The structure なければいけない (
nakereba ikenai) means
have to do,
be necessary to do,
need to do.
They express duty and necessity.
This is one of the various forms that translate the verb must.
In this post we will also see some examples with another structure for the verb must: なければならない.
How なければいけない is formed
Let's analyze this locution to understand its meaning:
- なければ is the conditional form of ない ⇨
if there is not,
if it is not
- いけない means
it is not good,
it can't go,
it is not acceptable
⇨ if it is not, it is no good ⇨ it must be, it is necessary
Example with the Ichidan Verb: 決める,
⇨ I have to decide, I must decide
Example with the Godan Verb: 呼ぶ
⇨ I have to call, I must call
How and when なければいけない is used
なければいけない is used in situations where there is a
need to do something, and it expresses a sense of
It refers to something that must be done or that is necessary and appropriate to do. It is often used in the first person.
I must study.
Or: It is necessary for me to study
I have to prepare for the trip this afternoon.
なければいけない and なければならない
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In a colloquial and informal context, the same structure can be found in the variant:
なきゃ＋ いけない whose なきゃ is the contraction form.
I have to tell him the truth.
なきゃ is often used singularly as a shortened form of なければならない or なければいけない.
We have to go!
なくちゃ is another informal and colloquial variant of なければならない or なければいけない.
The train is coming in five minutes, so we have to hurry.
Why should I eat vegetables?
Examples of なければいけない
I need to concentrate more in order to finish this job.
I have to buy the ticket before getting on the train.
The report must be submitted by Friday.
How to do what you have to do.
Similar grammar points in Japanese 📚