Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 10: 2/22


Cannot bear to, Cannot stand to, Too much to, Cannot go on doing, Cannot tolerate

Can be written as に堪えない、に耐えない


Verb + ()えない
Adverb + ()えない


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About に堪えない

()えない is a construction that will translate as ‘to not be able to bear (A)’, or ‘to not be able to tolerate (A)’. It is a mix of the case-marking particle に, and the negatived form of the る-Verb ()える ‘to tolerate’, ()えない.
In this meaning, ()えない will be used following verbs. This is in contrast to the に()えない grammar point that follows nouns, and means ‘to be very (A)’, but is more literally ‘to be so (A) I can’t stand it’.
  • あの映画(えいが)()ている役者(やくしゃ)さんみんなが大根(だいこん)役者(やくしゃ)だったので、()()えなかったです。
    Since all the actors that were in that movie were bad actors, I couldn’t bear to watch it.
  • 田中(たなか)さんの(はなし)はいつも(ひと)悪口(わるぐち)ばかり()っているので、()()えない
    I can’t tolerate listening to Tanaka-san because he is always talking ill about others.
  • この(ほん)には過激(かげき)表現(ひょうげん)がありすぎるので、()()えない
    There are too many graphic expressions in this book that I can’t bear to read it.
Although ()える will be used more often than other kanji that have the same reading and similar meanings, this is not always the case. Occasionally ()える ‘to withstand’ will be used when the emphasis is on the ability to endure (A), while ()える ‘to discontinue’, or ‘to peter out’ will be used when the emphasis is on not being able to suppress (A). For ()える, this is especially used in the case of strong feelings.
  • 仕事(しごと)環境(かんきょう)がひどすぎて(つづ)ける()えない
    The working conditions are so bad that I cannot bear to continue.
  • (きゃく)さんの所有物(しょゆうぶつ)(こわ)してお(きゃく)さんをだますなんて(いか)()えない
    I am extremely outraged that they destroyed their customers’ property and lied to them.
The affirmative form of に()える may also be used to express that something is ‘worth doing’. A closer interpretation of this would be similar to an English phrase like ‘to be passable for (A)’. Rather than meaning that something is particularly suitable, it just highlights that it also acceptably falls in the category of (A), despite not being intended for it, or perhaps not expected.
  • この漫画(まんが)内容(ないよう)がとてもよく、大人(おとな)でも()()える
    This manga is worth reading, even for an adult, because it is well written.
  • やっと公開(こうかい)する()える音楽(おんがく)ができました!
    I have finally made a song that is worth publishing!




    Kuriyama-san's singing voice was so terrible that I couldn't bear to listen.


    In this horror movie, there are so many brutal scenes that I cannot bear to watch it.


    With all the bad news in the newspaper lately, I cannot bear to read it.


    I can't tolerate listening to interviews with politicians who tell nothing but lies.


    The photos I took when I was in my 'look at me' stage were so embarrassing that I couldn't bear to look at them, so I deleted them.

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に堪えない – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (1 in total)

  • Flupply


    What’s the difference to にたまらない? Are they interchangeable?

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