Last week I wrote about how to negate extreme answer choices, and this week we’re going to talk about mild statements that appear in answer choices.
The key with mild statements is, just like it was with extreme statements, to make them untrue but without seeking their polar opposite.
An example of a mild statement: “There’s some milk on the floor.”
How would we make this untrue? We’d say there’s no milk on the floor. There was some, and now there’s none. We mopped it up.
Mop up this:
“There might be a chance of rain tomorrow.”
How do you mop up that chance of rain?
There’s no chance of rain tomorrow.
Notice what I’m doing here? Think about it.
If I negate extreme statements by poking a hole in them, then it makes sense that you would negate mild statements by the inverse, that is, by using extreme language to mop them up. Try a few below and then check your answers. (And, as with all rules of thumb when it comes to the LSAT, please understand this a guideline only—as a way of thinking about negation—and not a hard-and-fast rule that will get you to 180. High scores don’t come by simply memorizing and applying rules; they come from learning the strategies, techniques, and concepts that enable you actually understand, analyze, and apply logic. Now I’ll get off my soapbox.)
1. Jackson Pollock may be one of the best painters that ever lived.
2. On occasion, Jillian will take a nap between 3 and 5 or sometimes 3 and 6.
3. Often, but not always, Jim likes to take pictures of rainbows.
4. The early bird sometimes gets the worm.
1. Jackson Pollock is not one of the best painters that ever lived.
2. Jillian never takes a nap between 3 and 6. [Notice this covers the 3-5 period.]
3. Jim either never likes to take pictures of rainbows or always does.
4. The early bird never gets the worm.
What if we wanted to negate just the standard saying, “The early bird gets the worm.” Would we say, “The early bird never gets the worm?” Think about it for a moment before reading on.
Okay, if you answered no, you’re correct. “The early bird gets the worm” is an “extreme” statement in the sense that we interpret it to mean the early bird always gets the worm. So, harking back to the last post, we poke a hole in it: The early bird sometimes doesn’t get the worm.
For much more in-depth explanation and practice, turn to the negation section of the Manhattan LSAT Logical Reasoning Strategy Guide.