なければいけない - Grammar Discussion

must do
have to do

Structure

  • Verb[な] + ければ・いけない

[long form・usually expresses duty or necessity due to the situation or circumstances]
[いけない = neutral・ならない = formal/written]

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Hi All,

On my Genki edition they use なくちゃいけません / なくちゃいけない can someone explain to me the difference? are these structures equivalent?

Cheers!

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Hey and welcome on the community forums :partying_face:

Long story short:
なければいけない (in casual なきゃいけない) and なくてはいけない (in casual なくちゃいけない) are completely interchangeable :+1:

More details:
There are few ways to say must, have to in Japanesethe major ones are:

  • なければいけない (example: いく→行かなければいけない)
    contraction: なきゃいけない (行かなきゃいけない)
    Sometimes you can see or hear なけりゃ、which is another contraction.

  • なくてはいけない (example: いく→行かなくてはいけない)
    contraction: なくちゃいけない (いくー>行かなくちゃいけない)
    Sometimes you can see or hear なくっちゃ・なくちゃあ, which are another contractions so don’t be surprised.

  • ないといけない (example: いく→行かないといけない)

All of those are equivalent, though contractions are more casual than full versions, and ます version is the most polite (行かなければいけません・行かなくてはいけません・行かないといけません). By the way, in casual conversations the いけない part can be omitted, so all below are also correct:

  • 行かないと
    行かなきゃ
    行かなくちゃ

Advanced (but interesting information):
Sometimes ならない is used instead of いけない、which implies that the action must be taken due to some rules, common belief and things like that (like “have to”). While いけない implies that the action must be taken in response to some circumstances (like “must”), etc. (Though a lot of Japanese do not really care about it)
Also, in casual conversations, instead of いけない、ならない or dropping them, だめ can be used.
いかなきゃだめ
いかなくちゃだめ
いかないとダメ

I hope it makes things a bit more clear,
Cheers! :+1:

2 Likes

does anyone know a harder way to say something must be done than the nakerebaikenai? please tell me there are harder ways to say that:neutral_face: