Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 7: 3/17

ないものだろうか

(why) can’t, isn’t there, wish that, if only

Structure

Verb[できる][ない]+ もの + だろう)+

Details

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About Verb[ない]もの(だろう)か

When paired with negative expressions, the noun (もの) and either the sentence-ending particle か or a combination of だろう and か will indicate that the speaker wishes (A) were possible, but for some reason it is beyond their immediate capacity. This structure may be translated as 'if only (A)', or 'isn't there a way to (A)', but the literal translation is closer to 'I wonder if it really a thing that can't (A)'.
This grammar pattern will primarily be seen attached to the negated form of verbs, but may also be used in reference to nouns when the ない is being used to indicate a lack of existence of (A), rather than a lack of ability to do (A).
  • これはもっとシンプルにできないものか
    Can't this be made to be more simple?
  • こっちから()わないとやって(もら)ないものだろうか
    Can't you do it for me without me telling you to?
  • (むずか)しいのはわかっているんですが、佐々木(ささき)さんの()でなんとかできないものでしょうか
    I am aware that it is difficult, but can't something not be done with your skills?
  • 仕事(しごと)をもう(すこし)(たの)にする方法(ほうほう)ないものか
    Is there no way to make work a little easier?
  • もっと(らく)にお(かね)(かせ)げる仕事(しごと)ないものだろうか
    I wonder if there are any jobs where I can earn money easier.
  • これよりもっと燃費(ねんぴ)がいい(くるま)ないものでしょうか
    Are there no cars that have better mileage than this one?
As can be seen in these examples, the polite でしょう may replace だろう.
Additionally, similar structures such as かな or かしら may replace だろうか or でしょうか in more casual conversations.

Examples

  • 電気(でんき)自動車(じどうしゃ)値段(ねだん)もう(すこ)(やす)くできないものだろうか

    Can't electric cars's price be a bit lower?

  • 上司(じょうし)部下(ぶか)提案(ていあん)への反応(はんのう):「まあ機能(きのう)するだろうね。ただちょっと()になる部分(ぶぶん)があったから、(ほか)もっといい方法(ほうほう)はないものかなあ...」

    Superior, reacting to the subordinate proposal: 'Well, it will probably work. But there is a part that bothers me a bit. Is there no other, better way?'

  • 伝記(でんき):「なんとかしてもっと操作(そうさ)しやすい携帯(けいたい)電話(でんわ)(つく)れないものかと、スティーブはいつも(かんが)えていた。」

    Biography: 'Steven has been always thinking if there isn't some way he could make the smartphones easier to use.'

    ないものか, when used together with と考える and と思う, can be translated as 'if there is'.

  • インタビュー:「その(とき)工業(こうぎょう)製品(せいひん)品質(ひんしつ)(なん)とか()げるようにできないものか(かんが)えました。」

    Interview: 'At that time, we were thinking if there isn't some way to increase the quality of our products.'

  • テレビ番組(ばんぐみ)刑事(けいじ)ゴンロポ:「そのことは問題(もんだい)になります。ついては(いま)ここそれに(たい)する説明(せつめい)をうかがえないものでしょうか?」
    容疑者(ようぎしゃ):「そのことでしたら(かく)理由(りゆう)もございません。(わたし)昨晩(さくばん)ずっと(いえ)におりました。」

    TV show, detective Gonropo: 'This might be a problem. So, why can't I ask for an explanation about that right away?'
    Suspect: 'If it's this then there is nothing to hide. I have been at my house all night long. '

    ないものか can be used to form a very indirect (and polite) question. Since it is polite speech, でしょう is used instead.

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Verb[ない]もの(だろう)か – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (4 in total)

  • Redglare

    Redglare

    About 1 year ago

    Hi~ I’m a bit confused about the SKM N1 Bunpou resource that is being referred to on this grammar point. It says page 117, but I can’t find anything that resembles もの(だろう)か on this page.

    Am I blind or could there be other versions of this book that I’m not aware of? (I think it’s worth noting that this page doesn’t look like most of the other pages that explains grammar structures which has been referenced by BunPro.)

  • nekoyama

    nekoyama

    About 1 year ago

    It’s actually in the N2 grammar book on page 117 as ないもの(だろう)か.

  • Redglare

    Redglare

    About 1 year ago

    Thanks, nekoyama! You’re right, it was in the N2 book all along, haha.

    @Jake Hi, could you be so kind and update the resource info for us, please?

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