I have been unable to find in any Japanese Dictionary (Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar, the どんな時どう使うbook, nor in the Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns or anywhere an explanation for this so probably I am entirely wrong but I feel てはいられない and どころではない share some common ground and overlap in some contexts.

Eg: こう天気が悪くては海水浴どころではなかった。Example from Handbook ofJapanese Grammar Patterns

could it be:


Or this one:

やることがたくさんあるのでパーティーなんてに行ってはいられない。 Example from AJGD I think this has the feeling of saying this is not the time to going to things like parties.

could it be やることがたくさんあるのでパーティーなんてに行くどころではない. Feels like saying: I don't have time to go to parties.

I believe in these contexts these could be used in similar ways both have other uses in which I kind of get both would not work. I feel the nuance is very differente buy I am not getting it yet.

If someone could clarify this for me I would appreciate it a lot.

  • I wonder if those books had translations for each idiom and how they said. Commented Jun 21 at 11:48
  • @broccoliforest they do, here are the translations they provide: 1st sentence: This kind of bad weather puts a stop to any swimming in the sea. Which personally I find a little bit odd. 2nd sentence: I have so many things to do that I cannot spend my time going to parties. A little better than the first but the translation didn't help me much to understand the difference, they felt very similar to me.
    – Namifia
    Commented Jun 26 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


If you say こう天気が悪くては海水浴どころではなかった, it means the bad weather created problems you have to attend to, such that you don't have the luxury to think about going to the beach. If you say こう天気が悪くては海水浴してられない it means you can't continue being in the beach due to weather. However, this sentence can also mean you can't begin going to the beach (as opposed to having to leave the beach). I guess it means something like "I wouldn't be able to continue being in the beach, hence I can't go to the beach").

You can also say こう天気が悪くては海水浴してる場合ではない which is close to こう天気が悪くては海水浴どころではなかった, but it's more objective. As in, if you say こう天気が悪くては海水浴どころではなかった it's more likely that you were thinking of going to the beach yourself, whereas with こう天気が悪くては海水浴してる場合ではない that can be the case but it's also possible that you are talking about someone else's intention.

As to やることがたくさんあるのでパーティーなんか行ってられない and やることがたくさんあるのでパーティーなんかに行くどころではない they are indeed similar but the latter is stronger.

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