How to use 「〜ない ( = nai)?」

= Kyou, deito shinai?
= Do you want to go on a date with me today?

Hi everyone!

Today’s lesson is for beginners.  We will study how to use 「ない? ( = nai?)」

As you know ない  ( = nai) is a negative form but you can use it when you suggest doing something to someone with you or encourage someone to do something with ない ( = nai).
You can also make a tag question with it.

verb :


*書く ( = kaku)  to write

:rrrr: 書かない  ( = kakanai) not to write

(more polite : use ます ( = masu) form)

*書きます ( = kakimasu )

:rrrr: 書きません ( = kakimasen)

*行く(=iku) to go

:rrrr: 行かない  ( = ikanai) not to go

*行きます ( = ikimasu)

:rrrr: 行きません ( = ikimasen)

*読む  ( = yomu) to read

:rrrr: 読まない  ( = yomanai) not to read

*読みます  ( = yomimasu) 

:rrrr: 読みません  ( = yomimasen)

*会う ( = au) to see / meet

:rrrr: 会わない  ( = awanai) not to see / meet

*会います  ( = aimasu)

:rrrr: 会いません  ( = aimasen)

*話す  ( = hanasu) to speak /  talk

:rrrr: 話さない  ( = hanasanai) not to speak / talk

*話します  ( = hanashimasu)

:rrrr: 話しません  ( = hanashimasen.)

🔸 ru-verb

*見る  ( = miru ) to see / to watch / to look

:rrrr: ない ( = minai) not to see/watch/look

*見ます  ( = mimasu)

:rrrr: ません  ( = mimasen)

*食べる  ( = taberu) to eat 

:rrrr: 食べない  ( = tabenai) not to eat

*食べます  ( = tabemasu )

:rrrr: 食べません  ( = tabemasen)

*起きる ( = okiru)  to get up

:rrrr: 起きない  ( = okinai) not to get up

*起きます ( = okimasu)

:rrrr: 起きません ( = okimasen)

*寝る ( = neru)  to sleep

:rrrr: ない  ( = nenai) not to sleep

*寝ます ( = nemasu)

:rrrr: ません ( = nemasen)



🔸Special verbs :

*する  ( = suru) to do

:rrrr: ない  ( = shinai) not to do

*します ( = shimasu)

:rrrr:ません ( = shimasen)

*旅行する =  ryokou suru = to travel

:rrrr:  旅行しない = ryokou shinai = not to travel


( = ryokou shimasu)


= ryokou shimasen

*来る ( = kuru)  to come

  :rrrr: ない ( = konai) not to come

*来ます ( = kimasu)

:rrrr:ません ( = kimasen)


Ex. 東京に行く

= Toukyou ni iku

= to go to Tokyo

:rrrr: (negative)


= Toukyou ni ikanai

= not to go to Tokyo

Now let’s add a question mark,.


= Touyou ni ikanai?

It is not a negative sentence. It means,

“Do you want to go to Tokyo with me?”

“Why don’t we go Tokyo!” 

Note: Stress the last verb with rising intonation when you read it.

Polite form : You add “か  ( = ka) after ません ( = masen)



= Toukyou ni ikimasen ka?

= Would you like to go to Tokyo with me?

Note 1) Be careful with  か ( = ka).

A lot of people add “か ( = ka)” automatically when they ask a question.

It is totally acceptable adding か ( = ka) after ます ( = masu), ません ( = masen)

*ます ( = masu) +か ( = ka) →OK! 👍

*ません ( = masen) +か ( = ka)→OK!👍

But if you add か ( = ka)  after ない ( = nai)



= Toukyou ni ikanaika?

⚠️This is male speech and sounds rough.

Note 2 ) If you add の ( = no) after ない ( = nai) you can express a feeling of surprise.

Ex. 東京に行かないの?

= Toukyou ni ikanaino?

= Don’t you go to Tokyo?

polite form ないのですか  =  nai no desu ka?)

Ex. 東京に行かないのです

= Toukyou ni ikanai no desu ka?

OK, I will give you more examples with “ない  ( = nai)?


Asking someone to do something together or encouraging someone to do something.

Ex. 一緒にお昼食べない

= Issho ni ohiru tabenai?

Do you want to eat lunch with me? (Why don’t we eat lunch together? )

Ex. この本、読まない

= Kono hon, yomanai?

= Do you want to read this book? (Why don’t you read this book?)

Ex. 明日、映画でも観に行かない

= Ashita, eiga demo mini ikanai?

= Do you like to go see a movie or something tomorrow?

Ex. 夏休み、私とニューヨークに行かない

= Natsuyasumi, watashi to nyuuyooku ni ikanai?

= Would you like to go to N.Y. with me over the summer vacation?

Ex. 日本語を勉強してみない

= Nihongo wo benkyou shite minai?

= Would you like to give studying Japanese a try?

Ex. 一緒にお茶でも飲まない

= Issho ni ocha demo nomanai?

= Would you like to have a cup of tea (or coffee) with me?

(This is a typical pick-up line and お茶  ( = ocha) doesn’t necessarily mean “a cup of tea.” It means to go to a coffee shop and have something to drink.)

Ex. 健一君も日本語能力試験を受けてみない

= Kenichi kun mo nihongo nouryoku shiken wo ukete minai?

= Do you also want to try to take the JLPT test, Kenichi?


