I came across this sentence in an exercise, so there is no context :


What is exactly the meaning of よく住める and is it possible to have one or two other sentences using it?

1 Answer 1


Here よく means how (can/do you) ...?, indicating the speaker thinks '...' is something extraordinary. It is somewhat close to how come ...?.

So the sentence means how can you live in such a cold room like this? (I think it's impossible).

Incidentally よく can be put at the front: よくこんな寒い部屋に住めるね.

Other examples:

  • よくこんなもの見つけたね How did you find such a thing? (I am surprised you did)
  • よくそんなこと言えるね How dare you say such a thing?
  • よく日本語なんか勉強するね How come you study Japanese!

Note that it often comes with そんな/こんな or なんか (roughly corresponding to such).

デジタル大辞泉 lists this usage of よく(well) as separate definitions:

4 困難なことをしたり、考えられないような喜ばしい結果を得たりして感じ入るさま。本当にまあ。よくぞ。「―来てくれました」「月給だけで―やっていけるね」

5 相手の非常識な言動などを非難するさま。4を反語的にいう語。よくもまあ。「―のこのこと来られたものだ」

5 is the definition for how dare...

That said, I suppose it can be understood as an exclamation. E.g. the sentence in question is how well you live in such a cold room! and the speaker thinks you are doing too well (much).

In terms of register, it is colloquial, but can be made polite. E.g. よくこんな寒い部屋に住めますね.

Ending with な (e.g. 住めるな) would sound masculine and somewhat more rude.

  • I've never come across this usage of よく before. It would be great of you could give a few more details. Is this from よい (good), よく (often), or something entirely different? Is it standard Japanese, or does it have a more modern/slang feel? How does ね fit in? Is it part of the structure? I don't see how it would work in the usual sense of asking for confirmation. Thanks. Apr 3, 2022 at 14:47
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    @user3856370 I think this was originally a sarcasm, but it's no longer slangy. (But it's of course not very polite, either.) See this question and this question. You can use other sentence-final particles like な, or just say "よくも! (How dare you!)", "よくまあ (Ooh I'm amazed!)", etc.
    – naruto
    Apr 4, 2022 at 2:02
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    @user3856370 I added the answers to your questions.
    – sundowner
    Apr 4, 2022 at 2:26
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    よく女子供が殺せるな was used to translate the line "How can you shoot women and children?" in the famous "get some" scene of Fullmetal Jacket together with its double meaning. Apr 4, 2022 at 9:42

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