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I know the following two sentences give implication that "not expecting me to understand (it)" but I have a feeling that they give different nuances that I just can't put my finger on:

それは分{わ}かるわけがないでしょう。 sore wa wakaru wake ga nai deshou.

それは分{わ}かるはずがないでしょう。 sore wa wakaru hazu ga nai deshou.

Would someone explain what is the difference of the two sentences, and also how to choose between using はず and わけ?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

disclaimer: not a native speaker

I think 'wake' implies that things happened as expected, where as 'hazu' implies that what happened is not what was expected.

Or, 'wake' is a bit more neutral, a "matter of fact", where as 'hazu' is more of a personal opinion/subjective kind of thing.

This is how I would understand the difference:

それは分かるわけがないでしょう。 sore ha wakaru wake ga nai deshou.

You're not meant to understand this .. it's normal.

それは分かるはずがないでしょう。 sore ha wakaru hazu ga nai deshou.

I see no reason you could understand this .. so what's going on?

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1  
Hasen J is right here in that "hazu" means that the speaker is surprised by the outcome of something. I'd say that "wake" is more assertive in the example given, effectively stating that there's no way the other person could possibly understand so-and-so. –  rcjsuen Jun 1 '11 at 1:49
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Yes, 'wake' has the connotation that "objectively" it is the way it is. Hasen J wrote "it's normal" which is a good way to help incorporate it into everyday speech. –  crunchyt Jun 7 '11 at 6:09

I'd translate them as follows:

分かるわけがないでしょう。 Wakaru wake ga nai deshō.

"There's no way (he) can understand this." or "(He) surely doesn't understand this."

分かるはずがないでしょう。 Wakaru hazu ga nai deshō.

"I don't think (he) understands this."

はず is more of a personal inkling, while わけ is more of an objective/direct/strong statement. Depending on how it's meant わけ can be used insultingly:

出来るわけないだろう。 Dekiru wake nai darō.

"(You) can't (are unable to) do that!" or "Are (you) crazy to think (you) can do that?"

出来るはずはないけど… Dekiru hazu wa nai kedo…

"(I) don't think (you) can do it, but... (maybe I'm wrong about that)"

More, negated examples:

出来ないわけがないでしょう。 Dekinai wake ga nai deshō.

"It's not impossible, right?" or "It should be possible, right?"

出来ないはずはないだが、今は難しいです。 Dekinai hazu wa nai da ga, ima wa muzukashii desu.

"I don't think it's impossible, but it's very difficult right now."

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分かるはずがないでしょう。 Wakaru hazu ga nai deshō. I think a better translation is "I think it's impossible he understand this" or "He shouldn't understand this" –  Uberto Jun 1 '11 at 10:10
3  
ないだが is ungrammatical. –  dainichi Feb 8 '12 at 13:02

Wake is a reason or cause; hazu is an expectation. They can be used in the same context, but still have a different sense.

分かるわけない! "How would you understand?!" (there's no reason to think you would get this) わかるはずはない "He shouldn't understand" (I expect that he doesn't).

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I would expect the わけ version to be stronger. If you look at the meaning of わけ and はず in isolation, わけ means 'reason' - eg, in the pattern of 「どうしてそうなったの?/〜〜〜〜したわけ。」 はず however expresses an expectation - 「こうなるはず。」 Thus, if you use わけ, you imply that you can't understand why such a situation would happen; with はず, you imply that you simply wouldn't expect such a situation to happen (or, retrospectively, you express that you, previously, strongly expected it not to happen)

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would you say that Wake is opinionated as Hazu is? –  Mark Hosang Jun 1 '11 at 1:36
    
Ignore my previous comment; I had misread the question. I would consider either one to be opinionated in this particular case (as it's hard to be objective about the psyche of other people), but はず is probably more opinionated –  bdonlan Jun 1 '11 at 1:41

I believe the difference emphasis.

それは分かるわけがないでしょう。 sore ha wakaru wake ga nai deshou. - I'd read this as わかりようがない

それは分かるはずがないでしょう。 sore ha wakaru hazu ga nai deshou. - and this as he doesn't have a chance to understand this. This is the stronger of the two.

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what does わかりようがない mean? –  Lukman Jun 1 '11 at 1:36
    
He doesn't have the ability to understand. All three are very similarly related. Might want to add it as an expansion on your question. –  Mark Hosang Jun 1 '11 at 1:38
    
Not sure I'd agree with はず being the stronger of the two. It really depends on the context and how it's spoken. –  deceze Jun 1 '11 at 1:48
    
Wow, I haven't seen 〜ようがない since JLPT grammar books. It's a good one, deserves more use than it gets :) –  makdad Jun 1 '11 at 3:09

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