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.
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.’
Let’s create negative sentences that contain ‘be’ verbs. Remember, ‘be’ verbs include ‘am,’ ‘is,’ ‘are,’ ‘was,’ and ‘were.
- 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’).Here’s another example of a sentence with a ‘do’ auxiliary verb:
- William washed the dishes after dinner.
- William did not wash the dishes after dinner.
In this example, the original verb (‘washed’) is in past simple tense. When that happens, the auxiliary verb ‘do’ is represented in its past form ‘did,’ while the original verb reverts to its base form (‘wash’).
Perfect and Progressive Verb Tense
Progressive verbs use a form of ‘to be’ paired with the present participle (such as verbs with the ‘-ing’ ending) to indicate continuous action. For example, the future progressive form of the verb ‘laugh’ is ‘will be laughing.’Similarly, the perfect form of a verb combines a form of ‘have’ with the past participle form of a verb. For example, the future perfect form of ‘watch’ is ‘will have watched.
‘ When there are two auxiliary verbs, the word ‘not’ comes after the first auxiliary verb.For example:
- The students will not be laughing when they fail their test.
- By the time we take the astronomy test, we will not have watched an entire moon cycle.
A negative sentence states that information is not true and is usually created by adding ‘not’ after the auxiliary verb or by turning the auxiliary verb into a negative contraction. If there’s no auxiliary verb, add a form of ‘do’ and change the main verb into its base form.
If there’s more than one auxiliary verb, the word ‘not’ goes after the first auxiliary verb.