Difference of てない and ないで


Hi! What is the difference between -ないで and -てない? I’m quite confused because from what I know one of ないで 's use is to convey: “don’t do a verb” and from what I understand てない also does the same thing.


naide is actually the negative form + de, meaning don’t do [verb]

Iku = to go
Ikanai = to not go
Ikanaide = don’t go

What do you mean by tenai? Do you have an example?


don’t do/without doing
Usage 1: (please) don’t do (making a request)
俺のパンを食べないでください。 Please don’t eat my bread.
Usage 2: without doing
今日は朝ごはんを食べないで学校に行ってしまった。Today, I went to school without eating breakfast.

not doing
Hey, don’t eat the bread I made.
Don’t worry, I’m not eating anything.
Note: てない is the slightly elided form of ていない, and is used in casual conversation.


Ohh thanks! So another question if you don’t mind. With てない’s meaning does: “部活入ってなかった” means “weren’t joining a/any club” ?


I guess so, although 部活 is club activities. I would tend to say 部に入っていなかった “I wasn’t in a club” or maybe just 部に入らなかった “I didn’t join a club”.


Right, so this is actually a distinction between verb tense and state-of-being usage. The basic ている/ていない conjugation of verbs serves two general purposes. One is to express the idea that the action is in the process of happening, like in 朝ごはんを食べている, “I am (in the process of) eating breakfast”.

The other one is state-of-being, which is used to reflect a state that a noun is in as a result of an action. To best explain what this means, take a look at this example:

Tanaka’s documents are in the box.

In this example, the ている is not expressing that the documents “are entering” the box. It is expressing the idea that the documents are in a state of being in the box. As such, this sentence would likely imply that 誰かが書類を箱に入れた, that someone placed the documents in the box.

So in answer to your question, "部活入ってなかった” would likely mean that “(he) wasn’t in any clubs”, or super literally that “(he) was not in a state of being in any club activities”.


Someone on the forums has said before that it helps them think of ている as “in the state of X” in order to remember if it’s in being used for ‘Verb-ing’ or ‘is currently Verb-ed’.

So in the case of:
"Tanaka’s documents are in the state of entering into the box"
Compare “in the state of entering” to “in the state of being entered” - It makes the most sense if you use the meaning of "are being entered’, which means the documents are currently already inside the box.

This is opposed to:
"(I am) in the state of eating breakfast"
What makes more sense? “in the state of being eaten” or “in the state of eating”? Since it’s the second, the meaning is Verb-ing.

Japanese has a different method of saying that X is in the middle of action Y.


That is potentially a way to consider the sentence 田中さんの書類は箱に入っている if you want to translate 入っている as entering. However, because 書類 is an inanimate object, it does not have agency in its being in the box and thus in English we would pretty much always translate this as being “in” the box. Additionally, “are in the state of entering” in English implies that the documents are not yet fully in the box, which is not what the Japanese is saying.


Huh, I’m not a native English speaker, so I might be off, but “the documents are in the state of entering” makes very little sense since “documents” are very much not a thing that can enter places on its own (most of the time).

You’re right that (general) you also need the topic/subject in order to judge something if it’s currently in the middle of an action (eating) or in the state of having been done and is still in that state (entered).


Correct, that’s why I didn’t translate it that way. I was responding to the translation that you offered in your previous comment. However, supposing someone did say that sentence, it would sound to me as though they are saying that the documents are not yet in the box. “Are entering” makes it seem like they are maybe going into the box but not yet quite placed all the way in yet. In the Japanese, they are saying that the documents are fully in the box.


Sounds like we’re saying the same thing about the Japanese, then! It’s the English that’s buggy. :smiley:


Yeah, translating from Japanese to English is rough because there isn’t really one answer on how to take an individual Japanese grammar point and translate it into English that is correct 100% of the time. In the case of ている, most textbooks differentiate into two different usages because when the Japanese is translated into English it usually falls into one of those two categories. I think that the approach that you suggested works well too as long as people make sure to remember that sometimes the super literal translation into English might obscure the original Japanese meaning slightly.