Double negative sentence

Have a Question about some Grammar point? Share it with the world!
Post Reply
hadouken!
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon 11.14.2011 11:37 am
Native language: English
Gender: Male
Location: London

Double negative sentence

Post by hadouken! » Tue 11.15.2011 9:46 am

Hi there, I'm new here but I hope it's OK for me to jump straight in to asking questions!

Yesterday my teacher introduced me to sentences which include a verb in て form + は + いけません (you must not / you cannot). One of the sentences we looked at is the following:

ここはおかねをはらわなくてはいけませんか
koko wa okane o harawanakute wa ikemasen ka?

It seems to say 'as for not paying money here, I'm not able to that?' which means....'.must I pay here?' It's very confusing! :doh:

Does anyone have any tips for dealing with sentences like this? Any help or similar examples would be fantastic!

Many thanks

Mike

SomeCallMeChris
Posts: 258
Joined: Tue 08.09.2011 12:54 pm
Native language: English

Re: Double negative sentence

Post by SomeCallMeChris » Tue 11.15.2011 1:38 pm

It's confusing at first, but, yes, Japanese habitually uses a double-negative to express 'must'.
Many textbooks teach ~なければならない as a set phrase meaning 'must', but you'll also see
many other forms. ほうれんそうを食べなくてはいけない ... 'must eat spinach'.
You'll also often see sentences ending in なくては・なければ・ないと and so on that leave the ならない・いけない・だめ only implied.

If you know what to look for, you can find plenty of example sentences of double-negatives translated as 'must':
いけません
http://eow.alc.co.jp/must+%e3%81%84%e3% ... %93/UTF-8/
いけない
http://eow.alc.co.jp/must+%e3%81%84%e3% ... %84/UTF-8/
だめ
http://eow.alc.co.jp/must+%e3%81%a0%e3%82%81/UTF-8/
ならない
http://eow.alc.co.jp/must+%e3%81%aa%e3% ... %84/UTF-8/
なりません
http://eow.alc.co.jp/must+%e3%81%aa%e3% ... %93/UTF-8/

The easiest way to think of them is 'Bad things happen if ... '
For that reason, an affirmative 'must' in English becomes a double-negative in Japanese, and a negative 'must not' in English is a single negative in Japanese - but with the negative on the consequence, not the action.

太郎!今、あそびに行ってはだめですよ!ほうれんそうを食べなくてはいけない!
Taro! You can't go to play now! You must eat your spinach!

Hektor6766
Posts: 184
Joined: Thu 09.24.2009 3:40 pm
Native language: English

Re: Double negative sentence

Post by Hektor6766 » Tue 11.15.2011 9:33 pm

I think of it as "You can't (afford to) not do this.", "I can't go on without doing this", "You can't get by without..."

User avatar
Ranja
Posts: 125
Joined: Wed 11.05.2008 5:40 am
Native language: Japanese

Re: Double negative sentence

Post by Ranja » Wed 11.16.2011 6:51 am

Let me add this to the list of SomeCallMeChris's list:

べき
http://eow.alc.co.jp/must+%e3%81%b9%e3%81%8d/UTF-8/

(albeit this isn't double negative.)

hadouken!
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon 11.14.2011 11:37 am
Native language: English
Gender: Male
Location: London

Re: Double negative sentence

Post by hadouken! » Wed 11.16.2011 7:26 am

Thank you all for the replies, they are very helpful. I'm trawling though the links supplied but that site is a little bit (OK, quite a bit!) above my level. I'll keep looking though.

Hektor, that's a great way of thinking of it. I think it's helped me understand my troublesome sentence too!

ここはおかねをはらわなくてはいけませんか
koko wa okane o harawanakute wa ikemasen ka?

I can't go on without paying here? = I must pay here?

hadouken!
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon 11.14.2011 11:37 am
Native language: English
Gender: Male
Location: London

Re: Double negative sentence

Post by hadouken! » Wed 11.16.2011 2:02 pm

Guys, further to my earlier questions, I think I'm getting the hang of this now. I've created some double negative questions my teacher asked me to make, but I've also tried to do a couple extra. Do these make sense?

