Let's take the following situation as an example: After having driven a car for 20 years without any problems, someone is one day involved in a horrible car crash. They then might think to themselves:「もう二度と運転しない。」

If we take the 二度と literally, the drive where the crash occurred would be counted as the "first" time driving, and the hypothetical next drive after the crash would be the "second" time driving.

Here's my question: If we change the example in such a way that the person is not directly involved in the crash anymore but instead just witnesses it while walking nearby, could that person still say 「もう二度と運転しない。」? What I'm getting at is that there would be no clear cut "first time" to base that "second time" on because the person wasn't driving at the time of the crash and surely in 20 years, that person has driven more than just once.

Or am I overthinking all of this and it's just a fixed expression that shouldn't be taken literally?

  • this sounds more like a question of philosophy than something specific about the japanese language. it seems you could pose the same conundrum with the english, “never again will i drive”.
    – A.Ellett
    Aug 14 '20 at 15:11
  • I don't think it can really be compared to "again". 二度と literally means "a second time", but "again" is more like "one more time". It could be the second, it could be the hundredth.
    – Kaskade
    Aug 14 '20 at 15:46

Yes, I think you're overthinking. 二度と~しない is a fixed expression that means "never do ~ again", and people who say this don't think about which event is counted as the first or the second. Saying もう二度と運転しない is fine regardless of whether the speaker was directly involved in an accident. We never say 三度としない anyway.

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