In a particular story, one character says:

ここへは 結局 身内しか呼んでおらぬ。そう気をつかうな

Which means "We only called relatives here. So don't worry".

Then, another character, who doesn't know he's related to the first one, adds:

え? 俺空たちの身内じゃなくない?

I can gather it's "But I'm not related to you guys?" but how does じゃなくない work here? Does it become a positive?

1 Answer 1


In Japanese, double negatives are sometimes used to express a positive meaning with some kind of nuance, but it's not the case here.

In your sentence, the double negative is not equivalent to 空たちの身内だ. Instead, it is used to ask for agreement or confirmation by the listener about 空たちの身内じゃない. In English, you'd say something like:

But I'm not related to you guys, am I?

But I'm not related to you guys, right?

This usage is similar to んじゃない or のではない:

面白いんじゃない ? Isn't it interesting?

びっくりしたんじゃない ? Didn't you find it surprising?

where we could argue that ん or の correspond to "it" in the proposed translations. However, in your sentence, no ん nor の is present which can make it more difficult to understand. Nonetheless, I think the spirit of your sentence is the same than the ones with ん or の.

Also note that, especially in informal situations, it's not strange to hear things such as:


when the speaker really intends to say:


The same phenomenon can be true for your sentence, and arguably, 身内じゃないんじゃない? is a cacophony, so all the more reasons to use 身内じゃなくない instead.

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