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Context: I have been chatting with a Japanese girl who is going to move to Germany, and I asked if she had any experience with the German language and told her I had been considering learning German recently.

Her response went along the lines of, "I'm very enthusiastic about learning German..." and then...

素晴らしい。ドイツ語も勉強しないとですね。

Am I right in thinking that means...

Wonderful, if you aren't learning learning German too.

Am I missing something with the grammar/context here? Surely she would rather say "Wonderful, if you're learning German too."? Could it be a typo? I am not advanced enough in the language yet to know whether something is an obvious mistake or not!

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Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/4846/… –  dainichi Nov 21 '12 at 5:12
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3 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

"sinai to" is short for "sinai to ikenai". She is saying that she must also study German.

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Thank you, that makes much more sense! Out of curiosity, though, could the sentence have potentially meant 'if [you/I/etc.] aren't learning German too'? Like, are the two interpretations valid, just depends on context as to which is correct? –  Maccath Nov 18 '12 at 14:22
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No. The と is very important. –  Gradius Nov 18 '12 at 15:16
    
@Maccath: In particular, while と can sometimes mean 'if', it's the wrong kind of 'if' to make sense here. と is never used in this sense. My intuition on this is fairly weak, but I think "if you're not learning German" would be something like 「ドイツ語を勉強しない のなら 」. Similar sorts of things are expressed by しなかったら and しなければ, but they sound a little odd to me here. –  Billy Nov 21 '12 at 20:12
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Just to add the other two answers, ~しないとです is a very colloquial polite form, which some people consider to be corrupted.

ドイツ語も勉強しないといけないね。 (non-polite form) → ドイツ語も勉強しないといけませんね。 (polite form)
ドイツ語も勉強しないとね。 (non-polite form, colloquial) → ドイツ語も勉強しないとですね。 (polite form (?), very colloquial at best)

As Dono explained, ~しないと is an abbreviation of the phrase ~しないといけない. Whereas いけない can be turned into its polite form いけません, the しないと part cannot be turned into a polite form. Because of this, some people use です as a generic suffix to make a polite form.

Another example of this use of です is よろしくです.

よろしくお願いする。 (non-polite form, rare) → よろしくお願いします。 (polite form)
よろしく。 (non-polite form, colloquial) → よろしくです。 (polite form (?), very colloquial at best)

Related question: “What does っす at the end of a sentence mean?” by sartak.

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Thank you, that's really interesting! –  Maccath Nov 20 '12 at 9:29
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This girl is actually expressing the concept of: Must do something. In Japanese grammar you can use two basic grammars to achieve this.

But remember that we are not talking about giving orders (which has a complete independent form in Japanese grammar).

Quite direct and informal approach

When you talk with a friend, this is actually the easiest way to say: Must do something, intended as something needed, some sort of task to do.

(Verb:ない-Form)と ==> Must/Have to...

Or, extended...

(Verb:ない-Form)といけません ==> Must/Have to...

Here are some examples:

1) 明{あし}日{た}は試{し}験{けん}があるね。勉{べん}強{きょう}しないと! => Tomorrow I have a test. I gotta study!

2) ごめん、スーパーへ行{い}かないと〜今{きょ}日{う}は用{よう}事{じ}があるから、遊{あそ}びはちょっとだめ! => Sorry, I have to go to the supermarket... Today I have errands so, I cannot play with you!

3) 映{えい}画{が}って?やだよ!まだ宿{しゅく}題{だい}をしないと! => What? A movie? That's impossible! You still have to finish homeworks!

4) まだ下{へ}手{た}なので、もっと練{れん}習{しゅう}しないと〜 => 'Cause I am still bad at it, I must train more...

Saying it a little bit more formally (but not that much)

When you are not with friends but with adults or superiors or in a context new to you, you should use the following form:

(Verb:ない-Form->{drop い})ければなりません ==> Must/Have to...

Here are some examples:

1) ああ、明{あし}日{た}は学{がっ}校{こう}へ行{い}かなければなりません! => Mmm, tomorrow I have to go to school.

2) 昨{き}日{のう}は試{し}験{けん}があったので、京{きょう}都{と}へ行{い}かなければなりませんでした。 => Yesterday I had a test, so I had to go to Kyoto.

3) この薬{くすり}を飲{の}まなければなりませんから、その薬{くすり}まで飲{よ}めない! => I must take this medicine, so I cannot that one too.

4) 強{つよ}くなりたいんですね、じゃたくさん食{た}べなければならないね〜 => So you want power... you must eat a lot...

Another way...

There is another way to express this. It is actually used by kids and girls and it is encountered very often in spoken language (believe me, they use it a lot). It is the following:

(Verb:ない-Form->{drop い})きゃ ==> Must/Have to...

Here are some examples:

1) ああ、難{むずか}しいよ!もっとまじめにしなきゃ〜 ==> Mmm, this is difficult! I must go for it more seriously...

2) あの電{でん}車{しゃ}に乗{の}らなきゃ! ==> I must get on that train.

3) 車{くるま}はだめだよ!歩{ある}かなきゃ! ==> Car is not allowed! You must go by foot.

About your question...

The girl is saying this:

素{す}晴{ば}らしい。ドイツ語{ご}も勉{べん}強{きょう}しないとですね。 => Wonderful. I have to study German too.

From the context you provided it might sound quite sarcastic as well.

This should help you in future when you encounter other similar situations...

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