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Grammar detail: 〜ないで vs 〜なくて vs 〜ずに

〜ないで vs 〜なくて vs 〜ずに - the difference between the ないで, なくて, ずに negative joining forms
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While the て form of a word is standard, in the negative, there are three main variations that have some subtle differences:
〜ないで
,
〜なくて
, and
〜ずに
.
Below we provide a more detailed summary of which construction is used when. One simple rule that can help you remember which form to use is: ないで is the negative て form, なくて is the て form of the negative, and ずに can be used instead of ないで when the meaning is 'without doing'.
Use with adjectives
For い or な adjectives, or a noun + ではない, the only form that can be used is なくて. In this context, the meaning is typically '... is not, and ...'.
Negative verbs
In general, use ないで, the negative て form of the verb. For example:
かお
あら
わないで
がっこう
学校
きました

I went to school without washing my face.
It's only OK to use なくて when its verb expresses a reason for something. For example:
でんしゃ
電車
なくて
ちこく
遅刻
しました

The train didn't come so I was late.
If the verb is a reason, either form can be used - なくて would emphasize the reason, where ないで would simply describe it.
Standardized forms
The なくて and ないで forms are used as part of standardized expressions, and the correct form should be used for the expression.
なくてはいけません ➜ must do
ないではいられません ➜ can't help doing
The expression 'OK not to do' can use either form:
(いか)なくてもいい = (いか)ないでもいい ➜ OK not to (go)
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Kanji used in this grammar

ガン   かお face   
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セン   あら to wash   
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ガク   まな to learn   
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コウ    exam   
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コウ   ギョウ   アン   ゆ    い to go   おこな to take place   
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デン    electricity   
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シャ   くるま car   
ライ   く to come   きた to be forthcoming   きた to induce   
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チ   おそ late   おくれる to be late   おくらす to make late   
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コク   chisel; time   きざ to chisel, engrave   
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