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I do understand what it means, but I want to know if it's mostly used from 1st person perspective because in many examples that's how it translated. "I will never/There is no way I..."<-That is how I see lot of times.

Is it used more when I express a strong desire or is it alright to say when talking about others?

For example, I had these lines in a manga (note, this is the speaker's internal thoughts. He is thinking 'what if Yosuke fails? Then what? 'That kid' comes to the speaker's mind who was almost in the same league (in terms of fighting skills) as Yosuke, but now considers that 'the kid' won't be of help, if Yosuke won't prevail). So the speaker is thinking this:

"あんな小僧に何ができる。洋介の予備にもなりはしない。”

Is the speaker saying: "What could that kid do? (or be able to do?) There's no way I can have him as a reserve for Yosuke.

Here, is it stressed that the speaker does not want to have to make "the kid" a spare/reserve? (There's no way I can even have him as a reserve), or is it more like "That kid can't even be(become) a reserve for Yosuke."

I am asking if there is emphasis from the speaker, like "It's out of the question (for me), I will not resort to make 'that kid' a backup plan".

Hope I explained well enough.

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「あんな小僧{こぞう}に何{なに}ができる。洋介{ようすけ}の予備{よび}にもなりはしない。」

The unmentioned subject of the second sentence is none other than 「あの小僧」.

The main verb of that sentence is 「なる」 ("to become") in the emphasized negative form 「なりはしない」 ("will never become"). Who could or could not become a reserve for Yosuke here? It would logically be あの小僧.

If the unmentioned subject of that sentence were the speaker, 「なる」 could never be used because it would make no sense as the speaker is not the one who might become the reserve for Yosuke. Instead, the verb part would need to be changed to something like 「~~にもやしない」 using the verb 「(~~を~~に)する」 (""to make ~~ become ~~).

It seems you are over-analyzing the sentence this time. Perhaps the hidden 「する」 in 「はない」 got you somehow, but as I said above, the main verb is 「なる」 and that is what should determine who the action-taker is.

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  • @lélecteur It's true that I over-analyze too much sometimes, haha. So, in the case of my sentence, can I translate it as "That kid will never become a reserve even for Yosuke"? Also, is it possible, even if it's not the potential form of the verb なれはしない, this sentence can be interpreted as "That kid cannot become a reserve..." (as in 'there is no way'). Lastly (because of my over-analyzing, I admit), this interpretation "I won't have him become) that kid be a reserve for Yosuke." <-I'm guessing only if it was にする in this case, right? – Alice B. Rabbit Nov 25 '19 at 2:01
  • Continuing for the last part, that's what I assumed when I first read the sentence, that the speaker is expressing his will not do (action)>not do what?>to have that kid become a reserve for Yosuke. (because 'that kid' although he has some strengths similar to Yosuke, if Yosuke is not up to the challenge, then the other 'that kid' surely won't do). – Alice B. Rabbit Nov 25 '19 at 2:08
  • I guess what I'm hoping for is to know if the speaker is expressing, strongly, his intent that he shall not take the action of turning 'that kid' in a reserve, but again, I think it has to be にする for that, right? – Alice B. Rabbit Nov 25 '19 at 2:18
  • How you should translate depends on what kind of TL you are doing, literal or free. You could easily use either "that brat" or "I" as the subject without changing the basic meaning of the original. 「なれはしない」 is good, too. As long as it is clear who it is that might or might not become the reserve, it should do no harm to your readers. My answer was strictly based on what the original sentence is saying grammatically and logically. I actually sense that you have a good grip on the original, so whatever TL you choose to employ, it will maintain the ideas expressed in the original. – l'électeur Nov 25 '19 at 2:27
  • You are correct about ~にする. – l'électeur Nov 25 '19 at 2:33
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Disclaimer: I am still pretty new to Japanese myself, so I may be completely off-base here.. You may want to wait for some other folks to weigh in before deciding whether this answer is good or not.

First of all, はしない literally translates to "(regarding that previously stated thing) (somebody) won't do it". Since しない is the simple negative of する (to do), it conveys the sense of "won't do", as opposed to "can't do", so I think your potential translation of "That kid can't even be a reserve for Yosuke" doesn't actually work (since there's no sense of "can't" conveyed by しない).

Since the subject isn't actually specified, it seems to me it might be more appropriate to translate はしない itself as simply "it won't happen", but it's also (I believe) usually a somewhat emphatic statement, which might make it more like "it's not gonna happen!".

As for who the subject of the action is, I think in some cases it may depend a bit on context (i.e. who would be expected to make that happen if it was going to happen), but if we couple this with the fact that Japanese speakers are usually much more reticent than English speakers to put motivations/feelings into other people's mouths (e.g. instead of saying "Fred is sad", a Japanese speaker would say "Fred appears to be sad" or "I believe that Fred is sad"), in general I suspect that emphatically saying that somebody else definitely will or won't do something would be a bit presumptuous, and probably not something Japanese speakers would be inclined to do. Given this, it seems likely that, unless it's explicitly stated otherwise, such an expression would normally be assumed to be referring to the speaker's intentions (since they're the only person they can claim to know definitively won't do something).

I'm not a native speaker, though, and don't have a whole lot of experience with Japanese interactions in general, so more experienced people, please feel free to tell me if I'm wrong on all of this...

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  • thank you for your input! I read as many posts as I could about this grammar structure and based on translations that I saw, many sentences had the 1st person subject (I won't do this/that), in fact, I read somewhere that it's mentioned to be subjective. Thus, in my sentence, I was wondering if the speaker is expressing his 'strong will/desire' to not make the action. ("I will not have that kid become Yosuke's reserve/I won't make that kid be a reserve for Yosuke)<- I'm expressing strongly that I won't do that action. This what I'm looking for, this kind of emphasis. (cont) – Alice B. Rabbit Nov 24 '19 at 22:31
  • If it's not the above interpretation, then, just like you said, with the idea of 'it won't happen', then, would "There's no way that kid will become a reserve for Yosuke." "That kid becoming Yosuke's reserve won't happen." (the kid has no chance, doesn't qualify, that's why he won't be suited a Yosuke's reserve/ to be used in Yosuke's place<-going with this idea) I saw a few times withしないorやしない the nuance of 'no way' or 'never' (will I do action), which seem to express a strong emphasis. – Alice B. Rabbit Nov 24 '19 at 22:37
  • Well, as I mentioned, there are other ways in Japanese to say "can't", so the use of する (to do) to me implies "won't" (it could potentially happen but (somebody) just won't do it), rather than "can't" (it's not possible). (Though I admit that the english term "it won't happen" could potentially mean either.. I should have been more clear about that) – Foogod Nov 24 '19 at 23:30

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