A and B were involved in negotiations. A was in a superior position, but there was one and new unfavourable condition that if B knew about, would put A in a huge disadvantage. This was kept secret and agreement has been made.

The story was casually retold in Kansai-ben:

それ、できるはずや。 「description of the unfavourable condition」のにそれをおくびにも出さずにやったからです。

I assume dialect is irrelevant here and the speaker would make it できるはずだ in hyōjungo. From the context I guess it is used to mean something like "it couldn't have failed" (because the disadvantage was kept secret) rather than "be able to".

What I am confused is the discrepancy in tense here: できた - はずだ - やった. Why wasn't it できるはずだった?

Is it a more general statement? Like "it always works out if you keep your mouth shut"?


1 Answer 1


In short, できたはず or できるはずだった would imply you failed it. e.g.

  • どうしてやらなかったのだろう、やればできたはずだ。 Why didn't I do it? I could have done it if I had tried.
  • 昨日までにできるはずだった。しかし、今日までかかってしまった。 It should have been made by yesterday. But it took till today.

And, how you consider the できるはずだ a general statement seems apt.

As for できたはずだ, depending on intonation, you can express your first interpretation i.e. "it's natural that you could" by pronouncing it as two phrases of できた and はずだ with their own pitch patterns alive regaining raise of pitch i.e. [できた]{HLL} [はずだ ]{LHHL} opposed to normal [できたはずだ↓]{HLLLLL}

(できた1 はず0 だ1)

  • Thank you for the examples. I see how it works with tenses now. Is it a more general rule, or is it customary for the できるはず only?
    – macraf
    Oct 21, 2015 at 8:25
  • Combination of a past form and はず works that way and it makes such difference. One with non-past forms works too, though this is a minor difference. [できるはずだ]{LHLLLL} means "you should be able to", while [できる]{LHL}[はずだぁ]{LHHL} means "no wonder, you can". じゃない is another case that depends on intonation. […じゃない]{HHHHL} means "Oh, it's ... !" while […じゃ]{LLL}[ない]{HL} means "it's not". I don't believe there are that many such pairs.
    – user4092
    Oct 21, 2015 at 11:36
  • Sorry, what 「(できた1 はず0 だ1)」 at the bottom stands for?
    – macraf
    Oct 21, 2015 at 23:32
  • @macraf It's a way of indicating pitch accent. 0 = accentless, 1 = drop after the first mora, 2 = drop after the second, and so on. The number scheme is used by some dictionaries, for example 大辞林.
    – user1478
    Oct 21, 2015 at 23:57
  • @snailboat Yes, but it does not match the examples above (does it? if so which?). It appeared in one of the edits, with no explanation, and is written in isolation.
    – macraf
    Oct 22, 2015 at 13:49

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