Also, you use ~ない ( = nai)?」 for a tag question.

Expressing your opinion/feelings and ask for your listener’s agreement.

🔸 verb  negative form (see above)

You can also use a negative form of adjectives or nouns.

🔸i-adj  :  〜くない ( = kunai)

*かわいい ( = kawaii) cute

:rrrr: かわいくない ( = Kawaikunai) not cute

🔸na-adj :   ~ではない ( = dewa nai)

*きれい ( = kirei) beautiful

:rrrr: きれいではない ( = kirei dewa nai) not beautiful

🔸noun : ~ではない ( = dewa nai)

*本 ( = hon) a book/ books

:rrrr: 本ではない ( = hon dewa nai) It’s not a book/books

Note: Since this tag question is colloquial Japanese, we often use じゃない ( = janai) instead of  ではない ( = dewa nai)

Go check じゃない ( = janai) lesson

Ex. この曲を聞くと元気が出ない

= Kono kyoku wo kiku to genki ga denai?

= Doesn’t this song cheer you up?  (This song cheers me up. How about you?)

Ex.  あの先生の授業、眠くならない

= Ano sensei no jugyou, nemuku naranai?

= Doesn’t that teacher’s lesson make you sleepy? (I get sleepy in that teacher’s class. Don’t you agree?)

Ex. これ美味しくない

= Kore oishikunai?

= Isn’t it delicious? (I think it is delicious. What do you think?)

Ex. そんなにがんばって、疲れない

 = Sonnani ganbatte, tsukarenai?

= Don’t you get tired of trying (working) so hard?

Ex. マギー先生ってきれいじゃない

= Maggie Sensei tte kireijanai?

= Isn’t Maggie Sensei beautiful? (I think Maggie is beautiful. Don’t you agree?)

Ex. あそこにいるのマギー先生の彼氏ではない? (→more casual じゃない)

= Asoko ni iru no Maggie sensei no kareshi dewa nai? ( janai?)

= Isn’t that (dog over there) Maggie Sensei’s boyfriend?

maggie-senseiマギー先生より = Maggie sensei yori = From Maggie sensei


=Deito ni sasotta noni kotowararechatta.

= I asked him out for a date but he turned me down.


= Korette hidoku nai?

= Isn’t that awful?


= Sekkaku oshare shita noni naa.

= Oh well, I dressed up for nothing.


= Dare ka issho ni asobanai?

= Does anybody want to go out with me?


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  1. Hello Maggie-Sensei,

    Me again! (シ_ _)シ

    In your lesson, I see we use the は particle for な-adjectives to make them negative: ~ではない but not for い-adjectives: 〜くない

    But I’ve seen this: 安くはない. What is the difference between 安くない and 安くはない?

    And does it work too for な-adjectives? Like きれいはではない?

    Thank you so much, I wanted you to know by the way that your website is a huge boost in motivating me to learn Japanese.

    1. Hello again Gaspatcher,
      You add は either when you show the contrast or emphasize what come after.

      1) showing the contrast: Maybe it has a good quality but not cheap 2) Emphasizing the fact something is cheap.

      For na-adjective or noun,

      I’m so grateful to hear my site motivates you to learn Japanese. Yay! 😄

      1. Thanks Sensei for this explanation. I understand the difference now with 安くない and 安くはない.

        Sorry, I’m very pernickety (that’s my default) but what is the difference then with 安くはない (showing contrast) and それほど安くない? From my knowledge, それほど〜 tends also to show some contrast (it’s not that cheap).

        And can we mix up both and have それほど安くはない – what would that mean then?


        1. おはよう Gaspatcher
          それほど安くはない/安くない It was not that cheap.
          Yes, you can use それほど and は together. Actually it is a very common pattern.
          But as you said since それほど already adds the emphasis, you can omit は as well.

  2. Hello 先生! Could you help me with the following sentence (from my textbook)?


    To me, it seems like an imperative: “Don’t stare!” Am I correct? Also, is this female speech? Thanks!

    1. Hi Davide,

      That’s の has a function of emphasis and this form is often used when teachers or parents tell small children to do/not to do something as an imperative form.
      It is possible for men (teacher/father) to use this form but you are right, women tend to use it more than men.

      FYI, you also use の at the end of the sentence to make your point.

      だから、後でやるって言ってるの! I am telling you that I am going to do that later! (this speech pattern is for children or women)

  3. 先生、高校生の女の子とか若い人々の言い方は大人と違うですか?映画とかドラマに違って見えるけど。違うとどうやってdifferenciate できるかな?

  4. Hello ! I just finished reading your lesson and saw a mistake right here :
    ” 寝る(=okiru) to sleep
    寝ない (=okinai) not to sleep ”
    Isn’t it “neru” and “nenai” ?

    And by the way, about that part :
    Just wondering, is there any difference between 見に行く and 観に行く ? I’ve always learnt to write it like the first one, so I was a bit surprised !

    Thank you for what you do, I love your lessons, there’re really great !

    1. @サーフィー

      Ooops!! Thank you for spotting the mistakes. I fixed them. (I copied and pasted them with my little paws and forgot to changed them. ^;ェ;^,)

      As for 見る vs 観る
      Basically you can use 見る
      But we use 観る for movies, musicals, arts, plays, arts, something you appreciate, sightseeing, etc.

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