For example, to translate :

This dog is not cute.

We can use :


or :


Is there a difference between those two sentences? Are there conditions to use the former instead of the latter, or vice versa?

  • 2
    Did you actually learn to say 「かわいいではありません」 somewhere? I ask as I see/hear quite a few Japanese-learners say that.
    – user4032
    Feb 14, 2019 at 11:47
  • No, I just used 「かわいいではありません」 as an example, I could have used any other adjective, for example : 「大きいではありません」. Is 「かわいいではありません」 incorrect?
    – norbjd
    Feb 14, 2019 at 11:56
  • First thing that comes to mind is that you have 2 "は"s in the second sentence. Feb 14, 2019 at 13:31

1 Answer 1


The first sentence is correct and the second one is not correct. That is because, 可愛い is so-called 形容詞 (i-adjective). The second type of conjugation is correct for 形容動詞(na-adjective), but not for 形容詞.

○:この犬は可愛くないです。 ×:この犬は可愛いではありません。

Instead,きれいだ is 形容動詞(na-adjective), so the second type of conjugation fits in.

×:彼女はきれいくないです。 ○:彼女はきれいではありません。

You may notice, you can replace na-adjectives with nouns and still the same conjugation holds.

×:彼女は学生くないです。 ○:彼女は学生ではありません。

Roughly speaking, older words are classified into 形容詞 (the first expression) and therefore it conjugates more naturally as adjectives, and newer words 形容動詞(the second expression) are sort of more clumsy, so it nearly conjugates as just nouns. (although there are exceptions as in most grammatical rules)

related posts: 大きじゃない vs 大きくない? Why does Japanese have two kinds of adjectives? (-i adjectives and -na adjectives)^

  • Thanks for your answer and the links you provided. So if I understand correctly, i-adjectives + です like 可愛いです (is cute) become 可愛くないです (is not cute) when negated, and na-adjectives + です like きれいです (is beautiful) become きれいではありません (is not beautiful). So we can't find i-adjectives + ではありません, nor na-adjectives + くないです. Am I right?
    – norbjd
    Feb 15, 2019 at 8:49
  • I think your understanding is correct.
    – HQMA
    Feb 15, 2019 at 8:59

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