For example, in this sentence:

彼は、失敗をものともせず、 何度もくりかえし 挑戦し続けた。

くりかえし is modified by 何度も, implicitly stating that the action was repeated multiple times.

My question is that if the sentence was rearranged like so:

彼は、 何度も失敗 をものともせず、くりかえし挑戦し続けた。

does くりかえし then imply that the action was repeated only once (while the failures were multiple)?

Are there other ways to indicated the amount or frequency of repetitions (perhaps other than just with adjectives/adverbs)?

Bonus question: Does the first sentence indicate the "he" failed only once?

  • 1
    Is it possible to repeat something just once? That expression in English sounds contradictory to me… but maybe this is because I do not understand English well. Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 5:08
  • @Tsuyoshi Ito: I usually take a repeat to be at least once (like a TV program). Often the the action is specifically "repeated twice/../many times" or done "repeatedly".
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 5:27
  • 2
    @tim: when someone says: "Excuse me, could you repeat?" do you ask how many times you should repeat?
    – Axioplase
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 5:28
  • @Axioplase: Now I understand that it is possible to repeat something only once. Thanks! Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 14:08
  • 1
    In a programming book I found this sentence 「このような処理はループ(繰り返し)と呼ばれる。Python がコードを繰り返して実行するからである。」So, a for loop does くりかえし. I dunno really, but I bet a Japanese programmer would use the word (even outside of computer related contexts) to mean at least two executions/occurances (eg at least one repeat/iteration) of an event. I apologize if this observation doesn't help in the slightest lolz.
    – taylor
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 21:57

2 Answers 2

  • The first sentence sounds fine, but the second sentence (more specifically the 何度も失敗をものともせず part) sounds awkward to me. I think I'd rather say:


    Maybe it's because 度重なる is a 連体形 verb and modifies 失敗, while 何度も is an adverb and "何度も...ものともせず" sounds awkward... Maybe when 何度も modifies a negative verb, it's interpreted as a partial negation. Like, 何度も[諦]{あきら}めなかった sounds awkward to me, at least it sounds ambiguous between "諦めない happened many times (=negation of 諦める)" and "didn't give up so many times but did give up maybe once or twice (=negation of 何度も諦める)".

  • if the sentence was rearranged like so:


    does くりかえし then imply that the action was repeated only once?

    No, くりかえし~~し続けた implies that the action was repeated many times.

  • Does the first sentence indicate the "he" failed only once?

    No, the 何度もくりかえし挑戦し続けた implies that he failed many times.

  • 彼は、失敗をものともせず、何度もくりかえし挑戦し続けた

    all sound fine to me. 何度もくりかえし sounds to me as an emphasis on 何度も or くりかえし, "many many times, again and again". I think the 続けた already implies that he failed and tried many times, so even 彼は失敗をものともせず挑戦し続けた sounds alright to me.

  • くりかえし is modified by 何度も

    Hmm I'm not sure... I'd rather think that both くりかえし and 何度も modifiy 挑戦し続けた. (Because 何度もくりかえし挑戦し続けた and くりかえし何度も挑戦し続けた both sound alright to me.)

  • "度重なる is an adjective and modifies 失敗" 度重なる is a verb, not an adjective. It modifies 失敗 because it is 連体形.
    – Dono
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 12:36
  • I agree with you on almost all points, except for the reason why 何度も諦めなかった sounds awkward (I agree that it sounds awkward). I think that 何度も~しない unambiguously means the negation of 何度も~する, which is not a suitable meaning in this sentence. Do you have an example where 何度も~しない means the repetition of ~しない? Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 14:20
  • Maaaybe 何度も上司の命令に従わなかったため処分・・・?? Hmm it sounds awkward too :p
    – user1016
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 14:41
  • Aha! I agree that it does not sound perfectly natural (何度も上司の命令に背いたため処分 is much more natural), but I would definitely interpret your example as the repetition of 上司の命令に従わない. Now I agree that 何度も~ない is ambiguous. Thanks! Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 14:47

I don't think you understand the sentences correctly. The two of them are quite different.

First, notice that くりかえし is a verb in 連用形 (the verb くりかえす "to repeat"), not a noun.

Your first sentence (awkwardly) reads ignoring failure, he kept retrying to take the challenge several times.

Your second sentence reads ignoring several times failure, he kept retrying to take the challenge. It seems that at some point, he did not ignore failure, but still kept retrying…

何度も modifies the verbs くりかえす (as くりかえし) or する (as せず), not a noun, as your usage of bold and your question seem to show you thought.

Also, because of 続ける, we know that retrial did not happen only once. Would you say "Ignoring failure several time, he kept retrying only once"?

To sum things up, I think that the question is meaningless, and I hope that my answer helped you understand why.

  • Actually, it is 連用形. In godan verbs, the 連体形 is identical to 終止形 and always ends in -u.
    – Dono
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 5:48

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