I am wondering if there is any difference between the following sentences with different-placed not.

  • I should not have been here today.


  • I should have not been here today

1 Answer 1


There's no difference between the meanings, but your second example would likely never be used by an educated native speaker.

The problem is that "have been" is the present perfect continuous form of the verb "to be." In other words, the two words belong together to create one compound verb. They should never be split apart.

Therefore, while the meanings of the two examples are the same. #1 is grammatically correct and #2 is not.

  • 1
    This difference in correctness is even more evident if you contract the not: "I shouldn't have been here today," sounds fine. "I should haven't been here today," sounds bad to the point of being near incomprehensible. Mar 16, 2018 at 19:34
  • 1
    @CanadianYankee, the use of the contractions to prove the point was clever. Thanks!
    – JBH
    Mar 16, 2018 at 19:35
  • The word "to be" is not compatible with present perfect continuous (otherwise it would become "have been being"), so this not it. Instead it is conditional. In different sources I have seen names Past Conditional, Perfect Conditional or Third Conditional (most popular). #1 is canonical form which should be used unless you have a special reason to do otherwise. Be careful, sometimes contracted and non-contracted rules are different. E.g. Having eyes, don't you see? Having eyes, do you not see? Dec 27, 2019 at 18:59

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