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Do not compare yourself to other people, compare yourself to your past self.

Without any change in meaning, (though I guess it would be less formal in tone), could the writer have just used the -ない form of 比べる instead of nominalising it and then negating the nominalisation?


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Verb negatives have many continuative forms in Japanese, なく(て), ないで, ず(に). The short of the long is that なく (as a negative verb form, not the なく of the adjective ない) is not the right/best option here. Found this relevant paper online, might post a summary in an answer when I've worked myself through it tulips.tsukuba.ac.jp/limedio/dlam/M62/M627646/3.pdf – dainichi Sep 18 '13 at 23:56
@dainichi's url seems to be missing the www. 「なく(て)」と「ないで」と「ず(に)」について – execjosh Sep 19 '13 at 12:22
whoops, not sure how that happened. Thanks, @execjosh – dainichi Sep 19 '13 at 14:31
up vote 7 down vote accepted

人と比べなく sounds a bit strange...

The negation is not the act of comparing, but the whole action of comparing to others.

In this sentence のではなく also gives an impression of strong advice or suggestion, as well as introducing an alternative. Perhaps 人と比べることをせず, 人と比べずに, or 人と比べないで might have been used instead.

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