Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 5: 7/17


Without, If not for


Noun + なくして()
Verb + ことなくして()


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About なくして(は)

なくしては is a hypothetical expression that indicates that 'if not for (A), then not (B)'. It may appear as either なしには, なしでは, or なくしては, with little variation in meaning. It is a combination of the conjunctive form of the い-Adjective ない, なく, the conjunction particle して, which highlights the word before it as a condition from which a determination can be made, and the adverbial particle は.
As the second part of なくしては sentences will also be negative, we can see the more literal meaning of 'from the lack of (A), a lack of (B) can be determined'. This 'determination' comes across quite strongly, and may be interpreted as '(B) is impossible without (A)'.
なくしては will appear after either nouns, or phrases that have been nominalized with こと.
  • (わたし)彼女(かのじょ)なくしては()きていけないと(おも)います。
    I don't think that I can live without her.
  • 努力(どりょく)なくしては日本語(にほんご)上達(じょうたつ)しません。
    Without hard work, your Japanese won't improve.
  • 失敗(しっぱい)することなくしては成功(せいこう)できないと()われているが本当(ほんとう)なのだろうか。
    It is said that, without failure you cannot succeed, but I wonder if that is true.
  • 相手(あいて)気持(きも)ちを(かんが)えることなくしては友情(ゆうじょう)(つづ)かない。
    Friendship cannot last without considering the feelings of the other person.
As mentioned previously, なしには and なしでは may also be seen. These are just the noun ()し 'without', paired with either of the particle combinations には or では. なくしては is the most formal of the three.
  • この(くに)ではエアコンなしには(なつ)()()えられません。
    In this country you cannot survive summer without air conditioning.
  • あなたなしでは()きていけません!
    I can't live without you!
The (B) part of なくしては sentences will almost always be some state of completion or desirable outcome that cannot be achieved without (A).


  • スピーチ:「(なに)よりまず()友人(ゆうじん)トトロに感謝(かんしゃ)します。(かれ)なくしては今日(きょう)(わたし)はなかったと()えるでしょう。」

    Speech: 'First and foremost, I would like to thank my friend Totoro. It can be said that without him, I wouldn't be the person I am today.'

  • (あい)なくしては()きられないというが、それ苦痛(くつう)になることもある

    They say that one cannot live without love, but sometimes it becomes a significant burden.

  • 名言(めいげん):「努力(どりょく)なくして成功(せいこう)なし。」

    Wise saying: 'There is no success without hard work.'

    AなくしてBなし is used in numerous slogans, wise sayings, and so on.

  • トランジスタの開発(かいはつ)なくして現在(げんざい)世界(せかい)成立(せいりつ)しえない。

    The world we know today is not possible without the development of transistors.

  • 「ノーベル(しょう)受賞(じゅしょう)はノーベル委員会(いいんかい)是認(ぜにん)されることなくしては、ありえないことであろう。」

    Receiving the Nobel prize is impossible without the approval of the Nobel Committee.

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