What is the role of と particle in 「二度としない」? Is it quotative, adverbialisation, change of state or supposition?

Also, what extra nuances does it contribute to the expression compared to if も is used instead (二度もしない)?


It's best to consider 二度と as an adverb on its own, meaning '(not) again'.

The 二度 here is pronounced 「にど」, but the meaning aligns with its alternate reading, 「ふたたび」 -- which is, of course, usually written 再び in modern Japanese.

The と here feels very similar in usage to the と in an onomatopoeic expression like きっぱりと [an intuition which seems to be confirmed, since they're adjacent senses in 大辞林], but is used very much like English '(not) [small amount]', e.g. 'It won't cost you a penny' (「1円とかからない」). The difference with 二度と just seems to be that its frequency of use is raised to the level of a more standard adverb. Additionally, there's also またと, which carries basically the same meaning, and is generally used in the adjectival expression またとない.

As for 二度も -- this is actually entirely different, being a simple production of 二度+も, and meaning 'even twice' (positive or negative). I'll refer you to ALC for examples: http://eow.alc.co.jp/%E4%BA%8C%E5%BA%A6%E3%82%82/UTF-8

  • What do you think "五分と待てない" stated in Tsuyoshi's answer that seems to show that it's reproductive, which is opposite of your claim? – Lukman Sep 8 '11 at 3:42
  • My apologies, I was mistaken; should've checked 大辞林 myself :) It's still true in a practical/intuitive sense though, that 二度と has stuck as a very common expression, whereas the 'productive' cases are extremely infrequent. – Ross Kirsling Sep 8 '11 at 14:32
  • I agree that 二度と is such a common form that 二回と is very rare. But in my opinion, this と is just a usual particle and as productive as other particles. – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 8 '11 at 15:40
  • Sorry, I wasn't actually intending to disagree with you, Tsuyoshi :( I've edited my post above to be more clear. – Ross Kirsling Sep 8 '11 at 22:53
  • @TsuyoshiIto I agree that と is productive, but the と in the most common usage of 二度と is not an instance of this (although it obviously stems from it etymologically). In the most common usage, 二度と does not mean "twice", but "(not) ever again", i.e. you can say 二度とやるなよ about something that somebody has already done many times. – dainichi Mar 23 '12 at 6:41

I do not know what “adverbialisation” means, because the particle と which signifies quotation, change of state, and supposition also makes an adverbial phrase.

This と signifies a limit on something in a similar way to “even” in English, but its usage is restricted compared to “even.” と is attached to a small quantity and used with negation, and means that something is even below the stated (small) quantity.

五分と待てない (from Daijirin, sense 1-[6]); cannot wait even for five minutes (let alone ten minutes)

Therefore, the literal meaning of 二度としない is “will not do even twice,” which means “will not do again.”

  • If this と signifies an upper limit, then saying "even" in the translation doesn't make sense because "even" indicates a lower limit. Like "He cannot wait even 5 minutes; let alone 10 or 20 minutes." Should this be "as much"? "He cannot wait as much as 5 minutes"? – istrasci Sep 7 '11 at 22:38
  • @istrasci: Thanks for the comment. The translation in my answer is correct. I wrote “upper limit” because I considered that 五分と待てない means the upper limit on the length for which one can wait is less than 5 minutes, but I admit that the current explanation may be confusing. I will try to come up with a better explanation. – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 7 '11 at 22:50
  • @istrasci: I updated the explanation of the meaning to avoid the confusion which your comment made me aware of. Thanks! – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 7 '11 at 23:12
  • This translation still doesn't seem correct. If heard 5分も待てない, I would think that the minimum he can't wait is 5 minutes; so of course he can't wait more than 5 minutes. So I would say this in English as "He can't wait even five minutes." But your original explanation makes it sound like he can't wait 5 minutes or anything less, i.e., he can't wait 1 minute, or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5. I would say this in English as "He can't wait at most 5 minutes." This would indicate he could wait more than 5 minutes, although a scenario like this seems strange; I can wait 10 minutes, but not 5. – istrasci Sep 8 '11 at 14:40
  • Here are the examples in 大辞泉 on OSX: 【量を受けて】1)5分とたたないうちに山は見えなくなった|The mountain disappeared from our sight within five minutes. 2) 3万円とはかかりません|It won't cost as much as thirty thousand yen. – istrasci Sep 8 '11 at 14:45

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