Japanese Grammar Bank


Sometimes it’s necessary to express the idea of inaction in language. Think about sentences like, “I passed the JLPT without studying.”

To brag to your friends, you’ll need to know how to express the “without studying” part.


ないで nai de

This is used to express, “I did x without doing y”. You add ないで to the negative ない nai form of a verb.


Negative verb + ないで

To go
I don’t go
Without going
To drink
I don’t drink
Without drinking

Let’s break down how you could say, “I learned Japanese without going to Japan.”

  • I learned Japanese 日本語を学んだ nihongo wo mananda
  • Without going to Japan 日本に行かないで nihon ni ikanaide

So, bring these together:

nihon ni ikanaide nihongo wo mananda.


View More Examples:
彼はテストを勉強しないで合格した。Kare wa tesuto o benkyou shinai de goukaku shita.He passed the test without studying.
電車を使わないで、歩いて学校に行きます。Densha o tsukawanai de, aruite gakkou ni ikimasu.I go to school on foot without using the train.
彼女は英語を話さないで、コミュニケーションをとる。Kanojo wa eigo o hanasanai de, komyunikeeshon o toru.She communicates without speaking English.
お金を使わないで楽しい休暇を過ごしました。Okane o tsukawanai de tanoshii kyūka o sugoshimashita.I had a fun vacation without spending money.
彼は道を聞かないで、迷子になりました。Kare wa michi o kikanai de, maigo ni narimashita.He got lost without asking for directions.
雨が降らないで、ピクニックに行きました。Ame ga furanai de, pikunikku ni ikimashita.I went on a picnic without it raining.
犬は吠えないで、静かに寝ていました。Inu wa hoenai de, shizuka ni neteimashita.The dog slept quietly without barking.
車を持たないで、毎日自転車で通勤します。Kuruma o motanai de, mainichi jitensha de tsūkin shimasu.I commute to work by bicycle every day without owning a car.

NOTE || Some people get this grammar point confused with ないとnaito, which means, “if you don’t do x then y”. Make sure you don’t confuse these two points.


ずに zuni

This one is used to express the same thing as ないで. To make this form, you just add ずに instead of ない.


Negative verb + ずに

Look at some examples below:

To go
I don’t go
Without going
To drink
I don’t drink
Without drinking

There are some exceptions though:

  • する suru to do → せず sezu without doing
  • くる kuru to come → こず kozu without coming

Take a look at the examples below:

彼は一言も言わずに部屋を出て行った。Kare wa hitokoto mo iwazu ni heya o dete itta.He left the room without saying a word.
財布を持たずに買い物に行くのは難しい。Saifu o motazu ni kaimono ni iku no wa muzukashii.It’s difficult to go shopping without having a wallet.
予約せずにレストランに行ったら混んでいた。Yoyaku sezu ni resutoran ni ittara konde ita.The restaurant was crowded when I went without a reservation.
View More Examples:
彼は注意せずに道路を渡りました。Kare wa chūi sezu ni douro o watarimashita.He crossed the road without paying attention.
メモを取らずに会議に参加するのは失敗だった。Memo o torazu ni kaigi ni sankasuru no wa shippai datta.Attending the meeting without taking notes was a mistake.
謝らずに友達と和解するのは難しい。Ayamarazu ni tomodachi to wakai suru no wa muzukashii.It’s difficult to reconcile with friends without apologizing.
彼は許可を得ずに私の部屋に入った。Kare wa kyoka o ezu ni watashi no heya ni haitta.He entered my room without permission.
詳細を確認せずに契約書に署名することは避けてください。Shousai o kakunin sezu ni keiyakusho ni shomei suru koto wa sakete kudasai.Please avoid signing the contract without checking the details.
音楽を聴かずに長い旅行は退屈です。Ongaku o kikazu ni nagai ryokou wa taikutsu desu.Long trips without listening to music are boring.
味見せずに新しい料理を出すのは危険です。Ajimisezu ni atarashii ryouri o dasu no wa kiken desu.Serving a new dish without tasting it is risky.


  • Add で to the ない form of a verb to express “without doing”.
  • Don’t confuse ないで and ないと.
  • Substitute ない for ずに to express “without doing”.
  • ずに exceptions: する conjugates to せず and くる to こず.

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How to express inaction in Japanese?

Inaction in Japanese can be express by using two sentence structures:

Negative verb + ないで

For example:


Kare wa tesuto o benkyou shinai de goukaku shita.

He passed the test without studying.

Negative verb + ずに


Kare wa hitokoto mo iwazu ni heya o dete itta.

He left the room without saying a word.

How to make a command in Japanese?

Making a command in Japanese will depend on the verb.

If a verb from group 1: Replace the final -u syllable with its corresponding -e syllable. Ex: 書く (kaku, to write) becomes 書け (kake, write it!)

If a verb from group 2: Remove the final る ru syllable (making the word into its ます masu stem) and add ろ ro. Ex: 食べる (taberu, to eat) becomes 食べろ (tabero, eat!)

If an irregular verb: Attach なさい (nasai) to the ます (masu) stem form of the verb. Ex: します (shimasu, to do) becomes しなさい (shinasai, do it please)

How to make a request in Japanese?

To form a sentence asking someone to do something, we will use the verb in て form of the action we want them to do.

The basic structure is:

Verb て form + ください

ください (kudasai) could be translated by “please give me”.

Where to study Japanese with LTL?

You can study Japanese with us online on our Flexi Classes platform.

The platform allow you to study any levels of Japanese in group and individual classes, by choosing when and what to study.

Check out our 7 Day Free Trial.

We also offer Japanese Courses in Tokyo. Feel free to email us if you have any questions.

How to improve my Japanese speaking skills?

To improve your Japanese speaking skills we strongly recommend speaking with a native speaker, be it a friend or a teacher. This way, you can get instant feedback on your pronunciation and improve your listening skills as well.

You can also use our LTL Japanese Pronunciation Tool. Speak in your microphone and the software will let you know what you need to improve.

This tool works in pair with our Flexi Classes, and every sentences you practice can be found in our Japanese online lessons.

Where to review the Japanese alphabets?

Here are some links to help you learn the Japanese alphabets:

– Learn Katakana

– Learn Hiragana

– Learn Kanji

– The 3 Japanese alphabets