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I am pretty sure I have heard native speakers say things like

あの大事故の中で、けが一つなかったのは奇跡と言うほかありません

My question is can I use this construct or the similar usage ほかしかたがない to describe something decidedly negative? For example:

そんなことを言ってただで済まないぞ。お前は学校の恥と言う(より)ほか(は)ない!

I seem to have seen similar sentences, but I am not sure it sounds completely natural in this context. Would the abridged version sound more natural? What about these options:

学校の恥と言うよりほかはない

学校の恥と言うほかはない

学校の恥と言うよりほかない

学校の恥と言うほかない

学校の恥と言うほかしかたがない

The last one sounds strange to me but ほかしかたがない seems interchangeable with よりほかはない in a lot of contexts. Also is there a better phrase to express what I am trying to say?

1
  • 「言うしかない」は使えますかね?
    – Chocolate
    Jul 1 at 8:45

1 Answer 1

2

Generally, the following can be used similarly in negative/positive statements.

  • {しか,より}ない
  • ほか({に,は})ない
  • よりほか({に,は})ない
  • ほか(に)しかた(が)ない
  • よりしかた(が)ない
  • よりほか(に)しかた(が)ない

Some are more common than others. I guess looking at web resources (1, 2, 3, for example) shows which are more common.

For your question, I think it is ok, but perhaps slightly odd. My feeling is that it is more natural as a objective comment rather than an emotional phrase in the question. For example, "今回の不祥事は学校の恥と申し上げるほかありません" would be natural enough.

Regarding the difference among variants, I think they are mostly interchangeable but those with しかたがない may sound odd depending on the meaning. Basically it adds a sense of giving up. For example

  1. 大谷の活躍は見事というほかない
  2. 大谷の活躍は見事というほか仕方ない

1 sounds simply praising Ohtani's performance whereas 2 is likely to be said by someone who is negatively affected by his good performance, e.g. players in the other teams.


Another phrase worth noting is ざるを得ない.

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