Unit 1.1

To be Negative


To be is a linking verb and an auxiliary verb that is essential in grammar.

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


To be is an irregular verb and, in the negative form, it has this structure:
Subject + to be + not + …

Subject To Be + not Short form*
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

*The short form is used in spoken language or in informal writing.

We use to be as a linking verb between other classes of words, it gives us more details about the condition of the subject.

To be is used with:

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


To be is used with:

  1. Nouns
    • I am not a student.
    • He is not a lawyer.
    • We are not doctors.
  2.  Adjectives
    • am not tall.
    • He is not polite.
    • Many people are not happy.
  3.  Prepositional phrases (or complements)
    • My book is not on the bed.
    • Harry Potter is not on the TV.
    • The eggs are not in the box.

To be can also be used in short forms:

  • You aren’t 12 years old.
  • This coat isn’t $100.
  • Standard double beds aren’t 5 feet wide.


To be, in its negative form, is used to deny something about the characteristics of the subject, for example: age, behaviour, colour, jobs, nationality, personality, place, price, qualities, size, time…


To be is one of the most commonly used auxiliary verbs. To be is often used with nouns, adjectives and prepositional phrases.

In its negative form (verb followed by not), it denies the characteristics of the subject and is placed after it.

The forms are: I am not, you are not, he is not, she is not, it is not, we are not, you are not and they are not.

For example:
— “I am not tall.” = We use am not for the first person singular.
— “He is not tall.” = We use is not for the third person singular.
— “They are not tall.” = We use are not for plurals.

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

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


External link to To be Negative exercises (4).