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Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by rainbowizard, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. rainbowizard

    rainbowizard Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    another question about colour specifics ...
    I am taking some lessons based on examples from pictures
    On a picture, taken from a long distance, there is a dark horse in a field. A question is made:


    then on the following picture the horse is taken from a shorter distance. It's apparently brown, not black, and the reply given to complete the example is:

    いいえ 馬わ黒く ありません

    I am not sure how should I have to translate the reply; could it be ... "No, the horse is not so dark" ?

    as far as I know 黒く means darker ... or does it mean something else?

    Also ... why ありません alone and not でわありません ... (cannot be from ある I think, since that verb is used for inanimate things only)

    thank you,
  2. Schokolade Senior Member

    いいえ 馬は黒くありません>> "No, the horse is not black."

    黒く is not "darker" but the continuative form (=ren'you-kei) of the i-adjective 黒い.

    黒くありません is the polite form of 黒くない; 黒く + the negative auxiliary verb ない.

    Ohh I went to Venice last month and really loved it!
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2013
  3. rainbowizard

    rainbowizard Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    Thank you Schokolade!
    (thank you also for that correction ... >> )

    I have learnt right now there are at least two different polite forms for the negative i-adjectives...

    I thought there were only two ways (forms) to conjugate i-adjectives in a negative form.
    To say "It's not black" I would have said

    黒くない です for the polite form (the only one I knew) and simply 黒くない (without です) for the plain form.

    So... 黒くありません is another kind of polite form ...

    I may guess that the past negative polite forms may be therefore:

    黒くなかった です (which I already knew) and
    黒くありません でした (just my guess... :))

    If so ... what's the "politest" way between the two?

    Thank you very much again
  4. YangMuye Senior Member

    Chinese - Mandarin
    Your guess it right.
    Some old textbooks and teachers consider only ~くありません and ~くありませんでした as the correct forms, however, ~くないです and ~くなかったです are more common.
  5. Tonky Senior Member

    This is just another moment of realizing how languages are alive and keep on changing no matter the rules.

    Officially, the "politest" would be 黒くありませんでした because 黒くなかったです used to be grammatically incorrect, but nowadays people do not distinguish the two any more and you may choose whichever you like, hardly any difference unless written on an official document. (なかったです would sound a little bit childish for an official document, but that is my take and many may not feel that way.)

    When I was a child, I myself often said ないです/なかったです and I got "corrected". It was recognized as "incorrect" by many adults back then, people regarded these phrases as what "uneducated" people say, and always preferred ありません/ありませんでした.
    Originally, い-adjectives were not supposed to go with です, and that is why we say ありがとうございます instead of ありがたいです for a fixed phrase "thank you" and おはようございます instead of おはやいです for "good morning".
    The debates on い-adjectives with です had been going on for ages - iirc, it had already appeared in Meiji era - and then sometime after WW2, the experts on Japanese Language "decided" to approve the usage of い-adjectives with です officially.
    (refer to Chapter 7 形容詞と「です」. い-adjectives originally had to take ございます to make it polite, as in 美しいです→美しゅうございます, 小さいです→小そうございます, even though they were already almost obsolete in spoken language.)

    As the general tendency of the education bodies trying to be perfectly "correct", textbooks and old teachers (who probably were taught the same way as I was) want to teach the "correct" form ありません/ありませんでした first hand, rather than ないです/なかったです, but of course still accept the usage as commonly seen/heard.
  6. rainbowizard

    rainbowizard Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    Thank you so much minna sama ^^
    Tonky: your notes are really interesting.


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