What is a Negative Sentence? - Definition, Structure & Examples

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  • 0:04 Negative Sentences
  • 0:26 'Be' Verbs
  • 1:19 Contractions
  • 1:47 No Auxiliary Verbs
  • 2:45 Perfect And Progressive
  • 3:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we'll learn the difference between an affirmative and a negative sentence. We'll also learn how to change an affirmative sentence into a negative sentence containing various verb forms.

Negative Sentences

A negative sentence is a sentence that states that something is false. In English, we create negative sentences by adding the word 'not' after the auxiliary, or helping, verb. An example of an auxiliary verb is the helping verb 'be.' There are different forms that 'be' takes, including 'am,' 'is,' 'are,' 'was,' and 'were.'

'Be' Verbs

Let's create negative sentences that contain 'be' verbs. Remember, 'be' verbs include 'am,' 'is,' 'are,' 'was,' and 'were.'

For example:

  • David is not a happy person.
  • The clouds were not blocking the sun's rays.

These are examples of negative sentences because the word 'not' changes the sentence to a false statement. Notice that the word 'not' is placed after 'is' and 'were', which are auxiliary verbs.

Affirmative sentences are the opposite of negative sentences because affirmative sentences state things positively. Let's look at the same examples written as affirmative sentences.

  • David is a happy person.
  • The clouds were blocking the sun's rays.

As you can see, adding the word 'not' to make these sentences negative completely changed the meaning of the sentence.


Negative sentences can be created for informal speech and writing using contractions.

For example:

  • David isn't a happy person.
  • The clouds weren't blocking the sun's rays.

Here's a list of negative contractions for the 'be' verbs:

am there is no contraction used
is not becomes isn't
are not becomes aren't
was not becomes wasn't
were not becomes weren't

No Auxiliary Verbs

Sometimes, there's not an auxiliary verb in the sentence. When that happens, you'll add a form of the word 'do' as the auxiliary verb preceding the word 'not.'

For example, the first sentence is the affirmative, followed by the negative sentence that falsifies it:

  • Jim takes the subway to work every morning.
  • Jim does not take the subway to work every morning.

What do you notice about the verb 'take?' When 'do' is paired with the present simple form of the verb, it becomes 'does.' The original verb ('takes') is expressed in its base form ('take,' without the 's').

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