Verb Conjugation #3: ない (Nai) Form (with PDF Chart)
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
To get the ない form of an ichidan verb, drop the final る syllable for the plain form, and add ない.
For most godan verbs, change the final syllable from the う column of the hiragana chart to the corresponding syllable from the あ column, and then add ない.
For godan verbs ending with う, change う to わ and add ない.
The ない form of する is しない. The ない form of 来る is 来ない (pronounced こない).
Adding で to the end of the ない form of a verb changes a statement into a request.
Japanese learners are taught early on how to conjugate the polite form of verbs into the negative form (e.g., 食べます --> 食べません). However, it is important to also know how to express the negative form of verbs informally. Not only will this help you sound more natural in casual conversations, but it is also imperative when you want to ask somebody not to do something. This is because it is grammatically incorrect to make such a request using the polite form of a verb.
How to Conjugate Verbs into the ない Form
Conjugating verbs into the casual non-past negative form (commonly referred to more simply as the ない form) is fairly easy. The notes below are most easily understood if you know the differences between the three Japanese verb classes.
Ichidan (class 2 / る) verbs are the easiest to conjugate, so I'll start with them. To get the ない form of an ichidan verb, drop the final る syllable for the plain (dictionary) form, and add ない. For example, 起きる (おきる / okiru) becomes 起きない (おきない / okinai).
To get the ない form of a godan (class 1 / う) verb, except those ending in う (explained below), you first need to change the final syllable to the corresponding syllable from the あ column (e.g., く becomes か, す becomes さ, つ becomes た). Then add ない. For example, 飲む (のむ / nomu) becomes 飲まない (のまない / nomanai).
Godan verbs ending with the う symbol are exceptions. When conjugating these, う becomes わ, not あ, before you add ない. For example, 手伝う (てつだう / tetsudau) becomes 手伝わない (てつだわない / tetsudawanai).
The ない form of する is しない.
The ない form of 来る (くる / kuru) is 来ない (こない / konai). Note the change in the first syllable.
Click the link below to download this chart as a PDF file.
Verb Conjugation (ない)
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Common Uses for the ない Form.
Saying You Don't (or Won't) Do Something
The ない ending can be used in casual situations in the same way the ません ending is used in formal situations. That is, you can use it to say that you don't do (or aren't going to do) the action described by the verb.
Sushi o tabenai.
I don't eat sushi.
Watashi no shusshin wa doko desu ka. Iwanai!
Where am I from? I won't say!
Asking (or Telling) Someone Not to Do Something
You can also use the ない form of a verb to ask someone not to do the action described by the verb. To do this, you just need to add で to the end. For example, 「窓を開けない」means "doesn't open the window" (or "won't open the window"), whereas「窓を開けないで」means "don't open the window."
You can alter the tone of such requests in the following ways:
You can increase the politeness level by adding ください. When ください follows a noun, it means the speaker is requesting that noun from the speaker. In this way, it has a similar meaning to "please give me" in English. However, this translation is a little odd when a verb is used instead of a noun.
For example, a rough translation of「急がないでください」would be "Please give me the act of not hurrying," which sounds strange. So, it might be best to simply think of ください as a word that you can put at the end of a request to sound more polite.
You can soften the request by adding ね. When you follow a request with ね, it makes your request lighter and softer, and it lets the listener know that it's not a serious matter. In English, we usually do this through intonation (e.g., using your customer service voice).
For example,「たくさんの写真（しゃしん）を撮る（とる）ことを忘れないでね」is like saying "Don't forget to take lots of pictures!" in a happy, warm tone before someone leaves for a vacation. The implication is that the speaker will not be angry if their request is not met.
You can make your request more forceful by adding よ. Putting よ at the end of a request has the opposite effect of ね. It makes the request harsher.
For example,「私の部屋（へや）に行かないでよ」is similar to saying "You better not go in my room!"