ず (zu) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N3]

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ず (zu) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N3]

The auxiliary verb ず (zu) is similar to ない. ず translates the negative form (Classical Japanese), while ない is the most used form in modern times to form the negative (modern Japanese).

Nonetheless, ず is currently still used in certain situations and particular contexts. It is therefore useful to know how to recognize it and understand its meaning.

In this post we learn more about the meaning of ず, how it is formed, and when ず is used through real example sentences.


How ず is formed

ず is conjugated in the same way as the auxiliary ない to create the negative form.

This form therefore changes according to the category of verb to which it is applied.

Ichidan verbs

For Ichidan verbs just remove the last syllable る and replace it with the auxiliary ず:

()べる
()
()
()ける
()
()
(かれ)(あさ)ごはんを()べずに()(ごと)()きました。

He went to work without eating breakfast.

Godan verbs

For Godan verbs you need to:

  • Change the last syllable from the う series to the respective syllable in the あ series
  • Add ず at the end of the verb

Let's see some examples to clarify this form:

(やす)
(やす)
(やす)
(やす)

In this example, with the verb (やす)む (to rest) we need to change the last syllable む (mu) from the series う to the series あ: ま (ma).

(のこ)
(のこ)
(のこ)
(のこ)
(おも)
(おも)
(おも)
(おも)

Irregular verbs

The irregular verbs する and ()る become respectively せず and ()ず:

する
せず
()
()

How and when to use ず

As mentioned, the form zu (ず) is similar to the form ない. In fact, these two forms have the same meaning: both are used to create the various negative forms of the verbs to which they are applied.

The form ない is the one most used in modern Japanese. In general it is better to use the form ない, since the form ず is part of classical Japanese

The zu form is part of classical Japanese. This was the most used form in past centuries, which is why it can often be found ず in stories and TV series set in Japanese past.

Over time, the ず form has become less common, to the point of being considered almost an archaic form.

The form ず is however still used in various contexts and situations even in modern Japanese.

The ず form is mainly used for:

  • Formal situations
  • Written material and situations in which you want to show something as old-fashioned or to give a more poetic tone

ずに - without doing something...

The most common expression that uses the form ず consists in adding the particle に after the verb. This form translates as without doing ...:

(かの)(じょ)(なに)(おも)わずに()いました。

You said it without thinking.

The expression ずに is common in writing. In spoken language it is more common to use the form ないで
レシピを()ずに(りょう)()(つく)る。

Cooking without looking at the recipe.

The particle に indicates without what the action is performed. In this example, the sentence means without looking (()ず) the recipe (レシピ ), and this is followed by に (which answers the question: without what?).


Examples of ず

(ぴき)(のこ)らず…

Without leaving even one ...

(かま)えもせずに。

Even without the stance.

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