In my understanding that might be wrong, I think the ~ない form of a verb becomes an i-adjective. For example,


where 納{なっ}豆{とう}を食{た}べない modifies 人{ひと}.

Furthermore, I think I should be able to make use of the following pattern as well,


or in the reversed order,



Today I learnt a new grammar.


What makes me confused is the negative version as follows,


Why don't we use ~なくて instead of ~ないで as follows?



1 Answer 1


ないで comes from the combination of ない negative verbal form and で which stands for way, means of doing sth e.t.c. ないで generally can be used in the same context with なくて but なくて is a plain negative form with the connector て.

The example you present is better off with ないで because it translates word-to-word to

" I drink the coffee, by the mean of not adding sugar", so "I drink the coffee without adding sugar".

The なくて version just connects things you do or don't.

"I do not add sugar and I drink coffee".

This could be easier understood with the following example:


I did not go to school and I went to sensei Yamada. (This day I didn't go to school and I did go to sensei Yamada. I didn't plan to meet Yamada at school, I might have planned to meet him at the park, the konbini e.t.c. I just didn't go to school and I went to see sensei Yamada these two events do not have a logical connection).


I went to sensei Yamada without going to school.

(This day I didn't go to school and I imply that this might be the proper place to meet him, but I finally managed to see him elsewhere without going to school).

  • 1
    What's your source on the etymology of ないで? As far as I know it's not known. I speculate about it in this answer: japanese.stackexchange.com/a/11475/3097 Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 18:22
  • My tutor was a Japanese post-doctorate in Archeology and has mentioned this in class. This explanation seems to fare well in the given context but sadly I have not been provided with a source. Nevertheless my personal, yet of little experience, opinion, is that ない+にて supports better the current semantic meaning of the conjuction than any other combination of particles ( なき+にて though seems tempting). Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 20:34
  • 3
    山田先生に行きました doesn't sound natural... You'd say it more like 山田先生に会いに行きました or 山田先生のところに行きました. (私は学校に行かなくて山田先生に 会いに/のところに 行きました wouldn't be natural either, though... You'd usually use ないで or ずに here)
    – chocolate
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 5:12

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