第216課: ~ざるを得ない & やむを得ない

The を in these phrases is not the case particle you are used to. Here, it is a conjunctive particle, which is a usage from Classical Japanese that remains in these expressions. Pay attention to what phrases these phrases are similar and the things that make them different.

漢字 Note: The やむ in やむを得ない can be written in 漢字as 止む or 已む. 

~ざるを得ない

~ざる is the 連体形(れんたいけい) of the classical/old-fashioned negative auxiliary verb ~ず; thus, this pattern attaches to the 未然形(みぜんけい)()ない is the negative form of 得る. Put together, ~ざるを()ない means "there is no other choice but to". As for する and 来る, you must use the せ- and こ- 未然形 respectively because we are using an older ending. So, never say しざる.

 する → せざる
 来る → 来ざる

Common questions in regards to this pattern include what the subject of the sentence, when it is appropriate to use, and how it differs from the “must phrases”. This phrase has a negative tone, and should not be used in situations where such implications would be inappropriate. The action is something that one does not want to really do. There is also some outside force that is making you have .It is this that separates it from the “must phrases”.

           Although this is typically more common in the written language, it is still occasionally used in the spoken language. In this case, it is often followed by things like ~だろう・でしょう, ~(ん)じゃないか, ~と思う, 等.


 Examples

1. ...ということを(みと)めざるを得ません。
    We have no other choice but to recognize…

2. 悪天候あくてんこうのため、我々われわれはピクニックを中止ちゅうしせざるを得なかったです。
    There was no other choice but to call off the picnic due to the weather.

3. このコンピューターが壊れたら、新しいのを買わざるをえないよ。
     If this computer breaks, there is no other choice but to buy a new one.

4. 歯医者(はいしゃ)さんに行かざるを得ない。
    There's no other choice but to go to the dentist.

5. 僕が引き受けざるを得ないじゃないか。
     There’s no other way but me having to undertake it, no?

6. 海外旅行に行くと、自分がアメリカ人であることを意識せざるをえない。
    When you travel overseas, you have no other choice but to be conscious of the fact that you are an       American.

7. 生徒が試験に失敗をすれば、先生は責任を取らざるをえない。
    If the student fails an exam, the student has no choice but to take responsibility.

8. 社長からの命令なので、やらざるを得ません。
    Since this is an order from the company president, I have no choice but to do it.

9a. この問題はもう一度検討しざるを得ない。X
9b. この問題はもう一度検討せざるを得ない。〇
      We have no choice but to examine this problem one more time. 

やむを得ない

   ()むを得ない shows that something is inevitable. We don't attach it to anything like the phrase above because 止む is a verb--the intransitive form of やめる. 

10. それは(おそ)らく止むを得なかったのだろう。
       It was perhaps inevitable.

11. 止むを得ない理由の遅刻(ちこく)だから。
      It's because of inevitable delays.