How to say a noun "is not" in Japanese

In Japanese to say that something is something – you use “Noun + Desu”.

First, you give the noun – and then you give its state of being.

For example,  if you wanted to say ” It is a clock.” –  you would say – “tokei desu”  (時計です

Lit. translated – “Clock is” or “Tokei desu” as Japanese sentence order is backwards from English.

So how would you say – “It is NOT a clock” in Japanese?

For nouns, you use “Ja Arimasen” – which literally means (Does not have the condition of being).

So to say “It is not a clock.” You would say “Tokei ja arimasen” (時計じゃありません)

Now why don’t you try it?

What about Food – or “Tabemono”  食べ物

That’s right  – “tabemono desu” is – it is food.

And tabemono ja arimasenit is not food.

Try it with other nouns and you will be able to easily remember and use this pattern to confirm or deny state of being in Japanese.

Now you know how to say that something is – or that something is not in Japanese.

Looking to learn more Japanese?  Visit our courses page or look up other articles in our blog!


If you are interested in studying Japanese in Tokyo, find out more about our school by filling out the form below.

Test your Japanese level!

Do a self-test to see which course fits you.

Check your level