3

会社をやめるかもしれません。

Can I say "会社をやめたかもしれません。"? Is the second usage acceptable in Japanese?

8

Assuming "I" as the subject, The latter sentence, 会社をやめたかもしれません, means "I may have quit my company." simply because やめた is the ta-form (past tense) of やめる. Such a sentence is uncommon, but can be used:

  • When you have no idea what you actually did in the past, and you are really not sure whether you quit your company or you are still employed.
  • When you euphemistically confess to someone the fact that you quit your job. When you think suddenly saying it assertively is too shocking to someone. かもしれない can "soften" the sentence, even though you actually know you definitely quit your job.

If you are talking about what you will do in the future, 会社をやめたかもしれません never works. You always have to say 会社をやめるかもしれません.

  • Why do you assume "I" as the subject? Does it imply you think "he/she" is not feasible as the subject? – Craig Hicks Jul 3 '16 at 21:06
  • 1
    @CraigHicks The subject is ambiguous, and he/she is also a possible subject (and that's why I had to "assume"). – naruto Jul 4 '16 at 3:07
  • 1
    I think that without any context many people would also "assume" the subject is "I". – Leo Jul 4 '16 at 7:35
  • If the speaker was ”euphemistically confessing” I think "会社をやめちゃったかもしれません” would be expected - confessing it is a terrible thing, so terrible it can't be directly confessed. Without adding "ちゃった" it seems the speaker feels no regret, and then there is no excuse for not giving a direct answer. On the other hand, if the speaker feels it is not the other persons business but has been asked, it would be an appropriate answer. – Craig Hicks Jul 4 '16 at 7:44
  • 1
    @CraigHicks There is more than one way to say a thing. やめちゃったかもしれません is of course okay, but I don't think it's clearly more natural than the one without ちゃった. – naruto Jul 5 '16 at 4:06
2

The second sentence is grammatically correct. When you ask "does it make sense", you are asking if it is semantically feasible.

The first is

Grammatically: (subject) might quit the company.
Semantically: (subject) could be first or third person.

The second is

Grammatically: (subject) might have quit the company.
Semantically: Normally, (subject) could only be third person, because if it were first person, that person would know beyond doubt. Although, at a stretch, there could be exceptional circumstances under which even first person did not know whether they had quit or not.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.