JLPT N2 Grammar: How to Say “I did not have the chance to..” | ずじまい

Posted by on December 23, 2020 – Japanese Study
zujimai in Japanese

Time for some JLPT N2 grammar.  Today we are looking at the JLPT N2 Grammar point: ずじまい (zujimai).

As the title suggests, this grammar point is on the JLPT N2 – as well as N1 – tests. It may also be a word you have not yet heard in your daily Japanese.  That’s why today we are going to look at it in context with some examples in this blog post.

First watch Nami-sensei’s video above – and then read this comprehensive blog post on “zujimai” ずじまい!

Using JLPT N2 Grammar Point: ずじまい (zujimai)

Let’s start with an example from the video above.

Say you want to pass the JLPT.  You grab a book, like the JLPT Shin Kanzen Master N2 book, and you set your goal.  One month to finish the textbook!

But one week goes by, then two, three – next thing you know the time is up and you didn’t finish!  What do you say?

一ヶ月で日本語の本を終わらせるつもりだったのに、結局終わらずじまいでした。
Ikkagetsu de nihongo no hon o owaraseru tsumori datta no ni, kekkyoku owarazujimaideshita.
I had planned to finish this Japanese language book in a month, but in the end I wasn’t able to finish it.

ずじまい (zujimai) – meaning: never, did not have the chance to~, was not able to~.

You can use this grammar point with negative verbs.  You may know by now that ず is a type of negative verb ending.  ずじまい is used in conjunction with negative verbs.

The form is:

Verb (negative plain form) ない + ずじまい + でした (or だった)

In other words, replace ない with ずじまい on short form negative verb endings to use this grammar point.

Example 2 Using ずじまい

Let’s use another example Nami-sensei explains in the video above.

ゆきちゃんに会いたかったけど、今回は会えずじまいでした。
Yukichan ni aitakatta kedo, konkai wa aezujimai deshita.
I wanted to meet Yuki, but this time we were not able to meet.

In this example, Nami-sensei had initially made plans with her friend Yuki-chan that weekend.  But Yuki-chan had to cancel at the last minute for work, and Nami-sensei had to leave the next day.  So they couldn’t meet.  🙁

The use of this grammar point is somewhat similar to a past tense negative potential verb.  However, the use of 会えずじまいでした instead of 会えませんでした indicates more emotion.  So there is a nuanced difference.

For example, ずじまい conveys a feeling of something being unfortunate or even regrettable.  Whereas past tense negative is more neutral – like stating a fact.

This is why ずじまい is more useful in expressing negative or “unfortunate” emotions.

How is your JLPT study going?  Let us know on one of our social media channels – like twitter!

Looking for Online Japanese Lessons?

Interested in learning Japanese online?  Look no further than Coto’s Online Japanese lessons!

Sign up for a free account and browse our teachers!