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I understand that the dictionary definition of the expression いけません is "must not do", and that it can be used in conjunction with say なきゃ in a sentence such as the following:

試験があるから、勉強しなきゃいけません。 I have to study, because there will be an exam.

いけません seems to 'conjugate' in the short form present tense as follows:

毎日、練習しなきゃいけないんです。 I must practice every day.

And this is where I get a little puzzled. It seems like いけません would be a conjugation of いける (which presumably would mean something like "to not be permitted to"), but that doesn't appear to be the case. Is there any logic behind this, or is it just a peculiarity? Or am I missing something obvious?

  • What makes you say "that doesn't appear to be the case?" I don't really follow the reasoning. – Leebo Nov 21 '19 at 19:44
  • It doesn't appear to be the case that there is a verb いける which means something like "to not be permitted to". That's what I meant. – Tom Ewer Nov 22 '19 at 17:34
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    Well, yes, that's not literally what いける means. It's more like "to go well." So the negative would be "to not go well." – Leebo Nov 22 '19 at 22:30
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It seems like いけません would be a conjugation of いける (which presumably would mean something like "to not be permitted to")

It's true that いけません means something like "can't do", that's why if you want to say "I must do X" in Japanese you need to actually reword it to "I am not permitted to not do X". Thats why to say "must" you use:

Negative te-form + 「は」 (wa) particle + だめ/いけない/ならない
Negative verb +「と」 conditional + だめ/いけない/ならない
Negative verb + 「ば」 conditional + だめ/いけない/ならない

About the combination of なきゃ + いけません, As this answer clearly explains:

やらなきゃ is a contracted/collapsed form of やらなければ. いけません and なりません are the polite forms of いけない and ならない, respectively.

So やらなきゃいけない (or ~いけません in polite form) is a contracted form of やらなければいけない (or ~いけません in polite form). Same goes with the ~ならない/~なりません versions.

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    〜ないとならない is prescriptively incorrect. – jukbot Nov 21 '19 at 23:59

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