ざるを得ない ざるをえない - Grammar Discussion

can’t help doing
have no choice but

Structure

  • Verb[ない] + ざるを得ない

:warning: する→せ ざるを得ない

[often used in formal settings]

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What is the difference in nuance between ずにはいられない and ざるを得ない?

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@Hadros232232
Hey :smiley:

ざるを得ない nuance is that there is no choice, but to do something due to some circumstances like a social norm or something being urgent (often speaker doesn’t want to do it). It has formal nuance, but it is also used in spoken language. have no choice to do something, be compelled to, cannot help doing

「仕事がしたくないけど、せざるを得ない。」
“I don’t want to go to work, but have no choice but to go there.”

ずにはいられない nuance is that the speaker wants to suppress some desire, but despite it, he does it. Cannot help doing something, cannot resist doing something. It has formal nuance, ないではいられない is a casual variant (Also ず version is shorter so people use it in casual speech too).

「ダメだとわかっていたけど、武の秘密をメアリに漏らさずにはいられなかった。」
I knew it was bad thing, but I couldn’t resist telling Mary Takeshi’s secret.

「子猫を見ると撫でずにはいられない。」
If I see a cat I cannot resist petting it.

I hope it helps,
Cheers!

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What’s the difference between ざるを得ない and しかない?

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@Batbrie
Hey and long time no see! :partying_face:

ざるを得ない is more formal and has more complicated conjugation.
Also cannot be used with nouns, unlike しかない (in this case meaning “only”/“nothing but”):

問題を解決する方法は一つしかない 。
There is only one way to solve the issue.

I hope it helps,
Cheers!

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