The Auxiliary Verb ~ず II

第012課: The Auxiliary Verb ~ず II

~ず is still used infrequently in Modern Japanese, howbeit typically in archaic expressions and set phrases. In this lesson, we will finally learn all about the auxiliary verb ~ず so that we can better understand Classical Japanese!

The Auxiliary Verb -ず

     The auxiliary verb ~ず follows the 未然形 to show the negative. This is the easiest part about it. ~ず has three sets of bases. This is the hardest part about it. Throughout this lesson we’ll study ~ず by using the chart below. The base sets will be referred to by their respective 連用形.

 未然形 な X ざら
 連用形 に ず ざり
 終止形 X ず X
 連体形 ぬ X ざる
 已然形 ね X ざれ
 命令形 X X ざれ

     The first base sequence of the negative auxiliary verb was な-, に-, X, ぬ-, ね-, and X. The な-未然形 and the に-連用形 faded away and the 連用形 was replaced with ~ず. This in turn became the 終止形. A third set of bases was created with the fusion of ~ず with あり. The base sets are interchangeable. For example, ~ぬ and ~ざる are both common.

Temporally speaking, although ず ultimately comes from にす, Old Japanese already had ず as the終止形. The third column most definitely appears later on in Middle Japanese. 

The に- Bases

    The な-未然形 was used in the speech modal ~なくに, which meant “because…isn’t”. It was also a 語尾 meaning “how…isn’t?”. 

1. みにはまつだにえなくに  みやこ野辺のべ若菜摘わかなつみけり。
As even the snow on the pine trees hasn’t disappeared in the mountains, the (people in the) capital gathered young greens from the fields! 

From the 古今和歌集.

Nuance Note: The prefix み- in this poem is used as a beautifier.  

     The に-連用形 was used in the Nara Period (奈良時代) in the same way as the modern ~なくて.

2. 去方乎不知 舎人者迷惑 くへをらに舎人とねりはまどふ
Not knowing the way to go, the low-ranking officials working for the nobility wander about.
From the 万葉集.

Culture Note: A とねり was a low-ranking official who worked for the nobility.

3. たづきを知らに
    Not knowing the livelihood

     The 連体形 and the 已然形 weren’t lost like the 未然形 and 連用形.

4. 人こそらね。
    Though people don’t know.

Grammar Note: The particle こそ has the following verb be in the 已然形 in Classical Japanese. 

5. みやこにはえぬなれば
    Since it was a bird not seen in the capital
From the 伊勢物語.

Grammar Note: The 連体形 is used because the verb ゆ, the Classical form of 見える, is used as negative participle. 

6. 八重葎茂やえむぐらしげれる宿やどさびしきにこそえねにけり
Although you could see no person in the loneliness of the lodge thickened with mixed weeds, autumn ended up coming.
From the 新日本古典文学大系.

Grammar Note: This sentence is in the 已然形 because of the particle こそ. Don’t mind other Classical grammar items. 

7. いとやむごとなききはにはあらぬがすぐれてめきたまふありけり
    The person didn’t have very high regards in status and found favor in particular. 
From the 源氏物語.

Grammar Note: The 連体形 is used with conjunctive particles such as が. 

8. 人かえしとすべきをえぬほども心許こころもとなし
You should respond quickly to a person’s poem, and when you’re unable to write one, it (the situation) is precarious. 
From the 枕草子.

Grammar Note: え…-ず is the negative potential. The 連体形, 読み得ぬ, modifies the noun ほど. The particle を in this sentence is interchangeable with the particle が.

9. 法師ほふしばかりうらやましからぬものはあらじ
    Nothing/none is probably as unenviable as a priest.
From the 徒然草.

The ず- Bases

How did ~ず come from n-sounds? The incomplete first column of bases is the primary reason for the evolution that brought forth three sets of bases. To make a 終止形, the 連用形 combined with す, the Classical する, to create ~にす which became ~んす which became ~んず which became ~ず. ~ず’s 連用形 and 終止形 are still very important in Modern Japanese grammar.

10. 連絡れず、心配しました。
      Without having contact, I got worried.

Grammar Note: The above sentence uses ~ず in the 連用形.

11. 分らず屋 (Set Phrase)
      An obstinate person.

12. きけむほえず
      Did you come? Did I even go? I can’t think naturally.
From the 伊勢物語.

13. 新都しんとはいまだらず。
      The new capital has still not materialized.
From the 方丈記.

14. 慈悲じひなからむは人倫じんりんあら
      If someone didn’t have a heart of compassion, he wouldn’t be human.
From the 徒然草.

Grammar Note: ~ず follows the verb あり (ある in Modern Japanese) normally. 

15. かずしてわかるるそで白玉しらたま
       The white jewel of your sleeve which parted from you despite being unsatisfied.
From the 古今和歌集.

16. 悪所あくしよにおちてにたからず
      I don’t want to die falling into a dangerous place.
From the 平家物語.

17. つゆまどろまれず
      I couldn’t doze off at all.
From the 日本古典文学大系.

18. 昔のごとくにもあらず
      It’s not even like it was in the past.
From the 大和物語.

