〜れない・えない vs. 〜ようがない

Nino83

Senior Member
Italian
Hello everyone.

Which is the difference between 〜れない・えない vs. 〜ようがない?
Does the second one imply that it's difficult/impossible for everyone to do something or it only means that it's impossible for the speaker, i.e it's similar to "can't do something"?

For example there are 300g of pasta on a plate and I want to say "I cannot eat it all!".

全部食べれないよ!
全部食べようがないよ!

Is there any difference/nuance? Does the second one imply something like "it's impossible to eat it all" in a general/objective (and less subjective) sense (i.e it is too much for everyone to eat, nobody can eat it all)?
 
  • DaylightDelight

    Senior Member
    Japanese - Tokyo
    I'd say ~ようがない means something like "there is no way to..."

    全部食べれないよ! = I can't eat it all!
    全部食べようがないよ! = No one could eat it all!
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    全部食べれないよ! = I can't eat it all!
    全部食べようがないよ! = No one could eat it all!
    Thank you, DD. So you'd say that the second sentence is a bit less subjective/personal than the first one, is it right?
    (Anyway I know some people who can eat 300g of pasta or more :D)
     

    DaylightDelight

    Senior Member
    Japanese - Tokyo
    So you'd say that the second sentence is a bit less subjective/personal than the first one, is it right?
    Not necessarily less personal, I think. It's more like the second one is making the matter more general/universal.
    How about this distinction?
    全部食べれないよ! = I can't eat it all (today/this time)!
    全部食べようがないよ! = There's no way I can (ever) eat it all!
     

    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    全部食べようがないよ!
    This means that something is far beyond your ability. Not always, but it can express your trouble a bit.

    "Do you know what people said I have no money in my bank account in ancient Babylon?"
    「きみの質問に答えようがありません。」I have no idea what to say to your question. (I don't know about it completely.)
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you, frequency!
    So, if a politician doesn't want to comment something (because he doesn't want or because he was ordered not to comment), he'd say きみの質問に
    答えれません/答えれないです (I can't answer your question), while 答えようがありません focuses on the impossibility of the action, is it right?
     

    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    きみの質問に答えれません/答えれないです (I can't answer your question), while 答えようがありません focuses on the impossibility
    Excellent! In the first one, it contains his unwillingness. But in the second one, he says that he has lost/has no method or knowledge to find the answer.
     

    810senior

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you, frequency!
    So, if a politician doesn't want to comment something (because he doesn't want or because he was ordered not to comment), he'd say きみの質問に
    答えれません/答えれないです (I can't answer your question), while 答えようがありません focuses on the impossibility of the action, is it right?
    (even though 答えれない makes sense in colloquialism, the adequate inflection is 答えられない)

    答えられない means it's impossible or inconvenient for you to answer the inquiry, whereas 答えようがない implies that you don't know how to explain it the way they can understand it.

    その質問には答えられない (=質問に答えることができない)
    その質問には答えようがない (=なんて答えればいいか分からない)
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you both!
    In the first one, it contains his unwillingness. But in the second one, he says that he has lost/has no method or knowledge to find the answer.
    Good! :) I think I got it.
    (even though 答えれない makes sense in colloquialism, the adequate inflection is 答えられない)
    Ahhh, you're obviously right (I didn't notice that kotaeru is ichidan)! :D
     
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