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Consider the following example sentence (taken from an exercise sheet):

熱が下がらず苦しかった。

Now consider this sentence I made:

熱が下がらないで苦しかった。

What is the difference?

  • @snailboat I consider the verb version and the adjective version of the て-binding of sentences the same. Like "Xをしないで、Y" (without doing X, Y) and "楽しくて、面白かった" (it was enjoyable and entertaining). They are both "and" in English. But maybe I don't really understand it right. In any case: I will change the title! – Rudy the Reindeer Nov 25 '14 at 6:25
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There are several ways of saying the same thing:

熱が下がら苦しかった。 - literary or stiff expression
熱が下がらなくて苦しかった。 - casual / conversational.
熱が下がらないので苦しかった。 - using explicit ので "because".

I think ~ないで is used mostly for: ① negative imperative: "さわらないで!" (milder than さわるな!) ② in the form of ~ないでいる and ~ないでおく: "今は言わないでおこう" ③ before various verbs: "顔も洗わないで行っちゃった". In cases ② and ③, ないで can be substituted with ずに.

Based on these, 熱が下がらないで苦しかった and 熱が下がらずに苦しかった are both understandable but sound slightly clumsy or unnatural, perhaps because 苦しかった is not a verb. With a verb instead, 熱が下がらないで苦しんだ and 熱が下がらずに苦しんだ are both fairly correct (except that 苦しんだ is rather a literary expression).

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  • ② could be generalized to any 補助動詞, no? Also, I think 「熱が下がらず苦しんだ」 (that is, with no に) can still work with the same reading as the に version (in addition to the conjunctive reading), can't it? – Darius Jahandarie Nov 26 '14 at 2:15
  • Actually ないでいる / ないでおく are negative counterparts of ている / ておく (Compare: 彼は寝ている "He is sleeping", 彼は寝ていない "He is not sleeping", and 彼は寝ないでいる "He is staying up"). So I think you can say they are kinds of 補助動詞, though I don't know how most textbooks say about this. – isayamag Nov 26 '14 at 3:02
  • And yes, 熱が下がらず苦しんだ is pretty natural too. – isayamag Nov 26 '14 at 3:04
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To add to the other answer, I was taught that 〜なくて can imply a a causal relationship, while 〜ないで doesn't.

電車に乗れなくて、遅刻した。 - I was late because I couldn't get on the train.
シャワーを浴びないで、家を出た。 - I left the house without taking a shower. (but not because)

In these examples, the two are not interchangeable as far as I know.

Also, as the other answer mentioned, 〜ないでください is the standard form for negative imperative / requests and can't be substituted by 〜ず or 〜なくて.

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