From this question I found the following sentence:


I was wondering specifically about 赤く+ではなく. Does ではなく just attach regardless?

The question described ではなくas だ+は+ない using their connective forms. But with い adjectives and adverbs, 赤いだ and 赤くだ aren't ever used, riight? Or does that just not matter?

I don't really see any alternative, but perhaps would 赤くてはなく (is not red but) or something similar work?

Thanks, and sorry if it's an easy question or repeat

  • Why not 赤くない? I thought ではない came after nouns and な adjectives...
    – user22536
    Sep 7, 2017 at 1:21
  • 1. By "aren't ever used" I really just meant they aren't technically correct. And, the second one (赤くだ) is pretty much meaningless. 2. Isn't 赤くない grammatically correct version of 赤いではない? Or are they equally correct. PS "the wall is painted not in red" You could say it I guess, but it sounds odd without anything else.
    – user22536
    Sep 7, 2017 at 2:44
  • I think there's some confusion here between 赤く as part of 赤くない and 赤く, the adverb. The adverbial form has a bit of "nouniness" to it. Trying to wedge the first half of the given sentence into another form risks making it sound like you're saying something like "壁を赤い塗らなくて、青く塗った”, i.e., failing to express the 赤い adverbially. ね?
    – mamster
    Sep 7, 2017 at 4:03
  • 1
    @mamster You're not using ね correctly. It should be だよね or ですよね, or it doesn't make sense.
    – user4092
    Sep 7, 2017 at 9:58
  • @macraf why do this to me. can you not tell what i mean? Also, if anyone could help me understand 赤くない vs 赤いではない, please do. Is it a colloquial thing like 赤くはない mentioned in an answer below?
    – user22536
    Sep 7, 2017 at 22:07

3 Answers 3


I think you should think AではなくB as a idiom and it can be mixed with words of various grammatical roles.

In the case of a verb, it is 私は、歩いてではなく(歩くのではなく)走って学校に行く.

In the case of a noun, it is 私は、はしではなくフォークでご飯を食べる。

In the case of a adverb, it is 私は時間がちょっとではなくたくさんほしい。

In the case of a i-adjective which modifies a verb, it is 彼は壁を赤くではなく青く塗った.

In the case of a i-adjective, it isn't この壁は赤くではなく青い but この壁は赤くなく青い.

In the case of a na-adjectiv, it is 私は英語が嫌いではなく好きだ。

  • If we were to choose between two flags red and blue, would nominalisation of both adjectives be strictly necessary? Couldn't you say 赤いではなく青いのを選びましょう instead of 赤いの?
    – macraf
    Sep 7, 2017 at 5:33
  • We would say 赤いのではなく青いのを選びましょう. Sep 7, 2017 at 7:38
  • Thank you. Regarding the verb before ではなく, is it always either ~て or nominalized? Say we stopped it at 走った。 Would 歩いてchange form? Also, I've read once verb+より, is that the same? Or is it different, or less common
    – user22536
    Sep 7, 2017 at 21:43
  • Regarding the verb before ではなく, I think so. Sorry, I can't grasp your second question. Regarding the verb before より, plain form is also used like 私は、走るより歩くのが好きだ. Sep 8, 2017 at 4:07

赤いだ is impossible but 赤くだ can happen. e.g 色が変わったというのは青くではなく赤くだ: The color having changed doesn't mean into blue but into red.

The example sentence is difficult to rephrase, apart from 赤ではなく.

赤くてはなく is ungrammatical.

On the other hand, a structure like 赤くはなく青く塗った per se is possible. However in this case, it's a weird expression because it would mean that being blue and being red essentially can simultaneously happen.

  • In my opinion, the sentence 赤くはなく青く塗った implies the sentence 青くはなく赤く塗った exists at same time if being blue and being red can simultaneously happen.
    – user25382
    Sep 7, 2017 at 11:20
  • Thank you. English doesn't change red to redly ever. Can generally adverb+だ happen? Also, about 赤くはなく青く塗った, that is just like connecting two sentences right? eg壁は赤くはなく、あのペンキは青い (I made this up so if it is wrong that's why)
    – user22536
    Sep 7, 2017 at 21:54
  • Yes, adverb + だ can generally happen. I don't really think it's an idiom. 赤く(は)なく、青く is connecting two attribution, as you say, and the は conveys a nuance of "blue yet not as much as red".
    – user4092
    Sep 8, 2017 at 4:39

This may just be a lazy Tokyo colloquialism, but the closest phrasing we regularly use is 赤い? 赤くはないけど... but that structure is using adjectives in both sentences. If you think of the adverbs as independent units, the phrasing 早く寝た? 早くではなくいつも通り寝た。becomes more palatable.

  • Define independent unit? I guess that makes sense, but it's hard to know for sure
    – user22536
    Sep 7, 2017 at 21:58
  • If you think of the く conjugation of the い adjective (the adverb) as an atomic unit (forgetting that you can break it down to an adjective), then the idea of keeping the く-form consistent throughout the structure is more logical. Using the adverb once and the adjective the second time is like saying "I ate not quickly, but slow" (slowly would be correct). Sep 8, 2017 at 5:28

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