Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 6: 6/17

う・よう + にも~ない

Cannot... even if one wants or tries, Would like but cannot, Wants or tries but cannot

Generally used with にも


Verb1[おう] + にも + Verb1[できる][ない]
Verb[おう] + にも + (Reason) Phrase


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About にも~ない

When combined with either of the auxiliary verbs of volition, う or よう, にも~ない conveys that 'despite wanting to (A), it can't be done'. There are usually some circumstances as to why (A) cannot be done that are beyond the control of the speaker. The same verb will be repeated in both the volitional form and the negated potential form. This means that the literal meaning of this grammar pattern is 'Even if I went to (A), I can't (A)'. This 'went to' implies the 'attempt' or 'will' on behalf of the speaker.
  • もう(よる)(おそ)いから電車(でんしゃ)もバスも(はし)ってないし、全然(ぜんぜん)タクシーも(とお)らないし、(かえ)ろうにも(かえ)ない
    Since it is late at night, there aren't any trains or buses, and I haven't seen a taxi, so I can't go home even if I wanted to.
  • 色々(いろいろ)仕事(しごと)のことで(なや)んでいるから、毎晩(まいばん)()ようにも()ない
    I can't sleep even if I wanted to because I am worried about a lot of things regarding work.
  • 昨日(きのう)()てきた釣竿(つりざお)()いたいけど、(たか)いから()おうにも買えない
    I want to buy the new fishing rod that came out yesterday, but since it is expensive, I can't buy it even if I wanted to.
As opposed to the similar に~ない grammar point that pairs with verbs in dictionary form, ようにも~ない tends to refer more to physical reasons for why something cannot be done. に~ない on the other hand is often used to illustrate mental limitations.
  • ()きたくないけど、先輩(せんぱい)(さそ)われたら(こと)るに(こと)れない。
    I don't want to go, but since my senpai invited me, I can't say no even if I wanted to. (Mental reason)
  • 携帯(けいたい)()くしてしまったから、上司(じょうし)連絡(れんらく)しようにもできない
    Since I lost my phone, I can't call my boss even if I wanted to. (Physical reason)




    I cannot forget the smile of my late wife, even if I try to.


    Detective Fujinuma: 'I think that he is the criminal, but even if I try to arrest him, I have no proof.'


    Action movie, the bus driver to the policeman: 'If the speed falls below 80 km/h, the bomb hidden in the bus will explode, so I cannot slow down even though I want to!'


    Comedy, narrator: 'Sergeant Pain was greatly troubled because even though he wants to fight, there is no one to fight. He already killed them all a long time ago.'


    I am so worried about the project that I cannot sleep even if I try.

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