Grammar Info
N2 Lesson 6: 1/21

より他(ほか)ない
to have no choice but, no other way than, have to

Structure
Verb + より + ほか + (は(1))+ ない

(1) に、には
Details
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Information
Used in a similar way to しかない, より他(ほか)ない is a structure that emphasizes that only (A) is possible, when attached to the end of verbs. This grammar pattern is a combination of the 格助詞(かくじょし) (case-marking particle) より ‘than’, or ‘from’, the noun 他(ほか) ‘other’, and the い-Adjective, ない. From this it can be translated directly as ‘there is nothing other than (A)’. However, the emphasis is usually on the impossibility of doing anything other than (A), rather than the existence of nothing else.
Common interpretations include ‘to have no choice but to (A)’, ‘there is no other way than (A)’, or simply ‘have to (A)’.
  • 人身(じんしん)事故(じこ)のせいで電車(でんしゃ)が止(と)まったので、会社(かいしゃ)までタクシーで行(い)くよりほかはなかった
    Because the train stopped due to an accident, I had no choice but to take the taxi to work.
  • 靴(くつ)に穴(あな)が空(あ)いたので、新(あたら)しいのを買(か)うよりほかない
    I have no choice but to buy a new pair of shoes because there is a hole in my shoes.
Occasionally, the particles に, は, or a combination of both as には may come between 他(ほか) and ない. While this does not change the meaning, it does further emphasize the point that there is no choice but (A).
  • 被害者(ひがいしゃ)が無事(ぶじ)であることを祈(いの)るよりほかにない
    There is nothing we can do other than pray that the victims are safe.
  • 誰(だれ)もお婆(ばあ)さんを助(たす)けようとしなかったので、私(わたし)が助(たす)けるよりほかはなかった
    No one was trying to help the old lady, so I had no choice but to help her.
  • 仕事(しごと)をクビになったので新(あたら)しい仕事(しごと)を探(さが)すよりほかにはない
    I got fired from my job, so I had no choice but to look for a new one.
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部長(ぶちょう)そのプロジェクトは時間(じかん)お金(かね)の無駄(むだ)だったので、融資(ゆうし)を諦(あきら)めるよりほかはない
Department Head: Because the project was a waste of time and money, there is no choice but to give up on financing it.
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車(くるま)を出(だ)せなかったので、自転車(じてんしゃ)行(い)くよりほかはなかった
Because I couldn't get my car out, I had no choice but to ride my bike.
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急(きゅう)に田中(たなか)さんはキスしてくれたので、驚(おどろ)くよりほかはなかった
Because Tanaka-san suddenly kissed me, there was no choice but to be surprised.
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