When saying no to a question,


What's the purpose of そうでは?


1 Answer 1


It's not ええい but いいえ. It's not just そ but そう.

そう means "in that way". So the speaker is saying something to the effect of "No, that's not the case" or "No, it's not so."

The sentence should read,


You got the pronunciation of ではありません correct, but grammatically it's not わ but は which is a whole different topic.

If you wanted to say yes, it would be


When you want to express the idea of "is not" you use


Here's simple dialogue:

A: それはりんごですか。

B: はい、そうです。

A: Is that an apple?

B: Yes, it is.

A: それはりんごですか。

B: いいえ、そうではありません。

A: Is that an apple?

B: No, it's not.

As expressed in the comments by @chocolate, no one really speaks this way when it comes to いいえ、そうではありません。 It's a bit stilted and unnatural.

As per the examples offered in the comments, it's more natural to complete the thought.



Did you lie?

No, that's not it. I [just] didn't know.

So, if we return to the second example, it would be a bit more natural to say...

A: それはりんごですか。

B: いいえ、そうではありません。かき[なん]です。

A: Is that an apple?

B: No, it's not. It's a persimmon.

As a beginner you could probably get away without saying なん if you're not familiar with this patter. (なん is a contraction of なの where の is the explanatory の, but that's a whole separate topic addressed in many other answers on this site).

As you can see there's a bit more going on here.

In textbook Japanese, you are taught to use では, however it is far more common to hear じゃ instead (a contraction of では).

One final note relating to the links offered in the comments. The expression いいえ、そうではありません alone is a bit textbookish. Meaning, you can expect to see this in textbooks but, when you're in Japan, you'll not really hear anyone speak this way (except perhaps from a Japanese language teacher). What is far more common is to hear


ちがう means "it's different".

  • 「それは〇〇ですか?」「はい、そうです。」は自然ですが、「それは〇〇ですか?」「いいえ、そうではありません。」って、実際には言わないですね。なんででしょうね?
    – chocolate
    Feb 18 at 13:53
  • 1
    私以外にも不自然だと思ってる人いるんですね ⇒ oshiete.goo.ne.jp/qa/5017547.html 「いいえ、そうじゃありません、こうです。」とか、hinative.com/questions/18149654 「うそついたんですか?」「いいえ、そうじゃありません、知らなかったんです。」とかならいいと思いますが
    – chocolate
    Feb 18 at 13:57

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