I am doing the exercises for a course in Japanese, which I cannot attend, because it overlaps with my mandatory course. The exercise requires to form the past negative masu form of i-adjectives. Instead of


It requires us to answer


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When to use this form? I suspect it is just an even more polite version, but I searched a lot and cannot find any example of usage for this, so I am somewhat insecure!

Edit: When I learned Japanese in the past (from books) the verb-masu form was always introduced together with the adjective-desu/adjective-kunai desu form. So, as regards to this new adjective-ku-arimasen, when should I prefer it? And should I pair it with verb-masu or with something more polite?

  • 1
    Maybe these two links get to the nub of your problem: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/65067/… , japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/2574/… Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 15:09
  • @user3856370 yes! The second link seems very helpful! So, I should use adjective-ku-arimasen for strong denial and adjective ku-naidesu for softer denial with more emphasis on politeness, but both correspond to verb-masu in politeness?
    – Ludi
    Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 15:26
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    I'm afraid I'm not a native speaker so such subtleties (and it is a subtlety) are beyond me. Your summary seems reasonable to me, but I think it would also be worthwhile noting one of the comments on that answer: "ません is overwhelmingly more common than ないです in written text. – Tsuyoshi Ito". Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 15:35
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    Minor point -- I have never encountered English-language descriptions of Japanese grammar that describe any -masu form for adjectives. The -masu ending can only attach to verbs, and adjectives by definition are not verbs. What you describe here, I have more commonly heard referred to as something like "adverbial -ku plus conjugated aru", or just sounding it out as -ku arimasu / -ku arimasen, Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 16:42
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    it's just that the やすくありませんでした is more formal and often used in a written format, so it's preferred to use if you are writing a book, an essay etc. It also completely removes the casual tone, so if you are speaking with someone and want to show that you definitely look up to the person and you are being formal, I would use the formal version (e.g. speaking with CEO of your company, etc). It doesn't really change the strength of denial.
    – kabichan
    Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 18:03


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