Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 3: 3/23

()ねない

Might, Could be, Capable of, Possible

Structure

Verb[ます+ かねない
Noun + + ​​かねない

Details

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About かねない

The negative form of the る-Verb ()ねる 'to spread across' (usually 2 different activities or thought processes) is a grammar pattern that indicates a possibility of (A) happening, especially when it is something that the speaker themselves cannot control. ()ねない is often translated as 'might (A)', 'capable of (A)', or '(A) is a possibility'.
This structure will be seen connected to the ます-stem of verbs, or after nouns followed by に. Both the kanji and non-kanji forms may be used.
  • それは(いのち)()としかねない感染症(かんせんしょう)らしい。
    Apparently that is an infectious disease that could lead to death.
  • 地震(じしん)(あと)には津波(つなみ)()こりかねないので、出来(でき)るだけ(はや)避難(ひなん)しましょう。
    A tsunami might follow an earthquake so try to evacuate as soon as possible.
  • ベッドでの喫煙(きつえん)火災(かさい)になりかねないのでご遠慮(えんりょ)ください。
    Please refrain from smoking on the bed as it might cause a fire.
  • 仕事(しこと)のやりすぎは、(うつ)原因(げんいん)になりかねない
    Working too much could be a cause of depression.
It is quite common to see ()ねない come after conditional phrases that include と, ば, たら, でも, and similar structures. This indicates that 'if (A) were to happen, (B) may also occur'.
  • 操作(そうさ)間違(まちが)えれば怪我人(けがにん)()かねない
    If you operate it wrong, it could cause injuries.
  • どんなに注意(ちゅうい)をしていても、事故(じこ)()こりかねない
    No matter how careful you are, accidents might happen.
Caution - While this grammar structure is most often used to highlight negative outcomes, it may also be used to indicate or desire or wish sarcastically.
  • ちゃんと毎日(まいにち)勉強(べんきょう)すれば、来週(らいしゅう)のテストは合格(ごうかく)できかねない
    If I study everyday, I might do well on the test next week.
Fun-fact - As ()ねる means 'to spread across', in the negative, this expression can be thought of as similar to 'to not be a stretch' in English. It just indicates the action of (A) would not be a stretch of the ability or capacity of whoever or whatever is being discussed.
  • 彼女(かのじょ)はどんな病気(びょうき)でも(なお)かねない
    It wouldn't be a stretch to say that she can cure any disease.

Examples

  • 賞味(しょうみ)期限切(きげんぎ)れの食品(しょくひん)は、下痢(げり)原因(げんいん)になかねない

    Expired food could be a cause of diarrhea.

  • この(いぬ)()まれたら、(おお)怪我(けが)かねない

    If his dog bites you, it is capable of causing serious injury.

  • この(こと)そのままにしていたら、摩擦(まさつ)()かねない

    If you leave it at that, it might cause conflict.

  • あの財閥(ざいばつ)は、目的(もくてき)(たっ)するためなら他人(たにん)などかまわず(なん)でもかねない

    That firm is quite capable of doing anything to reach their goals without any regard to other people.

  • この書類(しょるい)開示(かいじ)されてはスキャンダルが ()かねないから、処分(しょぶん)する必要(ひつよう)があります。

    If those documents are disclosed, it might cause a scandal, so it is necessary to get rid of them.

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かねない – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (6 in total)

  • jakedesu2010

    jakedesu2010

    About 11 months ago

    It appears that this grammar structure can come after a noun, however none of the example sentences show this structure, nor could I find any examples online. Does anyone have any good examples?

  • sergiop

    sergiop

    About 8 months ago

    Not sure if you were referring to the を兼ねて grammar point referred above or the one with the negative. But if it is the first case, maybe the reason you were not able to find examples online is because the がてら grammar point that has the same meaning is used instead of it. See the highlight part in the Handbook:

  • sergiop

    sergiop

    About 8 months ago

    In classical Japanese, what I found was a correspondence to あわせて or と同時に、

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