Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 3: 2/23


Cannot, Be unable to, Hard to, Hesitant to

Should be used only with transitive words with the exception of わかる and できる


Verb[ます+ かねる


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About かねる

()ねる, a る-Verb meaning 'to spread across' (usually 2 different activities or thought processes), often follows the ます-stem of other verbs in order to highlight that '(A) is not possible'. However, ()ねる often indicates that the speaker would actually like to do (A), but cannot due to some external circumstances such as difficulty, already being busy, being hesitant, etc.
This particular grammar pattern will most frequently be seen in its non-kanji form, although both are possible.
  • こう()場合(ばあい)でも返金(へんきん)はできかねます
    Even in situations like this we can't give you a refund.
  • それはお客様(きゃくさま)のプライバシーに(かか)わる情報(じょうほう)なのでお(こた)えしかねます
    That is information regarding our client's privacy so we cannot answer that.
  • 電話(でんわ)での予約(よやく)受付(うけつけ)()かねます
    We cannot accept reservations by phone.
()ねる is somewhat formal, and may be used in cases where a phrase like できない would be considered too strong, so the speaker wants to lightly imply that (A) cannot be done.
Fun-fact - As ()ねる means 'to spread across', this expression can be thought of as similar to 'to be a stretch' in English. It just indicates that doing the action of (A) would be a stretch of the speaker's ability or capacity.
  • 弊社(へいしゃ)内装(ないそう)専門(せんもん)なので外装(がいそう)(かか)わるお仕事(しごと)はお()()けしかねます
    It would be a bit of a stretch for us to accept exterior work, as we specialize in interiors.


  • 生徒(せいと):時間(じかん)旅行(りょこう)ができると(おも)います。

    Student: 'I think that time travel is possible.'
    Teacher: 'I just cannot agree with such an opinion.'

  • (わる)けど、試験(しけん)これ以上(いじょう)()点数(てんすう)をつけかねる

    I am sorry, but I cannot give you a better score on the exam than that.

  • 匿名(とくめい)大臣(だいじん)さん: 「将来(しょうらい)財政(ざいせい)赤字(あかじ)(かん)する首相(しゅしょう)言葉(ことば)(しん)かねる反対(はんたい)するわけにもいかないので、うなずくしかない。」

    Anonymous cabinet minister: 'It is hard to believe the prime minister's words about the future budget deficit. However, because I can't oppose them, I just nod.'

  • 個人(こじん)(てき)理由(りゆう)での(はら)(もど)しは(おう)かねます

    I cannot accept a refund based on personal reasons.

  • そんな無茶(むちゃ)要望(ようぼう)はお引受(ひきう)けしかねます

    I cannot accept such an absurd demand.

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かねる – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (2 in total)

  • s1212z


    Just to be sure, 〜えない can’t be substituted for any of these sentence, right? If you have a personal circumstance that is 100% impossible, I’m guessing 〜えない would be the choice and these examples are based on personal hesitation rather than impossibility.

  • Fuga


    Hey @s1212z !

    You are correct, because these are based on personal hesitation or external circumstances, ~得ない cannot be used!

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