Translation:There is nothing.
@AnaLydiate Please stop misleading these people, 何も does NOT mean "nothing", it means "anything" / "everything else" just by itself, that's why it has to be negated to mean "nothing". も by itself does NOT mean a negative, in any context. That is why it must be negated by ~ない in any sentence or construction where it needs to be a strong negative.
Hi Jenda, sorry, it doesn't seem I can reply anywhere else. So I looked up なにも in my dictionary and it says it means nothing BUT you are right - it means nothing with a negative verb - in this aspect it's similar to あんまり which is only ever just used with a negative verb. Anyway, I have to thank you because you helped me realise that I have been subconsciously equating the 'n' sound at the start of 何も with a negative! So, no 何も is not a negative word and this sentence isn't an example of a double negative. But having said that you would never use 何も with a positive verb, for instance if you wanted to ask someone if they had something you'd use 何か, it's a little off topic but just thought I'd add it on there, FYI sorry of thing. Thanks for helping me realise my error!
@AnaLydiate: Yes you are right, 何も is not used with positive verbs. However, its "pure" stand-alone meaning really is "anything", it's just it's not used in this way.
@maran446101: No, I am thinking 何も. 何もあります really sounds weird and is not used, but that doesn't make the original double negative explanation valid, though, because it's not a double negative.
Well, there's a hyphenated "no-" prefix in English, and there are some words that have absorbed "no" at the beginning of the word (i.e., "nothing" = "no thing"), which you could argue is a "no" prefix, technically, even if it's become its own thing in modern use. But besides "non-" ("nonexistent") "in-" ("inaccurate") and "un-" ("unreliable") there are also "de-" ("devalue") "dis-" ("discredit") "anti-" ("antithesis") and probably more I'm not thinking of. Most of these mean "not" but you could easily argue that "anti" is specifically "the opposite of," which I agree with. It's a more specific form of "not." Of course, then you have stuff like "mal-" which means "bad" (i.e., "malpractice") which is close to "not" but isn't "not." In the example, "malpractice" doesn't mean that it is not "practice." It means that the practice (that is, "action") was harmful.
I'm something of a word nerd, so it was fun to go off on root words like this. ^_^
>>>"But unlike some languages where a double negative equals a positive, a double negative in Japanese makes a for a strong negative."
I don't think your statement is correct. For example, how could you explain this?
宿題をしないといけない // Have to do homework. (from here http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/must )
The construction in this sentence 何も ありません is a double negative - nothing and don't have. But in this instance the double negative results in a strong negative ie. I don't have anything rather than I have everything. Similarly だれも いない means nobody and is not there/does not exist but the combination of these two negatives translates as nobody is there or nobody is around. しない と いけない is a different construction but translating it is very logical - basically it's saying to not do something is not allowed therefore it is something that must be done or has to be done. Spanish is the same no tengo nada - lit. - I don't have nothing ----> I have nothing OR I don't have anything.
Your explanation is absolutely not true. 何も is not a negative, therefore 何も ありません is not a double negative. The も functions like an intensification particle, i.e. 何 means "what", も modifies it to mean "anything" (just as it modifies だれ = "who" to だれも = "anybody" / "everybody") and ありません negates it, therefore the entire construction means "there is nothing" (literally: "there is not anything"). しないといけない is a completely different structure that actually is a double negative, like you mentioned. It is not at all similar to 何もありません.
なにもない - There is nothing/nothing exists/I have nothing/I don't have anything.
なんでもない - It's nothing eg. your response when someone, concerned, asks - どうした の? - What's wrong/what happened? なんでもない - It's nothing (nothing's wrong but REALLY there IS something wrong but you don't want to talk about it - you're deflecting)
.................IMPORTANT.................. Nani : what Nanika : something Nanimo : everything
Doko : where Dokoka : somewhere Dokomo : Everywhere
Dare : who Dareka : someone Daremo : everyone
Itsu : when Itsuka : sometime Itsumo : always
I hope this help.. I also figured it out just now :-D
Not really. It doesnt sound grammatically correct. You can say "it's nothing" to respond to "why are you sad?", but "that is nothing" would be to respond to "what is that?" or and pretty much nothing else. Maybe, "i climbed a mountain last week". "Well, that's nothing, i flew to the moon!".
Another way to look at it would be to think of "XXも" as "no matter XX":
何もありません: "No matter what (you're talking about/thinking), it does not exist" = "There is nothing"
何でもありません: "No matter what (you're talking about/thinking), it is not that" = "It's nothing"
何も食べます: "No matter what (you're talking about/thinking), I will eat it" = "I will eat anything" (*use with care)
どこにもあります: "No matter where (you're talking about/thinking), it exists" = "It's everywhere"
If you were Vietnamese, you could translate this very easily. も here in Vietnam means "cũng", which roughly means -ever (as in whatever or whenever) or any- (as in anything or anywhere) in English. Therefore, 何もありません i will understand as "cái gì cũng không có" or "(There) is not anything"
I read the tips and in the tios where they were saying about 'putting letters at the front to make it talk about a place' In the sentences it said 'you' in braccets. Does that mean that 'you' isnt in the sentence but it makes sense to us with 'you'? If thats the case, why is that?