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From what I understand, they both mean "is not". But from what I've been able to gather from the few times I've heard it, it seems that あるまい may not be as strong or definitive as ありません. Am I on the right track here? Also, can まい be used with any verb ex: 飲むまい or just with ある?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted
  • ません expresses negation in polite form.
  • まい expresses a guess or intentional future, both in negation. So its entailment is weaker than ません, but implies willingness. A close counterpart in English is shall not as opposed to will not. まい can be used with other verbs as well.

'I will not drink liquor any more.' (polite)

'I shall not drink liquor any more.' (guess)
'I shall not drink liquor any more.' (declaration)

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I think あるまい is a literary version of ないだろう.
飲むまい means 飲まないだろう(I think s/he won't drink)/飲まないでおこう(I won't drink), no?

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Yes, that is correct. – istrasci Feb 21 '12 at 15:30
@Chocolate: What does おこう mean in your example sentence? – dotnetN00b Feb 21 '12 at 16:52
@dotnetN00b-san, Tsuyoshi-san's answer will help japanese.stackexchange.com/q/4748/1016 – user1016 Feb 23 '12 at 14:06

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