Do they have the same meaning?

A: 宿{しゅく}題{だい}をして行{い}かない生{せい}徒{と}が多{おお}いです。

B: 宿{しゅく}題{だい}をしないで行{い}く生{せい}徒{と}が多{おお}いです。

  • 7
    This is a good question. It depends on if A sentence has a comma. Jan 19 '16 at 3:45

If sentence A has a comma like:

A: 宿題をして、行かない生徒が多いです。
B: 宿題をしないで行く生徒が多いです。

then Sjiveru is right.

However, it doesn't have a comma, so they have the same meaning. They mean "There are many students who go without doing their homework." The して行かない doesn't mean "don't go" but "don't do their homework."

  • 2
    +1 for this; I also feel A (without comma) and B mean the same thing, at least in a normal context. If this sentence is said by a teacher, this phrase should be 宿題をしてこない生徒, which I think is a very common problem at any school. Of course it means "students who come to school without doing their homework", not "students who don't come to school, after finishing their homework".
    – naruto
    Jan 19 '16 at 4:39
  • 1
    What if we replaced 行く with, say, 参加する? In other words, is this behavior of 〜ない due to 行く also being a 補助動詞 as opposed to only a verb? Jan 19 '16 at 5:16
  • 1
    @DariusJahandarie For example, "ちゃんと旅行の準備をして参加しない生徒が多いです" would mean there are ill-prepared students, who go to the trip anyway (it may be slightly confusing, though).
    – naruto
    Jan 19 '16 at 5:40
  • 3
    @DariusJahandarie. This usage is used in various verbs. For example, 靴を履いて入らないでください(Don't enter with shoes on), 仮装してパーティーに参加しない( I don't join the party with showing up in masquerade). Jan 19 '16 at 6:03

The sentence A:

A: 宿題をして行かない生徒が多いです。

This almost always means "There are many students who go to school without doing their homework." (ie, they go to school anyway)

In English, "Don't drink and drive" always means "Don't drive after you drink", not "Don't drink! Do drive!". Here "drink-and-drive" is treated as one set. And "Let's not go and see him" does not usually mean "Let's stay home, and let's see him instead."

Quite similarly, in Sentence A, the ない negates "宿題をして行く" part as a whole. That's why it's effectively the same as Sentence B.

Other similar examples:

  • 遊んで暮らすな。 Don't live in idleness. (not "Play! And die!")
  • 物を口に入れて喋らないでください。 Please don't speak with your mouth full.
  • 物を口に入れて、喋らないでください。 Please fill your mouth with food, and don't speak. (See the comma)

No, they are quite different.

B is fairly normal, and means 'there are many students who go [to school, I assume] without doing their homework'. The doing part is negated, not the going - they still go to school, it's only the homework they don't do.

A can instead be translated as 'there are many students who do their homework and then don't go'. The going is negated, not the doing; the negative doesn't extend over the whole phrase.


Sjiveru is right, but allow me to break it down a bit...

The て part indicates the verb is in te-form ( て形【けい】 in Japanese ). It has many uses which you can review on your own, but the one I want to highlight here is how it connects clauses or verbs together. This can be roughly translate the verb to "and" but also "but" like:


I ate cake and drank coffee.


I didn't eat cake but drank coffee.

So, knowing this, let's look at your two sentences.


There are many students who do their homework but don't go (to school).


There are many students who don't do their homework and go (to school).

In each case, I made the positive statements bold, so you can kind of see what's going on. Does this make sense? If not, let me know.

  • 2
    I always thought it was て[形]{けい}.
    – user1478
    Jan 18 '16 at 23:10
  • 1
    My dictionaries say てけい too, but isn't this kind of kun/on switch dialectic in some places?
    – rickster
    Jan 18 '16 at 23:49
  • Whoops! No, you two are right. Edited! Jan 19 '16 at 2:16

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