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なければならない, and its many inflections! Help Please!

Jace *\(^o^)/*
Asked 5 years ago

Ok, so this phrase is a perfect example of how Nihongo can be so beautiful, and yet so intimidating. I want to understand the logic behing phrases like this one now, at the beginning, so I can better command the language when I am able to use it fluently. Inflections of this phrase include

なければならない, なければなりません, なければいけない, ねばならぬ, ねばならない, ねばなりません, なければならぬ, なけばならない

I've become comfortable with the difference between ない and なりません, but I'm completely unfamiliar with ね and ぬ, which can apperantly replace the first and final portions of the phrase, ねばならぬ. That's ぬ. Also, this phrase replaces the standard negative inflection of other words changing it's meaning from a negative to a necessity.

 

ポーターしばしば線路歩いて渡らなければならない

Porters often have to walk across the lines.

Could this also be written

ポーターしばしば線路歩いて渡らねばならぬ?

I find this very puzzling. Maybe there's a root word that ばなら derives from, as it seems to tie all the inflections together. How many phrases are like this in the language?

When you were learning Nihongo in school, did you learn to use all of these inflections, or do you even come across them in daily use? In general for this kind of phrase, is there maybe one main usage for polite speaking and one main usage for informal?

 

You guys rock, thanks for the help, and all your hard work! Couldn't imagine wading through all this alone....

Know someone who might be able to answer this question?

1 Answer

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An interestig question!

As you already know, the phrases can be listed by their politeness.

Casual:

なければならない,

なければいけない

ねばならない ( we don't say ねばいけない for some reason)

Polite:

なければなりません

ねばなりません

ねば can take place of なけれ as you see, and there is no difference in their politeness or meaning.

Now, let's think about ねばならぬ and なければならぬ.  I would say that you don't need to learn these.  Because these are old fashioned, and you may sound like a samurai if you use them!  I've never used them, and if I use these expressions, I would use them as a joke.

So, the both of your example sentences (ポーターはしばしば・・・) are correct, but the second one sounds like a phrase in a historical novel.

なけばならない must be a mistake.

Hope this helps!

 

Masako
Answered 5 years ago

So there are "old Japanese" inflections the same way there are "old English" phrases. Very interesting! I found all of those inflections listed in the site dictionary under なければならない if there are any mistakes that need to be fixed. Now that I have a better idea of how to use the phrase, I just need to practice saying it. This language never quits with the tongue twisters!

Jace *\(^o^)/*
Commented 5 years ago