19. ゆくれはえずしてしかももとのみづにあらず
       The flowing of the passing water is endless at the same; moreover, it is not the original water.
From the 徒然草.

20. 住まずしてたれかさとらむ
      Without living there, who would understand (the pleasure)?
From the 大和物語.

21. はずして今宵明こよひあけなばくやをつらしとはん
      Without meeting, and then the evening ending up dawn, I will surely think of you as long as a spring day as being cruel.
From the 古今和歌集. 

The ざり- Bases

      The ざり- bases came from the fusion of ず- and the supplementary verb あり. The ざり- bases are interchangeable with the other sets but become prevalent in later Classical texts.

     At the point of inception, the first and second base sets were essential one as “X, ず-, ず, ぬ, ね-, X”. Both 連用形 were acceptable with ざり- being preferred. The 連体形 were completely interchangeable. As for the 已然形, ね- was preferred when used with bound particles and ざれ- was preferred when used with an ending.

     In the 室町時代 the ぬ-連体形 became an interchangeable variant of the 終止形. ~ぬ eventually replaced ~ず as the negative auxiliary verb and evolved into ~ん in the West and into ~ない in the East. When this happened, all of the bases were scrubbed for 形容詞 bases.


22. つひにゆくとはかねてきしかど昨日今日きのふけふとははざりしを。
      I had heard before of the path we will eventually go, but I didn’t think that it would be yesterday or today!
From the 古今和歌集.

23. 絶えざる不安
      Anxiety that won’t cease

24. 何かん。
      I won’t write anything.

25. ゆめりせばめざらましを
      If I had known that it was a dream, I would’ve never woken up.
From the 古今和歌集.

26. 山高きとらず。
      To not know the mountain is tall.

27. 怖いものもあらず。
      To not even have things one is scared of.

28. 自らの信条を吐露せざれ。
      Express one’s beliefs.  

Speech Modals with ~ず

~ずに & ~ずにはいられない

~ずに and ~ずにはいられない mean “without” and “cannot help but…” respectively and are formed with the ず-連用形. 

29. 勉強せずに、受験したから、落第してしまった。
      Because I took the exam without studying, I ended up failing it.

Grammar Note: You must use the せ-未然形 of する for all Classical Japanese auxiliary verbs.

29. 心配せずにはいられない。
      I couldn’t help but worry.

30. らしめてやらずにはおかない。
       I couldn’t help but give him punishment.

31. 霞立 長春日乃 晩家流 和豆肝之良受
      霞立  かすみたつ 春日はるひの れにける わづきもらず
      I also don’t know of the moon setting in the overshadowing long spring day.
From the 万葉集.

32. おこらせずにはすまないでしょう。
      You probably can’t help but get angry, right?

33. 泣さずにはすまさない。
      I cannot help but cry profusely.

Variation Note: ~ずにはいられない variants include ~ずにはすまない, ~ずにはおかない, and ~ずにはすまさない.


The main usage of ~ずは is to show negative hypothesis and is equivalent to しないなら in Modern Japanese. So, ~ずは means “if…had not”. In the late 奈良時代 it was also used like ~ずに to mean “without…”. In the medieval era ~ずは was seen as ~ず(ん)ば.

34. 虎穴こけつらずんば虎子こしず。
      Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
      Literally: Without entering the tiger’s den, you won’t get the tiger’s cub.

35. 降伏こうふくせずば、はない。
      If you don’t surrender, you will not live.

36. きじかずばたれまい。
      If the green pheasant doesn’t cry, let’s not shoot.

37. まろ格子上かうしげずばなくてげにえざらまし
      If I hadn’t raised the lattice, there would have been no path and it would have truly not have been able to come in.
From the 源氏物語.

38. 行かずばなるまい。
      We have no choice but to go.

Grammar Note: ~ずばなるまい is the predecessor of ~なければならない. 

39. 火に燒かむに燒けずはこそまことならめ
      When we try to burn it by fire and it cannot burn, it’s definitely the real thing.
From the 竹取物語.


    The speech modal ~ずて means “not…” and is equivalent to ~ないで. 

40. 麻都我延乃 都知尓都久麻掾 布流由伎乎 美受弖也伊毛我 許母里乎流良牟
      How could you not see the snow that falls up to the earth of the pine tree branches and stay indoors dear?
From the 万葉集. 

41. 比等未奈能 美良武麻都良能 多麻志末乎 美受弖夜和礼波 故飛都々遠良武
      Not looking at Matsu’ura no Tamashima that everyone is said to see, I was homesick.
From the 万葉集.


1. Illustrate the bases of -ず.

2. What base does -ず follow?

3. Create a sentence using the first column of bases of -ず. Use the example sentences in this lesson to model your sentence.

4. How did -ず come about?

5. Create a sentence with -ず being in the 連用形 or 終止形.

6. Create a sentence with a speech modal utilizing -ず.

7. Create a sentence using the third column of bases of -ず.

8. Create a sentence using -ぬ, the evolved form of -ず.

9. Create a sentence with -ずんば.