What is the difference between わけがない and わけじゃない ?

Mamechishiki Blog

When learning a language, memorizing words can be a tricky thing, especially when those look like each other.

By the way, have you ever asked yourself this kind of questions ?

  • Wake ga nai and wake janai look similar to me, what is the difference between those two expressions ?
  • I know the meaning of each of these two expressions but I cannot help but confounding them each other. How to fix this ?
  • How to use correctly wake ga nai and wake ja nai. What about wake dewa nai? I am lost ..

If so, no worries !

In this article, I will explain the difference between two expressions that look similar but have very different meanings : わけがない and わけじゃない.

Examples are also provided below, so you do not have to open 10 tabs in your browser for looking for approximative translation in other sites. 🙂

Louis
Louis

Deep breath, eyes focused on the screen, let’s start studying !

What does mean わけがない and how to use it ?

Meaning

わけがない (wake ga nai) can also be written in kanji as 訳がない.

This expression literally means “there is no way that” or “there is no reason for that”. 訳(わけ, wake) actually means “a reason” or “a purpose”. From this, it is easy to memorize that 訳+がない refers to something that has no reason to be / no reason to occur.

In the nuance, 訳がない refers to an action, a fact or an event that cannot possibly occur. The reason for that could be moral (it is not morally accepted to do it), physical (it cannot physically happen or occur) or comes from an internal decision that cannot be disposed (there is a rule and nothing can be done against it). In some situation, wake ga nai can be used for denying actions (“there is no way that I could do that”).

Structure

Wake ga nai is commonly used as followed.

How to use wake ga nai in Japanese
  • With a verb

    Verb in dictionary form + わけがない

  • With an i-adjective

    i-adjective + わけがない

  • With a -na adjective

    -na adjective with the -na + わけがない

  • With a noun

    noun + の or である + わけがない

Memo 1 : In more casual conversations, “が” can be removed.

Memo 2 : The formal structure of わけがない is わけがありません or わけがないです.

Examples

Example #1
  • [Japanese]
    こんな素敵な手紙を捨てるわけがない
  • [Romaji]
    konna sutekina tegami wo suteru wake ga nai.
  • [English]
    There is NO WAY I could possibly throw out such a beautiful letter.
Example #2
  • [Japanese]
    スパイスを入れすぎたでしょう?このカレー、美味しいわけがない
  • [Romaji]
    supaisu wo iresugita deshou ? kono karee, oishii wake ga nai.
  • [English]
    You added too much spices, didn’t you? There is NO WAY this curry tastes good.

Example #3
  • [Japanese]
    秋葉原は静かなわけがないでしょう !
  • [Romaji]
    akihabara wa shizukana wake ga nai deshou !
  • [English]
    There is NO WAY Akihabara can be quiet !
Example #4
  • [Japanese]
    確かにこの影の形が像にみえるけど、こんな場所だから像のわけがないでしょう 。
  • [Romaji]
    tashikani kono kage no katachi ga zou ni mieru kedo, konna basho dakara zou no wake ga nai deshou.
  • [English]
    The shape of this shadow surely looks like an elephant, but in such place, there is NO WAY it could be a real elephant, uh ?

What does mean わけじゃない and how to use it ?

わけじゃない is the familiar form of わけではない or more politely わけではありません. In some context, it can also be written in kanji as 訳じゃない.

わけじゃない(wake ja nai) means “it does not mean that”. It is composed with わけ (“the reason” or “the purpose”) and じゃない (“not”). This expression is used for putting an emphasis on the fact that it is not because an action or a fact is happening in a given situation that this action or fact is necessary affected. Summarized in a rough example : “it is not because this orange is orange that an orange tree is orange” or “it is not because this problem is complex that it cannot be solved by someone”.

Structure

Wake ja nai is commonly used as followed.

How to use wake ja nai in Japanese
  • With a verb

    Verb in dictionary form + わけじゃない

  • With an i-adjective

    i-adjective + わけじゃない

  • With a -na adjective

    -na adjective with the -na + わけじゃない

  • With a noun

    noun + だという + わけじゃない

Memo 1 : The formal structure of わけじゃない is わけじゃありません or わけじゃないです or わけではありません.

Examples

Example #1
  • [Japanese]
    この課題の難易度がかなり高いですが、解けないわけではないと思います。
  • [Romaji]
    kono kadai no nanido ga kanari takai desuga, tokenai wake dewa nai to omoimasu.
  • [English]
    The level of difficulty of this problem is kind of high but it does not mean it is impossible to solve.
Example #2
  • [Japanese]
    トマトアレルギーだから、食べられないわけではないけど、食べない方がいい。
  • [Romaji]
    tomato arerugii dakara taberarenai wake dewa nai kedo, tabenai houga ii.
  • [English]
    I am allergic to tomatoes. It is not that I cannot eat tomatoes, but I shall better not eat it.

Example #3
  • [Japanese]
    彼があんまり料理しないけど、彼の手料理がまずいわけじゃないと思う。
  • [Romaji]
    kare ga anmari ryouri shinai kedo, kare no teryouri ga mazui wake janai to omou.
  • [English]
    He cooks rarely but it does not mean his cuisine tastes bad.

Example #4
  • [Japanese]
    うるさい訳じゃないですが、音楽を止めてもらってもいいですか?。
  • [Romaji]
    urusai wake ja nai desu ga, ongaku wo tomete morattemo ii desuka.
  • [English]
    It is not like it is really noisy but would you stop your music please ?

Summary

As a summary, you could memorize わけがない as “NO WAY” and わけじゃない as “it is not that .. but ..”.

Try creating your own sentences based on the above examples in order to appropriate yourself the two forms.

Louis
Louis

Please feel free to share your own examples in the comments part. Let’s enjoy studying together !

Comments

  1. Cameron says:

    This explanation was very easy to understand:)

    Is my writing correct?

    ・私がカレーを好きな訳がない。
    (There’s no way I’d like curry.)
    ・私はカレーが好きな訳じゃない。
    (It does not mean that I like curry.)

    If it’s not, please teach me how to say things more naturally.

  2. Aerith says:

    Thank you for this great explanation ! Seems more easy to use it now 🙂

    Do I use it right though ?

    – 東京に行ったら、寿司を食べないわけがない.
    (There’s no way I’m not eating sushi when I’m going to Tokyo.)

    – まずいわけじゃ ないが, お腹がすいてない.
    (It’s not that it tastes bad, but I’m not hungry.)

    Please feel free to correct me if it’s wrong, I’m still learning ! 🙂

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