So confused about "Too many duties" lesson

Asked 5 years ago

Are all of the four forms interchangeable? (nakereba narimasen, nakereba ikemasen, nakucha ikemasen, nakya ikemasen) Why are there so many ways to say that something is necessary?

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1 Answer



Basically these are the long forms of the grammar construction and the contractions, because the long forms are such a mouthful.

The list gets exponentially longer when you take into account you can swap out ikemasen with ikenai, dame or akan (the latter solely if you're a Kansai-ben speaker) and there's even another shorter, informal form (V masu stem + naito) which wasn't included in the lesson.

The forms are interchangeable in meaning but NOT interchangeable in context, there are corresponding levels of politeness.

Vmasu stem+nakereba narimasen/ikemasen is for more formal situations. It's a mouthful but unfortunately you've got to like it or lump it.

レポートを、上司に届けなければいけません。 (I've got to deliver the report to my boss).

Vmasu stem+nakucha/nakya is more for informal spoken situations. In this case you normally don't even have to add the ikenai/dame afterwards - that's optional and more for emphasis!


大変な、おなかついて早く何か食べなきゃよ! (I'm really in a bad way, I need to hurry up and eat something!)

I think the more you study Japanese the more you find they have about ten different ways of saying what there's only one way of saying for us in English.

That may seem overwhelming at first which is why I STRONGLY recommend, be it speaking with a native speaker or reading/watching/playing media, taking note of when a grammar construction is used and the surrounding circumstances: who are the people talking and what is their relationship (colleagues, superiority/inferiority, boss/underling, mother/child, etc.). What are the other verb forms being used?

This helps you build up a context library so you don't accidentally use too informal a verb form (some can be very rude, although you don't really run too much of a risk with this construction) in a formal situation - which I've done and whilst some people don't mind and are willing to look the other way, others will never forgive you for it.


Answered 5 years ago


Commented 5 years ago