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So I've been studying for the inevitable JLPT N4 exam, and came across a grammar question I didn't understand at all. I mean, I do understand every individual word, but as it often happens with Japanese, I don't get the whole meaning. The question is:

明日は仕事を守れるかどうかが不安だった。しかしいまは、命を守れるかどうかが不安だ。

Thanks in advance for explanation - what those sentences mean, and what does 「かどうか」mean in this context. Since normally it means 'whether or not' from what I know. Is this some uncommon usage of that expression, or is it just me not getting the rest of the sentence right?

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These two かどうか actually mean "whether or not ~" or "if ~". Examples are found here. In case you don't know about embedded questions, please learn embedded questions first. And "~が不安だ" means "I'm worried about ~." If you're familiar with the "~が好きだ" pattern, "~が不安だ" should look similar. The sentences in question are the combination of the elements above.

明日は仕事を守れるかどうかが不安だった。しかしいまは、命を守れるかどうかが不安だ。
(In the past,) I was worried about whether or not I can keep my job tomorrow. But now I'm worried about whether or not I can protect my life.

  • How does 明日 (tommorow) become '(in the past)'? I'm very confused about 明日は...だった. – user3856370 Jun 18 '17 at 9:43
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    Reread naruto's answer carefully. His translation moved 明日 to the end of the sentence, and he added the parenthetical "in the past" at the beginning to emphasize that 不安だった refers to the past. – Philippe Jun 18 '17 at 12:36

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