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ないで / ずに

ないで / ずに

ないで / ずに Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Phrase

Essential Meaning: Without doing X / Not do X, and do Y

Construction: 

  • Verb Negative Stem + ないで
    • E.g. はなさないで [Without speaking / Do not speak]
    • E.g. べないで [Without eating / Do not eat]
    • E.g. かないで [Without going / Do not go]
  • Verb Negative Stem + ずに
    • E.g. はなさずに [Without speaking]
    • E.g. べずに [Without eating]
    • E.g. かずに [Without going]
    • Exception: する = せずに [Without doing]

Notes:

  • ないで basically translates to “Without doing X“, “Not do X”, or “Don’t do X” depending on the context. ないで can only be used with verbs.
  • When a verb ending with ないで expresses something that one is expected to do, the translation is “Without doing X” or “Without having done X“. The sentence implies some level of surprise or amusement over the fact that someone was expected to do X, but didn’t. In other words, the negative aspect is emphasized.
    • E.g. ナンシーは昨日きのうあさごはんをべないで学校がっこうった。[Yesterday Nancy headed to school without having eaten breakfast.] The expectation was that Nancy would eat breakfast before heading to school, and the fact that she didn’t is noteworthy / surprising.
  • When no such expectation to do something exists, the translation of ないで is simply “Don’t / Doesn’t / Didn’t do X” depending on tense and number. In this situation, ないで acts as the negative て-Form and simply connects the negative clause to the main clause.
    • E.g. 中田たなかさんは大阪おおさかかないで京都きょうとった。 [Mr. Okuda didn’t go to Osaka; he went to Kyoto (when there is no expectation of him having gone to Osaka).]
  • When used with the imperative て-form, ないで translates to “Don’t do X.”
    • E.g. べないで! [Don’t eat!]
  • When paired with auxiliary words such as ください [Please], しい [To want], てもらう [To receive], ておく [To do in advance], et cetera, ないで is interpreted as the negative て-Form.
    • E.g. やかましくしないでもらいたい。[I want you to not make any noise.]
  • When ないで is used to connect two distinct clauses, ないで can be replaced by ずに as long as the sentence retains a conjunctive structure (e.g. Clause 1, AND Clause 2). The other differences between ないで and ずに are that (1) ずに is used more common in written language and formal speech, and (2) する verbs are conjugated as せずに rather than as しずに.
    • E.g. ナンシーは昨日きのうあさごはんをべせずに学校がっこうった。[Nancy went to school without eating breakfast.]
    • E.g. 中田たなかさんは大阪おおさかかずに京都きょうとった。[Nakata-san didn’t go to Osaka; he went to Kyoto.]
    • E.g. 辞書じしょ使つかわずにんでください。[Please read the book without using a dictionary.]
    • E.g. まだあるからわずにおきました。[Because I already had one, I put it back without buying it.]
    • E.g. *まだかえらずにください。[???] This is an imperative sentence with only one clause, and therefore no reason for a conjunction. ずに does not make sense.
    • E.g. *電話でんわせずにください [???] This sentence makes no sense for the same reason as above.
  • なくで can replace ないで, but only in situations when the ないで is used conjunctively and the ないで clause indicates some cause for human emotion (e.g. happiness, surprise, shame, etc.) that is indicated in the main clause.
    • E.g. ぼく英語えいごはなせなくてずかしかった[I wasn’t able to speak English, so I was embarrassed.] Being unable to speak English is the cause of the embarrassment that the speaker expresses in the main clause.
    • E.g. スージーがあそびになくてたすかった。[Susie didn’t come over to play, so I felt relieved.] Susie not coming over is the cause of the speaker’s relief.
    • Eg. *一郎いちろう帽子ぼうしがなくて部屋へやはいった。[Ichiro entered the room without taking off his hat.] No emotion is conveyed in this sentence, so なくて is unacceptable.
    • E.g. *なくてください。[???] This example does not involve two conjoined clauses, so なくて is unacceptable.
    • E.g. *べなくてください。[???] This example does not involve two conjoined clauses, so なくて is unacceptable.
  • The expression “X is not Y, but is X” is expressed with なくて and not with ないで .
    • E.g. わたし学生がくせいじゃなくて先生せんせいです。[I’m not a student; I’m a teacher.]

Example Sentences:

やかましくしないでもらいたい。[I want you to not make any noise.]

ナンシーは昨日きのうあさごはんをべないで学校がっこうった。[Nancy headed to school without having eaten breakfast.]

中田たなかさんは大阪おおさかかずに京都きょうとった。[Nakata-san didn’t go to Osaka; he went to Kyoto.]

WILD Examples:

At 0:52, listen for this line: きだよ」とえずに初恋はつこい [I experienced my first love without saying “I love you.”] This song describes how the speaker lacked the courage to express his feelings to the girl he loved, and he now regrets it.
At 1:42, listen for this line: わすれずにそばに [Without forgetting, come be by my side]
Listen to this line from 1:35: なやまずにらすことさ [It’s all above living without worrying]

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