Japanese: Casual Negative (ない) Verb Conjugation

Japanese: Casual Negative (ない) Verb Conjugation

When speaking in Japanese, like many other languages, you relation to the person you are talking to determines whether you will should use the polite or casual speech. Yet, in Japanese, the level of speech is determined in part by the verb conjugation used. To many new students of Japanese verb conjugation can be confusing. In this post I will show you how to use casual negative conjugation roadmap to conjugate verbs to the casual negative form.

If this is your first foray into Japanese verb conjugation, I suggest you first learn to identify verbs by their group, and to conjugate verbs into their polite form.

The Casual Negative (ない) Verb Conjugation Roadmap

Japanese: Casual Negative

Learning to Use the Conjugation Roadmap with an Example

Let’s say you are meeting with a Japanese friend at a Tokyo bar while on vacation. While sitting at the bar he asks you:

秋山さん:ミラさん ウィスキーおのみますか?
Akiyama-san: Miller, do you drink wiskey?

To which you reply.

Miller: Sorry, but I don’t.
ミラさん:いいえ _____

The missing verb here is don’t drink. Since we are taking to our pal Akiyama-san we can use the casual negative form. Using the road map we:

  • Determine which group the verb to drink (のむ) belongs to. In this case Group 1.
  • Follow the group transformation. In this case む is transformed to ま.
  • Add ない to the end, and we get のまない.

Finally we add this to our sentence.


You can find a pdf copy of the this map here.

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2 Responses

  1. Axel says:

    Thank you so much! That is the prettiest and best to understand cheat sheet of the verb conjugation I found so far! Great work

  2. Nicholas says:

    Your example conversation has some issues. Should look like this:
    いいえ、飲みません。or お酒はちょっと苦手です。
    Since the question was asked in polite speech, it would be appropriate to respond in polite speech unless you’re their superior or have a reason to be dropping formalities. In casual speech it might look like:
    (ううん、)飲まない。 or something along the lines of うーん、お酒はちょっと苦手なんだよね。

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