7

So I know that すぎる means too much, like 昨日お酒を飲みすぎた, etc.

but when it comes to something like:

何々をすることができなさすぎる

Does it mean:

1 - I can't do "this" at all.

or

2 - I can't do "this" too much.

So if I say:

納豆を食べることができなさすぎる/食べられなさすぎる。

Do I mean I can't eat natto at all, or do I mean I can eat it just a little, but can't eat it too much?

And if "1" is the right answer, how different is it from things like 全然できない/全くできない?

8

納豆を食べることができなさすぎる/食べられなさすぎる means "I can't eat natto at all" or "I am so terribly bad at natto", but it's a humorous slangy expression rather than a standard sentence. It's fine as the catchy title of a blog post or a light novel, but we should be using 全く/全然できない most of the time.

In general, ~すぎる is occasionally used as a humorous intensifier these days. It can be positive.

  • お前のことが好きすぎる
  • 美しすぎるアスリート10名
  • これは便利すぎる! Amazonで見つけた調理器具
  • 天使過ぎるアイドル (Kanna Hashimoto's catchphrase; maybe this is the cause of the recent popularity of ~すぎる?)
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    oh really, interesting hmmm I've seen japanese people saying things like 英語ができなさすぎる... So I guess they were trying to be fun/chill with their sentence :D thanks a lot!! – Felipe Oliveira Apr 18 at 3:41
4

A little grammatical supplement...

If you want to have partial negation, that compared to English "not ... too much", you should use ~すぎない. It works like "no too much ...ing".

On the other hand, ~なさすぎる is just like saying "too much of not ...ing", that is, excessiveness of "not doing". As you can see, it sometimes could invoke some funny visualization that you're trying to negate something whose existence is already down to zero, and the rest goes to @naturo's answer...

  • And if I wanted to add the nuance of “can” then I could say 納豆を食べすぎられない / 納豆を食べすぎることができない without sounding humorous? Thanks for explaining, I thinking understand better why it didn’t s humorous in the first place now :) – Felipe Oliveira Apr 18 at 11:24
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    @FelipeOliveira It doesn't sound humorous, but what do you intend to say? It'd mean something like you have a safety mechanism preventing eating too much natto. Do you perhaps want to reproduce English phrase "can't too ..."? The idiom doesn't work as is in Japanese. – broccoli forest Apr 19 at 2:07

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