The following sentence was translated in the following ways:

I shouldn't have slept with the window open.
I regret (that) I was sleeping with the window open.

But why does ~んじゃなかった make the meaning "I shouldn't have slept" rather than "I hadn't been sleeping"?

  • I would've thought it was a rhetorical question as in "Was it not the case that I slept with the window open?"
    – Flaw
    Apr 26, 2012 at 1:34
  • @Flaw Wouldn't that be ・・・寝たんじゃない?
    – ジョン
    Apr 26, 2012 at 2:12
  • @ジョン I suppose. Which is why it struck me as odd because I already had some form of prejudgement when reading the sentence.
    – Flaw
    Apr 26, 2012 at 2:31
  • The meaning is accurate as translated. But I can't answer "why" and I'm having trouble finding it in J-J dictionaries.
    – Hyperworm
    Apr 26, 2012 at 12:18

1 Answer 1


In your example, your ~寝【ね】るんじゃなかった is a shortened form of ~寝【ね】ることではなかった.

~Vことだ is a common command form, and ~Vことではない is used by extension as a form of prohibition. In your example, the following transformations have occurred:

  • ではない → じゃない
  • こと → の → ん

In this case, the speaker is basically scolding herself because she should've known not to sleep with the window open.

  • 1
    The only part that does not feel very intuitive to me is こと→の.
    – Flaw
    Apr 26, 2012 at 13:19
  • 1
    @Flaw I would vouch for the こと→の. It's a common contraction. (hoping that contraction is the right word here)
    – ジョン
    Apr 26, 2012 at 13:44
  • 1
    @ジョン It's easy to see that もの→もん and の→ん. But こと→の seems to be a different thing altogether.
    – Flaw
    Apr 26, 2012 at 13:46
  • 1
    @Flaw Both こと and の are nominalizers, so it's not exactly fair to call it a "transformation." See japanese.stackexchange.com/q/1395/384 -- note that there is some disagreement on ことだ⇔のだ in the comments of the accepted answer
    – rintaun
    Apr 26, 2012 at 13:47
  • 2
    「こと→の ... a common contraction」ということはできないと思います。「~~することだ。」「~~するんだ。」は、両方とも「~しろ」のような意味で使えますが、意味・ニュアンスが違います(「~することだ」は命令というより警告に近いと思います)し、そもそも、後悔するときに、「Vるんじゃなかった」は言いますが、「Vることではなかった」とは言いません。
    – chocolate
    May 27, 2018 at 0:47

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