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This is a wanikani example sentence, and I posted about it on their community tab, but users here tend to have a much better grasp on linguistics etc, so I will ask here.

How is the grammar functioning here, じゃない is used for “are not for”. Any breakdowns and or further examples of how じゃない is functioning and why? I haven't seen it used like this before (I've only recently started reading more in Japanese) but I would like to drill this into my head so I won't be confused whilst reading if it comes up more.

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  • Related japanese.stackexchange.com/q/74227/45489
    – sundowner
    Feb 7, 2023 at 12:04
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    It would be recommended to post the whole translation if you're asking about the translation.
    – Leebo
    Feb 7, 2023 at 12:04
  • Yes, please post the "correct" translation you are seeing. I wonder where this "for" came from.
    – naruto
    Feb 7, 2023 at 13:18
  • @naruto I went and found it on WaniKani. The sentence does not contain "for." It's translated as "Bicycles should be ridden on sidewalks, not on busy city streets."
    – Leebo
    Feb 7, 2023 at 14:27
  • As a native English speaker, using the word "for" in this translation seems perfectly fine. "Bicycles should be ridden on sidewalks, not on busy city streets" carries the same meaning as "Bicycles are for sidewalks, not (for) busy streets."
    – istrasci
    Feb 7, 2023 at 20:36

1 Answer 1

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I'm a native speaker of Japanese. Actually, the Japanese laws stipulate that bicycles must not be ridden on sidewalks... And the usage of 忙しい here is wrong as well because 忙しい is used only when people are busy. When streets are busy, we never say 忙しい but would say 車が多い(many cars).

Anyway, じゃない simply means "not". The word doesn't include "are" or "for".

  • 私は学生じゃない。I'm not a student.

  • 彼女はアメリカ人じゃない。She's not American.

When you want to say "not A but B", "じゃない" becomes "じゃなく" and you say "AじゃなくB". Then, "not city streets but side walks" becomes "車道じゃなく歩道".

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  • I never thought about that, but you're right I've never seen 忙しい used like that anywhere else but in this context sentence. I reread this sentence and I think for some reason my loose grasp on べき caused it to seem so odd, but your clarification and looking at it again after a bit helped clear it up! Thank you. I will see if I can point out the error of word choice to admins on the site, it's such a widely used resource, and this sentence is pretty early on in their catalogue, so I'm surprised no one has brought it up on the forums there (I checked).
    – L. L.
    Feb 7, 2023 at 16:59

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