When I tried to use ~かねない to express my own feeling about a situation, I was told by a native that it sounds incorrect and strange. However, ~かねる is appropriate and fine. For example, this is the impression I get of what is going on.

(the speaker thinks it's hard to believe he's telling the truth)

(the speaker thinks he's probably not telling the truth, yet others think he is)

However, I was told that ~かねない cannot directly refer to the speaker's opinion, but to can refer to someone else. For the second example, is it true that you must directly reference a different party? Why is that?

  • likely incorrect, but I would have thought 彼が本当のことを言っているとは信じかねる="I am unable to believe that he is telling the truth" and 彼が本当のことを言っているとは信じかねない="I wouldn't put it past (him) to believe that he is telling the truth" respectively.
    – cypher
    Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 7:54
  • @cypher That is what I first thought before I heard otherwise. The first one is somewhat similar, but the second is very different from what I'm hearing now (even though I thought the same previously).
    – Chris
    Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 7:58
  • 2
    This question is interesting, but the second example is incorrect as it is written. You have to remove は: 彼が本当のことを言っていると信じかねない. Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 11:25
  • 1
    So...in the second sentence, the subject for 本当のことを言っている is 彼?or maybe 彼 is the subject for 信じる?
    – user1016
    Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 14:00

2 Answers 2


Think of かねない as するおそれがある, and then think about how that would fit in with the speaker's opinion. It would be like saying 信じるかもしれない when talking about yourself. However, かねる simply means "cannot", so you can use it when speaking about yourself.

I would translate your second sentence as:

I might believe that he is telling the truth.


I agree with @Jesse in that かねない is interpreted as おそれがある/しそうだ/ありうる/するかもしれない, "Someone could do~~", "I fear someone might do~~", "Someone might do ~~(normally something unfavorable)".

I just suspect that your second sentence might be read as:


Where the subject for 言っている is someone except '彼', and the subject for 信じる is '彼'.

For example, you might say it to mean:

"He might believe that you're telling him the truth / He might take you seriously (so you should stop telling him such a stupid joke.)"


It's beyond me. / It's too hard for me to understand. / I'm afraid I don't know.
I wouldn't put it past him to lie.

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