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Negative form : Japanese verb conjugation for making “ナイ形”.

Written by Kaori sensei

As the name suggests, negative form is used to negative an action. The negative of Masu form is “たべます” → “たべません”. So what is the negative form of Dictionary form ”たべる”?

Today I will show you how to make negative forms and introduce some important expressions used at the beginner level.

Japanese verb conjugation

How to make Negative form?

The steps of conjugation are always two steps.Anyway Japanese verb conjugations are first grouped, then the rules for each group are applied

Step1. Divide verbs into groups

We can divide Japanese verbs into 3 groups. If you are not yet confident in your grouping, check out this article first to see how to group them.

U verbs / GroupⅠRu verbs / Group ⅡIrregular verb / Group Ⅲ
のむ : drinkたべる : eatする : do
あう : meetおきる : get upくる : come
きく : listenねる : sleep
およぐ : swimみる : watch
Japanese verb groups based on Dictionary form

Step2. Convert to Negative form

Today I will explain how to convert from Dictionary form to Negative form. Let’s look at Group II (Ru verbs), III (Irregular verbs), and finally Group I (U verbs).

GroupⅡ / Ru-verbs

たべ  → たべ ない

“る” remove, add “ない”.

Group II is always easy! Say goodbye to ”Ru”and add ”Nai”.

GroupⅢ / Irregular-verbs

する → しない


くる → こない


Note that the kanji characters are the same as “()る” and “()ない”, but the readings are different.

Group Ⅰ / U-verbs

The problem is Group I. But it’s ok. Everyone, please think of the hiragana chart.

 → かない

“く” changes to “か”. And add “ない”

There is one exception here. It is “う” Move to “わ” instead of “あ”.

 → あない

“う” changes to “わ”. And add “ない”
Negative form Japanese
Negative form GroupⅠ/ U-verbs

In Group I, there is always “u-line” when it is Dictionary form. When making Negative form, it changes to “a-line”.

How to practice Negative form?

Step1. Proper understanding of rules

Surely, it seems obvious, doesn’t it? However, when different conjugations are introduced such as Te-form, Ta-form in the future, different rules will be used and many new verbs will be introduced. Therefore, it is important to firmly input “This is the rule for Negative form”.

Step2. Repeat until reflexive

In the beginning, You will think…”Which group is this verb?” ,and then if it is Group I, You will remind that “What is the letter before Masu…..?”.It is the right process. However, when it comes to real conversation, there is no time to think about it. You need to respond reflexively, i.e., within 1-2 seconds.

Definitely,if you want to be able to speak, this time lag can be a problem.So, for this kind of conjugate memorization, use flashcards.The recommended app is Anki. If you haven’t used it yet, please also read this article.

Negative form expressions for beginners

Especially, Negative form is used in a variety of expressions learned in beginner’s grammar. Today we will introduce 4 important ones.

1.~ないでください (Please don’t ~)

:to ask someone to refrain from something or prohibit them from doing something

ここに (くるま)を とめないでください。

Please don’t park a car here.

*とめる → とめない (Group Ⅱ, RU-verbs)

2. なければなりません (must)

:Talk about obligations and what might be considered necessary.

ここで くつ を ぬが なければなりません。

We must take off our shoes here.

*ぬぐ → ぬがない ( Group I , U-verbs)

3. なくてもいいです(don’t have to)

:Something needn’t be done.


Children do not have to pay.

*はらう → はらわない ( Group Ⅰ , U-verbs)

4. ないほうがいいです (should not)

: Propose or recommened not to do.

たばこ を すわないほうがいいですよ。

You shouldn’t smoke cigarettes.

*すう → すわない ( Group Ⅰ, U-verbs)

More about Japanese verbs conjugation

Additionlaly,if you want to master Japanese verbs, this is the book for you. Verbs are very important in any language. Let’s master them and learn to speak them!

600 Basic Japanese Verbs

Please check other verb conjugation, Dictionary form and Ta form. These are also verb conjugations to be mastered at the beginner level! Check them out.

Japanese verb conjugation table for beginners
マス(けい) (Masu form)
(けい) (Te form)
辞書形(じしょけい) (Dictionary form)
ナイ(けい)(Negative form)()
(けい) (Ta form)
Japanese verb conjugation table

Did you get the vocabulary list for beginners?

About the author

Kaori sensei

Japanese online teacher, live in Kamakura, Japan. She is currently working as a language teacher and online Japanese experience host to introduce Japanese culture to the world. She originally worked as an engineer at a Japanese company, so she is familiar with Japanese business culture too.

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