Plain Present Negative Tense (Vない)

In the last lesson, we looked at the three different types of Japanese verbs.

If you didn't read that lesson, I highly recommend that you go back and do so now.

In that lesson, we saw examples of each of the three types of verbs:


1) Godan Verbs // Group I Verbs // u-verbs

// kau // to buy
// iku // to go
// nugu // to take off [e.g. shoes]
// osu // to push; to press
// tatsu // to stand
// shinu // to die
あそ // asobu // to play
// nomu // to drink
すわ // suwaru // to sit down


2) Ichidan Verbs // Group II Verbs // ru-verbs

食べたべ // taberu // to eat
起きおき // okiru // to get up; to wake up


3) Irregular Verbs // Group III Verbs

する(suru // to do; to make
来る(くる // kuru // to come

 

The main reason we need to know the differences between verb types is that they conjugate differently.

To exemplify this, we'll look at the plain present negative form of verbs.

The what-what-what form?

Yeah, "plain" form is used for a variety of purposes, such as informal language, mid-sentence conjugations, and so on. Its counterpart would be ます-form, which is used in polite language (and which we'll get to later).


Remember the following dialogues from the last lesson?


 A: 
ビール飲む?
ビール のむ?
Do you want a beer?
Literally: "beer + drink?"



 B: 
飲まない。
のまない。
No.
Literally: "don't drink / won't drink."



OR:


 A: 
これ食べる?
これ たべる?
Do you want to eat this?
Literally: "this + eat?"



 B: 
食べない。
たべない。
No.
Literally: "don't eat / won't eat."


 
All of the verbs in these dialogues (飲む、飲まない、食べる、食べない) are in "plain" form.

飲む and 食べる are in "plain present (positive) tense."

飲まない and 食べない are in "plain present negative tense."

(Note: If you can't read these words without the kana breakdowns by now, then I would advise you to practice doing so. The more you rely on "kana crutches," the longer it will take to be able to walk without them.)

 



OK. We get it. "Plain present negative tense" just means "don't VERB," "won't VERB," etc.

How do we conjugate it, though?!

Compared to other verb forms we'll see in the future, this is pretty simple:


1) Godan Verbs // Group I Verbs // u-verbs

When changing a godan verb from its dictionary form (which happens to be the same as the plain present [positive] tense), the final kana changes from a "u" sound to an "a" sound, and then we add ~ない.

For example:

 く → か 
// iku // to go
ない(ない // ikanai // don't go; won't go

The "ku" became a "ka," and then we added ~ない.


Here's another example:

 ぐ → が 
// nugu // to take off [e.g. shoes]
ない(ない // nuganai // don't take off; won't take off [e.g. shoes]


Or how about:

 ぬ → な 
// shinu // to die
ない(ない // shinanai // don't die; won't die


Note that there is one case in which this is a bit confusing: The "u" sound in verbs ending with う, such as 買う (かう // kau // to buy), does NOT become あ. Instead it becomes わ.

 う → わ 
// kau // to buy
ない(ない // kawanai // don't buy; won't buy


Anyway, starting to make sense?

If not, maybe reread from the beginning of this lesson. If that doesn't work, re-read the last lesson, too. If that doesn't work, then maybe review your kana by checking out the kana course again.

 

2) Ichidan Verbs // Group II Verbs // ru-verbs

Rejoice, for I have good news. Conjugating ichidan verbs into the plain present negative tense is even easier:

Drop る and add ~ない.

So...


食べたべ // taberu // to eat
食べないたべない // tabenai // don't eat; won't eat


起きおき // okiru // to get up; to wake up
起きないおきない // okinai // don't get [wake] up; won't get [wake] up

 


3) Irregular Verbs // Group III Verbs

Finally, we have the irregular verbs. 

Since they're irregular, they'll never be nice to you. You're just gonna have to memorize the following conjugations...


する(suru // to do; to make
しない(shinai // don't do [make]; won't do [make]

来る(くる // kuru // to come
来ない(こない // konai // don't come; won't come


Note that こ in 来ない, which is extra strange. Also, the stem in する is changing from す to し.

 

OK. We've gotten through the lecture stuff.

But were you really paying attention?

If so, can you put all of the following verbs (which are in dictionary form) into the plain present negative tense?


01 買う(かう // kau // to buy
02 行く(いく // iku // to go
03 脱ぐ(ぬぐ // nugu // to take off [e.g. shoes]
04 押す(おす // osu // to push; to press
05 立つ(たつ // tatsu // to stand
06 死ぬ(しぬ // shinu // to die
07 遊ぶ(あそぶ // asobu // to play
08 飲む(のむ // nomu // to drink
09 座る(すわる // suwaru // to sit down
10 食べる(たべる // taberu // to eat
11 起きる(おきる // okiru // to get up; to wake up
12 する(suru // to do; to make
13 来る(くる // kuru // to come
 

Here are the answers:

01 買わない(かわない // kawanai // don't buy; won't buy
02 行かない(いかない // ikanai // don't go; won't go
03 脱がない(ぬがない // nuganai // don't take off; won't take off [e.g. shoes]
04 押さない(おさない // osanai // don't push [press]; won't push [press]
05 立たない(たたない // tatanai // don't stand; won't stand
06 死なない(しなない // shinanai // don't die; won't die
07 遊ばない(あそばない // asobanai // don't play; won't play
08 飲まない(のまない // nomanai // don't drink; won't drink
09 座らない(すわらない // suwaranai // don't sit down; won't sit down
10 食べない(たべない // tabenai // don't eat; won't eat
11 起きない(おきない // okinai // don't get up; won't get up
12 しない(shinai // don't do [make]; won't do [make]
13 来ない(こない // konai // don't come; won't come

 

If you are having trouble putting godan verbs into the plain present negative tense, then it might help to brush up on your kana charts.

You should be able to (easily) list (and write) all of the following from memory:

あ、い、う、え、お
か、き、く、け、こ
さ、し、す、せ、そ
た、ち、つ、て、と
な、に、ぬ、ね、の
は、ひ、ふ、へ、ほ
ま、み、む、め、も
や、 、ゆ、 、よ
ら、り、る、れ、ろ
わ、 、を、 、ん

If you can't, then go see the kana course. Also, go on Google images and type あいうえお to get a bunch of the charts that they give to Japanese children:



 

Take your time going over plain present negative tense — you will be using it all the time.

It may help to look up lists of verbs and then drill yourself on conjugating them correctly.



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