A novel I'm reading contains this snippet of dialogue. The manager of a love hotel is explaining why she doesn't return to her apartment between shifts:


Does the わけじゃなし here parse to "わけ じゃ 無し", or is she dropping the ”い” in "わけ じゃ ない し"? Just in case it might be relevant, she speaks very colloquially, and is from the Yamagata countryside, although I can't detect any particular regionalisms in her speech. The setting is Tokyo.

If it is "わけ じゃ 無し", how does it work grammatically?

{EDIT-ADDENDUM} For anyone who's interested, I asked a native speaker about this, and his impression was that "わけじゃなし" adds an edge of scorn (「ばかにする」 is the way he put it) that "わけじゃないし" doesn't have, but with the same meaning. He also reckoned that it derives from "無し", although, personally, I still think that's an open question. Where's an etymologist when you need one?

  • I think that it's "な(い)し" but I have to foundations for my thinking this…
    – Axioplase
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 2:22
  • @Axioplase - That was my feeling too, but I'd never seen it before, so I thought it best to ask.
    – rdb
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 3:33
  • Agreed with Axioplase because し at the end of a sub-clause is for denoting a reason (although it has softer nuance that から) and the two sub-clauses in the sentence indeed sound to me like listing down the reasons she doesn't return to her apartment.
    – Lukman
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 3:43
  • 3
    Its meaning is the same as わけじゃないし, but I do not know how わけじゃなし came to be. なし is the form in classical Japanese which corresponds to ない in modern Japanese, so this might be the origin of わけじゃなし (but if so, し is part of なし, which is different from particle し in ないし). Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 12:11

3 Answers 3


I asked a handy native speaker (Tokyo linguistic area) about this one and got an interesting response. They had no comment on where exactly なし comes from, but they perceived a specific difference between なし and ないし:

  • A ってわけじゃないし、 B ってわけじゃないし... = "For one thing, it's not A; for another, it's not B..." -- the しs signpost that it all adds up into a coherent whole, a multifaceted argument if you like.
  • A ってわけじゃなし、 B ってわけじゃなし... = "It's not A, it's not B..." -- the two parts are separate; there is no "link" from A to B; it is a series of discrete assertions rather than a guided tour through an argument.

In a comment above Tsuyoshi says that わけじゃなし has the same meaning as わけじゃないし, so this might just be my informant's idiolect (or Tsuyoshi's!), but I thought I'd throw this up anyway, for interested parties.


I honestly think this is nothing more than a dropped い, and the proper rendering is わけじゃない:


It's not like I have something to do if I go home, and it's not as if someone's waiting for me, so more often than not I sleep in the hotel's break room and start working after I wake up.

It wouldn't be the first time い has been squished out of the sentence by its neighbors. Poor い has never really been able to stand up for itself, what with those two short strokes separated by that gap. It starts with changing ~ている to ~てる, and then before you know it, someone goes and changes ~ない to ~ねぇ, and it just gets worse from there.

You can stop this syllable dropping madness! Join the Global い Preservation Alliance today!

  • Disagree. I think @Tsuyoshi has the right answer with his comment to the question. It seems like it's intentionally なし, the classical form of ない (なしにする、など). So the original sentence should either be ない or なし, but not ないし.
    – istrasci
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 19:08
  • OP here. I'm not so sure. If it were Classical なし, it would be odd for it to be 終止形 in this type of construction: I would expect 連用形 なく or なかり. However, my memory of 古典文語 is pretty fuzzy, and if it's a fossilized form, it might not get used according to the old rules. As Mr. Ito says, the meaning is clearly "ない し". Since it's very colloquial speech, I'm kind of leaning toward the dropped "い" hypothesis at the moment.
    – rdb
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 19:43
  • なし may be a classical form, but its use is still pretty common. I wouldn't say that you couldn't use it just because it's a colloquial tone.
    – istrasci
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 21:43
  • I think なし is still commonly used in the form of なしにする as in 晩ご飯なし(にする).
    – Lukman
    Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 4:38

I think you should count でなし, じゃなし (ではなし), and でもなし special idioms. They are unrelated to し in ~ないし.

Grammatically, they are highly unique that they are allowed to connect directly after the dictionary form of a verb, which is an almost lost particle usage (連体形準体法) except for several combinations of に (2, 3, 4) and a few sporadic cases.

○ 誰が待っているわけじゃなし
○ 誰が待っているじゃなし
× 誰が待っているじゃないし (unless 誰が待っている is somebody's quote)

From meaning, they carry a certain connotation the Classical なし used to have as 終止形 "terminal form" of adjective, which is signifying the end of the sentence. Of course, we no longer speak Classical Japanese and they are used more as subordinate clauses rather than in the real end of sentences. But they still take advantage of this nature to create a feeling that you end the clause "abruptly". What I mean is that, they work as if semicolon-ed clauses as below:

I don't have anything back at home; I don't have anyone waiting for me; most of the time I sleep in the hotel's resting room and just continue working after I get up.

Apparently, this kind of phrasing would be handy in some styles of speech, because otherwise Japanese rarely allows you to link phrases without a conjunctional element (there's no "no music, no life" construction in Japanese). When you use ~ないし, it will be correctly like the translation @DerekSchaab has provided.

You may see these forms followed by に, in this case they are equivalent to ~なく or ~なくて.

be staring it blankly without looking [at anything particular]

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