It was agreed upon that there will be a class meeting at 4.30pm later. However, someone wrote the wrong time on the blackboard. And so, one of the characters replied:


My question is, why is じゃなかった used instead of じゃない? Could anyone provide a brief description on the nuance difference between the two?

I understand how じゃない and じゃなかった works when referring to state-of-beings, but when put in a question context, I am unable to comprehend the nuance it has.


2 Answers 2


I think this た is a modal-た described in the following questions and articles.

Saying "4時半からじゃない?" is also perfectly grammatical (and is more neutral in a sense), but saying "4時半からじゃなかった?" means the speaker is trying to recall something and possibly update his existing belief. In other words, with this た, the speaker is showing his surprise that his memory may be wrong.

You cannot use った when there is no prior expectation/knowledge. For example, when someone made a simple calculation mistake like "25×70=1250", you can say "1750じゃない?" but not "1750じゃなかった(っけ)?"

っけ has a similar purpose and it is commonly used with た/だ. But it's optional, as shown above.

  • I was reviewing the links you provided, I would like to clarify if the use of modal た also applies to prior expectations that are in sync with current expectations? For example, you are recalling about the time of the meeting being 4.30, and it turns out it was really 4.30. Can I still use the modal た in this case?
    – DK4739
    May 4, 2020 at 4:22







じゃない = でない / じゃなかっけ(じゃなかったか) = ではないか

The former would be used as negation, and the latter confirmation.

It is not affected by the time the event takes place.

  • I can't understand the answer in Japanese
    – DK4739
    Apr 24, 2020 at 6:54
  • The former is a denial, the latter a confirmation. Apr 24, 2020 at 7:03
  • If possible, could you edit your answer to be in English to reflect what you just mentioned and provide an example or two for better understanding?
    – DK4739
    Apr 24, 2020 at 7:06
  • 2
    – naruto
    Apr 24, 2020 at 8:56
  • 1
    – naruto
    Apr 24, 2020 at 9:31

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