Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 5: 3/21

しかない

Have no choice but, Only, Just

In more casual language or manga/anime, しかない is sometimes shortened to っきゃない

Structure

Verb + しかない

Details

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  • 使用域

    一般

About しかない

しかない is a commonly used expression in Japanese that is partnered with verbs. It is a combination of しか, the adverbial particle, and the い-Adjective ない. This structure may be translated as 'to have no choice but (A)', or 'there is only (A)'. しかない regularly emphasizes the point that nothing apart from (A) is possible.
To use しかない, simply attach it directly to the non-past form of whichever verb you would like to highlight as being the 'only' possible action.
  • こうなったら警察(けいさつ)()しかない
    If it's come to this, there is no choice but to call the police.
  • もう電車(でんしゃ)()ないから(くるま)()しかない
    Since trains won't be coming anymore, there is no choice but to go by car.
Unlike だけ, which implies that one particular option was chosen (out of several), しか always insinuates that (A) is the only option, and therefore will sound much stronger than だけ. Also, as only one option exists, it will often be assumed by the listener that some particular circumstances resulted in (A) being all that can be done.
  • この時間帯(じかんたい)はピザハット以外(いがい)どこも()いていないね。こうなったらピザ(たの)しかないね。
    At this hour, nowhere is open other than Pizza Hut. Now that it's come to it, there is no choice but to order some pizza, right?
  • 今月(こんげつ)(やす)ないから、コンサート()我慢(がまん)するしかない
    I can't take a day off this month, so I have no choice but to resist going to the concert.
Fun Fact
Occasionally, しかない may be used in manga, anime, or other forms of media that use casual language. In these cases, it is not uncommon to see しか abbreviated to っきゃ, resulting in っきゃない. However, this is not a common abbreviation in daily language.
  • この(わざ)(たお)ないなら必殺技(ひっさつわざ)使(つか)うっきゃないな!
    If I can't defeat them using this move, there is no other choice but to use my special move, is there?
  • これほど完璧(かんぺき)なチャンスは二度(にど)ないから(いま)やるっきゃないでしょう
    An opportunity this perfect will not come around a second time, so I have no other choice but to do it now.

Examples

  • (むか)えに()てもらえないので、(ある)いて(かえ)しかない

    (They) won't come pick us up so we have no choice but to walk home.

  • (ひと)(おお)から、(なら)しかない

    Because there are a lot of people, we have no choice but to line up.

  • ()みに()しかない。だって、(わたし)誕生日(たんじょうび)だから

    We have no choice but to go drinking. Why? Because it's my birthday.

  • (とき)()のを()しかないです

    You have no choice but to wait for the time to come.

  • こんなにうまくいかないかなあ… もう(わら)しかない

    To think that it would go this poorly... I have no choice but to laugh!

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しかない – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (7 in total)

  • Pep95

    Pep95

    About 3 years ago

    In which cases would they be different?

  • Pushindawood

    Pushindawood

    About 3 years ago

    @Pep95 Hey! You cannot use しか after the conditional と in the sentence that you provided. Perhaps you meant 掃除しかしない? If we just breakdown 掃除するしかない and 掃除しかしない then we can pick apart the differences. 掃除するしかない means that there is nothing to do but clean or that one has no choice but to clean. 掃除しかしない means to do nothing but clean; the only thing that one is doing is cleaning and nothing else. You can use しか before 掃除 but you need a noun (since we are talking about cleaning, it is most likely a person) before it. 彼しか掃除しない means that he is the only one to clean (he is the only doing the cleaning (no one else cleans)). I hope this helps!

  • Pep95

    Pep95

    About 3 years ago

    Pretty clear! Thank you so much.

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