786 - ~なさい

JLPT N4: ~なさい

~なさい tends to get labeled as the "soft command form."

It's not a rough-sounding command like, "Shut up!" or "Run!"

...which we'll look at in an upcoming lesson.

It's a bit more civil than that.

That said, I don't find myself using ~なさい in my own speech very often.

This makes sense because ~なさい tends to only be used in certain relationships.

Specifically, you'll hear it used by parents talking to their children, teachers talking to their students, and in written materials (i.e. directions on a test).

Rejoice, fellow student, for we have examples of all of these in this lesson.

Before we get into that, though, let's talk about...

 

👷 Construction 👷

To conjugate a verb into ~なさい form, you take the ます-stem of the verb, then add ~なさい, as so:

V ますなさい


Here are a few examples of this pattern that we'll see in this lesson...

直す(なおす // to fix
直します(なおします // fix
直しなさいなおしなさい // fix [=(command)]

静かにする(しずかにする // to be quiet
静かにします(しずかにします // be quiet
静かにしなさいしずかにしなさい // be quiet [=(command)]

返事する(へんじする // to answer; to reply
返事します(へんじします // answer
返事しなさいへんじしなさい // answer [=(command)]


Time for the best part: Examples...
 

A question on a test:

次の動詞を過去形に直しなさい
つぎ の どうし を かこけい に なおしなさい。
Conjugate the following verbs into the past tense.
Literally: “next + の + verb + を + past tense + に + fix (=[command]).”


 



A teacher addressing his students:

こら、授業中は静かにしなさい
こら、 じゅぎょう ちゅう は しずか に しなさい。
Hey, be quiet during class.
Literally: “hey!, + class / lecture + -in the middle of + は + quiet + に + do (=[command]).”


 



A mother talking to her daughter:

聞いてるの?返事しなさい
きいてる の? へんじ しなさい。
Are you listening? Answer me.
Literally: “are listening + の? + answer / reply + do (=[command]).”


 



A father talking to his son:

けんた、しょうたにもやらせてあげなさい
けんた、 しょうた に も やらせて あげなさい。
Kenta, let Shōta do it, too. // Kenta, let Shōta play, too.
Literally: “Kenta, + Shōta + に + も + let do (and) + give (him) (=[command]).”



Are you confused by the conjugation of this last one?

I'll walk you through it.

First we took a verb:
やる(やる // to do

Then we put it into ~させる form:
やらせる(やらせる // to let do

Then we put that into ~てあげる form:
やらせてあげる(やらせてあげる // to [kindly] let do

Then we put that into ます-form:
やらせてあげます(やらせてあげます // [kindly] let do

Then we dropped ます, giving us the ます-stem, and added ~なさい:
やらせてあげなさい(やらせてあげなさい // [kindly] let do [=(command)]


It might seem hard to believe at times, but all of this feels like second nature after a while. It happened for me, so surely it can for you too, if it hasn't already.

 



What about the negative form of ~なさい

Well, there isn't a negative form.

This grammar point that we've seen before, however, comes pretty close: [NDL #623] - JLPT N4: ~てはいけない.

For example, in that lesson we saw:
 

ガムは飲みこんじゃいけないよ。
ガム は のみこんじゃいけない よ。
You’re not supposed to swallow gum.
Literally: “gum + は + swallow (and) (では → じゃ) + いけない + よ.”
Note: 飲む means "to drink," but 飲みこむ means "to swallow."


Go back to the lesson for more details on conjugation patterns and whatnot. The main thing I want to point out here is that you might hear a word like だめ (not allowed; not good; no) instead of いけない


ガムは飲みこんじゃだめだよ。
ガム は のみこんじゃだめ だ よ。
You’re not supposed to swallow gum.
Literally: “gum + は + swallow (and) (では → じゃ) + だめ + だ + よ.”



Note that I added a だ at the end of the sentence. This makes it sound less feminine.

 



We still have a few more lessons on making commands.

Joyous times to come...



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