Conjugating Verbs to Negative Form (〜ない)

    • Verb
    • Conjugation Form
    The negative form of Japanese verbs means verbs ending in 〜ない, like 食べない (not eat), 飲まない (not drink), and 来ない (not come).

    What Is the Negative Form?

    The negative form of Japanese verbs are verbs ending in 〜ない—this is the negative plain form of verbs. In this post, we'll focus on how to conjugate verbs into the negative form. If you are looking for more details about its meanings and functions, please check out this page!

    The negative form always ends in 〜ない, without exception, so it's easy to spot and nearly as easy to conjugate.

    Godan  → 会わない
     → 立たない
     → 写さない
    代わ → 代わらない
     → 書かない
     → 泳がない
     → 死なない
     → 学ばない
     → 休まない
    Ichidan 食べ → 食べない
    起き → 起きない
    閉じ → 閉じない
    Irregular 来るく  →  来ないこ  
    する → しない
    ある → ない

    Godan Verbs

    For godan verbs, we make the ない form by taking the あ line from the hiragana chart. So if the verb ends in 〜く, we remove the 〜く and replace it with 〜か + ない, giving us 〜かない. This works for all verbs ending in 〜く, including 書く, 聞く, and 行く.

      + か + ない = 書かない
      + か + ない = 聞かない
      + か + ない = 行かない

    This same rule then works for all the other endings, so 〜す become 〜さない, 〜る becomes 〜らない, and so on.

     + さ + ない = 写さない
    代わ + ら + ない = 代わらない

    There are a couple of types of godan verbs to pay special attention to. Verbs ending in 〜つ turn to 〜たない, like 立たない and 持たない technically follow the same rule as the others but might sound a little strange at first since 〜つ and 〜た are less obviously the same sound.

     + た + ない = 立たない
     + た + ない = 持たない

    The only other group to watch out for is verbs that end in 〜う. This is a little bit irregular because rather than 〜あない at the end, they become 〜わない:

     + わ + ない = 会わない
     + わ + ない = 買わない

    Ichidan Verbs

    For ichidan verbs, the conjugation is—as usual—nice and simple. Just remove the 〜る at the end of the dictionary form and add 〜ない:

    食べ + ない = 食べない
     + ない = 見ない

    Irregular Verbs

    Finally, there are a grand total of three irregular verbs when it comes to the ない form. The first two are always irregular, so they will probably come as no surprise. These are also the only two verbs where the pronunciation changes for the whole word, including the first syllable:

     + ない = 来ない
     + ない = しない

    Added to these staples is ある, which is usually regular, but behaves irregularly when it comes to the ない form only. Despite its irregularity, it shouldn't be too tricky to remember. Instead of changing to 〜あらない as you might expect, it simply becomes 〜ない:

    ある → ない

    Once a verb is conjugated into the ない form, it basically becomes an い-adjective for all practical intents and purposes. So if you already know how to conjugate い-adjectives, you can use this knowledge to conjugate the ない form too!