Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 6: 11/24


Not A but B, Conjunctive

なくて = casual・colloquial, なく = formal・written


Verb + + ではなく(1)
[い]Adjective + + ではなく(1)
[な]Adjective + ではなく(1)
Noun + ではなく(1)

(1) じゃなく(て)


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About ではなくて・じゃなくて

When the auxiliary verb is seen in its negative conjugated form, it states that (A) is not correct, but (B) is. This form is ではなく, and may appear either with or without the conjunction particle て attached to the end.
ではなくて is commonly seen grouped with nouns, or other words that have been nominalized through the use of の or こと.
  • 事故(じこ)()こしたら()げるではなくて警察(けいさつ)電話(でんわ)してください。
    When you get into an accident, don't run, but call the police please.
  • (あか)いのではなくて(あお)いのください。
    Please give me the blue one, not the red one.
  • 今日(きょう)(ひま)ではなくて(いそが)しいです
    It's not that I am bored today, but busy.
  • メールではなくて、ファックス(おく)てください
    Please send it via fax, and not email.
In ではなくて, the adverbial particle は is not strictly required. However, as this expression is comparing what (A) is 'not' to what (B) 'is', the contrast that は provides means that the phrase will sound far more natural with its inclusion.
  • その建物(たてもの)刑務所(けいむしょ)ではなくて学校(がっこう)です
    That building is not a prison, but a school.
  • (かれ)正社員(せいしゃいん)でなくて、アルバイトです
    He is not a full time worker, but a part time worker.
て sometimes performs in a similar way to a 'comma' in Japanese, allowing structures to appear together that usually wouldn't. Due to this, if て is omitted from ではなくて, ではなく may not be linked directly to the next word, and a comma will be required. Regarding adjectives, this く form is known as the conjunctive form, and may only be linked directly with other 用言(ようげん) (conjugatable words), altering or adding to their overall meaning.
  • このラーメンは不味(まず)いのではなく、(あじ)(うす)いだけです
    It is not that this ramen tastes bad, but it is bland.
  • (わたし)(たか)いのではなく(やす)いの()った。
    I bought the cheap one, not the expensive one.




    He is not my sibling, but my cousin.


    I want to eat meat, not fish.


    Not science, but chemistry.


    It's not Tuesday, but Wednesday.


    That player is not a genius, but a hard worker.

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        • Tobira

          Page 48

        • みんなの日本語 II

          Page 90 [CH 39]

        • A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar

          Page 279 (Casual なくて)

        • A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar

          Page 211 (Formal なく)

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      ではなくて・じゃなくて – Grammar Discussion

      Most Recent Replies (2 in total)

      • zyoeru


        I believe this grammar point is incorrectly linked to DBJG, p. 279. The grammar point covered there is 「〜なくて」 on its own which means “do not do ~ and ~” or 'is not ~ and ~".

        The correct grammar point that should be linked is DIJG, p. 211. This grammar point is 「〜なく」 which means “not ~ and” or “not ~ but”.

      • Daru


        Double checked both resources.

        DBJG’s p.279 focuses on the ‘not x, so…’ while DIJB’s p.211 focuses on the Grammar Point that Bunpro talks about.

        What I want to highlight here though is that both share the same basic meaning: ‘Not X, so…’. There’s also the fact that they mean the same thing, its just the Register that changes.

        To better reflect that and add in your suggestion, I’ve updated the resources. Thank you!

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