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丸尾君はだれに頼まれたわけでないのに、ひとりで教室の拭きそうじをしていた。
Although it's not the case that Maruo was asked by anyone, he did the classroom cleaning by himself.

...わけではない = It's not the case that ...
だれも = anyone

I'm confused as to how these merge together into the above sentence (assuming my translation is correct).

Naively (and no doubt wrongly) I would have tried だれに頼まれたわけでないのに. Is there a way to understand what is going on here?

Also, If I simply wanted to say "I wasn't asked by anyone" (without all the わけ stuff) how would I do that? Again, naivley I'd try だれに頼まれなかった、but something tells me I'm wrong.

  • 2
    Great question! This kind of も seems to want to travel up the syntax tree (which in Japanese usually means to the right), but I don't know the exact rules. だれにも頼まれなかった is correct. You could even say だれに頼まれもしないのに, but I feel it sounds a bit odd without the trailing のに, so there seem to be some subtleties. – dainichi Dec 24 '15 at 23:54
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    「『誰に頼まれた』(という)わけでもないのに」って考えてみたらどうでしょう?「誰に頼まれていないのに」「誰に頼まれたわけでないのに」もいけると思います。能動にして「誰頼んでいないのに」「誰が頼んだわけでないのに」でもいいかと。 – Chocolate Dec 25 '15 at 6:46
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The も moves because 誰も is not a single word; it is two words. The も is the very same as in 私もそう思う.

The combination of a question phrase and も becomes 'any~~~'; for example, you could say

誰のせい?
Whose fault is it?

Someone may answer

誰のせいでない
It's no one's fault.

You may be familiar with ~ても 'even if'; combining this with a question word results in 'no matter', as in

例えこの先何があっても、僕達は友達でいよう。
No matter what happens, we will always be friends.

I don't know if that's a satisfactory answer, but I hope it at least helps you somewhat.

  • I spread out your answer a bit. I find it easier to read this way (or maybe, just easier to glance over). Feel free to rollback if you prefer your formatting. – Earthliŋ Dec 25 '15 at 11:36
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だれにも頼まれたわけではないのに sounds awkward because it stands for something like "it's not that he was asked by even someone". Isn't it better to rephrase "it's not even that he was asked by someone"?

And yes, "I wasn't asked by anyone" translates to 誰にも頼まれなかった.

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    It sounds like you're saying that も in わけでもない is "even". I'm happy with that, but why don't I need another も on だれ to make "who" into "anyone"? – user3856370 Dec 24 '15 at 11:07
  • も is there. Check 誰に頼まれたわけで・も・ない. – user4092 Dec 24 '15 at 14:15
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    I see that も. That's the one I'm assuming gives the "even" meaning. But I don't understand why there is not a second も. 誰->誰も so that who->anyone. – user3856370 Dec 24 '15 at 15:07

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