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I know that "Not to be invited is sad" is a grammatical sentence in English. How about "To be not invited is sad"?

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    It might be grammatical, but what is the intent? I find the whole sentence clumsy, and the use of "sad" in this way is awkward, to say the least. With more context, better alternative sentences might present themselves.
    – ClickRick
    Jun 17, 2014 at 22:14
  • This question may be of relevance: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/26520/… Jun 17, 2014 at 22:44
  • I wouldn't go so far as to call "Not to be invited is sad" grammatical. It looks like an inverted pseudo-cleft that was aborted halfway.
    – user230
    Jun 20, 2014 at 22:48

3 Answers 3

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It's grammatically correct but sounds awkward. The rules on where to put the "not" are fairly loose in English. You could say "to not be invited" as well. I think that "not to be invited" is most common. It sounds best to me anyway.

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    "to not be" splits the infinitive, which I admit is no longer a hard-and-fast reason on its own to use it but I still find it awkward. "not to be..." sounds far better to my ear too.
    – ClickRick
    Jun 17, 2014 at 22:11
  • Very true, and I should have mentioned it myself.
    – BobRodes
    Jun 18, 2014 at 4:26
  • @ClickRick Although the so-called split infinitive rule is now over a century old, placing adjuncts after the infinitive marker was never ungrammatical; we can find examples going back centuries before the rule was invented. So it's not really far to say "no longer", as it was never a valid rule.
    – user230
    Jun 20, 2014 at 22:45
  • Maybe not, but teachers were pretty strict about it in the 50's and 60's.
    – BobRodes
    Jun 22, 2014 at 0:36
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Google's Ngram Viewer shows no occurrences of 'to be not invited', but this is probably because it is based on published books, where 'not to be invited' is overwhelmingly standard. 'to be not invited' is more likely to occur in speech or informal writing. If it is ungrammatical, it is at least what I call 'a good mistake' - it is based on an otherwise valid pattern, it is clear and it makes sense.

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It is grammatically correct.

It's awkward when stated alone like that, devoid of any context. But in some cases, the context can make it necessary and natural to emphasize the not-ness or un-ness of a thing or action. At times like this, one may use a hyphen to express the idea as a single negative concept rather than the negation of a concept.

This is often used when you intend the negation to be a term that is on equal footing as the positive sense of the word. For example, in existentialism, one might talk about being and not-being.

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