I'd like to see if I understand a couple grammar points correctly. I'd like to rewrite this sentence:

 1. 食べも飲みもしない

As either one of these:

 2a. 食べなくも  飲まなくもある
 2b. 食べなくもあり飲まなくもある

I think both 2a and 2b are grammatical with the same meaning as 1. But I'm not sure I've done this correctly, and I'm particularly unsure about whether the あり is necessary in the first half.

The following is my reasoning. (I've tried to express it as clearly as I can, but it's probably too long and confusing--my apologies!)

I'm working off Hiroshi Aoyagi's idea that -i is a suppletive form of -ku ar-(r)u, so the end of the sentence looks like this:

  *飲みも   しなくある    → 飲みも   しない
   *nom(i)-mo si-na-ku ar-u → nom(i)-mo si-nai

Here, the stem si appears because the suffix -(a)na-ku needs to have something to attach to, and it can't attach directly to the verb stem nom- because -mo is in the way.

I'm moving -(a)na-ku before -mo and attaching it directly to both verb stems, so si is no longer necessary and it disappears. But the tense morpheme -(r)u still needs to appear at the end of the sentence, so I have to insert the dummy verb ar- for it to attach to:

  飲まなくも    ある
  nom-(a)na-ku-mo ar-u

Since -mo appears between -ku and ar-(r)u, it can't take the usual form of -i.

Since the tense morpheme -(r)u only has to appear once at the end of the sentence, I don't think I need to add the dummy verb ar- to the first half. But if I do, I think it ends up in "infinitive" form (あり):

  食べなくも         飲まなくも    ある
  tabe-na-ku-mo        nom-(a)na-ku-mo ar-u

  食べなくも   あり   飲まなくも    ある
  tabe-na-ku-mo ar-(i) nom-(a)na-ku-mo ar-u

So based on this, I suspect that both 2a and 2b are equivalent to 1. Am I correct or mistaken?

  • How about using an example which is not a fixed phrase, such as 食べも飲みもしない? However, I am not sure if anyone would say either 食べなくも飲まなくもある or 食べなくもあり飲まなくもある. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 23:47
  • @TsuyoshiIto I edited it to use the example 食べも飲みもしない instead.
    – user1478
    Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 0:01
  • (2a) and (2b) sound terribly ungrammatical to me. I suspect this is due to to the collocation なく〜ある. I suppose this is one reason why 〜ない is not always considered to be an adjective despite conjugating like one.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 10:09
  • 1
    This is a terrible question in that we say nothing even close to 2a or 2b, but it is an excellent question in that, if I'm allowed to speak from my 30-plus years of helping people learn Japanese, it has been the ones that asked these kinds of questions that have gone the farthest with their Japanese.
    – user4032
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 0:02

2 Answers 2


These revisions sound -very- strange to my ears. I would never use ある with verbs in this way, even if the verb form in question is technically conjugated as an adjective, but even if you rewrite them with する, they sound odd. I think this comes down to the base form you're riffing off of. 食べもしない is a quite normal way of saying 'I won't even eat it' or 'I won't eat it either', but it is in no way possible to rephrase it as 食べなくもする. 食べなくもする, to my ears, sounds possible but unusual -- if I were to hear it on its own, I would think it meant '(Besides doing other things,) I am also not eating', but it would be much more natural-sounding to say (何々をするけど、) 食べはしない. 食べなくもある simply doesn't make any sense -- it's as if there's some state of not eating that's existing independent of any participants.

Since it's not possible to use forms like 食べなくもある, it's not possible to extend them into constructions like you've created.

Your analysis of adjectives is largely correct, but I think things end up somewhat different with adjective-like verb forms like ない -- while you can do things like しなくなる, you can't really use ある beyond forms that are historically derived from it (e.g. なかった). I think this is a semantic thing, since the same forms sound pretty okay with たい (e.g. 食べたくはある) -- this is probably because たい, like straight-up adjectives, creates a state (of wanting to do something), while ない is more of an action (well, lack thereof, but still an action for semantics purposes). So you can use ある with stative things, but you have to use する with active things, but even then, 食べなくはする sounds odd.

  • I cannot come up with an example where a combination of ~なく and ある is grammatical, but a combination of ~なく and する can be grammatical, so I think that treating these two as analogous things may be misleading. For example, 動かなくする is fine (although it may be less natural than 動かないようにする). Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 17:19
  • Ah, yeah, I don't think I properly mentioned that you can't use なく and ある (because then the expectation is that ある should be where the negation is).
    – Sjiveru
    Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 14:52

This structure is correct it is just very casual Japanese sorry if my explanation is too simple I don't have a very large English vocabulary but here is an example from a song lyric.

許せなくもあり そうされたくもあり

here is the link to the official lyrics


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