Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 10: 12/20


Can't afford to, Unable to

Casual:, Verb[] + ちゃいられない/,じゃいられない


Verb[て]+ られない
[い]Adjective[て]+ られない
[な]Adjective + では(1) + られない
Noun + では(1) + られない

(1) じゃ


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About てはいられない

てはいられない is a grammar pattern which consists of the conjunction-particle て, は, and the negated-potential form of the る-Verb いる 'to be'. Common translations include 'to be unable to (A)', and 'cannot afford to (A)'. The literal meaning of 'to not be able to be with (A)' just reflects the impossibility of the word that this structure is attached to.
This structure is almost exclusively seen with verbs, but may occasionally be seen with い-Adjectives, な-Adjectives or nouns as well.
  • 明日(あした)までに提出(ていしゅつ)しないといけないレポートがあるから、(あそ)ではいられない
    I have an essay I need to submit by tomorrow, so I can't afford to hangout.
  • あと30(ぷん)(いえ)()ないといけないので、のんびりご(はん)()てはいられない
    I have to leave the house in 30 minutes, so I am unable to relax and eat my food.
  • 午後(ごご)までに()わらせるように先輩(せんぱい)(たの)まれたから、(やす)ではいられない
    My senpai asked me to finish by this afternoon, so I can't afford to take a break.
The verb that てはいられない is connected to is often considered to be something that cannot continue on due to either some time-based or feeling-based limitation. In this way, it regularly has the nuance of '(A) cannot continue due to (B)', with the reason of (B) mentioned in another part of the sentence.
When appearing with い-Adjectives, な-Adjectives or nouns, the nuance will change slightly, and simply reflects the meaning of いられない itself in conveying that (A) 'cannot be', or is 'impossible' in some way. As always, ては will be replaced by では in the case of nouns and な-Adjectives.
  • (つぎ)大会(たいかい)()つには、こんな(おそ)てはいられない
    We can't afford to be this slow if we want to win the next tournament.
  • (とう)さんもいつまでも元気(げんき)ではいられないんだから、そろそろ健康(けんこう)()をつけな。
    Dad, you can't stay healthy forever, so you should start taking better care of yourself.
  • もうこんな会社(かいしゃ)社員(しゃいん)ではいられない
    I can no longer be an employee of this company.


  • 小野(おの):カラオケ()こう!

    Ono: 'Let's go to karaoke!'
    Iwamoto: 'Sorry, I have math homework to finish by
    tomorrow morning so I can't afford to go to karaoke.'

  • 友達(ともだち)への自分(じぶん)仕事(しごと)愚痴(ぐち):「また週末(しゅうまつ)上司(じょうし)仕事(しごと)をさせられた。このままじゃいられない転職(てんしょく)するつもりだ。」

    Complaining to a friend about one's job: 'I have been forced to work on the weekend again by the boss. It cannot be like this. I plan to change jobs.'

  • (わたし)一日(いちにち)たりとも日本語(にほんご)勉強(べんきょう)なしではいられない

    I can't afford to even go a day without learning Japanese.

  • 時間(じかん)がない。下書(したが)きしてはいられない

    There is no time. I can't afford to make a rough draft.

  • (かれ)実績(じっせき)()げています。()てはいられません

    He is raising his achievements. He can't afford to lose.

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