帰るに帰れない

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by mdbvma, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. mdbvma Senior Member

    Canada, English
    "帰るに帰れない"

    What does this mean in English?
     
  2. nagoyano Senior Member

    Japanese
    This is a kind of abbreviated expression.
    The first half 帰るに actually means 帰りたいのに (although I want to leave now).
    As a whole, this phrase means "although I want to leave now, I cannot do so".
    We use this phrase when we have a conflict between our scheduled plan and our reality.
    For example, you have an appointment, but you do not finish your work as you expected.
     
  3. mdbvma Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Does this form of expression have any special rules? For instance, does the same verb have to be used twice and does the second verb have to be in potential tense? If not, then does a sentence like this equally work? "帰るにお使いに行かなければならない"
     
  4. nagoyano Senior Member

    Japanese
    This form is practically fixed.
    The first and second verbs have to be exactly the same.
    The combination is always "---に---ない", e.g. 戻るに戻れない and 辞めるに辞められない.
    Moreover, in my opinion, we use this form for particular verbs only.
    The verbs indicating the change of states are likely to be the ones.
    For example, 帰る indicates the change of movement and position.
    I think that this form should be understood as a kind of idiomatic expression.
     
  5. mdbvma Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Wow, thank you nagoyano. That was a very complete and helpful answer.
     

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