What is the nuance difference between 取り返しがつかない and 仕方がない?

When would one use one rather than the other?

1 Answer 1


取り返しがつかない refers to something that cannot be undone. It's mostly used to caution against an action - 'hey, if you do this, you can't take it back'. After the fact, it's pretty much just a plain statement of fact with minimal emotional connotation.

仕方がない refers to something that cannot be avoided. It's mostly used to lament or complain that an action must be done or a state cannot be changed - describing something that is clearly suboptimal but is the only available or reasonable choice: 'ah well, there's nothing we can do about it'.

Their uses basically never overlap. In theory, both might be valid observations after an action happens, but the emphasis is quite different. With 取り返しがつかない, the point is that the action shouldn't have been done because it was irreversible. With 仕方がない, the point is that the action isn't worth complaining about because no amount of complaining is going to change anything. You can even make sentences like this:


It was irreversable, so there's nothing that can be done about it.

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