Though I think I've understood the gist of the following sentence, I struggle to interpret two of the used terms.

This small (cat) mustn't live alone. (?)

  1. What exactly does chisakucha mean? I read something online about verb+kucha ... ikenai being a structure to express must not in casual speech, but it was very vague (and this is an adjective).

  2. Is the ja in 一人じゃ a variation for だ ? Or does it mean so/then (as in cause so/then effect)?



「ちゃ」 is the informal/colloquial form of 「は」 and

「じゃ」 is the informal/colloquial form of 「は」.

Both are used frequently.

「I-adjective in 連用形{れんようけい} ("continuative form") + ては/ちゃ」


"if (i-adjective)"


「Noun or Stem of na-adjective + では/じゃ」


"if (noun/na-adjective)"

「小さく」 is the 連用形 of 「小さい」, so 「小さくちゃ」 means "if small" and

「一人じゃ」 naturally means "if alone" or "if all by oneself".

Thus, the sentence in question means:

"If (you are/he is/it is) small like this, (you/he/it) could not live alone, could (you/he/it)?"

You ask:

2.Is the ja in 一人じゃ a variation for だ ? Or does it mean so/then (as in cause so/then effect)?

「で」 in 「では」 indeed comes form 「だ」.

「じゃ」 used in the sentence in question is not the conjunction 「じゃ/では」 that you are asking about.


the first answer is very thorough, but also a bit information dense. To simplify the concepts l'electeur explained, I'd like to add a little. First, the most natural translation of this sentence would be:

"Such a tiny thing could never survive on its own."

as such, both the adjectival "kucha" and the "ja" represent "if" ideas: "if it's so small" and "if it's alone"

in a sense, both forms are similar in meaning, and could be replaced by the japanese word "nara" (though that would be horrible Japanese, the meaning would be the same):

Konna ni chisai nara, hitori nara ikite wa ikenai.

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