For some reason I can't remember how to say "try to _" or "have to (must) _" in Japanese. How can I say this? Any variations you can include would be appreciated.

4 Answers 4


Try to ~

~ようとする (Does not give any information whether the action was actually carried out in entirety)

~てみる (Try for the sake of seeing the result, does not have negative implication as in "to try (unsuccessfully )" )

have to(must) ~





~なくては is often contracted to ~なくちゃ

~なければならない can also be contracted and have ならない elided to form "~なけりゃ" or "~なきゃ" which is used informally.

  • also ~ないとだめ, much like ~ないといけない
    – Muhd
    Oct 29, 2011 at 19:09
  • I was under the assumption that ~ようとする meant more that "I have the urge or volition to ~" and implies more of a feeling or motivation to do something "I'm feeling motivated to study" 勉強しようとする Oct 31, 2011 at 1:49
  • 〜なきゃ (as mentioned) as well as 〜なくては and 〜ないと are often said with the "ending" implied.
    – istrasci
    Oct 31, 2011 at 15:34
  • Doesn't ~はず or ~べき count as should or must?
    – dotnetN00b
    Oct 31, 2011 at 18:15
  • 2
    @dotnetN00b I don't think ~はず counts. This is because "should" in English has two uses. 1. probabilistic reasoning e.g. "The train should be arriving in 5 minutes.". 2. indication of obligation or duty (ought to do~) e.g. "I should be going home now.". ~はず does not indicate obligation or duty; it indicates the expectation of the speaker. ~べき on the other hand indicates obligation or duty. Both are "should" but neither are "must".
    – Flaw
    Nov 1, 2011 at 10:02
  • try to: ...-te みる
  • have to: ...-(a)nak-ere ba ならない

'try to eat'

'have to eat'


Some other grammar for "have to" that was not yet mentioned:


This means "it has been decided that 〜", but is often used as an indirect way to say that you have to do something (even if it's been decided by you).

  • 家族が大阪に引っ越すことになった → It's been decided that my family is moving to Osaka (= We have to move there).

More Advanced:




These all basically mean "can't not do 〜" or "can't avoid doing 〜", although the double-negative may slightly lessen the "activeness" of having to do it.

  • この[推理小説]{すい・り・しょう・せつ}を終わりまで読まないではいられません。 → "I have to / I can't not read this suspense novel all the way to the end!"

Each one has its nuances of what types of situations in which it can be used, whereas the "basic" ones in @Flaw's answers aren't limited (much, if at all).

"Most Advanced" (mostly formal and/or written forms only. Not likely used in conversation)





  • Hmm, why aren't the heading hashes {#} parsing the furigana tags??
    – istrasci
    Oct 31, 2011 at 15:32

It come to top of my mind for 'try to' ...してみる. やってみる....しようとする. ...を試みる.

and ...ねばならない. ...せざるを得ない. ...を余儀なくされる. for 'have to.' But the last one may sound a bit antiquated today.

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