In this section, we’ll learn ways to describe situations where things don’t happen.

Express “without doing” with 「ないで」

We learned how to chain sequences of events using the te-form of the verb a few chapters back so we already know how to say, “I didn’t do this and that.” However, it is not the same as saying, “I did this without doing that.” For the latter, we need to use a different grammar.

Using 「ないで」 to express “without doing”

  • Append 「で」 to the negative form of the verb

    1. 食べる → 食べない+ = 食べないで
    2. 払う → 払わない+ = 払わないで
    3. する → しない+ = しないで


  1. 歯を磨かないで寝ちゃうの?
    Are (you) going to sleep without brushing (your) teeth?
  2. 手数料を払わないで済む方法はありますか。
    Is there (a) method where (it) can be done without paying (the) handling charge?
  3. あの人は、仕事もしないで毎日何をしてるのかな?
    (I) wonder what that person is doing every day, without even working?

You may have noticed we already used this form when we learned how to ask other to not do something. This is the more generic usage of the same conjugation.

  1. それを食べないでくれる?
    Can you not eat that?
    lit: Can you give (me the favor) without eating that?
  2. それを食べないで(ください)。
    Please don’t eat that.
    lit: Please give (me the favor) without eating that.
  3. 何も食べないで出かけた。
    Went out without eating anything.

Express “without doing” with 「ずに」

「ず」 is another type of negative form of the verbs used mostly for more formal contexts and some expressions. It’s also often used with the 「に」 target particle to express the same thing as 「ないで」 we just learned. The conjugation rule is mostly the same as the regular negative form except 「ず」 is attached at the end instead of 「ない」. However, unlike the regular negative form, there is no exception for 「ある」 as it follows the same rule as all other u-verbs and becomes 「あらず」.

Rules for conjugating to 「ず」 negative

  1. For ru-verbs: Replace the last 「る」 with 「ず」
    Example: 食べ + ず = 食べ
  2. For u-verbs that end in 「う」: Replace 「う」 with 「わ」 and attach 「ず」
    Example: 買 + わ + ず = 買わず
  3. For all other u-verbs: Replace the u-vowel sound with the a-vowel equivalent and attach 「ず」
    Example: あ + ら = あらず
  4. Exceptions:
    1. する → せず
    2. くる → こず


  1. 何も言わずに帰っちゃうなんて、失礼ね。
    To think (he) went home without saying anything, (it’s) rude, isn’t it?
  2. 手数料を払わずに済む方法はありますか。
    Is there (a) way to get by without paying (the) processing fee?
  3. 一日に何回もメールをチェックせずにはいられない。
    (I) can’t help but check (my) email again and again in (a) day.
    lit: (I) can’t exist without checking email numerous times in (a) day.

Expressing a lack of change

「まま」 is a noun used to express leaving something as is without making any changes.


  1. このままでいいですか。
    Is it fine just like this?
  2. コンタクトをつけたまま寝たらどうなるの?
    What happens if (you) sleep with contacts left on?
  3. 由美子ちゃんはそのままでいいよ。
    Yumiko-chan, (you’re) fine like that (just the way you are).
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