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I read that しなくてはダメ means “to have to do something” but someone said ダメ cannot be used with なくては to mean “have to”. I get different answers from different sources, both being Japanese speakers. What is correct?

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しなくちゃダメ、しないとダメ、しなくてはダメ are all used very frequently in Japanese, as a simple Google search (with quotation marks) will quickly demonstrate. 駄目 itself is often considered somewhat informal (compared to なりません, いけません etc)though, so maybe that's what your other Japanese source was referring to.

  • i know and i’ve seen it in use. i just found it odd because the person who said that it isn’t used like that was japanese? they said it only means that it’s not good, not that you have to do it. they gave the example 「これは速かなくてダメ」and said it means it’s not use because it’s slow? i just don’t quite understand. – jacoballens May 13 at 7:52
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    @jacob ^ 「速なくてダメ」なんて言いません。 Are you sure they are a native speaker? [速]{はや} なくてダメ can mean "should/must/have to be fast". 速くなくてダメ can mean "It's not fast and/so it's no good". – Chocolate May 13 at 8:20
  • i meant 速くなくて, sorry! but they didn’t use the は in their example so maybe that’s where the problem is and why i was confused. so it would be 速くなくてはダメ—>速くちゃダメ? – jacoballens May 13 at 10:37
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    @jacob ちゃ is the contracted pronunciation of ては, so 速くなくてはダメ can be contracted to 速くなくちゃダメ, not 速くちゃダメ. – Chocolate May 13 at 15:29

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