I can't figure out which one is the correct formal one or if all the variations can be used:

  • Shouldn't it be? (=?) Should not it be?
  • Should it not be?
  • Should it be not?

Is there a context in which they would be different/incorrect?

I could not find an answer for this among the already asked questions but if this is a duplicate please feel free to mark it as such.

  • Should this question not be closed? :) I'm wondering.
    – shin
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 10:10
  • Welcome to English Language Learners stack exchange by the way! If you haven't already, you could consider taking the tour or visiting the help centre.
    – Aric
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 10:11
  • If you think I've answered your question, you can select the tick under the vote buttons to show that it is the accepted answer. I'd advise waiting a day or so though, in case someone else gives you a better answer.
    – Aric
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 10:43

2 Answers 2


"Shouldn't it be" is correct but informal. This is shortened from the formal "Should it not be" which is also correct.

"Should it be not" is not correct in this context.

A point to notice is that "Shouldn't it be this?" and "Should it be this?" have very similar meanings, despite one of them having a "not":

"Should it be this?" Is asking if the thing the speaker refers to is correct.

"Shouldn't it be this?" Is asking if the thing the speaker refers to is correct and shows that they think the current solution is wrong.

  • That's interesting... but I am still struggling to understand why would "Shouldn't it be" would be correct and "Should not it be" isn't (?) while one is simply the abbreviation of the other. Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 10:44
  • @DiegoFMedina You misunderstand. Both of those are correct. "Should it be not" is incorrect.
    – Aric
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 10:45

"Shouldn't it be" is correct for all situations other than extremely formal writing. It would be used to start a question -- "Shouldn't it be blue rather than orange?"

"Should not it be" is also correct, but sounds really awkward and old fashioned. You would more likely use "If it were not blue but orange, "

"Should it not be" means the same thing. It forms a start to a hypothetical with the same meaning as "If it were not blue, I would not like it."

"Should it be not" is also very archaic sounding but correct. The meaning is a little different, though. It also forms the start to a hypothetical like "Should it be not blue but orange, I would not like it" That's very awkward sounding too. You would more likely use "If it were blue rather than orange..."

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .