～ず is a Classical Japanese auxiliary verb that is still infrequently used in Modern Japanese. Its use in Modern Japanese is old-fashioned, but it is often used within sentences for poetic effects. ～ず is also in a several grammatical structures and set phrases. Set phrases, after all, is where you can expect to find archaisms in any language. Given its archaic status, it is mainly seen in 書き言葉.
The function of ～ず is to show negation. This means that it is going to follow the 未然形 of verbs. However, because it is older, it follows the original 未然形. So, for verbs whose 未然形 may have changed over the centuries, it is still the original one that is used with ～ず.
Though extremely infrequent and almost entirely limited to set phrases, given that it has the potential to be attached to the 未然形 of adjectives, the following chart will show how to conjugate with it for both verbs and adjectives.
|形容動詞 (Most Rare)||華麗だ||華麗なら-||華麗ならず|
～ず also has three sets of bases, and as a consequence, a rather complicated history behind them. However, luckily for you, only the 連体形 ～ぬ and ～ざる and the 連用形・終止形-ず are ever used today.
The 連体形 ～ぬ is used quite a lot, although it is typically limited to set phrases or more literary settings. It can also be used as the 終止形. ～ん comes from this usage. However, ～ない is said to derive from ～なふ, which came into being in northern Japanese dialects during the classical period. The ざる-連体形 is even more limited, and it is typically only seen in set phrases. However, it does find itself in the phrase ～ざるを得ない.
～ずに is just like ～ないで. ～ず as the 連用形 can also function like ～なくて. However, the form ～ずに is going to always be equivalent to ～ないで.
1. 連絡が取れず、心配しました。(Somewhat formal)
Without having contact, I got worried.
Grammar Note: The above sentence uses ～ず in the 連用形.
2. 分からず屋 (Set Phrase)
An obstinate person.
To inwardly yearn for.
Word Note: 人知れず literally means "without it being known to people".
The new capital is still not completed.
From the 方丈記.
5. 絶えざる不安 (Archaic/old-fashioned)
Anxiety that won't cease
6. 見ざる聞かざる言わざる・見猿聞か猿言わ猿 (Set Phrase)
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
Phrase Note: This expression is usually turned into a pun about monkeys, especially the ones that enter 温泉 in Japan.
7a. やる瀬ぬ X
7b. やる瀬（が）ない 〇
Grammar Note: やるせぬ comes from an over-generalization of ～ぬ.
He was by my side without knowing it.
It's also good to just stop once and awhile and look around and not live one's life so fast.
10. 何も書かん。 (Slang; dialectical)
I won't write anything.
11. それは開いた口が塞がらぬことだ。 (ちょっと古風)
That's a jaw-dropping situation.
12. 取りも直さずやりくりが大変になるということだ。(Set phrase)
Which is to say, managing will become challenging.
To not even have things one is scared of.
14a. 好ましからざる状態 (古風な書き言葉)
14b. 好ましくない状態 (話し言葉)
An unfavorable situation
Takino picked up one of Kanaya's legs and gripped her foot's arch.
From 童謡 by 川端康成.
It must be because they don't allow snow to pile up, but the hot water flowing from the tubs was made to encircle the inn along the walls in a make-shift ditch, and it stretched like shallow spring water at the entrance.
From 雪国 by 川端康成.
Grammar Note: せぬ is not しない in this sentence. Rather, 積らせぬ is a negative form of the causative form of 積る.
Even so, as I thought how wretched I, who had been face to face with Yoshida, a while ago, indescribable dreariness cooled my mind off..
From 冷たい誘惑 by 乃南アサ.
As so, Chairman Ishi’i put the committee on recess upon criticizing that “the measures that the cabinet took mock the House of Chancellors Budget Committee and at the same time are against the spirit of the constitution, and being absolutely impossible to approve, as the budget chairman, I urge to the government to reconsider seriously”.
From NHK 区割り法案 参院否決と見なす動議提出 2013年6月24日
Part of Speech Note: Set expressions like 土踏まず have gone from being verbal in nature to referring to the none that it represents this. This word means "arch of the foot".
But, there was a foolhardy person that responded to the hand extended.
From 野生の風 by 村山由佳.
Word Note: In the sentence above, 向こう見ず is used as a noun, and in other contexts it can act as a 形容動詞.
Against his heart's intentions, however, he couldn't finish the final, important job.
From 海辺のカフカ by 村上春樹.
Phrase Note: ならずも is a combination なり, the Classical copula, ＋ ず + も, which also follows ず in other set phrases such as 図らずも (unexpectedly).
No matter what you may say, it's because you're no more than a lacking, immature illusion.
From 海辺のカフカ by 村上春樹.
Phrase Note: 寸足らず is a set phrase that functions as a 形容動詞 or attribute that takes の. 寸 is a traditional unit of measurement equivalent to 3.03 cm. ~足らず is a suffix that means "just under", and it gives a strong sense of lacking as the verb 足る in the negative suggests. In this sentence, 寸足らず stresses the inferiority of the addressee.
The village was half hidden by its Shinto shrine grove, and the lamplight from the train station under ten minutes away by car flickered and made a great noise due to the cold like it was going to give way.
From 雪国 by 川端康成.
Her fine, clever hand movements couldn't be felt, but Shimura, who could only understand the emotion to the sound, was surely just the right listener to Komako.
From 雪国 by 川端康成.
