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一生懸命な彼に申し訳ない気がしました。そこで、私は一度彼と会って面と向かって断ろうと思ったのです。
'I felt I had to do something so I decided to meet him face to face and tell him I wasn't interested.'

一生懸命を副詞として使ったら 'eagerly, with utmost effort, very hard' という意味になると思います。でも形容詞として使ったらどんなニュアンスになりますか?この例で否定的なニュアンスがあるのか誰か説明してくれませんか?

If 一生懸命 is used as a な-adjective to describe someone, is it usually negative? In this example, the suitor was overly persistent, so the girl wanted to actively reject him.

Please pardon any mistakes made in my faulty Japanese.

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    さわ様、修正していただきありがとうございます。 – yadokari Sep 23 '11 at 21:54
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    一生懸命 isn't the reason for his rejection in the above sentence. The speaker is merely saying that she feels bad about the situation because he's trying so hard, and she knows it's unlikely to work out (for whatever reason; already has a boyfriend and never told him, or maybe he's not getting hints that she's not interested, etc). This doesn't answer the actual question as to the possible nuances of 一生懸命, though, so... – Hyperworm Sep 23 '11 at 22:22
  • it was from this article i was reading on ALC. this part here preceded the first line i posted. After that, he invited me out repeatedly saying, "let's just go have dinner once."(その後、彼から「一度でいいから一緒に食事をしよう」と何度も誘われました。) But at the time, I was a little prejudiced against foreigners and wasn't happy about his advances.(でも、その頃の私は外国人に対する偏見を持っていたこともあって、誘われてもうれしくありませんでした。) But he didn't give up. He'd say "if dinner's no good, then let's go for coffee. Please, just go on a date with me."(彼は「食事が駄目ならコーヒーでもいいからとにかく一度僕とデートをしてくれ」と、あきらめないのです。) – yadokari Sep 23 '11 at 22:43
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    does さわ様 has nuance of sarcasm? doesn't さわ先生 sound better? – Pacerier Sep 24 '11 at 12:12
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    @Pacerier: Both 様 and 先生 can be used sarcastically (just like virtually any other honorific expressions), but I do not see any reason to interpret さわ様 in yadokari’s first comment as a sarcasm. – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 25 '11 at 14:43
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I don't think "一生懸命" by itself has any particular connotations either way. Definitions given in Kenkyuusha's 新和英大辞典 range from "desperate, frantic", to "earnest,eager". It really seems to depend on context. It just means that whatever you're doing, good or bad or in-between, you're doing it full-out.

In the example, I really don't get any sense at all of a negative judgment; in fact, quite the opposite. "I felt so sorry for him, trying so hard." After all, if she wanted to express annoyance, she could have said he was "しつこい", or even "うるさい".

Incidentally, "断ろうと思った" means that she considered rejecting him, not that she decided to do it.

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