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I have seen this sentence in a japanese tv show. I think it should mean:“only in your heart, you don't laugh.”
But the right explanation is,

“Don't just laugh in your heart ”

(by the way it tells you that "Do not just feel laughter in your heart, but express it outwardly.)
I still don't understand even search many websites.
there is the same(maybe?) sentence:

口だけで行動しない

it means:“only talk and no action”
why there has the difference between this two sentences?
And what's the meaning of the above sentence?

心の中だけで笑わない


I would be appreciate it if someone can tell me.:)

1 Answer 1

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The で in the first sentence is a particle denoting a place where some action happens and, judging from the translation, the sentence was said as a negative imperative sentence. (It would sound weird as a statement.)

It can be understood as:

心の中だけで笑わない(=笑うな)。
Don’t laugh only in your heart.

This implies you should laugh in other places as well.

The で in the second, on the other hand, is a copula as 口だけ stands as a predicate by itself.

(彼は)口だけだ。
He is all talk (lit. He is only the mouth).

This is combined with another independent sentence(彼は)行動しない, which just happens to be a negative statement.

(彼は)口だけで(あって)、行動しない。
He is all talk and doesn’t act.

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  • A follow-up question: I would interpret (自分が)心の中だけで笑わない, instead of the negative-imperative. I'd expect the imperative to be 笑わない. What gives the hint that this isn't "Only within my heart I cannot laugh"? (※ I know you're native speaker so you're correct, just wanted to know why)
    – dvx2718
    Dec 18, 2023 at 18:11
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    @dvx2718 - That would be 心の中(で)だけ笑わない. Here ない simply denies 笑う with 心の中(で)だけ working on 笑わない. In the original, ない denies the whole of 心の中だけで笑う and it sounds weird as a statement. This seems related.
    – aguijonazo
    Dec 19, 2023 at 1:56
  • Thanks! I think I see
    – dvx2718
    Dec 19, 2023 at 1:58

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