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The following question got migrated from EL&U to ELL

If we look at this question as people who just give "yes, that's grammatical" or "no, that's not grammatical" type answers to users, then we might indeed want to move this question to ELL. However, if this is a site for linguists and serious language enthusiasts, this question belongs on this site here. The reason is that the syntax behind this question is quite sophisticated and is of significant interest to linguists.

It concerns why these sentences are grammatical:

  • Bob is happy but Ben is not.
  • Bob might be happy but Ben might not.
  • Bob might be happy but Ben might not be.

But these sentences are ungrammatical:

  • *Bob has been happy but Ben has been not.
  • *Bob might be happy, but Ben might be not.
  • *Bob wants to go, but Ben wants to not.

Want to know why? Erm, we'd better get this question reopened over here then - because this question will need several good answers from knowledgeable respondents to do it justice!

Please could we get this question back?

  • You have to close it on the other site to return it here. We cannot do anything to "migrate it back" ourselves. – tchrist Feb 18 '17 at 16:38
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    And even if it's closed over there, it won't reopen here; it will remain closed as off-topic. Better simply to ask the question in a way which will elicit an ELU answer, and provide that answer. – Andrew Leach Feb 18 '17 at 16:40
  • @AndrewLeach It has an EL&U answer already. I wrote it before it left. Problem is it deserves more ... – Araucaria Feb 18 '17 at 17:24
  • Isn't the sentence just elementary grammar? 'How do you negate "Subject Modal Verb" ?' – Mitch Feb 18 '17 at 17:57
  • @Mitch No, because otherwise It may not would be ungrammatical! – Araucaria Feb 18 '17 at 17:58
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    Why not look into this closed question, at first glance it looks identical: May be not and may not be I figure this would be easier to open here, I don't mind setting up a bounty, if you feel it deserves greater attention, then you and other users can post their answers. – Mari-Lou A Feb 18 '17 at 18:04
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    @Mari-LouA Only at first glance though. It's the ellipsis that's key in the OP's example. " ... may be not xxx" is perfectly grammatical even if less common that "..may not be xxx" [See my answer there perhaps ...] – Araucaria Feb 18 '17 at 18:08
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    well... what about editing the closed question? No answers were posted, you could copy and paste the ELL question onto it. The closed question had attracted four UV too, so someone saw it had potential. – Mari-Lou A Feb 18 '17 at 18:11
  • @Mari-LouA I don't follow ... – Araucaria Feb 18 '17 at 18:12
  • Add/include the ellipsed version (ELL) in the question body of this one: english.stackexchange.com/questions/128919/…. – Mari-Lou A Feb 18 '17 at 18:15

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