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Sometimes you have to be negative

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Negating verbs

Now that we've seen how to declare things and perform actions with verbs, we want to be able to say the negative. In other words, we want to say that such-and-such action was not performed. Verbs are negated by conjugating to their negative form just like the state-of-being for nouns and adjectives. However, the rules are a tad more complicated.

Conjugating verbs into the negative

We will now make use of the verb classifications we learned in the last section to define the rules for conjugation. But before we get into that, we need to cover one very important exception to the negative conjugation rules, the verb 「ある」. 「ある」 is an u-verb used to express existence of inanimate objects.

For example, if you wanted to say that a chair is in the room, you would use the verb 「ある」. The equivalent verb for animate objects (such as people or animals) is 「いる」, which is a normal ru-verb. For example, if you wanted to say that a person is in the room, you must use the verb 「いる not 「ある」. These two verbs 「ある」 and 「いる」 are quite different from all other verbs because they describe existence and are not an actual action. You also have to go through the bother of picking the right one for inanimate and animate objects.

Anyway, the reason I bring it up here is because the negative of 「ある」 is 「ない」 (meaning that something does not exist). Remember, this is an exception so do not apply the normal rules of negation to this verb.

The negative of 「ある」 is 「ない」.

Here are the rules for all other verbs. To negate a ru-verb, you simply drop 「る」 and add 「ない」. For u-verbs, it may be helpful to see the romanized version of the verb. You simply drop the / u / vowel sound and add "anai". Or, more preferably, you can refer back to the hiragana table. You take the last hiragana character which will always be in the / u / row, move up two columns and replace it with the character in the / a / row. For example 「く」 changes to 「か」.

One important exception to this rule is for verbs that end in 「う」. You must substitute 「わ」 for 「う」 and not 「あ」 as the rule would suggest. You will also have to memorize the conjugations for the two exception verbs and 「ある」. The following tables show the conjugation for sample verbs and the exception verbs.

How to conjugate verbs to the negative form
Sample ru-verbs
Sample u-verbs
PositiveNegative ローマ字ローマ字 (Neg)
さない hanasuhanasanai
かない kikukikanai
がない oyoguoyoganai
ばない asobuasobanai
たない matumatanai
まない nomunomanai
らないnaoru naoranai
なないshinu shinanai
ないkau kawanai
Exception Verbs
* = exceptions particular to this conjugation


Here are some example sentences using the negative form. To look these words up, use the link labeled "Translate Words in Japanese Text" from the WWWJDIC or just click here. It will reverse the conjugation and give you the dictionary form. (And even what conjugations were used to boot!) Here are the example sentences from the last section conjugated to the negative.

(1) アリスは食べない。- As for Alice, does not eat.
(2) ジムが遊ばない。- Jim is the one that does not play.
(3) ボブもしない。- Bob also does not do.
(4) お金ない。- There is no money. (lit: As for money, does not exist.)
(5) 買わない。- As for me, not buy.
(6) いない。- There is no cat. (lit: As for cat, does not exist.)

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