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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About なくて

In Japanese, なくて is a construction that combines ない (in its conjugation form, なく), with the conjunction particle . 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()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)(さむ)なくて(あたた)かいから今日(きょう)ジャケットを()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)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)()()なくて(つか)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(うれ)
    I am happy because I don't have work tomorrow.
Some examples of words that express things beyond the control of the speaker are (こま)る (to be troubled), (うれ)しい (to be happy), (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).




    There is no toilet paper in the stores and it's terrible. (because)


    I was relieved because it wasn'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')


    'My grandchild hasn't come yet and I am worried.' ('I am worried because my grandchild hasn't come yet')


    My boyfriend doesn't like kittens and I was let down. (I was let down because my boyfriend doesn't like kittens)

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なくて – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (12 in total)

  • IcyIceBear


    I believe it’s potential form. When making ichidan る verbs into potential the “official” way is られる→寝られる able to sleep, but younger generations are just omitting the ら if the context is clear. So if you assume this is what the sentences are doing, the sentences make sense.
    I wasn’t able to sleep well yesterday and (because of it) I’m tired

  • domi650


    Thank you for the explanation, that’s probably how it is intended

  • MikkaT


    Hi, it is probably a bit nitpicky, but I think the structure part in the lesson should be like here in the forum.

    In the lesson it is

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