Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 3: 19/23

なくはない

It's not that…, Kind of, might, Slightly, Somewhat, In some respects

なくもない is also acceptable*

Structure

Verb[なく+ ない
Noun + (1) + なくない

(1) 、に

Details

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About なくはない

Used to express that something is 'slightly (A)', 'somewhat (A)', or 'in some respects (A)' in Japanese is the phrase なくはない. This is comprised of ない in its なく (conjunctive) form connected to either verbs or nouns, は, and ない. The literal meaning of this structure is close to 'it's not that it isn't (A)', and is a type of double negative.
Although preceded mostly by verbs, this structure sometimes appears following nouns. When that is the case, が, は, or sometimes even に may be between なくはない and the noun. Additionally, the は in なくはない is interchangeable with も, with only a slight strengthening of the nuance when も is used.
  • (べつ)出来(でき)なくはないけど、めんどくさいから業者(ぎょうしゃ)(たの)むわ。
    It's not that I can't do it, but since it is too much of a hassle, I'm going to hire someone to do it.
  • それを()うお(かね)なくはないが、そんなくだらないことにお(かね)使(つか)いたくない。
    It's not that I don't have money to buy that, but that I don't want to spend my money on something so stupid.
  • 時間(じかん)なくはないんですが、もっと時間(じかん)有効(ゆうこう)使(つか)いたいだけです。
    It's not that I don't have time, but that I just want to make better use of my time.
  • テレビは(いえ)なくはないけど、アンテナがつながっていないからモニターとして使(つか)ってる。
    It's not that I don't have a TV at home, but since the antenna is not connected, I am using it as a monitor.
This structure often appears with the potential form of verbs, in order to show that something is not impossible, despite appearances or what one may think.
  • 納豆(なっとう)()べれなくはないけど、どうせ()べるならもっと美味(おい)しいものを()べたいかな。
    It's not that I don't like natto, it's just that if I am going to eat something, I want to eat something more delicious.
  • その距離(きょり)だったら、頑張(がんば)れば(はし)なくはない
    If it was that distance, it would be hard work, but I may be able to run that.

Examples

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  • 集中(しゅうちゅう)ができなくはないが、空想(くうそう)する(ほう)がしやすい。

    It's not that I can't focus, it is just easier to daydream.

    • 貯金(ちょきん)すれば()なくはない

      If I save, I may be able to buy it. (Literally - I won't not be able to buy it)

      • その意見(いけん)(かんが)えた(うえ)で、賛成(さんせい)できなくはない

        After considering that opinion, I can somewhat agree. (Literally - I can't not agree)

        • これまでもかなり試行(しこう)錯誤(さくご)してきましたが、もっと工夫(くふう)できなくはないです。

          There was a considerable amount of trial and error to get to here, but that's not to say I can't plan more.

          • (むずか)しそうだが、自分(じぶん)()()てられなくはない

            It looks difficult, but that's not to say you can't put it together yourself.

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            なくはない – Grammar Discussion

            Most Recent Replies (4 in total)

            • Fuga

              Fuga

              Hey @FredKore !

              なくはない is not a casual contraction of ないことかない, as it has a slight difference in the nuance. なくはない has a nuance of ‘I have a feeling that it is possible (gut feeling). However, coming to that conclusion is difficult’. ないことはない has the nuance of ‘I know that it is possible. However, getting that result is not going to be easy’. This one is used to let the listener know that you can do something, but some effort will have to go into it.

              For example:
              集中ができなくはないが、空想するがしやすい。
              It’s not that I can’t focus, it is just easier to daydream. (I have a gut feeling that I would be able to focus if I really tried, but it is easier to daydream, so I will daydream)

              集中ができできないことはないが、空想(<...

            • KaineHikage

              KaineHikage

              And what about かねない then? Seems quite similar?

            • Sammouse

              Sammouse

              さがせばなくはないとおもうが、さがすのが大変たいへんすぎる

              It’s not that it doesn’t exist if we look for it, but searching is too difficult.

              Is this one really necessary for remembering the grammar point? It’s a very literal use of なくはない as a standalone phrase and doesn’t seem to be making use of the learned grammar. It feels to me like a trick question and is needlessly tripping up reviews

              If I’m just misunderstanding something here let me know

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