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~ぬ/~ん

~ぬ/~ん

Today’s Grammar Point: ~ぬ/~ん

Today’s grammar point is an archaic expression ~ぬ/~ん that replaces ~ない (negative ending). Although it is archaic and we don’t use it in speech that often but we do see it quite often in written passages. ~ぬ is more often used with in a contact clause (i.e. in front of a noun). If it is used at the end of the sentence, ぬ is usually replaced with ん.

Connection

  • [ないform verb stem] + ぬ
  • する → しない = せぬ
  • くる → こない = こぬ

Examples

ていた。
The buds were sprouting before I knew it.

予期よきエラーのため、メールがおくれませんでした。
The email could not be sent due to an unexpected error.

何度なんどねむよるごしたことでしょう。
How many times have you spent a sleepless night?

いまのためにセーターをんでいます。
I’m knitting a sweater for a child I haven’t seen yet.

あらうたがいをかけられないように、をつけてください。
Please be careful not to look suspicious.

このきょくは、おもいをめた音楽おんがくだとおもいます。
I think this song is music with emotions that cannot be fully expressed with written words.

ちちりょうさかなってきた。
My father brought home too much fish we won’t be able to finish eating.

Examples of ~ん

ちち刺身さしみ絶対ぜったい
My father never eats sashimi.

絶対ぜったいゆる
I will never forgive it!

Well-known phrases using ~ぬ

ほとけ
Ignorance is bliss.

ならころしてしまえホトトギス。
If the little cuckoo doesn’t sing then kill it!
(used to describe the personality of Nobunaga Oda, a powerful feudal lord in the 16th century)

ならかせてせようホトトギス。
If the little cuckoo doesn’t sing then I will make it sing.
(used to describe the personality of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who governed Japan as a supreme minister to an emperor between the time of Nubunaga Oda and Ieyasu Tokugawa)

ならくまでとうホトトギス。
If the little cuckoo doesn’t sing then I will wait until it sings.
(used to describe the personality of Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first Shogun of the Edo shogunate)

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