Which one is more appropriate? Personally, I often take the second version. But once my supervisor changed my writing to the first version.

  • With generally (or usually or often, for example) it makes no difference whether you put the negating not before or after the adverb - they're both syntactically valid and mean the same, so it's just a stylistic choice. It would be different with , say, always, because there's a difference in meaning. A is not always equal to B implies that A=B is sometimes true, but A is always not equal to B asserts that A=B is never true. Dec 19, 2016 at 14:24
  • While generally means "usually" or "often" in general English, when speaking about formal proofs (and it sounds as though the asker is), it can mean "universally". Because of this ambiguity the supervisor is right to choose the first version. Dec 19, 2016 at 15:10

2 Answers 2


I know this was asked, and answered, eons ago. However, here is my take, for posterity.

A is generally equal to B == (in most cases A==B)

A is generally not equal to B == (in most cases A!=B)

A is not generally equal to B == (The assumption that "in most cases A==B" is not true)


A is not generally equal to B

Here, you are saying "equal" doesn't generally (i.e. usually) happen.

You can be implying that A could be something else to B, rather than equal.

A is generally not equal to B

Here, you are saying "A equals B" doesn't generally (i.e. usually) happen, but there is no additional implication.

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