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I've got the following sentence:

Everyone but my older brother is going on next week's trip.

which, in Japanese, is supposedly

来週の旅行は兄以外みんな行けます

But since it's got 行けます as opposed to 行きます, which, as I understand, is the potential form of "to go", shouldn't the English translation have can go instead of is going (or the Japanese sentence have 行きます instead of 行けます)?

Everyone but my older brother can go on next week's trip.

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    It helps when asking about why something was translated a certain way to explain where the translation came from. And who wrote the original sentence, etc. It makes it easier to evaluate if there was some legitimate reason due to context, or if it's just a mistake.
    – Leebo
    Sep 9, 2023 at 10:57
  • No context, unfortunately - it's a card from a downloaded Anki deck, so I can only try establish the underlying grammar.
    – Zubo
    Sep 9, 2023 at 11:38
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    Japanese uses the potential for a lot more than we do in English. For example, in English we ask, "Do you speak German?" But in Japanese, you would ask, "ドイツ語話せますか" This is a matter where you don't want to be overly literal and just notice, "oh, Japanese uses the potential here." This is a difference of what sounds most natural in one language and most natural in another. That doesn't mean to use "can" in English is wrong. It doesn't mean you can't say "行きます" instead of "行けます".
    – A.Ellett
    Sep 10, 2023 at 19:45
  • Thank you, that is helpful insight
    – Zubo
    Sep 11, 2023 at 10:24

1 Answer 1

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In short you are right. If we are to purely base it on the English version you provided, "Everyone but my older brother is going on next week's trip." Then the correct translation as you suspect, is

...行きます

This means that the plan is committed. The tickets purchased, reservations made, it's set.

...行けます

..means it is possible, but not committed yet. The statement you provided means, the older brother has prior commitment, but everyone else is willing to go and have the time open, but nothing is decided yet.

So, if you are to translate:

来週の旅行は兄以外みんな行けます。

You are correct with:

Everyone but my older brother can go on next week's trip.

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  • Thank you, that's exactly the explanation I was looking for - I understand that context is important, and that both forms can be used here.
    – Zubo
    Sep 11, 2023 at 10:25

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