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Take for example the sentence below

ケンカができたとしても俺には手が出せない。

Does this mean something like "Even if we did get into a fight, they wouldn't be able to touch me/lay a hand on me(i.e. they would be no match for me)"?

A few more lines for context:

美桜とは付き合いが長いのに、一度もケンカや口論をしたことがない。

むしろこの性格でどうやったらケンカができるのか、誰かに訊いてみたいぐらいだ。

もっとも、ケンカができたとしても俺には手が出せない。

曲がりなりにも女性だからというのもあるが、それができない訳ありな事情もあったりする。
(Explained later on that she has androphobia and she cries if she comes into physical contact with a male)

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  • 2
    国語辞典で「手を出す」を調べると、「暴力をふるう」という意味があることが分かりますよ。goo辞書「手を出す」#2
    – chocolate
    Jul 3, 2015 at 15:04
  • I see, thanks. My problem at the moment is knowing what it means when it says 俺には手が出せない. Is the speaker saying that he wouldn't be able to, or is he saying that she wouldn't be able to?
    – powerferno
    Jul 3, 2015 at 16:22

3 Answers 3

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手{て}を出{だ}す literally means 'to put one's hand out; to touch'. So, it can metaphorically means 'to throw the first punch', 'to try something out', and 'to flirt on'.

Without the context, the sentence in question could be interpreted in two ways:

ケンカができたとしても俺{おれ}には手{て}が出{だ}せない。

  1. Nobody can touch me even if they get into a fight with me.

  2. I cannot hit someone even if I could have a fight with that person.

In the context you wrote above, the sentence means #2: 'I cannot hit her even I could have a fight with.' There are some reasons in addition to that 美桜{みお?みう?} is a lady.

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Without context, I can't figure out the subject for ケンカができたとしても. Is it 俺?

And 手が出せない literally means "It is beyond my reach." Without context again, all I can guess is that he has some reason to stay away from the incidence.

* revised *

I am adding a translation in a interlinear fashion, as the context is given.

美桜とは付き合いが長いのに、一度もケンカや口論をしたことがない。

Though I have been dating 美桜 (Mio?) for a long time, I have never had a quarrel nor a dispute with her.


むしろこの性格でどうやったらケンカができるのか、誰かに訊いてみたいぐらいだ。

Rather (Caveat: I have no idea why this "rather" is inserted by the original authour.) I would like to ask someone how I can have a quarrel with her, given her personality.


もっとも、ケンカができたとしても俺には手が出せない。

Even if I could, I would not lift my hand against her.


* Added (again) *

曲がりなりにも女性だからというのもあるが、それができない訳ありな事情もあったりする。

Of course it's partly because she is a lady (in the sense of "woman"), but there is another reason I can't do that.

(曲がりなりにも literally means "though imperfectly" or "in the fashion which is not satisfactory". This usage, together with the usage of むしろ, is the reason why I say "sloppy.")

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  • Does it literally mean that? It looks literally to mean: [i] can't pull/take out [my] hand. What am I missing here?
    – dotnetN00b
    Jul 3, 2015 at 12:42
  • @dotnetN00b: You aren't missing anything. The thing is, the original authour is sloppy in his selection of appropriate expressions. I would write 俺には手が挙げられない instead.
    – eltonjohn
    Jul 3, 2015 at 12:47
  • So I'm not familar with that word (挙げられない). So I google translated it. You gotta love Google. Here's what it said: I in is not mentioned hand.
    – dotnetN00b
    Jul 3, 2015 at 14:04
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    @dotnetN00b: 手を挙げる means "lift a hand (against someone)". Does this make sense?
    – eltonjohn
    Jul 3, 2015 at 14:17
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It means I won`t get into the fight.

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