Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 9: 14/20


Cannot help feeling, Cannot but, Cannot hold back


Noun + (きん)()ない
Verb + + (きん)()ない


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About を禁じ得ない

(きん)()ない is a formal grammar pattern used to express that one ‘cannot help feeling (A)’, or ‘cannot hold back from (A)’. It is primarily used connected to words that express emotions, or things that are the result of emotions, such as tears or laughter. This is a combination of the adverbial particle を, the conjunctive form of the る-Verb (きん)じる ‘to prohibit’, and the ()ない pattern which means ‘to not gain’, but is used in a similar way to できない.
(きん)()ない will be seen following nouns, or occasionally verbs that have been nominalized with の.
  • (はじ)めて広島(ひろしま)にある平和(へいわ)記念(きねん)資料館(しりょうかん)()ったとき、(なみだ)をこらえるの(きん)()なかった
    I could not hold back my tears when I went to the peace museum in Hiroshima for the first time.
  • 息子(むすこ)()まれたが、いい父親(ちちおや)になれるか不安(ふあん)(きん)()ない
    I have a son, but I can't stop worrying about whether I will be a good father.
  • 税金(ぜいきん)国民(こくみん)のためではなく自分(じぶん)たちのためだけに使(つか)政治家(せいじか)(いか)(きん)()ない
    I cannot help but be outraged at politicians who spend taxpayers' money only on themselves and not on the people.
This grammar pattern is almost exclusively used to express one’s own, first-person opinion. Due to this, it may sound unnatural if used to express other’s feelings.
  • (かれ)はあのシーンを()(なみだ)(きん)()ないようだ。
    It seems like he was not able to hold back his tears when he saw that scene. (Unnatural Japanese)



  • この生徒(せいと)たちは流暢(りゅうちょう)日本語(にほんご)ニュースについて議論(ぎろん)していたが、(かれ)らは2(ねん)(まえ)から日本語(にほんご)勉強(べんきょう)(はじ)めたと()いて、(おどろ)(きん)()なかった

    I could not help being surprised, hearing that these students who were discussing the news in fluent Japanese, had started studying it two years ago.

    • この不況(ふきょう)(なか)政治家(せいじか)自分(じぶん)給与(きゅうよ)()げるとの報道(ほうどう)(みみ)にし、(いか)(きん)()ません

      I cannot help but feel anger upon hearing the news that the politicians raised their salaries during this time of recession.

      を禁じ得ない is often a reaction to hearing or seeing something.

      • 伝記(でんき):「戦争(せんそう)この地方(ちほう)にもたらした破壊(はかい)()て、(なみだ)(きん)()なかった。」

        Biography: 'I could not hold back tears after seeing the destruction that the war brought upon this area.'

        • (なが)年月(としつき)(のち)(たが)いに()()った姿(すがた)に、(よろこ)(きん)()ない

          I cannot help but feel joy at seeing those two embracing one another after all these years.

          • (すべ)てを(うしな)った地震(じしん)被害者(ひがいしゃ)同情(どうじょう)(ねん)(きん)()ない

            I cannot help feeling compassion for the victims of the earthquake, who lost everything.

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