E.g. 負けずに&負けぬように Makezu vs Makenu


Not exactly grammatically. According to Wikipedia, ず is 連用形 while ぬ is either 終止形 or 連体形. In your case if we swap them and obtain 負けぬに (I cannot even directly type this one out with my Japanese input) and 負けずように it won't be grammatically correct. Also note the meaning of your two phrases are different. The first one means "without being defeated" while the second means "so as not to be defeated". The last thing to note is that they are all archaic forms of ない but still commonly used in contemporary Japanese.

  • Thank you! Interesting how they are not interchangeable. Admittedly I am not familiar with the different forms. Are they essential in my study to Japanese proficiency? I looked at the whole table and I'm pretty confused.
    – shoryuu
    Jan 31 '18 at 19:13
  • @shoryuu They are essential Japanese grammar if you are interested in the structure of Japanese language itself, but not essential if you just want to improve your Japanese proficiency. In fact in most courses for foreigners these rules are taught without mentioning the names of these terms. For example, the negative of the verb 書く is taught as a whole as 書かない and a rule for conjugation is introduced. They never mention that in this construction, 書か is the mizenkei 未然形 of 書く and ない is the jodoushi 助動詞 that is listed in the table. Jan 31 '18 at 19:22
  • @shoryuu So I don't think it is necessary and you probably should not worry too much about the table now. You'll understand it better if you are proficient with the conjugations and want to know how the traditional Japanese grammars (not for foreigners) interpret them. Jan 31 '18 at 19:24
  • Ah I see! Thank you! I don't suppose you have a book title to recommend me to read? Japanese to Chinese study books are fine too. 我是华人。
    – shoryuu
    Feb 1 '18 at 20:16
  • @shoryuu I think there are books on this topic but I haven't read one. I mainly learnt them from Wikimedia sites. Here is one from Wiktionary. I also recommend guidetojapanese.org as a tutorial as well as a handy reference for grammars (which covers the grammar of ず and ぬ as well in Ess. L10). I read the English version but there are Chinese translations and I think the quality is good, although things are still stated in a way that is more natural for English speakers. It also has an app on Android (which I use all the time; not sure about iPhone). Feb 1 '18 at 23:20

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