Grammar Info
N4 Lesson 1: 13/18

なくて (Reasons and Causes)
Not ~ and, Not so, Because not (examples)

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

(1) じゃなくて、でなくて
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使用域 一般
In Japanese, なくて is a construction that combines ない (in its conjugation form, なく), with the 接続助詞(せつぞくじょし) . This results in the same ‘and’ meaning as the standard form, but with the negative meaning of ない.
なくて is often used when the phrase that comes before it is being highlighted as an example/reason for a specific result. In these situations, the translation is usually ‘because not (A), (B)’, or ‘because I didn’t (A), (B)’.
  • あなた来(こ)れなくて残念(ざんねん)です
    It is unfortunate that you were not able to come. (Not being able to come is the reason that it was unfortunate)
  • 今日(きょう)寒(さむ)くなくて暖(あたた)かいから、今日(きょう)ジャケットを着(き)なくてもいい
    Because it is not cold today, but warm, we don't have to wear our jackets, right? (Not being cold is the reason that it was hot)
  • このスマホ便利(べんり)でなくて残念(ざんねん)
    Since this smartphone is not useful, it’s a letdown.
  • 虫歯(むしば)なくて安心(あんしん)
    I am relieved because it was not a cavity.
When なくて is used in this way, it is often followed by the speaker's feelings (in the form of an adjective), verbs in the potential form, or something that is generally beyond the control of the speaker. It is due to this fact that the result is ‘beyond control’ that the translation becomes ‘because’.
  • 昨日(きのう)良(よ)く寝(ね)れなくて、疲(つか)れている
    I am tired because I did not sleep well yesterday.
  • 明日(あした)仕事(しごと)なくて嬉(うれ)し
    I am happy because I don't have work tomorrow.
Some examples of words that express things beyond the control of the speaker are 困(こま)る (to be troubled), 嬉(うれ)しい (to be happy), 疲(つか)れている (to feel weary), 心配(しんぱい) (to feel anxiety/worry), 安心(あんしん) (to feel relief).
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There is no toilet paper in the stores and it’s terrible. | It’s terrible because there is no toilet paper in the stores.
It isn’t a serious illness and I was relieved. | I was relieved because it isn't a serious illness.
"I don’t know if I passed the exam, and I am anxious." | "I am anxious because I don’t know if I passed the exam."