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.


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


The buds were sprouting before I knew it.

The email could not be sent due to an unexpected error.

How many times have you spent a sleepless night?

I’m knitting a sweater for a child I haven’t seen yet.

Please be careful not to look suspicious.

I think this song is music with emotions that cannot be fully expressed with written words.

My father brought home too much fish we won’t be able to finish eating.

Examples of ~ん

My father never eats sashimi.

I will never forgive it!

Well-known phrases using ~ぬ

Ignorance is bliss.

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)

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)

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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