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.

!star! verb :

:s: u-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.)

:qq: 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)



!yflower! 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 make a question.

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

*ます ( = masu) +か ( = ka) →OK! :grin:

*ません ( = masen) +か ( = ka)→OK! :grin:

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


東京に行かない? !

= Toukyou ni ikanaika?

:i: 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 your listener’s agreement.

:s: verb  negative form (see above)

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

  :s:i-adj  :  〜くない ( = kunai)

*かわいい ( = kawaii) cute

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

:s: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

:s:noun : ~ではない ( = dewa nai)

*本 ( = hon) a book/ books

:rrrr: 本ではない ( = hon dewa nai) 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 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 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)

  2. 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?

  3. 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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