This sentence comes from my JLPT practise book in a section explaining the use of 解{と}く:


I get that 解{と}く means to "unravel" or "solve", but the sentence seems to be saying "When you can't see the answer to the practise questions, solve it yourself."

Which seems odd conceptually to me, because I can't really imagine a situation in which someone needs to be looking up answers for questions they could solve anyway.

So I'm wondering if there's something about 解{と}く that I'm not getting. Or perhaps some other part of the sentence.

What does the sentence mean, and how does 解{と}く play into it?

  • 2
    Perhaps because what you think you didn't know does not coincide with what you actually didn't know. If the question was retitled to make ~ないで the scope of the question then it would make more sense.
    – Flaw
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 11:02

1 Answer 1


It means "Try to solve it without looking at the answers" 見ないで doesn't mean "when you can't see", it's a negative command/encouragement.

  • Oh! Of course. Now that you point it out it seems obvious. I feel a little silly now...
    – Questioner
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 4:06
  • 1
    @Sam Agree with your first sentence, disagree with your second one ("it's a negative command"). This 見ないで is equivalent to 見ずに, not 見るな.
    – Hyperworm
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 18:08
  • @Hyperworm I disagree that is not a command. In absence of context it can both be "without ~" and also can be a command. Negative commands are of the forms 連体形 + な, 未然形 + ないで, 連用形 + なさるな, お + 連用形 + なさらないで, お + 連用形 + なさいますな. In increasing order of politeness/formality. But I agree that for this particular case it is more likely to be the "without ~" rather than the command.
    – Flaw
    Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 16:11
  • I know that 見ないで can be a command; I said this 見ないで (meaning, in this particular case). If I've misunderstood you I apologize. :)
    – Hyperworm
    Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 18:36

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