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  1. The experiment was a success
  2. The experiment was not success
  3. The experiment was not succeeded
  4. The experiment was not successful

All seem grammatically correct to me, but they do differ in meaning, right?

Could you explain each sentence its construct and when should it be used?

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  • Your sentences include success as a noun, a past-tense verb, and an adjective. Grammar for those parts of speech are all different. Do you understand which ones you're using?
    – John Feltz
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 16:12
  • #2 and #3 are not grammatically correct. For #2, f you're using success as a countable noun, you have to say "was not a success" just like you said "was a success" in #1. #3 is kind of a mess, because after "was not" you probably want a noun or an adjective, but you've put a past participle there.
    – stangdon
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 16:38
  • #3 is gramatically correct. It is perfectly reasonable to use a verb in the past tense after "was not". If you can say "the hostage was not mistreated", you can say "the experiment was not succeeded". (It just means that the experiment was not followed by or replaced by something else.) Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 17:48
  • 1
    OK, #3 can be grammatically correct...but probably not in the way that the OP intends.
    – stangdon
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 17:58
  • I think in #3 the OP means "succeed", as in "The experiment did not succeed".
    – BillJ
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 19:13

2 Answers 2

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Only 1, 3 and 4 are correct, 2 does not make sense.

I suspect 3 is not the intended meaning as it has a significantly different meaning to 1 and 4 - meaning that the experiment was followed by or replaced by something.

The difference in meaning between 1 and 4 is that 1 states that the experiment was successful, whereas 4 is the opposite.

Various ways to state the positive outcome of the experiment:

The experiment was a success.

The experiment was successful.

The experiment succeeded.

Ways to state the negative outcome of the experiment:

The experiment was not a success.

The experiment was not successful.

The experiment did not succeed.

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  • How about adding “… was no success” to your second list? From my feeling of the language, I'd prefer that over your “… was not a success”.
    – MvG
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 8:59
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Nearly all of them have the same meaning - less the first one, which is affirmating that the experiment achieved the expected results - it worked. However, they are only written in different ways, two using adjectives (Successful), and the others using nouns (Success).

The second sentence exemple is incorrect, there is an 'a' missing between not and success, as it is a singular noun, 'a' must be added.

If I intended to say that the experiment achieved the expected results, then I'd say:

The experiment was sucesssful

And If I wanted to say that the experiment didn't achieve the expected results, then I'd say:

The experiment wasn't successful

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