While reading the light novel for 君の名は I came across this sentence in the first chapter:


Is using なく here equivalent to using ないで or does it have a different meaning altogether?


The なく is the 連用形 of ない used in the sense of:

10 名詞に付いて、否定の意を含む形容詞をつくる。「こころ―・い」「違い―・い」「面目 (めんぼく) ―・い」 (デジタル大辞泉)

ない can be attached to a noun, forming an i-adjective with a negative meaning ("without~~"). A few more examples: 「[絶]{た}え[間]{ま}ない」「休みない」「[跡形]{あとかた}ない」「[相違]{そうい}ない」

[隙間]{すきま}なく in your example is the 連用形, or the adverbial form, of 「隙間ない」, i.e. 隙間+ない.

Examples: 「絶え間なく」「休みなく」「跡形なく」「[余念]{よねん}なく」「[仕方]{しかた}なく」



It's come to my attention that the answer by @Chocolate is a much more grounded answer than mine, and admittedly this was the first time I've learned about such a structure in grammatical terms (noun + なく = adverb).

In light of that, I offer my original answer a (not the) way a Japanese language learner can remember or reason out what noun + なくprobably means.

In my personal experience, as a non-native Japanese language learner never having studied the noun + なく form from a book, noun + が + なくて has always been the way I've mentally reasoned out what noun + なく means while communicating with native speakers. One of the first things I (and likely many other Japanese language learners) learned when starting out was the existence of noun + が + ない, so from that building block I would deduce the meaning of noun + なく

In practice it's always helped me correctly understand at least the big-picture meaning, but apparently not the standard grammatical basis.

Original answer




隙間 is a noun, so the conjugation ○○ないで isn't applicable.

  • 2
    – Chocolate
    Jun 21 '18 at 0:57
  • @Chocolate さんの回答を読んで勉強になりました。私は文法的に分析すると、多くの英語表現みたいに「正しくなくはないけど実際は使ってみるとやっぱりおかしい」と思っていたのです。それにしても今まではオリジナルの説明で何となく意味がわかってきて、ネイティブじゃない人としての考え方の一つだとこの回答を編集しました。 Jun 21 '18 at 16:43
  • * ...多くの英語表現みたいに、この場合は「(名詞)がなくて」というパターンが「正しくなくはないけど実際は使ってみるとやっぱりおかしい」... Jun 21 '18 at 16:54
  • I think て is extra and "a noun + なく" and "a noun +がなく" are mostly interchangeable. Jun 21 '18 at 17:06

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