When I checked the entry of 助動詞 「だ」 in the dictionary, I found the following example sentence:


Does the fact that で is in bold mean that で in ではない is actually the 連用形 of 「だ」?

But how could this be possible considering the fact that ではない is, in itself, the negative form of である ? Which is what 「だ」 actually comes from ?

Are there 2 ではない ?

  • As others have noted, だ is a strange verb. The reasons for that strangeness are that だ is a relatively recent, and somewhat artificial, development. There was a related question about a year and half ago that I answered, going into the development of the copula (the "is, to be" verb) in Japanese and how we got to だ・です: 「です」, what is it really? Is my analysis correct? – Eiríkr Útlendi Jun 4 '20 at 20:12

だ and である are really two forms of the same verb, which is a very odd and irregular verb. There's not really a benefit to thinking of them as separate, as every other form besides です~であります is shared between the two. Having two options for the shuushikei is only one way this verb is unusual.

In terms of the mizenkei, I'm not sure it even has one. で is the ren'youkei, but ではない as a unit (sometimes without the は as でない) is the negative form, which isn't formed off of any mizenkei, it simply is on its own the negative form. Etymologically, it is from the ren'youkei + は + ない, much the same way as adjectives are topicalised and negated - c.f. 早くはない. (でない, without the topic marker, is formed in exactly the same way as adjective negatives are.) At this point, though, it's basically a unit, and there's no sense in arguing that it's still used as a multi-part construction.

To answer your questions directly:

  • Yes, technically, putting で in bold there is demonstrating its use as a ren'youkei, but that's not really a helpful way of thinking about ではない anymore. It probably would have been better to put the whole word ではない in bold.
  • There are not two ではないs, because だ and である are the same verb. ではない is an irregular negative form that's built off a ren'youkei + topicaliser combination, rather than a mizenkei (or an adjective-like plain ren'youkei).
  • 2
    Thanks for your answer. But the "problem" is that as you mention it, だ and である are basically the same "verb" since だ is just a change in sound of である. However, according to kotobank : 大辞林 第三版 - であるの用語解説 - ( 連語 ) 〔断定の助動詞「だ」の連用形「で」に補助動詞「ある」の付いたもの。中世後期以降の語〕 So it basically says that である is made from the 連用形 of だ and the verb "ある". That is what I'm wondering, if it is true or what am i missing? – Tchang May 14 '17 at 22:35
  • 4
    The fact that で is a 連用形 of だ doesn't mean it's etymologically made of だ (it's actually from にて) but just a theory of modern grammar considers so. – user4092 May 15 '17 at 0:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.