I'm re-reading/translating a section of 金原ひとみ's 星へ落ちる for a translation course I'm taking and ran into the following sentence:


I've never run into this usage of しまい before and am curious about why it's being used here. A quick web search brings up mostly the phrase 「しようとしまいと」, so I've parsed it in this sentence as the equivalent of 「しない」, meaning that it's the -まい form of する and making the sentence read as something along the lines of "When he isn't home, if I don't imagine him sharing a meal or having sex with that person, I endlessly smoke cigarettes and drift into a meaningless existence."

So I guess my questions are:

  1. Did I parse this sentence correctly?
  2. Is there any particular reason for this usage of -まい? The novel consists mostly of a woman's inner dialogue and isn't at all formal, so this felt a little out of place.
  • a very common subsidiary verb: kotobank.jp/word/…
    – user4032
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 10:40
  • I'm familiar with the verb, but most of my encounters with it have been in either older texts or when someone's speaking in a more formal context; as the novel's set in the present (which was 2007 when the book was first published), the usage here seemed a bit odd and I was wondering if this was [somewhat] more common in literary texts or if the author "arbitrarily" used it here. Or if there's a connotation to using it that's eluded me.
    – vel
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 10:58

1 Answer 1


You can forget the (よ)うと~まいと~ pattern described here for now. This まい simply expresses a negative volition ("I will not ~" or "I will try not to ~") described here, followed by the quotative particle と. The sentence says "I try not to imagine the scene where he ..." You can rephrase it as 想像しないようにしようと(思って), although it's a bit long. The rule for using まい is found here (I don't know if we can call this "mai-form").

This まい is indeed literary (as opposed to colloquial), and tends to appear in written documents. But I feel it's not particularly formal. I haven't read this novel, but in a typical novel, there is nothing unnatural when you see まい in descriptive texts.

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