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  5. "This movie was not scary."

"This movie was not scary."


June 14, 2017



So you can say: えいが は こわくありません でした or えいが は こわくなかった です but not えいが は こわくなかった でした

In other words the adjective can be past tense or the verb, but not both? It seems odd that the adjective/verb tense doesn't match.

Can anyone explain why?


The adjective is what normally determines the tense (as well as positive or negative), with です merely adding politeness to the sentence.

こわい(です) = it is scary

こわくない(です) = it is not scary

こわかった(です) = it was scary

こわくなかった(です) = it was not scary.

However, when you take a more polite/formal denial, like こわくありません, it loses its ability to be conjugated into a past tense. This is when です takes over that function and becomes でした.


Can't we "kowaku nai deshta"?


No, as explained above, ない can be conjugated into past tense, and you must use なかった(です) when speaking informal past tense. Saying ないでした is like conjugating any い adjective with いでした, it is simply invalid grammar. You must drop the い and add かった(です) . Ex. くまは怖かったです。


You should think of it as "ありませんでした" and "なかったです". ありません is the polite form of ない. The pairing of "かったです" is just a grammatical rule that should be memorized.


This one definitely threw me off... "この えいが は こわくない でした。" wouldn't be accepted here?


No, that mixes two different tenses. The i-adjective in itself kind of includes an auxiliary "to be", which can -and should- be conjugated. The adjective determines the (present/past) tense for the whole sentence. です is just an addition for politeness, and is only conjugated if it's the only verb in the sentence that can do so.

  • こわい(です) = it is scary
  • こわくない (です)= it is not scary
  • こわくなかった(です)= it was not scary

  • こわくありません = it is not scary (more polite/formal)

  • こわくありませんでした = it was not scary (idem)


I have seemed to found a bug. Even though I input the exact same sentence it is saying is the correct one, I still get it wrong


It may not really be a bug. Sometimes that happens to me when I have internet connection problems, and it stops once that gets fixed and I refresh the page.


Thank you, Steven. Very helpful!


It seems that this should read 怖くでわありませんでした。 Is dewa only used in more formal instances?


~ではない/じゃない is only used to append a noun or な adjective. When conjugating い adjectives, the い is dropped in place of く, and then ありません/ない is added. So in this case you cannot add in では or じゃ, you must simply add the negating verb.

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