First I'm kinda confused. I'm concerned if these 2 questions bring the same nuance or not... "Isn't he young?" and "He is not young? / He isn't young?". Both sounds quite different on how they imply the speaker's perspective.

I believe that these 2 questions are different...

彼は医者じゃない? 彼は医者なんじゃない?

授業がない? 授業があるんじゃない?

The former just asked "He is not a doctor?" and "There is no class?", which imply that the speaker wanted to clarify the negative situation.

The latter is explanatory seeking. "Isn't he a doctor? (I thought he is!)" and "Isn't there a class? (I thought there is!)" imply that the speaker wanted to clarify that their first stimuli received are wrong.

Here comes い adj.


Here the guy is asking "Isn't it Smelly? (It's stinky!)", more like "It's stinky, right? (asking for the listener's agreement).


this is translated as "you aren't scared?"

and furthermore if I add の after じゃない, what changes?

授業があるんじゃない vs  授業があるんじゃないの

does the latter just mean more explanatory seeking?

The whole ordeal confuses me. If indeed those 2 questions at the beginning differ, can someone explain to me every formula in constructing negative questions with/without の that gives out specific nuances?

3 Answers 3


The の particle here is the explanation particle, it gives an emphasis and further wish of explaining from the person who answers, I think it makes the question a bit stronger cause you just don't want an answer, you want a proper explanation.

パーティーに行かない?(Paatii ni ikanai?) Are you not going to the party?

パーティーに行かないの?(Paatii ni ikanai no?) Are you not going the party? (explain to me why)

You can also abbreviate の with ん, for instance:

彼女が好きじゃないんだ?(Kanojo ga suki janain da?) Don't you like her? (why)

Now, I'm not 100% sure when it comes to questions, but for affirmatives when I use んだ, なんだよ people often say to me that it makes the sentence too strong, and it doesn't always fit. Something like.

今日、大学に行かないんだよ (kyou, daigaku ni ikanain da yo) I'm not going to college today!!!

  • 1
    You need adverbs like どうして or なぜ to ask why.
    – user4092
    Jun 24, 2017 at 20:00
  • I meant the nuance of "why", not the actual word Jun 24, 2017 at 23:05

Questions of のだ forms mean that you are trying to confirm if your judgement from your observation is true or not, opposed to simple questions.

For example, simple くれる? means that your are asking someone to give something while くれるの? means that the opponent seems giving it and you are confirming if he's really doing.

Negative questions are basically parallel too. 怖くないの? means that you first caught a sign that told the opponent was not scared. That part is the difference.

As for your examples, both 彼は医者じゃない? and 彼は医者なんじゃない? can mean either that you are guessing that he is a doctor or that you are surprised at the fact that he is not a doctor. This is because if he's doctor or not is a permanent state unlike if someone is scared at the moment. The examples of 授業 are parallel too. So, 授業があるんじゃない? is not different from 授業があるんじゃないの? either.


Correct me if I'm wrong but の is an informal way of using か, I mean as a question, instead of using ですか or か you can use の, also when you can use it in a negative way: adjないの? It means aren't you (hungry,scared,etc).

I would say that the meaning depends of the context, like many things in japanese, also If is a conversation you have to pay attention to the intonation to get what the speaker is trying to communicate.

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    I personally feel it is not the case, the nuance is very different and you can also make questions without か、ですか、の, etc Jun 23, 2017 at 17:16
  • It's not a replacement for か. Rather, it's the explanatory の. A question ending in の is actually just a shortened version of のか/のですか. Also, the original poster asked about the のじゃない pattern, and 授業があるかじゃない? wouldn't make sense (to my knowledge). Jun 24, 2017 at 5:31

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