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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.

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

For example,

ビールは[飲]{の}まない。

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,

ビールを[飲]{の}まない。

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:

二人の愛はもどらないけど

(*) 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:

ビールを[飲]{の}まなくはない。

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.

おいしくはない。

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.

[好]{この}みではない。
[好]{す}きではない。

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

To make this meaning clearer, you could say:

[好]{この}みという[訳]{わけ}ではない。
[好]{す}きという[訳]{わけ}ではない。

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

[戻]{もど}る(という)[訳]{わけ}ではない。
[憎]{にく}みたい(という)[訳]{わけ}ではない。
[飲]{の}まない(という)[訳]{わけ}ではない。
おいしくない(という)[訳]{わけ}ではない。

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

ビールは[飲]{の}む。

implies this person might not drink other alcoholic drinks.

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

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