Asta-i viaţa / n-ai ce-mi face


Senior Member
Hello everybody,

I'm listening to the song "The Man Who Drinks" from Mahala Rai Banda, and I have trouble understanding the line "băutura mult îmi place, asta-i viaţa n-ai ce-mi face", more precisely the second part (which I've singled out in the title). I've read a translation of the lyrics of the song in English, so apparently it means "there's nothing you can do about it", but I don't see how that meaning could be derived from the Romanian original, which appears to say "you don't have what it does to me". Could someone shed some light on this for me? I don't really know which part of the sentence I would like explained (I guess I just want to know why it isn't "asta-i viaţa, ce să facem", or "asta-i viaţa, nu putem să facem nimic" or "asta-i viaţa, nu are nimic ce putem să facem", or something like that, which I would find logical, even if they be incorrect) - hopefully the native speakers will figure out what the source of confusion is.

Thank you in advance
  • marina2010

    New Member
    I am a native, so I can tell you that "n-ai ce face" is actually a phrase meaning "there is nothing you can do". The sense of it is being in a situation when one is out of options, or one is facing fatality. The sense "you do not have what it does" is totally meaningless in this context. Anyway, the form "face" is here an infinitive, abbreviated from "a face", not a present tense third person "el/ea face".

    This phrase can be used in other forms like: "n-am ce face", n-am ce să fac", "nu avem ce face", "nu avem ce să facem", etc. The infinitive mood can be replaced by the subjunctive mood and the sense remains unchanged. So, here "nu am ce", "nu avem ce", nu ai ce", etc. have the sense of "there is nothing I/we/you can".

    More, "n-ai ce-mi face" means "there is nothing you can do for me" or, more likely in this case, "there is nothing you can do to change me", in that context of "băutura mult îmi place"… :)


    Senior Member
    Thank you for the response. So, it would appear that my problem was failing to identify "face" as an infinitive form - I was certain that it was a present tense third person form, mostly because I expect the subjunctive instead of the infinitive in most cases. Anyway, I now understand "n-ai ce-mi face", including the function of "îmi".
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