In the sentence 解いてから帰らないとすっきりしないんだ, from the context I know it means "If I don't go home after solving it, it won't be refreshing" but I just can't make sense of the grammar, below are the two ways I am thinking about it:

I must solve it then go home (NOTHING) I won't be "relieved" (considering と to be an abbreviation of 帰らないといけない)

If I solve it then don't go home I won't be relieved (assume と is just a normal conditional と)

Can anyone explain it differently to help my brain understand why it means what it does without context?


2 Answers 2


The と is a normal conditional と.

The scope of the negation (~ない) is the whole 解いてから帰る, not just 帰る.
I think you can think of it this way:

[解いてから帰(る)]+ ないと、すっきりしないんだ
→ If I don't do "解いてから帰る", I won't be relieved.
lit. If I don't [go home after solving it], I won't be relieved.
i.e. If I don't solve it before going home, I won't be relieved.

Some example sentences with this structure that I think you might come across in daily life:



I think you could look at it this way.

から binds 解く and 帰る closer to each other than 帰る is bound to ないと. Thus, 解いてから帰る refers to an act of doing those two things in that order. Unless you do that, your mind won’t get cleared.

The second interpretation is not completely impossible but から sounds a bit jarring in that case. 解いて帰らないと would be more ambiguous, in which case you might need to rely on the way the sentence is pronounced to get the correct meaning.

  • You have a very interesting way of phrasing things. I'm really taken by how you say, "Unless you do that, your mind won’t get cleared." I like it.
    – A.Ellett
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 18:23

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