なければならない (nakerebanaranai) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Must

Author Anna Baffa Volpe for article 'なければならない (nakerebanaranai) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Must'

Anna Baffa Volpe

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なければならない (nakerebanaranai) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Must

なければならない (nakereba naranai) is one of the forms used to translate the verb must do and have to do.


なければな (nakereba) is the negative conditional form of ない (nai), meaning not to be, not to exist. In its conditional form, its translation becomes if there is not.


ならない (naranai), on the other hand, is the negative plain form of なる (naru) and is translated not become.


Putting these two terms together with their translations we have:

なければならない: If it is not (like this) [なければな], then it does not become [ならない]

This grammatical structure contains a double negation. The overall meaning of the word なければならない translates as you must.

Verb[Negative Base B1]+なければ+なら+ない
Verb[Negative Base B1]+なければ+なら+なかった
Verb[Negative Base B1]+なければ++りません
Verb[Negative Base B1]+なければ++りませんでした

Examples of なければならない


I have to return the book by tomorrow.


I have to study, because I have an exam next month.


I must work.

Or: Work has to be done.

Other forms for the verb "must"

  • なければならない (nakereba naranai)
  • なければいけない (nakereba ikenai)
  • なくてはならない (nakutewa naranai)
  • なくてはいけない (nakutewa ikenai)
  • ないといけない (nai to ikenai)
Education must move before the future.
(きょう)(いく)こそ: Education is what it is all about; Education is the key


Education must anticipate the future.

Literally: It is precisely the education that must move before the future.

なきゃ and なくちゃ

"Must, have to" in Japanese Manga and Anime

In colloquial language, in Japanese manga and anime, in the conversation among friends and family members, we find 2 informal and confidential expressions for the verb must: なきゃ and なくちゃ.

Verb[Negative Base B1]+なきゃ
Verb[Negative Base B1]+なくちゃ


We must hurry!


We have to go!

You have to do it properly!
やらなきゃ! or やらなきゃいけない!: you musto do it!

やる (do) ⇨ Negative Base in あ or B1: やら ⇨ やら + なきゃ ⇨ やらなきゃ: must do


You have to do it properly!

Books and blogs from Internet:


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