Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 9: 18/23


Very, Extremely, Can't help but do


Verb[て]+ ならない
[い]Adjective[て]+ ならない
[な]Adjective + で + ならない


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About てならない

てならない is a construction made up of the て-form of a verb or adjective (で for な-Adjectives), and the negated form of the う-Verb なる, 'to become'. This expression describes the word that is attached to it as being 'extremely (A)', or that one 'can't help but do (A)'.
In most cases, てならない will be used when (A) is something that occurs naturally, such as feelings. Due to this, a more literal translation is close to 'to not be able to move on from (A)'. In this way, it just indicates that (A) is so intense that the person affected by it cannot do anything about it.
  • 昨日(きのう)徹夜(てつや)して勉強(べんきょう)してたから、(ねむ)てならない
    I was up all night studying yesterday, so I'm extremely sleepy.
  • 愛知県(あいちけん)(なつ)(あつ)てならない
    Summer in Aichi prefecture is extremely hot.
  • ここ5年間(ねんかん)(むすめ)連絡(れんらく)がつかないから、心配(しんぱい)でならない
    I can't help but to feel worried because I haven't heard from my daughter in 5 years.
Caution - In addition to being spontaneous and uncontrollable, (A) will almost always be something that is ongoing, rather than just being momentary.
  • 彼女(かのじょ)はいつも(ぼく)(うそ)をつくからむかついてならない
    I can't help but be extremely mad at her because she lies to me all the time. (Continuing feeling, natural Japanese)
  • この漫画(まんが)はつまらなくてならない
    This manga is extremely boring. (Momentary feeling, unnatural Japanese)




  • 詐欺(さぎ)にあった()がしてならない

    I can't help but feel it was a scam.

    • 日本(にほん)()てから、家族(かぞく)()えず、(さび)しくてならない

      Since coming to Japan, I haven't been able to see my family and can't help but feel lonely.

      • (こん)週末(しゅうまつ)同窓会(どうそうかい)()けないので、残念(ざんねん)ならない

        Since I can't go to my class reunion this weekend I can't help but feel disappointed.

        • あんなコレクション無駄(むだ)(おも)てならない

          I cannot help but think that that collection is worthless.

          • サイレンが()()まないから、心配(しんぱい)でならない

            I am extremely worried because that siren won't stop ringing.

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            てならない – Grammar Discussion

            Most Recent Replies (10 in total)

            • simias


              I’m really confused by this point because I don’t really understand the underlying concept of the Japanese construction.

              To take one of the examples discussed previously here:


              I think that a very literal word-for-word translation would be something like “it can’t become that I feel that it was a fraud” or something like that, but this seems to imply the opposite of what it actually means.

              I actually first encountered this point outside of Bunpro in a videogame I was playing, and I had to look it up here because I couldn’t make sense of it even in context since it seemed to say the opposite of what it’s actually saying.

              I don’t get where this negative is coming from and how this expression came to mean that.

            • nekoyama


              I don’t think this works as a literal translation, the two parts aren’t linked in this fashion.

            • simias


              Yeah I noticed that dictionaries would have a separate item specifically for this use, but it’s quite funny as a result because it seems like the word says one thing and its opposite:

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