Grammar Note: Typically, いる ＋ ず is おらず, which utilizes the humble form to prevent the phrase from sounding odd, but the form いず still exists. This use is rather rare, so it is best for you to not use it. However, it does exist. So, don't get confused when it does appear.
Since young geisha's have to beat taiko and dance at banquets, there wasn't a day those five, six people didn't come in this house, and while they stayed occasionally, and Takino ended up remembering their faces.
From 童謡 by 川端康成.
If you suppose that the majority of the guests that come to the town are taken in this one place to the point that what the geisha said about if she didn't come to this house that she was on break is not completely flattering, one couldn't completely disbelieve the maid's words too.
From 童謡 by 川端康.
Grammar Note: Notice how the 連体形-ぬ is functioning as a nominal without the aid of の.
Offering the destiny I believed in, I incorrigibly fought and crossed swords in order to understand the mutual tragedy by death.
From 軽王子と衣通姫 by 三島由紀夫.
Grammar Note: The ま in こりずま is a suffix used to show a certain condition.
It is better to ask and be embarrassed than not ask and never know.
As Koroku was about to go home, he took a glance around the living room, and Oyome was leaning against an oblong brazier doing nothing.
From 門 by 夏目漱石.
Dialect Note: We can assume that しずに is an old, dialectical variant of せずに.
Though (the journey was) neither harsh or smooth, having not been able to find a place to rest, I turned around to where I had come.
To not spite heaven and fault no one; to recover by reflecting on oneself
Conjugation Note: 恨む・怨む used to be a 上二段 verb. What this means is that the bases of conjugation alternated between i and u. So, the 未然形 would have been うらみ. Because it looked like a 五段 verb, it eventually became one. Thus, in Modern Japanese, 怨まず exists. However, set phrases cannot be changed.
～ずに and ～ずにいられない
～ずに and ～ずにいられない mean "without" and "can not help but..." respectively and are formed with the 連用形-ず-. ～ずにはいられない variants include ～ずにはすまない, ～ずにはおかない, and ～ずにはすまさない. For more information on how these phrases, click the link for the coverage in regards to their 話し言葉 forms.
Because I took the exam without studying, I ended up failing it.
Grammar Note: You must use the 未然形-せ- of する.
I couldn't help but worry.
I couldn't help but give him punishment.
You probably can't help but get angry, right?
I can't help but cry profusely.
～ずと is a variant of ないでも and is often seen in the set phrase 言わずと知（し）れた. It is classical, so it would only be seen in such set phrases in the spoken language. Otherwise, it would be limited to writing styles and situations suitable for 古語的な書き言葉.
It's an obvious thing.
Listen even if you don't argue.
This is merely a form of ～に過ぎない, which is used to show that something doesn't even pass a certain extent.
38. したがって、現代かなづかい論者の一人である吉川幸次郎博士が、日本語は発音をそのままに表記し得ることを大きな特徴とし、かつその表記法の歴史は、この特徴を生かしつつ発展して来たと述べていることを引用 し、発音をそのままに表記し得ることは、とりもなおさず表音式であり、表音文字＝表音式であって、現代語に基づくことと表音式との差は五十歩百歩に過ぎず、現代かなづかいが、もともと表音的性格を有している仮名の線を、さらに徹底せしめたものであってみれば、現代かなづかいは表音式だと言い切ってさしつかえないと思うと述べている福田発言は、正しい判断と言ってよい。
Consequently, Professor Yoshikawa Koujirou, who is one advocate of Modern Kana Orthography, cites that as for Japanese, as a big characteristic of being able to transcribe pronunciation and stating that that transcription's history capitalized and came to develop on this characteristic, being able to describe pronunciation as is, which is to say that it is a phonetic system, phonetic characters = phonetic system, there being a scant difference between basing it on the Modern Language or a phonetic system, Fukuda's statement which states his belief that "if Modern Kana Orthography tries to be something that furthermore completes the line of Kana which originally possesses a phonetic nature, Modern Japanese Orthography without objection should be called a phonetic system" may be judged correct.
From 国語国字の根本問題 By 渡部晋太郎.
The main reason for choosing such a long sentence is that it shows how sentences in Japanese can get larger and larger the same way they can in English. Also, there are several uses of ～ず.
He is no more than a mere commoner.
～に忍びず means "cannot stand to". It is synonymous to に～耐えられない. ～に忍びない is another more common form.
It was a sight too gruesome to stand seeing.
I can't stand throwing things away.
Not able to stand throwing it away, he put it in his pocket.
This is a particularly odd expression. As you can imagine by looking at it, it is simply expressing a circumstance of ending up not doing something. This is actually occasionally used in the spoken language, and it is often treated as creative language. It is rather unique that voicing occurs with しまい.
I'll eat (them) all, not able to say a word.
From Chocolate Prayer by DIV
This pattern means that if X is the case, something might be so, but since the circumstances are completely different, so are the results. It often follows words of extremes like 神、大昔、赤ん坊、 ヒマラヤ、etc. What follows is something opposite of it, showing a sense of dissatisfaction or astonishment.
I don’t know about cheap hotels, but I can’t even believe how awful this service is from a first-class hotel.
I don’t know about a three year old, but it’s strange that an adult doesn’t know something like this.
I don’t know about newcomers, but you doing something like that…
I don’t know about small children, but (this) might be boring to older children.
I don’t know about pro-athletes, but it’s probably too much for an amateur athlete.