The story may not be interesting.
The story may be not interesting.

For I’m not sure if ‘not’ can be placed both before and after ‘be,’ I looked up the COCA. It seems that both are possible. Are both grammatically acceptable? If they are, isn’t there semantic difference between the two?

  • 6
    I personally find the latter sentence clear but unidiomatic, if only because the concept of "not interesting" is typically expressed with the single word "uninteresting".
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 5, 2014 at 10:44

1 Answer 1


Grammatically speaking, the place of 'not' is between may and be. The correct and natural sentence is "The story may not be interesting.

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