Grammar Info
N2 Lesson 3: 20/23

unless you do something

Verb[ない] + ことには + Verb[ない]

[い]Adjective[ない]+ ことには + Verb[ない]

[な]Adjective. + でない + ことには + Verb[ない]

Noun + でない + ことには + Verb[ない]
Register Standard
使用域 一般
ないことには~ない is a 2-part structure in Japanese that is used to express that ‘unless you do (A), (B) will not happen or exist’. This is a combination of ない, こと, に, は, and then something followed by ない in the (B) part of the sentence. Literally, it just means ‘within the situation of (A) not being a thing, neither will (B).
This structure may appear with verbs and い-Adjectives in their ない forms, or nouns followed by でない.
  • ヘルメットを被(かぶ)らないことには、この工事(こうじ)現場(げんば)には入(はい)れない
    You cannot enter this construction site unless you wear a safety helmet.
  • ジェットコースターが危(あぶ)なくないことには、楽(たの)しくない
    Roller coasters are no fun, unless they are dangerous.
  • 何事(なにごと)も一生懸命(いっしょうけんめい)でないことには、何(なに)も上手(うま)くなれない
    You won’t get good at anything, unless you try your best in everything you do.
  • 許可書(きょかしょ)がないことには、ここへは入(はい)れません
    Unless you have a permit, you cannot enter beyond this point.
In sentences that use ないことには~ない, (A) can be considered the condition for (B) being able to occur or proceed.
Caution - Occasionally, ないことには will be seen in sentences that do not finish with a word in the negative form. In these cases, ないことには implies that not being in the state of (A) will negatively affect (B). This translates similarly to ‘without (A), unfortunately (B)’, and often has structures like しまう following (B).
  • 漢字(かんじ)がかけないことには、このテストは難(むずか)しすぎるかもしれません。
    Unfortunately, this test may be too hard if you are unable to write kanji.
  • 高速(こうそく)を使(つか)わないことには、待(ま)ち合(あ)わせ時間(じかん)に遅(おく)れてしまう。
    Without using the highway, I am going to be late.
Slow Male
Hide All
Hide Japanese
Hide English
Unless married couples get along, things won't go well.
You won't know if you can do it or not unless you try.
Unless I finish my thesis, I won't really calm down.

No page info