Usage of ~じゃん (~じゃない)

By http://www.japanese.stackexchange.com

I’d like to know if I can put ~じゃん at the end of every adjective, if there are any exceptions to that usage, and if it’s different from ~じゃない.

Adj (na) + じゃん

便利じゃん

便利だったじゃん

便利じゃないじゃん

便利じゃなかったじゃん

Adj (i) + じゃん

楽しいじゃん

楽しかったじゃん

楽しくないじゃん

楽しくなかったじゃん

Is this possible? Wouldn’t the correct way would be 楽しくない instead of 楽しいじゃん?

Verb + じゃん

あるじゃん

やるじゃん

いるじゃん

くるじゃん

grammarusageverbscolloquial-languageadjectivesshareimprove this questionedited Jun 27 ’11 at 14:34Derek Schaab18.6k46286asked Jun 24 ’11 at 17:36daniel tomio1,03721730add a comment

3 Answers

activeoldestvotes17

The first thing to understand here is that じゃん forms a tag question, so it’s entirely different than the negative form:

このゲームは楽しい。 This game is fun.

このゲームは楽しいじゃん。 This game is fun, isn’t it?

このゲームは楽しくない。 This game isn’t fun.

このゲームは楽しくないじゃん。 This game isn’t fun, is it?

じゃん is an informal version of じゃない; this use of じゃない as a tag question was covered by Tsuyoshi Ito previously.

Since 形容詞 (けいようし; “い-adjectives”) have different conjugation patterns than 形容動詞 (けいようどうし; “な-adjectives”), you can easily tell when a tag question is being used. But you know that with 形容動詞, じゃない may be present in the negative form. Without additional context, the following could be ambiguous:

便利じゃない。 It’s not convenient. Or, It’s convenient, isn’t it?

In this example, intonation distinguishes tag questions from negatives: a tag question will put a rising intonation on じゃない, while a negative will put a falling intonation on じゃない. (じゃん, however, is always a tag question and never forms a negative.)

In writing, this ambiguity can be cleared up by using a question mark or the question particle か:

便利じゃない? It’s convenient, isn’t it?

便利じゃないか。 It’s convenient, isn’t it?

Additionally, it’s worthwhile to discuss here the difference between じゃない (じゃん) as a tag question and the sentence-ending particle ね:

あの映画、けっこうおもしろかったね。 That movie was pretty good, wasn’t it?

あの映画、けっこうおもしろかったじゃん。 That movie was pretty good, wasn’t it?

With ね, the speaker is merely making a statement and anticipating the listener will agree, but じゃんcan often imply that the speaker wants to convince the listener to agree. In the above example, you would use the first sentence after seeing a movie with a friend without any prior expectation of how good the movie would be. But the second is more appropriate if, for example, your friend went into the movie thinking it would be bad, and after seeing it, you wanted to get him to agree with you that it was in fact a good movie.shareimprove this answeredited Apr 13 ’17 at 12:43Community1answered Jun 24 ’11 at 20:19Derek Schaab18.6k46286

  • 2This is a good way of think! thanks! I’m getting used to じゃん. but i have one problem on translating “じゃん” as “isnt it?”, because my head is programmed to translate “isnt it” to “でしょう? だろう?”. There’s difference between じゃん  ann でしょう/だろう ?? – daniel tomio Jun 25 ’11 at 15:33

add a comment9

じゃん sometimes means ‘actually’. For example できるじゃん。= actually you can do it.

and we use it with past-capable form. I don’t know how to explain it but it’s like “Actually we could play there = そこで(there) 遊べた(could play) じゃん(actually)).

It is not a formal saying. So don’t use じゃん when you are talking to someone formally, and you can put it no where but at the end of the sentence.shareimprove this answeredited Jun 25 ’11 at 20:17Dave7,52922766answered Jun 25 ’11 at 0:12Hikari Iwasaki44623

  • I’d like to add that it’s probably a contraction of 「じゃない」 – Matti Virkkunen Jun 25 ’11 at 0:37
  • @Hikari: thanks a lot for your great answer. PS: you probably do not need to mention your nationality each time you answer a question: we trust you anyway! 😉 But you should feel free to edit your profile to mention that you are a native speaker. – Dave Jun 25 ’11 at 1:45 
  • yeah. it’s seems like “actually”! wow. thankss! i will ask you another thing now, about the tonic word. If i say ”出来るじゃん”, できる(up) じゃん(low)-> that is different from 出来るじゃない(up)?. is it correct? – daniel tomioJun 25 ’11 at 15:52
  • 1no problem! 🙂 right! if you say the last word of the sentence upward that’s going to be a question for almost everything. – Hikari Iwasaki Jun 25 ’11 at 23:13
  • 1but can i say できる(low) じゃん(up)? – with interrogative intonation – daniel tomio Jun 29 ’11 at 1:13

show 1 more comment4

じゃん is the colloquial contraction of じゃない. You can use the former (in an informal context) anywhere you’d use the latter.

As @Hikari pointed out じゃない effectively has the meaning of “actually” in many cases. But more generally, it can be seen as a marker for rhetorical questions. I find a good way to think about it, is as a softer equivalent to “isn’t it/doesn’t it/etc” in English.

いいじゃん → いいじゃない → "it's ok[, isn't it?]"
あるじゃん → あるじゃない → "there is[, right?]"/"there's some[, right?]"

You could also see it as a gender-neutral, casual, equivalent to female-speech かしら.

I was often told じゃん is more commonly used in Kanto (and even some specific regions of it), but not to the extent where you could call it a regionalism: a lot of people everywhere use it in their casual conversation.

Post-merge update: there is no strong distinction between the use of ‘じゃん’ after verbs or adjectives (very possibly because the whole ‘verb’/’adjective’ dichotomy isn’t as clean in Japanese as you would expect, coming from English). In both case, it has the aforementioned use of adding a rhetorical question inflection…

Regarding 楽しくない vs 楽しいじゃん:

Both are grammatically correct, with different nuances…

Roughly:

楽しくない? → "aren't you having fun?" (or "Isn't it fun?" etc.)

楽しいじゃん → "this is fun, isn't it"

じゃん makes the [rhetorical] questioning much softer. More like a way of saying “I think this is fun, don’t you?”. Whereas 楽しくない? is a more direct question.shareimprove this answeredited Jun 25 ’11 at 3:39answered Jun 25 ’11 at 1:43Dave7,52922766

  • hmm. got it! i can use it anytime, or i have rules? (talking always about spoken language). Can you think in a exception for that usage? thanks! – daniel tomio Jun 25 ’11 at 15:37
  • I’m still with a little doubt for it. If i say to my friend “If I can remember well, you want to be a teacher, don’t you?” I would say 教師になりたいじゃない? . In that situation, could I use 教師になりたいじゃん?… Because i really don’t feel comfortable with じゃん as a question, is it commom? like: 明日パーティーにいくじゃん?”you going to that party, aren’t u? – daniel tomio Jun 29 ’11 at 1:26

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