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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”. Now let’s look at the negative of “たべる” .

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

How to make Negative form?

Here are the rules of conjugation.There are two steps. First, tgroup the verbs. Second, the verbs are converted to “Dictionary form” according to the rules for each group.

Step1. Divide verbs into groups

There are several ways to group verbs. They will vary depending on the textbook you are using. For more information, please read this article.You can learn how to divide Japanese verbs into 3 groups.

Step2. Transform into Negative form

Today I will explain how to convert from Dictionary form to Negative form. Let’s look at Group II (or Ru verbs), III (Irregular verbs), and finally Group I (or 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 “来(く)る” and “来(こ)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 the “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 a 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 車(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(doesn’t have to)

: Something needn’t be done.

今日、お金を はらわ なくてもいいです。

You don’t have to pay today.

*はら → はらない ( 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 → すない ( Group Ⅰ, U-verbs)

More about Japanese verbs

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

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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