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Pre-ます-Form VERB + なさい as “Do VERB”

Pre-ます-Form VERB + なさい as “Do VERB”

An alternative to taking the て-Form of a VERB word and adding ください (a special conjugation of the verb word くださる, which in turn is the honorific form of the verb word くれる, which means “to give, to let have, to do for one”) after it to express “please do VERB” is instead conjugating the VERB word itself into the special “なさい form.” (なさい is the imperative form of the verb word なさる, which in turn is the honorific form of the verb word する, “to do.”) We do this by taking the Pre-ます-Form of the VERB word and plugging なさい right after it.

Example(s):

する (suru) “to do”
Pre-ます-Form:し
しなさい (shinasai) “do” [command]

よむ (yomu) “to read”
Pre-ます-Form: よみ
よみなさい (yominasai) “read” [command]

いく (iku) “to go”
Pre-ます-Form: いき
いきなさい (ikinasai) “go” [command]

However, while this form may be simpler due to having to only conjugate the single VERB word used, it comes with certain restrictions. Unlike the て/ないで-Form VERB + ください grammar pattern, it cannot be used in a negative form to tell someone to not do something.

Pre-ます-Form VERB + なさい is also considered more forceful than て/ないで-Form VERB + ください, while still being polite. It is often used when the speaker and addressee have a relationship of superior/older and inferior/younger respectively (e.g. an adult talking to children, a teacher talking to students, a boss talking to interns, etc.). While English translations of the て/ないで-Form VERB + ください grammar pattern are likely to include the word “please,” English translations of this grammar pattern typically will not include “please” depending on context (generally because given these types of relationships, something like an adult not saying “please” when talking to a child doesn’t mean they’re not being polite to them).

Example(s):

やめなさい
Yamensai
“Stop it”

ちょっと待ちなさい
Chotto machinasai
“Please wait a bit”

野菜を食べなさい
Yasai o tabenasai
“Eat your vegetables”

もう起きなさい!
Mou okinasai!
“Wake up already!”

ご挨拶をちゃんとしなさい
Goaisatsu o chanto shinasai
“Properly greet your seniors”

 

Further, this grammar pattern can be turned into a shortened version by outright dropping the さい in なさい. This results in what is arguably a completely new grammar pattern in and of itself, Pre-ます-Form VERB + な as “Do VERB,” and in turn makes the new command statement even more forceful, yet still retaining a degree of politeness.

Example(s):

見な
mina
“look”

たべな
tabena
“eat”

なっちゃいなよ
nacchaina yo
“go ahead and become”

Similar Grammar Pattern(s):

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Dictionary-Form VERB + な as “Don’t VERB” (Verb Conjugation/Sentence Ending Particle)

Dictionary-Form VERB + な as “Don’t VERB” (Verb Conjugation/Sentence Ending Particle)

When the character な is attached at the end of the Dictionary-Form of a VERB word, it forms the negative command grammar pattern that expresses “Don’t VERB.”

Context:
While this grammar pattern has been used since pre-modern Japanese times, its classification can be a bit vague. It is said to be a type of verb conjugation (though it is technically just plugging the character な after the Dictionary-Form of a VERB word, which is considered the most standard VERB form) as well as a type of sentence-ending particle (in which the character な acts as what is called the “prohibition particle”). Regardless, distinguishing between what type of grammar pattern Dictionary-Form VERB + な as “Don’t VERB” is is not compulsory for understanding its usage.

Corresponding to how simple it is to form, this negative command form is considered to be the most direct and terse and as a result can come off as extremely impolite and rude. Many times, speech patterns as such associated with forwardness and frankness are considered masculine speech, but Dictionary-Form VERB + な is commonly used by both male and female speakers.

While not completely nonexistent in spoken language (it may become very common in friendlier, more informal conversations), it can much more commonly be observed works of fiction.

Example(s):

たべるな
taberu na
“don’t eat”

のむな
nomu na
“don’t drink”

みるな
miru na
“don’t look”

こっち来るな!
Kocchi kuru na!
“Don’t come here!/Stay away!”

*On the topic of works of fiction such as anime, an even more slurred version of this grammar pattern can be sometimes be observed (e.g. the first example こっち来るな becomes こっちくんな, するな becomes すんな, etc.)

 

An important thing to note is how easily this grammar pattern may be confused with other grammatical forms.

[1] The use of the sentence-ending particle な to express emphasis after a Dictionary-Form VERB word.

Example(s):
そんなこと言うな
Sonna koto iu na
*This can be interpretted as both “You sure do say things like that” and “Don’t say things like that.” Various minor additions to the sentence (e.g. the sentence-ending particle よ, the small っ, an exclamation mark, a trailing ぁ after the な, an ellipsis, etc.) can make it clearer as to which one is meant to be said.

[2] The affirmative command grammar pattern Pre-ます-Form VERB + な as “Do VERB,” which is effectively the complete opposite of Dictionary-Form VERB + な’s meaning. This grammar pattern is an abbreviated version of the Pre-ます-Form VERB + なさい as “Please do VERB” grammar pattern. Through its abbreviation it becomes more of a forceful statement.

Example(s):
聞きなさい (kikinasai) “please listen”
聞きな (kikina) “listen”
聞くな (kikuna) “don’t listen”

Similar Grammar Pattern(s):

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The Particle だけ as “just, only”

The Particle だけ as “just, only”

だけ is a common Japanese particle that translates into English as “just” or “only” and works in an almost completely similar manner to its English counterpart words.

だけ can be used with any of the three main word types (adjectives, nouns, and verbs) simply by attaching it right after said word to express “just WORD” or “only WORD.”

Example(s):

わたしだけ (watashi dake) “just me”
あなただけ (anata dake) “just you”
面白いだけ (omoshiroi dake) “just interesting”
勉強するだけ (benkyou suru dake) “just studying”

Unlike the similar particle しか which can only be used in negative form sentences, だけ can be used in both positive and negative form sentences.

Example Sentence(s):

今日だけバナナパクチー味のアイスが買えるよ!スーパー限定だから!
Kyou dake banana pakuchi- aji no aisu ga kaeru yo! Su-pa- gentei dakara!
“The banana coriander flavor ice cream is available only today! It’s super limited edition!”

やばい!半分のレッスンだけ勉強した。
Yabai! Hanbun no resson dake benkyou shita.
“Oh no! I only studied half of the lesson.”
*Note how だけ also fulfills the function of the direct object marker/particle を here. However, this will not always be the case, as the double particle usage of だけを is also possible (the reversed order of をだけ is grammatically incorrect).

彼は使える人(だけに/にだけ)優しい。
Kare wa tsukaeru hito (dake ni/ni dake) yasashii.
“That guy is only nice to people who are useful.”
*When だけ is used with certain other particles, the double particle combination is reversible; however, certain orders may be much more common and sound more natural.

僕だけが犯人の顔を見ました。
Boku dake ga hannin no kao o mimashita.
“It was just me who saw the culprit’s face.”
*The double particle combination of だけ and が can only be used in that order.

*The particle のみ is considered to be a formal version of だけ, usually only appearing in written language.

Similar Grammar Pattern(s):