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How am I supposed to write the sentences below in the negative form?

Example A:

A.1) Lila is certainly not going to be very happy about it

or

A.2) Lila isn't certainly going to be very happy about it

or

A.3) Lila certainly isn't going to be very happy about it.

Example B:

B.1) You are obviously not paying attention to the signs

or

B.2) You aren't obviously paying attention to the signs

or

B.3) You obviously aren't paying attention to the signs.

What is required to be done in these cases as so the sentences are grammatically correct?

closed as off-topic by Chenmunka, FumbleFingers, anongoodnurse, Tushar Raj, Edwin Ashworth Jun 8 '15 at 13:26

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

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If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • If you enter "adverb position" in the search box in the upper right corner of this page, you'll find a bunch of questions—and answers—on this site devoted to the same subject that you're asking about here. Please take a look at some of them and see whether any of the answers resolve the particular questions you have about adverb placement. – Sven Yargs Jun 3 '15 at 1:20
  • @SvenYargs, my question was focused on where the adverb should be placed in a negative sentence. WS2 got my point, and stated that "the adverbs certainly/obviously have to stand before the negative", although I still didn't get if this is global rule, or if it's just for certainly/obviously. – Loureiro Gui Jun 3 '15 at 19:06
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    I get it now—and no previous EL&U question asks the same question. It may be worth noting that, in addition to using the forms A1, A3, B1, and B3 (as well as B2, if the intended meaning is "aren't paying attention in an obvious way"), English speakers and writers may sometimes use constructions of these forms: "Certainly Lila is not [or isn't] going to be very happy about it"; "Lila is not [or isn't] going to be very happy about it, certainly"; "Obviously you are not [or aren't] paying attention to the signs"; and "You are not [or aren't] paying attention to the signs, obviously." – Sven Yargs Jun 3 '15 at 19:36
1

All are grammatical (though A2 is a bit odd), and the 1) and 3) forms are synonymous. The 2) forms mean something different, along the lines of "it is not certain that" and "it is not obvious that".

1

In both examples you give, 1 and 3 are correct. The important point being that the adverbs certainly/obviously have to stand before the negative.

By placing the negative before the adverb in case 2, you change the meaning of the sentence. A2 raises the possibility that Lila could 'be very happy about it' but not certainly so; whilst A1 and A3 makes it absolutely clear that Lila definitely will not be happy about it.

In B2 you could be 'paying attention to the signs', but not obviously so. In B1 and B3 you are clearly not paying attention to the signs.

  • WS2, you've got my question solved when you stated that "the adverbs certainly/obviously have to stand before the negative". However, I still don't get if this is global rule for adverbs, or if it's just for "certainly"/"obviously". Could you help me with that, too? – Loureiro Gui Jun 3 '15 at 19:08
  • I see two exceptions to this generally valid rule: (1) when the adverb appears at the end of the phrase, as in "We have not perfected the formula, obviously"; (2) when the adverb indicates not, for example, "it is obvious that," but "in an obvious way," as in "The middle-aged man on the beach blanket did not obviously ogle the bikini-clad passers-by." As you note in your answer, the meaning of obviously changes in the second instance. In general, adverbs of the class obviously, clearly, certainly, etc., have more senses—and more range of application—than most others. – Sven Yargs Jun 3 '15 at 19:52
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    @SvenYargs But I am sure you will agree that The man on the beach blanket did not obviously ogle the bikini-clad passers by differs from The man on the beach blanket obviously did not ogle the bikini-clad passers by. – WS2 Jun 3 '15 at 21:32
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    Examples A1, A3, B1 and B3 use the -ly forms sententially. As a modal comment (speaker's opinion: their degree of confidence in the truth of the statement). A rewrite of both A1 and A3 is 'It is certain that Lila is not going to be very happy about it'. A2 doesn't sound to good to my ears. B2 has a true/central adverbial usage, with 'obviously' referring to 'paying attention'. A paraphrase is 'You aren't paying obvious attention to the signs'. A complication here is that both usages give a very similar meaning. 'Bob isn't definitely coming' and 'Bob definitely isn't coming' are better. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 7 '17 at 11:05

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