Open main menu

Wiktionary β

Contents

JapaneseEdit

Etymology 1Edit

From Old Japanese. The adjectivizing suffix appears to derive ultimately from ancient copula or stative verb (nu).

SuffixEdit

ない (rōmaji -nai)

  1. used to form derivative -i adjectives from other terms: having that quality, having that state; very much that quality or state
     (せつ)ない (いと)ない、ぎこちない
    setsunai, itokenai, gikochinai
    very moving, really young of manner, having clumsiness
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From the attributive form of the Early Middle Japanese adjective nashi: /naki/ > /nai/, with the medial /-k-/ falling out.

AdjectiveEdit

ない (-i inflection, rōmaji nai)

  1. not, there is no, lack
    スプーンが ()
    Supūn ga nai.
    There is no spoon.
Usage notesEdit
InflectionEdit
Alternative formsEdit

Etymology 3Edit

First appears in texts from the late Muromachi period as an eastern-dialect term. Sometimes described as related to ancient eastern-dialect negative ending なふ (nafu), but there is a sizable gap of time between the apparent disappearance of nafu and the emergence of nai.[1] Moreover, nafu conjugated as a verb, whereas nai conjugates as an adjective.

That said, both nafu and nai probably derive ultimately from ancient copula or stative verb (nu), with the negative sense possibly originating from the 未然形 (mizenkei, irrealis or incomplete form) of the verb stem, to which these endings attach.

The nai auxiliary conjugates as a regular -i adjective just like the adjective nai in modern Japanese, but the patterns for the auxiliary were originally different from the adjective. In the Edo period, the auxiliary conjugated irregularly, including nanda instead of modern nakatta (past), and naikereba instead of modern nakereba (conditional).[1]

SuffixEdit

ない (rōmaji -nai)

  1. (auxiliary) not, don't
     (がっ) (こう) ()ない
    Gakkō ni ikanai.
    I don't go to school.
Usage notesEdit

Attaches to the 未然形 (mizenkei, incomplete form) of the verb. For 五段活用 (godan katsuyō, quintigrade conjugation, also known in English as “type 1”) verbs, this is the stem form ending in -a.

Generally, ません (masen) and ませんでした (masen deshita) (past) are the recommended formal negative endings, instead of the somewhat less formal ないです (nai desu) and なかったです (nakatta desu).

The auxiliary nai and the adjective 無い (nai) have mostly converged in modern usage. One distinction that is still maintained by some speakers appears when attaching そう (, appears like, seems like) or すぎる (sugiru, too, too much, in excess):

  • Adjective nai + or sugirunasa, nasasugiru
  • Auxiliary nai + or sugirunasō, nasugiru

The process of convergence is ongoing, and the さ-infix might be used by some speakers even with the auxiliary. This could be considered as proscribed in formal contexts, as slang or a grammatical error.

InflectionEdit
SynonymsEdit
  • (rare, archaic) (nu)
  • (very casual or archaic and dialectal) (n)
  • (Kansai) へん (hen)

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan