Negative Sequential and Parallel Actions: …ないで, …なくて, and …ずに

Without: ...ずに

Last time, you learned how to express sequential and parallel actions, e.g. “ふねってほんました (I took a ferry and came to Japan),” and “わたしふねって、おとうさんはこうりました (I took a ferry and my father took a flight).” Then, if you would like to say, “I came to Japan without taking a flight,” what should you say? In this lesson, you will learn how to express negative sequential and parallel actions.

Explanation for the Usage of …ないで, …なくて, and …ずに

Table of Contents
Sequential Actions: …ないで and …ずに
Means: …ないで and …ずに
Reasons (Causation): …なくて
Negative Parallel Actions: …ないで and …なくて

As you learned, the te-form can express various things when connecting sentences, e.g. sequential actions, reasons (causation), means, and parallel actions. When it comes to negative sentences, there is not such a useful word. Depending on the context, you have to choose one of the following three words: ないで, なくて, and ずに.

Conjugation Rule

ない ないで・なくて・ずに
ない ないで・なくて・ずに
ない ないで・なくて・ずに
ない ないで・なくて・ずに*
ない ないで・なくて・ずに

The verb conjugation is very simple. You can utilize the negative form and attach ないで, なくて, or ずに instead of ない. There is just one exception. When you conjugate する by using ずに, it has to be せずに.

美味おいしくない 美味おいしく ないで・なくて・ずに
げんじゃない げんじゃ ないで・なくて・ずに
しゃじゃない しゃじゃ ないで・なくて・ずに

When it comes to adjectives and nouns, only なくて is available.

Negative Sequential Actions

Sequential Actions: …ないで and …ずに

おっとはおさけんで いえかえって(きた / きました)
First Action Second Action
[My] husband drank alcohol and came home.
おっとはおさけまないで いえかえって(きた / きました)
First Action (Not Done) Second Action
[My] husband came home without drinking.

ないで is the negative form of the te-form to combine two verbs or more. Considering the fact that first action is not done, you can treat the meaning as “without” in English.

はんべないでる / ます)。
[I] will go to bed without eating a meal.
Please ask [me something] without hesitation.
さよならをわないでし(た / ました)。
[I] moved without saying goodbye.
まどめないでかけ(た / ました)。
[I] left without closing the window.

If you use ずに instead of ないで, your speech will sound a little formal. However, ずに can still be heard in conversation.

はんべずにる / ます)。
さよならをわずにし(た / ました)。
まどめずにかけ(た / ました)。

Means: …ないで and …ずに

[わたしは] こうって ほんに(た /ました)
First Action (Means) Second Action
[I] came to Japan by taking a flight.
[わたしは] こうらないで ほんに(た /ました)
First Action (Means) Second Action
[I] came to Japan without taking a flight.

Just like the te-form, you can express means that you don’t use. The translation can be “by not doing” or “without doing.”

歌詞かしないでうたった / うたいました)。
[I] sung without looking at the lyrics.
かくらないでしゅうしょく(した / しました)。
[I] got a job without taking a qualification.
携帯けいたいたずに旅行りょこう(する / します)。
[I] will travel without having a cellphone.
しょ使つかわずに問題もんだいを(く / きます)。
[I] will solve the question without using a dictionary.

Reasons (Causation): …なくて

とうさんがびょうなって [わたしは] 心配しんぱい(した / しました)
First Action (Reason) Second Action
[I] was worried that [my] father got sick.
とうさんのびょうなおらなくて [わたしは] 心配しんぱい(した / しました)
First Action (Reason) Second Action
[I] was worried that [my] father didn’t recover from his sickness.

Just like the te-form, you can express reasons (causation) by using なくて. Be careful; you cannot use ないで and ずに in this context. With なくて, you can connect nouns and adjectives.

宿しゅくだいしなくておこられ(た / ました)。
[I] was scolded because [I] didn’t do homework.
 りょう美味おいしくなくてべられ(ない / ません)。
The meal is not good, so [I] cannot eat [it].
ほんじょうじゃなくて、よく(こまる / こまります)。
[My] Japanese is not good, so [I] often get trouble.

Negative Parallel Actions: …ないで and …なくて

いもうと学校がっこうって わたし学校がっこうかなかった(です)
Parallel Action Parallel Action
[My] younger sister went to school, but I didn’t.
わたし学校がっこうかなくて  いもうと学校がっこうに(った / きました)
Parallel Action Parallel Action
I didn’t go to school, but [my] younger sister did.

Both of the above examples express the same thing. The order of the plain part and the negative part is just opposite. There are two points that you need to pay attention to. The first is that ずに is not available here. The second is that you can use nouns and adjectives with only なくて.

Medicines are not sweet, but bitter.
 大学生だいがくせいじゃなくて高校生こうこうせい(だ / です)。
[I] am not a university student, but a high school one.
きょうかなくて大阪おおさかに(った / きました)。
[I] didn’t go to Kyoto, but Osaka.
はんべないで、ケーキをべ(た / ました)。
[I] didn’t eat a meal, but cake.

Negative Conjunctive Form (連用形れんようけい

はんべずる / ます)
とうさんのびょうなおらなく心配しんぱい(した / しました)。
りょう美味おいしくなくべられ(ない / ません)
大学生だいがくせいじゃなく高校生こうこうせい(だ / です)。

ずに and なくて have the conjunctive form which can make your speech more formal. The conjugation is to just drop the last letter, i.e. to drop the に of ずに and the て of なくて. Please keep in mind that ないで doesn’t have the conjunctive form and ず can express parallel actions while ずに cannot.

わたし学校がっこうかずにいもうと学校がっこうに(った / きました)。
=> Unnatural
わたし学校がっこうかずいもうと学校がっこうに(った / きました)。
=> Natural


  Sequential Action Means Reason (Causation) Parallel Actions
ないで Available Available   Available
ずに Available Available    
なくて     Available Available

In plain sentences, you can express all of the functions by just using the te-form. However, you have to use …ないで, …なくて, and …ずに differently as the above table shows. All of them are frequently used expressions and thus you should be able to recognize them when native speakers use them with you. Now you can express sequential and parallel actions. Next, you will learn how to express simultaneous actions.