I am learning the lyrics to the song "Last Summer Whisper" by 杏里. I came across these lines:

  1. Baby, love again 二人の愛はもどりしないけど

  2. Baby, love again せめてあなたをにくみたくないの

What is the usage of the in these lines?

For 1, it seems like it could've been said this way: 二人の愛はもどりしないけど. It seems like this は is not acting as the topic particle, since は is used after 二人の愛. So what is it doing?

And for 2, it seems like could've been said this way: せめてあなたをにくみたくないの

As I understand, にくみたくない would be the standard negative of にくみたい. What is the は doing there?

By the way, I don't mean to imply that I think these sentences are "wrong" and that I'm right. I am just curious what sentiment or grammatical function these はs are playing in the two sentences.

1 Answer 1


The particle は adds sort of exclusivity in a negative sentence.

For example,


implies this person might drink other alcoholic drinks, but not beer. ビール is singled out to stress that he doesn’t drink beer.

On the other hand,


has no such implication.

When it’s a verb that is to be singled out, it takes the following form:

[V ます-stem]-はしない

Your first sentence follows this pattern. The verb is [戻]{もど}る, so the standard negative (i.e. without は) would be:


(*) もどりしない is ungrammatical.

The second sentence uses the same は with the たい-form of a verb, [憎]{にく}む.

The formula could be generalized as follows, but this means the same as simply inserting は before ない, as you correctly sorted out.

[V ます-stem]-たくはない

She may have many different feelings towards him, but she at least doesn’t want to hate him.

The ない-form of a verb can also be singled out like that, to form a double negative, such as:


This person does drink beer, but he doesn’t particularly willingly do so.

Both the たい-form and the ない-form of a verb follow the same conjugation pattern as an い-adjective.

Here is an example with an い-adjective.


It may be OK (まあまあ), but you cannot say it’s tasty. The quality of tastiness is specifically negated.

Curiously, there is no special construction for a noun or a な-adjective as their negative form already contains は.


In speech, で is somewhat stressed if the exclusivity is intended.

To make this meaning clearer, you could say:


This also works with a verb or an い-adjective, except という is optional in these cases.


Actually, this function of は is not limited to a negative sentence.


implies this person might not drink other alcoholic drinks.

  • Makes lots more sense now, thank you!
    – dj1121
    Apr 27, 2021 at 17:11

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