In Japan I often felt いいえ or 違う is not the best choice, when asked, if I don't carry something with me. Like at the airport security lady asked me, if I there were any forbidden objects in my luggage. I can't recall the question, but it ended in ない? I felt lost for a second and she tried to help me out with a correct answer and said in a confirming tone ない, and I used her tip and said ない!

I used that couple of times in other situations. Is this okay to say it like that or should I produce a better lengthier sentence, like 何も持っていない?

  • 1
    I would say ないです。
    – user1016
    Apr 15, 2014 at 15:22
  • Thanks for the tip Chocolate-san, that sounds nicer and polite.
    – dimadesu
    Apr 15, 2014 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


Yes. Grammatically you can say 「ない」. This forms a complete sentence, which means "(it is / that kind of stuff is) not (t)here".

However, this works only for physical existence or possession. In most cases, even when a question ends in ない?, a simple 「ない」 is not a grammatically correct answer. Like when asked 「あしたあそばない?」, the answer could be「あそばない」 but not a simple 「ない」. This is because 「ない」 shows negation, not non-existence.

  • 1
    To clarify, you're talking about two different types of ない. In the first paragraph you're talking about the negative form of ある; in the second one you're talking about it as the negating suffix. In the same spirit of both paragraphs, いない is a complete sentence indicating the non-existence/presence of people or other animate objects.
    – Kaji
    Apr 15, 2014 at 13:09
  • Makes perfect sense guys. I just didn't seem to encounter first type of ない in my studies much, so I decided to double check.
    – dimadesu
    Apr 15, 2014 at 13:32
  • 3
    Physical and also FIGURATIVE existence, perhaps? As in 「アメリカに行ったこと(ある/ない)?」「ない」 Examples kept brief/'cold' for the sake of illustrating the grammar point.
    – ssb
    Apr 15, 2014 at 15:28

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