In my JLPT textbook, they have this sentence:


The book provides a translation, which is this:

You can't talk about expression if you have none (of your own ideas).

(The "of your own ideas" part is built on the context from the previous paragraph.)

I'm having trouble seeing how we get to that translation, partly because I'm not sure about the use of へったくれもない. According to my dictionary, へったくれ is an expression meaning "to be damned", as in, "to heck with it". So I would understand the sentence if it just ended there, but there's a もない as well, which would seem to reverse that, meaning, in my mind, that you can't discount self expression from someone without ideas.

Or maybe I'm not parsing it right, and it's not へったくれ, but the へる is something else, like 減る.

I don't know. It just confuses me. How do the parts of the sentence combine to end up with the translation given?

  • which book is it?
    – Tim
    Apr 4, 2013 at 11:41

1 Answer 1


The common idiomatic form of hettakure is ~もへったくれも<negative>. The negative is often just nai, but it can also be V-nai or even aru mono ka (=nai).

  • Thanks for clarifying what the common form of the phrase is. However, it's exact meaning is still unclear to me, so I'm still unable to parse the example sentence.
    – Questioner
    Apr 5, 2013 at 9:25
  • 1
    hettakure means that something is boring, useless, of no value. Daijirin has the following illustrative example: 規則もへったくれもあるか: is there anything as useless as rules? ie, there is nothing as useless as rules. If you wish to give it a more colloquial translation, "damn the rules" or " to hell with the rules".
    – Dono
    Apr 5, 2013 at 9:57
  • Thanks for defining the term a little clearer. Based on that, would another way of translating the sentence in the question be, "If you don't have (your own ideas), then to hell with your expressions." ...?
    – Questioner
    Apr 13, 2013 at 3:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .