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I know ずに is a form of negation for verbs, but I'm uncertain as to how its being used in the following context other than as a negation for the verb わかる.

昨晩アインは夜明けまで時間をくれた。それまでに生きるか死ぬかを決めさせてくれるという。結局選んだ道は、このままなにもわからずに死んでいくことではなく、ツヴァイとして、殺し屋として生きていくことだった。いつか自分という存在を取り戻すためにも、今はツヴァイでいるしかないのだ。

Seeing as how the verb 死んで comes directly after the わからずに, it made me wonder why there's not a particle between the two verbs. Unless the に is the particle here, my brain thought the lack of a particle could be explained by the ずに form being able to connect two verbs like the te form can.

I've not formally studied the ずに form, so I have no means of confirming nor disproving my brain's analytical explanation. Although I highly doubt the ずに form can be used as a connective form, a second opinion would be much appreciated as to what the ずに in the above context is doing.

TDLR: (1) Is the ずに in the above a negation of the verb its attached to,

(2) or is it a negation with only the ず form which makes the に a particle,

(3) or a mashed up combination of the above which would make the に a part of the negation and a particle,

(4) or is the ずに a negating connective... 'thing' for the わかる verb and 死んで verb,

(5) or something else entirely?

Asking as I've seen multiple questions and answers using both ず and ずに as interchangeable words for the same form of negation, so I have no clue as to what is going or is applicable in my own sentence.

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ずに is a conjunctive negative form for verbs which comes from the classical Japanese auxiliary verb ず (which is still used in limited occasions in modern Japanese).

This ず was/is added to the end of the 未然形 of a verb and is the 基本形 (and 終止形 and 連用形) of the old negative 'tense'. There are plenty of websites dealing with this, so have a look if you're interested.

Anyway, getting back to ~ずに.

~ずに is what we get when we add 「に」 to 「ず」; pretty straightforward, right?

So what is this に, then? According to デジタル大辞泉, に can be used (as a sort of adjunct) to 動作・作用の行われ方、その状態のあり方を表す (show the way something is or how an action is carried out). In the case of ずに, this adjunctive に is attached to the 連用形 of the negative auxiliary verb ず (which winds up being just ず) to express how something is not carried out.

So in your example

なにもわからずに死んでいく

ずに is being used to show how the action 死んでいく is not being carried out, i.e. 何も分からず(に).

A nice way this can be translated into English is "without ~ing", and carries the same meaning as 「~ないで」, but is more literary.

  • So then the ni in my context is being used as both ずに (verb negation) and as a connective form (like how the te form has a connective form to connect V1 with V2) in how the "ずに is being used to show how the action 死んでいく is not being carried out, i.e. 何も分からず(に)." – Toyu_Frey Nov 18 at 4:43
  • The に is not negating the verb. The に is being used to 'connect' in a sense the previous verb to the following verb, and the ず is being used to negative the previous verb. – sbkgs4686 Nov 18 at 4:52

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