4 To Be – Negative


The verb To Be is essential in grammar. It’s an auxiliary verb and is one of the irregular verbs. (We will see its use in combination with other verbs to express actions and behaviour in the Present Progressive form).

When expressed in its Negative form, the verb denies something about the subject.

The Negative form of the verb To Be has this structure:
Subject + verb to be + not.

I am not I’m not
You are not You’re not/You aren’t
He is not He’s not/He isn’t
She is not She’s not/She isn’t
It is not It’s not/It isn’t
We are not We’re not/We aren’t
You are not You’re not/You aren’t
They are not They’re not/They aren’t

*Short forms are usually used in spoken and informal English.

To Be is used with:

  1.  Nouns
    • I’m not a student.
    • He’s not a lawyer.
    • We aren’t doctors.
  2.  Adjectives
    • I am not tall.
    • He’s not polite.
    • Many people aren’t happy.
  3.  Prepositional phrases (or complements)
    • My book isn’t on the bed.
    • There isn’t a good movie on TV.
    • There aren’t eggs in the box.

To Be is used to talk about:

  1. Age
    • You’re not 12 years old.
    • He isn’t 35 years old.
    • We aren’t 35.
  2.  Price
    • This coat isn’t $100.
    • This dress isn’t $50.
    • The books aren’t $80 in total.
  3.  Size
    • A standard double bed isn’t 5 feet wide.
    • The dress isn’t medium.
    • The blue shoes aren’t size 38.
  4. Shape
    • The table isn’t square.
    • The building isn’t rectangle-shaped.
    • The tower isn’t oval-shaped.
  5.  Colour
    • My hair isn’t brown.
    • His eyes aren’t green.
    • Our room isn’t pink.
  6. Nationality
    • I’m not from Greece.
    • He’s not Italian.
    • They are not French.

Short forms:

  • You aren’t 12 years old.
  • This coat isn’t $100.
  • A standard double bed isn’t 5 feet wide.

To Be has a very basic structure, when it is in combination with other classes of words (nouns, adjectives, complements, etc.), it gives us more details about the condition of the subject. It is used as a linking word, between the subject and a complement or adjective, to provide further information about the subject itself.

To Be is used with:

  1. Nouns;
  2. Adjectives;
  3. Prepositional Phrases (or complements).

To Be is used to talk about the characteristics of the subject, for example:

  1. Age;
  2. Price;
  3. Size;
  4. Shape;
  5. Colour;
  6. Nationality.

The verb To Be is one of the most commonly used auxiliary verbs. When used in its Negative form, something about the subject is denied (when we are describing this subject). To be is often used with nouns, adjectives and prepositional phrases.

The verb To Be in its Negative form has this structure:
Subject + verb to be + not (e.g. I am not an actress.).

For example:
— “I’m not an actress.” = The verb denies a characteristic of the subject.
— “He’s not tall.” = The verb denies a characteristic of the subject.
— “They mom is not 38 years old.” = The verb denies a characteristic of the subject.

NOTE: We use the short form in spoken language or informal writings.

Let’s revise this content within the [Form] section. Take a look at the [Example] section that shows its use within a context.