Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 1: 12/22


Not really, Hardly, Not easily or readily, By no means, Far from


なかなか + Phrase + Verb[ない]


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About なかなか~ない

When used positively, なかなか means to be 'very', or 'considerably' something. However, when used in a sentence that has a verb in the ない (or ありません) form, it carries the meaning of 'not at all', 'hardly', or 'far from'. Quite often, this expression is used to highlight something that the speaker expects should happen, but for some reason does/is not.
To use なかなか (or 中々(なかなか) in its kanji form), なかなか will be put at the beginning of a phrase (or directly before the negative verb), before further describing the situation.
  • 先生(せんせい)風邪(かぜ)なかなか(なお)ないですけど、どうし(ほう)がいいですか?
    Doctor, my cold is hardly getting any better, what should I do?
  • 仕事(しごと)(いそが)しくて中々(なかなか)(やす)()ないね。
    Work is getting so busy that I can hardly take a day off.
Fun Fact
As 中々(なかなか) just means the 'middle' of something, this expression can be thought of as highlighting that something is not in the 'middle' (optimal place to achieve a certain result). Due to this, it often expresses that the speaker wants something to be in that 'optimal position' but feels frustration due to the fact that it isn't.
  • あいつなかなか()ないね。連絡(れんらく)もないし、(おれ)たちだけで()こう。
    He is not coming at all. Since he hasn't contacted us, let's just go without him.




    This system is far from being improved.


    The survey hardly makes any forward progress.


    I can hardly save any money.


    This is a rare and not so easily drinkable drink.


    Recently I am not easily motivated. (hardly)

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なかなか~ない – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (2 in total)

  • FredKore


    Does this なかなか ~ ない need a “related” link to ろくに~ない?
    陸に~ない | Japanese Grammar SRS

  • CrisH


    結果けっかなかなかない から不安ふあんです。
    The hint for this sentence is “by no means”, but the translation is “I am anxious because it is taking quite some time for the results to be released.”

    I think it would make more sense using the “not readily” meaning, since the results are not readily available, whereas I can’t see a way of expressing this meaning with “by no means” without changing the sentence somewhat (e.g. “I am by no means able to find out the result”).

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