Learn JLPT N5 Grammar (janai / dewa nai)


to not be (am not; is not; are not)

How to use






Learn Japanese grammar: (janai) & (dewa nai). Meaning: a more casual way to say “not”, or “to not be”.

Make sure you review “to be” Part 1, before starting this lesson: .

Both and are at the casual level, and can be interchanged freely.

Example 1)

watashi wa tomoko sensei dewanai.

I am not Tomoko-sensei.

This literally translates to “I Tomoko-sensei am not”. Remember that Japanese uses SOV (subject-object-verb), rather than SVO like English. This may be strange at first, but it will become natural after some practice.

Example 2)

watashi wa igirisu jin janai yo.

I am not British.

When speaking more politely

Using the more polite form is simple. Just drop the (nai) and change to (arimasen):

  • じゃありません (ja nai arimasen)
  • ではありません (dewa nai arimasen)

How to use past tense (was/were not, etc)

learn japanese grammar じゃない janai ではない dewa nai jlpt n5

Casual Past Tense:

  • じゃなかった (ja nakatta)
  • ではなかった (dewa nakatta)

Polite Past Tense:

  • じゃありませんでした (ja arimasen deshita)
  • ではありませんでした (dewa arimasen deshita)
  • じゃなかったです (ja nakatta desu)
  • ではなかったです (dewa nakatta desu)

There are many different conjugations that can be used, but within the same politeness level, they can be interchanged freely. Let’s look at some basic examples:

Past Tense Example 1)

watashi wa sore o yaru beki ja nakatta.

I should not have done that.

Past Tense Example 2)

watashi wa kinou, hima dewa arimasen deshita.

I was not free yesterday (had no free time).

Extra Study Notes

JLPT grammar じゃない・ではない (janai / dewa nai)  - Learn Japanese

- Example Sentences

Each example sentence includes a Japanese hint, the romaji reading, and the English translation.

Click the below red button to toggle off and and on all of the hints, and you can click on the buttons individually to show only the ones you want to see.

Example #1

ima janai yo.
Not now
Example #2

kiken janai no?
Isn't it dangerous?
Example #3

sonna tsumori ja nakatta.
That wasn't my plan/intention.
Example #4

wazato dewa arimasen deshita.
It wasn't intentional.

Vocabulary List

わたしI; me
先生せんせいteacher suffix
イギリス人いぎりすじんBritish person
やるべきshould do
ひまfree time
つもりplan; intention

Vocabulary items are displayed based on the order they appear in the grammar lesson.

View all JLPT N5 Vocabulary Lessons

JLPT N5 vocabulary list

View all JLPT N5 Grammar Lessons

JLPT N5 grammar list

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