This monologue piece is is taken from an anime (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ, episode 2, this starts at ~10:55). It makes sense to me except for the highlighted part:

命と引き換えにしてでも 叶えたい望みって
そう言うの抱えている人は 世の中に大勢いるんじゃないのかな
だから それが見付からない私達って
恵まれ過ぎて バカになっちゃってるんだよ
何で 私達なのかな
こーゆーチャンス 本当に欲しいと思っている人は他にいるはずなのにね

Audio extract. [I've included the earlier bits for context as well]

The way I've seen Xしか~ない used is normally (always?) to stress that there is nothing but X.

In this sense, it goes something like:

Us, who have haven't found it [the wish], know nothing but the unhappiness of that degree [???]. This makes little sense within the rest of the monologue that stresses how much of "happy fools" she and her friend are [context: they are granted a free wish in exchange for becoming magical girls but can't think of anything worth risking their lives for].

This makes me think I've fundamentally misunderstood this part of grammar. Is that so, and where did I go wrong?

  • 1
    I don't know how to make a good answer of this, but the idea here is that その程度の不幸しか知らない means that the only unhappiness they know is an unhappiness which is その程度, i.e. the only unhappiness they know is one that is not so great as to make them want to wish for something even at the cost of their own lives. I think where you're going wrong is that 1.) you're misidentifying what その程度 refers to; and 2.) the English should be like "the only X they know is X such that Y" rather than "they only know X such that Y" (i.e. they know things besides 不幸, but when it comes to 不幸, they only know その程度の不幸).
    – senshin
    Apr 8, 2015 at 19:08
  • Oh, this makes perfect sense. I wasn't sure if その程度 could be used this way, but now you've made this clear. Thank you!
    – user9771
    Apr 8, 2015 at 19:17

1 Answer 1


[命]{いのち}と[引]{ひ}き[換]{か}えにしてでも [叶]{かな}えたい[望]{のぞ}みって

そういうの[抱]{かか}えている[人]{ひと}は [世]{よ}の[中]{なか}に[大勢]{おおぜい}いるんじゃないのかな。

だから、 それが[見付]{みつ}からない[私達]{わたしたち}って、


[恵]{めぐ}まれ[過]{す}ぎて バカになっちゃってるんだよ。

To understand any sentence taken from a passage, one needs to be able to replace in Japanese all of the impersonal pronouns with actual and concrete words that are used in the passage.

「だから それが見付からない私達って、その程度の不幸しか知らないってことじゃん」

それ」=「命と引き換えにしてでも叶えたい(ような)望み」= "a desire so urgent that one would like to have granted even in return for one's life"

The speaker and his/her friend do not have that kind of desire.

その程度の不幸」=「命と引き換えにしてでも叶えたい(ような)望みがない程度の不幸」= "a level of unhappiness where one does not have a desire so urgent that one would like to have granted even in return for one's life"

Do not ever translate「その程度」 to "that degree/level" because it always means "a lower degree/level".

That is the level of unhappiness that the speaker has experienced first-hand. In other words, the speaker and his/her friend have not experienced the extreme kind of desire that quite a few people would have in this world.

「~~しか知らない」= "~~ is all one knows", "one knows nothing but ~~", etc.

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