437 - まい (I [we] will not [never])

I absolutely will not teach you any Japanese in this lesson.

No, I'm just kidding.

What I will do, however, is show you one way of strongly declaring that you will not do something:


JLPT N2: ~まい (I [we] will not [never])

Here's our first example:

遺伝子組み換えの食品なんか、いくら安くても買うまい
いでんしくみかえ の しょくひん なんか、 いくら やすくても かうまい。
No matter how cheap it is, I will not buy genetically modified food.
Literally: “genetically modified + の + food products + things like (=なんか), + how much + even if (they’re) cheap + buy + まい.”

As we can see here, attaching ~まい to a verb is one way of saying "(I) will not [never] VERB."

Unfortunately, people don't use this grammar point too often. It sounds a bit old-fashioned. In the sentence above, it would be more common to simply use the negative form of the verb 買う, which is 買わない (かわない):

遺伝子組み換えの食品なんか、いくら安くても買わない
いでんしくみかえ の しょくひん なんか、 いくら やすくても かわない。
No matter how cheap it is, I won't buy genetically modified food.
Literally: “genetically modified + の + food products + things like (=なんか), + how much + even if (they’re) cheap + won't buy.”

Just because people don't commonly use a certain type of grammar, however, does not exempt us from studying it (especially if we want to pass the JLPT). So let's get to work!


We can form these phrases by attaching ~まい to a verb in plain present tense:

V るまい

買う(かう // to buy
買うまいかうまい // [I/we] will not buy

投票する(とうひょうする // to vote [for]
投票するまいとうひょうするまい // [I/we] will not vote [for]

Easy enough, yeah?


Some more examples:

差別的な発言を繰り返す政治家になど、絶対に投票するまい
さべつてき な はつげん を くりかえす せいじか に など、 ぜったいに とうひょう するまい。
I absolutely will not vote for a politician who always makes discriminatory remarks.
Literally: “discriminatory + statement / remark / utterance + を + repeat / do over again + politician + に + and so forth / the likes of, + absolutely (not) + voting + do + まい.”

笑うまい笑うまいとすればするほど、更におかしく思えてくる。
わらうまい、 わらうまい と すればするほど、 さらに おかしく おもえてくる。
The more you think “don’t laugh, don’t laugh,” the funnier something seems.
Literally: “laugh + まい, + laugh + まい, + と + the more you do, the more…, + even more + funny + starts to seem (lit. can think [and] come).”


Since this version of ~まい is only used for strong negative statements about volitional actions (=actions that one decides to make), the subject of the sentence will always be "I" or "we."

In other words, you cannot use ~まい meaning "will not [never] ~" on behalf of other people.

What about that last example we had? Well, that's sort of special because in that example "you" are telling "yourself" don't laugh, don't laugh. That is, the phrase "don't laugh" is spoken by an internal "I."


As you may have suspected, the formation of our ~まい sentences can get a little more complicated.

Specifically, ~まい can also attach to the stem of the negative form of Group 2 verbs.

Remember that Group 2 verbs are ichidan verbs like 食べる (たべる // to eat), 着る (きる // to wear), and so on.

V ないまい

考える(かんがえる // to think about
考えない(かんがえない // not think about
考え-(かんがえ-
考えまいかんがえまい // [I/we] will not think about

For example, a burnt-out businessman on a long-overdue vacation might say:

仕事のことは考えまい
しごと の ことは かんがえまい。
I won't think about work.
Literally: “work / job + の + thing + は + won’t think.”


Finally, although we saw するまい in an example above, it is also OK to abbreviate this to まい

莉乃は、もう二度とスピード違反をまいと決心した。
りの は、 もう にどと スピードいはん を すまい と けっしん した。
Rino resolved to never drive over the speed limit again.
Literally: “Rino + は, + (not) anymore + (not) a second time + exceeding the speed limit + を + will not do + と + resolution / determination + did.”

Yikes.


Now, you might be thinking that it's OK to gloss over this lesson since I mentioned that this usage of ~まい is not commonly used in modern speech.

However, I would recommend studying this lesson in depth regardless, as we still have at least four more grammar points that include まい to cover in our JLPT lessons, some of which are used quite commonly.

The good news? The way we attach verbs to ~まい in those other lessons will be identical.

Discussion

0 comments