Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My Japanese friend asked me whether I believe in an afterlife.

I wanted to say, "I don't believe, but also I don't not believe." My point is that while I do not believe, I like to keep an open mind.

I intentionally use the double negative, because the meaning is different from simply collapsing the double negative into a positive: "I don't believe, but also I believe," which makes no sense.

The best I could come up with in my clunky Japanese is "信じていないけど信じたい" but that doesn't really say what I want either.

Is there a better way to get my point across? Does Japanese make possible these kinds of tortuous constructs?

share|improve this question
I wonder if you could say 信じることも信じないこともない. I mean, that's what I'd say, but I often (usually?) say stuff wrong, so I don't want to post it as an answer. – snailplane Aug 28 '13 at 7:30

I would say it as 信じても信じなくもない or 信じてはないけど、信じなくもない.

share|improve this answer
"信じなくてもない" means something like "even if you don't believe, it doesn't exist". To say "It's not that I don't believe", you could say 信じてなくもない. – dainichi Aug 28 '13 at 4:37

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.