しゅうくだいをわからなくてはいけません
shuukudai o wakaranaku te wa ikemasen
I must understand the homework!

まえへやをでることはでんきをけなくてはいけません
mae heya o deru koto wa denki wo kenaku te wa ikemasen
I must turn off the light before leaving the room.

The second sentence was very tricky for me, I hope it makes sense.

Thanks again for all your help.

Regards

Mike

Hektor6766
Posts: 184
Joined: Thu 09.24.2009 3:40 pm
Native language: English

Re: Double negative sentence

Post by Hektor6766 » Wed 11.16.2011 4:04 pm

To turn off power is actually kesu (消す). The conjugations are less confusing if you look to the plain forms. The negative for -す verbs is -さ, so it would be:

前部屋を出ることは電気を消さなくてはいけません。 (行ける: colloquial for "to go well")

まえへやをでることはでんきをけさなくてはいけません。

"As for before the 'exit the room' thing, light not to turn off will not go well."

"Gotta turn off the lights before leaving the room."

Tae Kim at http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/complete provides great explanations for these kinds of things.
Last edited by Hektor6766 on Wed 11.16.2011 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

NileCat
Posts: 1168
Joined: Sat 08.01.2009 2:11 pm
Native language: Japanese
Location: Tokyo

Re: Double negative sentence

Post by NileCat » Wed 11.16.2011 4:23 pm

Also,
部屋を出る前に(は) is the right order.
:)

Hektor6766
Posts: 184
Joined: Thu 09.24.2009 3:40 pm
Native language: English

Re: Double negative sentence

Post by Hektor6766 » Wed 11.16.2011 4:28 pm

True, although I failed to catch that. He's not leaving the front part of the room! :lol:

部屋を出る前に電気を消さなくてはいけません。

And the こと would mean you must turn off the lights in any room you leave.

hadouken!
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon 11.14.2011 11:37 am
Native language: English
Gender: Male
Location: London

Re: Double negative sentence

Post by hadouken! » Thu 11.17.2011 9:08 am

Guys, thanks very much! I'm going with this sentence for 'I must turn out the lights before leaving the room'.

部屋を出る前に電気を消さなくてはいけません。
へやをでるまえにでんきをけさなくてわいけません.
heya o deru mae ni denki o kesanaku te wa ikemasen.
Before leaving the room, I must turn out the light.

kalavinka
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu 01.12.2012 12:32 pm
Native language: English
Gender: Female
Location: California Über Alles

Re: Double negative sentence

Post by kalavinka » Thu 01.12.2012 3:18 pm

ここはおかねをはらわなくてはいけませんか
I can't go on without paying here? = I must pay here?

I would remove "go on" from the translation. This is not "to go" iku (行く) but where something is allowed or not. Japanese are big into manners, rules and stuff so they are sensitive to what is allowed and what is not allowed. (That's the only way I can put it.) I think they tend to talk about this in the negative, to say what is not allowed. Like you would find signs in English speaking countries about "No photos", "No smoking", no no no.

so here's a word for word then smoothed out into less awkward English, then real casual
ここはおかねをはらわなくてはいけませんか
-> here is money don't pay not allowed ?
(to me, I don't even know why money is in the sentence, other than to give vocab words)
-> Is it not allowed (in/over) here to not pay with money?
-> Is it required (in/over) here to pay with money?
-> Do you have to pay here?
This sentence is do you have to pay or is it free type of sentence, rather then is the cash register where I pay or do I have to go to another counter.

I think you could take out "koko" as well from the sentence. With context sensitive Japanese, it'd be obvious if you were at the location. But if you're asking about someplace else, that's where you would insert it.

Tokyo Disneylandではおかねをはらわなくてはいけませんか
At Tokyo Disneyland, ....same translation for the rest of the sentence....

Post Reply