My question is about the sentence "領にでも行かなきゃ分かる訳ないだろ", meaning: "You'd have to go to the territory to find out (what is happening)"

I know that なきゃ from 行かなきゃ is an abbreviation of なければ, and when used together with a verb means that it is something one must do, on this case it would translate to "Must go"

I also know that 訳ない when used together with a verb adds a meaning of "there's no way to do X", on this case, "there's now way to know"

And given that でも means "But" and 領 means "territory", I can't seen to understand how this sentence can mean "You'd have to be in X to know that".

2 Answers 2


なきゃ from 行かなきゃ is an abbreviation of なければ

This is absolutely correct.

it would translate to "Must go"

This is not wrong, but not necessarily correct in this context.

行かなければ / 行かなきゃ

The literal translation is, "If I don't go...". That's it. With a couple of words attached the following may happen:

  • "行かなければいい" (Don't need to go)
  • "行かなければ宝くじが当たる" (Win the lottery if I don't go)
  • "行かなければ結婚して幸せになれる" (Marry and live a happy life if I don't go)

What about now? Do you really have to go? I'd rather stay.

But as you mentioned, if you just say "行かなければ…", which no one actually says in real life excepts for emo kids, this implicitly is equivalent to "行かなければならない". This would mean "If I don't go, (it) won't work" = "I shall/must go".

But in your case, the consequence of not going is "not being able to know":

行かなければ (if one doesn't go) 分かる訳ない (there's no way one will know)

Notice it never says one must go.


With the above in mind, translate as follows:

  • 領にでも + 行かなきゃ + 分かる訳ない
  • To the 領 + if one doesn't go + (there's) no way to know

Shuffle them around:

  • There's no way to know (what is happening) if one doesn't go to the 領

Which matches your translation:

  • You'd have to go to the territory to find out (what is happening)


でも means "But"

Again, you are not wrong, but not correct here as it's "〜でも". Check out this post for the usage: "事故にでもあったのではあるまいか。" grammar help please? [duplicate] . It's tagged as a duplicate but I think this is the better match for your case.

  • I believe this でも is this でも. It indicates 領に行く is technically one of the options.
    – naruto
    Commented May 11, 2022 at 1:45
  • By my understanding 行かなければいい is more like "shouldn't go" rather than "don't need to go", no? Commented May 11, 2022 at 20:04

I wanted to add a more detailed breakdown here, since this seems to be the core of what caused the initial difficulty.

when used together with a verb means that it is something one must do

なければ is two separate parts: the な is the leftover part of ない (in turn from transforming 行く into 行かない), and then ければ transforms that i-adjective by making it conditional.

It simply considers the hypothetical of not doing something. "When used together with a verb", the connotation of "must" comes from the bad consequence in that verb. So it's not "I must go" (with some unclear relationship to the following verb), but "... if I don't go". In this case, there's no way to understand what is happening, unless I go.

Japanese doesn't have "have to" as a modal the way that English does; the general pattern is this kind of hypothetical + consequence construct. See also constructs like Xしてしかない: not "must do X", but "other-than-doing-X does not exist" (in more natural English, "doing anything but X is not an option").

You might also find it worthwhile to understand 訳ない as more than just a collocation. 訳 is a noun with glosses like "reason, method, way"; the entire preceding clause (not just the verb, though such a clause could consist of only a verb - as it does here, with 分かる) is used attributively to describe that noun - thus, X訳 is "a way that X [could be the case]". Then, that whole thing is the が-marked subject of ない - the が has been dropped here, but is sometimes used explicitly; see for example the anime title 俺の妹がこんなに可愛いわけがない.

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