then it must be ’There is no room to swing a cat.’ I dont’t have any ideas about the other one.
L: You are right, and I don’t have any idea about the meaning of the other sentence, either. That sentence is not idiomatic and it is really about a ’room’, about one of the multiple meanings of ’swing’, and about a ’cat’, and as such, it doesn’t make much sense. Because of this, it is wrong.
K: Then it is a grammatically correct but meaningless sentence.
L: You are right; it shows that grammatical correctness is necessary but insufficient. A sentence must make sense as well.