I know that generally the construction ~ても/でも仕方がない essentially means the same as ~ても意味がない/~ても無駄だ, as seen in the following examples:

"There's no point in getting angry over every single thing."
"We probably won't reach a conclusion by the end of the day so there's no point in continuing for now."
(source: nihon5-bunka)

But then there are example sentences listed that don't make a lot of sense applying ~ても意味がない/無駄だ:

Since I haven't studied, it wouldn't surprise me if I failed the exam.
I need this so even if the price is a little high I'll get it (can't help it, I need it after all).

For those two examples I'd go with an interpretation something along the lines of "there's no helping it, it is what it is". Am I right in my assumption? "There's no point in failing the exam" for the former sentence for example is nonsense after all.

The reason I'm asking this is because I've come across following sentence:


The person saying this is reflecting back on a person called Martel who is the sister of Mitos and continued unconditionally loving the world despite being hated by many and ultimately ended up being killed. Mitos however is still holding a grudge against the world and is actively trying to destroy it.

The way I would have interpreted the sentence would be something akin to "I wouldn't be surprised if Martel hated the world herself, just like Mitos does (yet she loved it instead)." I don't see how the application of ~ても意味がない/無駄だ would work in this context.

~て恨んでも仕方がない within a different context:

I've been doing a lot of thinking on what we could do to overcome the current situation; holding a grudge against the coronavirus isn't going to get us anywhere after all."

So ~恨んでも仕方がない would have two different meanings then, depending on context: "There's no point in hating..." and "I wouldn't be surprised if... hated..."

Another example:

deserve criticism for
deserve any punishment
(source: eow.alc.co.jp)

(Now I can't vouch for the legitimacy of either websites but I'll just assume that the given info is correct, I'm sure you guys will correct me if they aren't).

Am I correct with the given translations (especially the 世界を恨んでも仕方がない one) and my assumption that this construction could essentially be divided into two meanings, one with ~ても意味がない/無駄だ and one with "it is what it is, can't help it?" I find it interesting that this distinction doesn't seem to be discussed anywhere and only the ~ても意味がない/無駄だ interpretation is ever discussed, even though these two concepts seem very different to me.

Any input?

EDIT: Please see my answer below for a new question. I didn't want to create a new thread on the same subject matter, so I figured I'd reuse this one instead. I hope that's alright.

  • I noticed your “answer below” no longer exists. Then, you probably should delete the edit that references it (and re-approve naruto’s answer).
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 6:05

1 Answer 1


You are correct. ~ても仕方(が)ない means two different things:

  • there is no point in doing ~; doing ~ is meaningless
  • one cannot help doing ~; doing ~ is undesirable but unavoidable

As always, the correct interpretation depends on the context. For example:

  • もう間に合わない。だから走っても仕方がない。
    I can't make it in time anymore. So there's no point in running.
  • ここで走るのは禁止されているが、遅れるとクビになる。だから走っても仕方がない。
    I know it's forbidden to run here, but if I'm late, I'll be fired. So I have no choice but to run.

(By the way, only the latter is interchangeable with 走るのは仕方がない.)

Now your problem:


This is indeed ambiguous, and the correct interpretation of the second sentence depends on the context. At first sight, my intuition was "There is no point in hating the world like Mitos does", because the previous sentence was about how one should love the world. However, after reading your explanation, I noticed "She (=Martel) might well hate the world like Mitos does" is a perfectly valid interpretation, too.

  • 最初の例が「私」の発言としてはやや不自然な感じがします。本来走っちゃいけない場所を走っている人を見た第三者の発言としての方が自然ではないでしょうか。(あと、直前に挙げた意味の順序と例文の順序を揃えた方が分かりやすいような。)
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 2:15
  • @aguijonazo ありがとうございます。順番は仰る通りなので直しました。最初の例は「(こんな場所で本来走っちゃいけないんだけど)走るのは仕方ないじゃん」というつもりでしたが、不自然ですかね…? あまり主語が一人称なのか三人称なのかは関係ないような。
    – naruto
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 2:20
  • 「試験に落ちたってしかたがない」の「試験に落ちた」は客観的な結果のことで、「批判を受ける」や「罰を受ける」も自分でコントロールできることではないので、それらに対する受け入れや諦めの意味で「しかたがない」は自然に聞こえますが、走るかどうかは自分のさじ加減1つなのに、自分で「しかたがない」かどうかの評価基準を設定しているところに違和感を覚えます。自分自身に対する言い訳だとしても、学習者が例文を理解する上での負担が1つ増える気がしました。
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 3:12
  • @aguijonazo 走ってはいけない理由となる文脈を補ってもらうことを期待していたのですが、そうでないかもしれないので明示してみました。どうでしょう。
    – naruto
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 4:53
  • 1
    @Boolicious: しかたがない literally means there is no way to do something. Both usages are connected in this basic meaning. I think it would be more accurate to explain this connection by understanding 怒ってもしかたがない as “it cannot be helped (or the situation cannot be changed) even if you get upset” than by explaining 試験に落ちたってしかたがない as “there is no point to be disappointed”, as the other answer seems to suggest. The latter would be too much of a stretch. This しかたがない carries no sense of disappointment per se.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 11:09

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