I found a table at this page that seems to be labeling Vし・Vせず・Adjなく・Nに as present tense, and Vして・Vしないで・Adjなくて・Nで as past tense. Please teach me about this distinction in the above words.

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    It looks like the "participle" name for て is pretty old, going back to the 1800s. In Martin's 1975 Reference Grammar of Japanese, "participle" for て is listed in the index as a term taken from Bernard Bloch on Japanese (1970), and in Hasegawa's 1996 paper The (Non-Vacuous) Semantics of TE-Linkage in Japanese, she says Teramura used the term "past participle" in 活用語尾・助動詞・補助動詞とアスペクト (1969), so it's been used more recently, too. – snailcar Nov 13 '14 at 12:58
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    So the author of this web page didn't invent the "past participle" term themselves, it seems―maybe you could track down the Bloch or Teramura sources and see if they give an explanation. (Note that the presence or absence of て is the difference between the two lists of forms you present: it's part of し, しない, なく, and but absent from し, せず, なく, and に.) – snailcar Nov 13 '14 at 13:00
  • @snailboat Really impressive research! Mind answerfying it so I can vote for it? – Val Nov 14 '14 at 0:24

They seem to be attempting to draw a distinction between sequential coordination forms and simultaneous coordination forms.

し・せず・なく・に are (theoretically) simultaneous coordination. The state/action they describe is true/occurring while whatever next thing is true/occurring:


He read a book and watched television (at the same time).

して・しないで・なくて・で are (theoretically) sequential coordination. The state/action they describe is true/occurring before whatever next thing is true/occurring:


He read a book and (then) watched television.

In modern Japanese the distinction mostly isn't bothered with, though, and instead the differences work out something like this:

し is literary (書き言葉) / して is colloquial (話し言葉)

せず (/しなくて) is 'without doing' / しないで is 'instead of doing'

なく is literary / なくて is colloquial

「Xに、」 isn't really used as 'is X, and' in modern Japanese / 「Xで、」 is

(though correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not as sure on the last two)

  • Yeah, that literary/colloquial divide is what I'm familiar with. Do you know what those two, "sequential coordination" and "simultaneous coordination," are called in Japanese? – Val Nov 13 '14 at 4:12
  • I don't, but I'd love to find out if someone else does! – Sjiveru Nov 13 '14 at 5:00
  • So where did you get "simultaneous coordination"/"sequential coordination" from? – Val Nov 13 '14 at 5:30
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    Came up with them on the spot ^_^ – Sjiveru Nov 13 '14 at 23:50
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    That's less than helpful in this case! :) – Val Nov 14 '14 at 0:41

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