まい (mai) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Never Again

Author Anna Baffa Volpe for article 'まい (mai) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Never Again'

Anna Baffa Volpe

まい (mai) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Never Again

The term まい (mai) can be translated in various ways: probably isn't, probably doesn't, won't, must not or don't intend to.

The structure with まい is used in sentences with negative meaning.

There are two main uses for it: assumptions about facts and people and a strong willingness not to do something.

How まい is formed

We use まい with verbs Ichidan and Godan as follows:

Verb Ichidan without る+まい

Won't eat

It is also commonly used the dictionary form, so we can find the form: 食べるまい

Verb Godan in the dictionary form+まい

Won't go

The irregular verbs:

  • する can be used with まい and has also the forms しまい and すまい
  • ()る becomes ()まい

How and when まい is used

まい is considered an auxiliary verb and it is used in negative contexts.

The sentence containing まい has a negative meaning. It is the opposite of Volitional Form. まい expresses the willingness to deny, ()(てい)()()


I vowed never to smoke again.

In this case the expression can be replaced by しないつもりだ I'm not going to do it, I will never do


Never be a slothful person.

「なるまい」means 「そうならないようにするつもりだ」: we intend to make sure that does not happen.


This time we won't repeat that.

()()と + Negative Verb form means I won't ... again, never again


I won't never go there again.


I will never climb up and down this hill again.


The prices are too high and the service is terrible, I'll never go back to that restaurant again.


It's before an important exam, so I won't go out.


We use まい when from the observation of facts and our perceptions, we assume that a fact does not occur. ()(てい)(すい)(りょう) negative supposition


No one believes what he says.

Everyone knows that he usually lies.


At this time, I won't be in time for the last train.

ないだろう can be used in the case of negative inference 


He won't come back again.

Or we can say:


He won't come back again.


It can never get worse than this.


Children won't eat such spicy food.

~ようか/うか and ~まいか: I'm not sure whether ... or not

This structure is used when we have doubts, we are not sure about the decision to make and we have to consider the various options. We have a double structure and find:

  • in the first part the verb in the Volitional form ending in う or よう + interrogative particle and
  • in the second part the verb with まい + か, so consider the different forms according to Ichidan or Godan Verbs rules


I am wondering whether to go by train or not.

Verb Volitional-form in う or よう++verb Ichidan without る and verb Godan in dictionary form+まいか

Using a Ichidan Verb:

  • ()ようか()まいか」: whether to go out or not With a Godan Verb:
  • (かえ)ろうか(かえ)るまいか」: whether to go home or not This structure is often used in combination with the verbs
  • (なや)んでいる from (なや)む in the ている form: I'm wondering if I should or not and
  • (まよ)be of two minds over, be perplexed


I am not sure whether or not I should go to study abroad during the summer holidays.


I am considering whether to ask his advice or not.