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Which one of these two sentences is written correctly?

  1. This test data seems to be not good.
  2. This test data seems to not be good.

Better yet if you could explain as to why the correct form is correct. It would be greatly appreciated.

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The test data doesn't seem to be good. – Armen Ծիրունյան Feb 7 '12 at 17:04
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The most natural is:

This test data doesn't seem to be good.

The following two, although not incorrect per se, are less common:

This test data seems to be not good.

This test data seems not to be good.

And the last one sounds rather unnatural:

This test data seems to not be good.

Ngrams confirms it: enter image description here

I am afraid I can't explain the why part, so I'll leave it to other answers :)

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Hamlet did not say "To be or to not be". – GEdgar Feb 7 '12 at 19:16
@Armen: Thank you! – Sergio Romero Feb 7 '12 at 19:20
@GEdgar Are you suggesting there's something wrong with splitting an infinitive? ;-) – Pitarou Feb 13 '12 at 14:08

If it fits the context, I recommend:

The test data seems [to be] no good.

According to Google Ngram Viewer, no good is more common than not good.

enter image description here

And when we add seems to be or seems (NGram), no is much more common.

Google NGram viewer comparison of "seems not to be good", "seems to be not good", "does not seem to be good", "seems to be not good", "seems no good" and "seems not good" for the period 1750--2008.  "seems no good" and "seems to be no good" are by far the most common

However, only use no good if the data is of such poor quality that you can't use it. no good has a stronger meaning than not good.

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Doesn't no good mean useless? – Armen Ծիրունյան Feb 13 '12 at 14:09
@ArmenTsirunyan Hmm ... yes ... no good is rather stronger than not good. I'll modify my answer accordingly. Thanks for pointing that out. – Pitarou Feb 13 '12 at 14:43
+1, there's a fat chance that it actually does fit the OP's context. – Armen Ծիրունյան Feb 13 '12 at 14:50

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