Japanese School in Japan,Fukuoka - NILS

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Today's Phrase

Today’s Japanese phrase: じゃない

Hello, today’s Japanese topic is ‘じゃない.’

Before we explain how to use this expression, please take a look at the conversation below.


Son: おかあさん、テストで 50(てん) とったよ!(Mom, I got 50 points (out of 50) on the test!)

Mom: 数学(すうがく)(Math)のテスト ですか?(Is that a math test?)

Son: 数学のテスト じゃないよ英語(えいご)(English)のテスト。

Mom: ええ、すごいじゃない



Here are a couple of questions.

 1. Which test did the son take?

 2. Does mom think that he did well or not?



In Japanese, 「じゃない」 basically means ‘not’ or ‘no’ to deny something. It is used in combination with an adjective or noun.

For example, 「きれいじゃない」(きれい[Adj.] + じゃない) means ‘not beautiful.’ 「(おんな)(female)じゃない」(女[Noun] + じゃない) means ‘not female.’


So, 「数学のテストじゃない」 can be broken down as (数学のテスト[Noun] + じゃない) which means ‘not a math test.’


But, how about 「すごいじゃない」?


This phrase can also be broken down as (すごい[Adj.] + じゃない), and that would mean ‘not great’ if you follow the grammatical rule above.

However, that’s not the case.


Here, 「じゃない」 is used to express something positive. Mom is actually saying “That’s great, isn’t it?” She is not saying “That’s not great.”


Here are some more examples of using 「じゃない」 to express opinions.

     1. 週末(しゅうまつ)(かみ)()ろうと(おも)うんだよね。 ―― いいじゃない!

  I am planning on getting a hair cut this weekend. ―― That’s good!

     2. (あたら)しいTシャツを()ったんだ。 ―― すてきじゃない!

  I bought a new T-shirt. ―― It’s nice!


In addition, we can use 「じゃん」 instead of 「じゃない」 in order to make it informal.

Young people use this very casual expression. You can use it, but only among your very close friends and family.


If you use 「じゃん」, your friends will probably tell you, 「あなたの日本語(にほんご)、いいじゃん!」



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