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Is it possible to express the difference between the English phrases "I don't want to do that" and "I don't want to have to do that"?

Where I don't want to do that can simply be それがしたくありません。

I don't want to have to do that means that you don't want it to be the case that a certain action is necessary to accomplish something or resolve an issue, etc.

An example situation might be a strong fighter is somewhat of a pacifist but is told someone is coming to challenge him that won't let up until one of them dies. The fighter is confident in his ability to win, and so says "I don't want to have to do that (kill him)"

Grammatically, させられたくありません。should do it, but I can't say I've heard that in actual use. Is there a more common expression? Or does this want to have to way of thinking about things not work well in Japanese?

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Is it possible to express the difference between the English phrases "I don't want to do that" and "I don't want to have to do that"?

It is possible unless you want the Japanese "equivalent" for the second phrase to grammatically "look like" the English.

When literal translations fail (and they fail frequently between Japanese and English), there are often set phrases that convey the meaning/nuance of the original to the target language.

The best match that I can think of would be:

「そんなこと(を)しなきゃならないなんて、(まっぴら)ごめんだ。」

followed by:

「そんなこと(を)するのは願{ねが}い下{さ}げだ。」

and perhaps:

「それだけは勘弁{かんべん}してほしい(or してくれ)。」

At the very least, I can guarantee the naturalness of the phrases above.

Your phrase 「させられたくありません。」 is actually "okay" except it sounding rather textbook-like and overly polite. It is not something a fighter would say before a match.

  • Thank you for your thorough answer! I definitely did not want a 逐語訳 as they are often useless. I can see how those phrases could be applied in many everyday situations too. – By137 Mar 5 at 5:23
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Often, adhering too closely to a sentence you have constructed and attempting a literal translation based on it can be problematic, especially if that sentence construction is overly complicated or nuanced.
Tweaking the English phrase a bit should make it easier for you to translate. 'Wanting to' and 'having to' can be their own separate clauses.
Once you stop trying to force a specific translation, you should have many potential translation options.

I have to defeat (kill) him, but I find it abhorrent. 彼{かれ}を倒{たお}さなきゃいけないけど、凄く{すごく}嫌{いや}だ。
I don't want to do it, but I must. やりたくないけど、やらなきゃいけない (やらざるを得{え}ない)。
I don't want to kill him, but he must be killed. 彼{かれ}を殺{ころ}したくないけど、殺{ころ}さなきゃいけない (殺さざるを得{え}ない)。
If I don't kill him, I'll be killed. 彼{かれ}を殺{ころ}さなきゃ、俺{おれ}が殺{ころ}される。
If I don't kill him, he'll kill me. 彼{かれ}を殺{ころ}さなきゃ、彼{かれ}に殺{ころ}されてしまうから。

The better option might be simply to have the unpleasant part left unsaid but implied:

彼{かれ}を殺{ころ}したくないけど...
彼{かれ}を殺{ころ}すのは嫌なんだけど...

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How about:

そんなことする責任{せきにん}が持{も}ちたくない。

I don't want to have the duty/responsibility to do such thing.

Here I used the noun 責任{せきにん} to represent the idea of "must" - so it was not the same gramatical construction as the one in English. But this is not unusual when translating between English and Japanese.

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