I encountered the following multiple-choice question on page 118 (question 4 in section 3) of my JLPT N2 grammar textbook 「新完全マスター文法 日本語能力試験N2」:

朝のラッシュは何とか(   )ものか。

a ならない   b しない   c なれない

I had little clue and guessed 「c なれない」. The answer given is 「a ならない」.

In fact, I hardly understand the sentence at all. My textbook explains ~ないものか on page 117 as




My rough translation would be "if only ...", suggesting an unlikely scenario (実現は難しい). I chose 「c なれない」 because なれる is a 可能動詞, but I do not think I understand the sentence. Here are my failed attempts at translating the sentence completed with each of the three options:

(a) 朝のラッシュは何とかならないものか。

(?) If only the morning rush somehow became.

(b) (?)朝のラッシュは何とかしないものか。

(?) If only (I) somehow did the morning rush.

(c) (?)朝のラッシュは何とかなれないものか。

(?) If only the morning rush could somehow become.

Apparently, my translations make little sense. I feel that I am misunderstanding either 朝のラッシュ (referring to ラッシュ・アワー?) or なる (become? succeed? pass?). Why is 「a ならない」 the right answer? What does the sentence (especially the word なる) mean in that case? What am I missing here?

  • 1
    About there being no potential form for なんとかなる, the following should be relevant. japanese.stackexchange.com/a/95742/45489
    – sundowner
    Aug 26, 2022 at 2:55
  • @sundowner Thanks for the discussion about 無意志動詞! Please kindly check my answer where I tried to put together your comment and Yaroslav Fyodorov's answer to resolve the question.
    – L. F.
    Aug 26, 2022 at 7:47

2 Answers 2


This seems to be relevant

何とかなる - Jisho.org

何とかなる is an expression meaning "to be able to manage somehow". Consequently, 何とかならないか is "can't (we) manage it somehow" or "(we) need to do smth about it"

All together it seems to "(we) need to do smth about the morning rush" or "can't we do smth about the morning rush"

  • Thanks for bringing up the phrase 何とかなる — definitely an indispensible part of the puzzle. I came up with a different interpretation of the sentence, though — please check my answer.
    – L. F.
    Aug 26, 2022 at 7:45
  • Your translation is closer to 何とかできないものか from 何とかする, which is transitive.
    – aguijonazo
    Aug 27, 2022 at 0:25
  • @aguijonazo I see. What about the first example at the jisho's entry? Aug 27, 2022 at 11:39
  • The sentence only suggests that speaker thinks the drawing needs fixing. A more literal translation would be something like “Couldn’t something be done (about it)?” Who should do the fixing is completely up to your interpretation. With no further context, I would think “he” is a strange choice. My first guess would be “you”. Whoever it is, it usually doesn’t include the speaker because this is an expression used to complain about an undesirable situation for which the speaker doesn’t feel responsible.
    – aguijonazo
    Aug 27, 2022 at 14:04
  • @aguijonazo thanks Aug 27, 2022 at 17:12

@Yaroslav Fyodorov's answer and @sundowner's comment brought my attention to the phrase なんとかなる, which means "to be able to manage somehow or another". From this information, I came up with an understanding of 朝のラッシュは何とかならないものか that is different from @Yaroslav Fyodorov's:


(lit.) somehow manage the morning rush

The morning rush will turn out fine.


I wish the morning rush will turn out fine.

which makes much more sense than my translation attempts in the OP. This concludes the analysis of the correct answer 「a ならない」.

@sundowner's comment pointed out that 何とかなる does not have a 可能形 form because it is a non-volitional verb (無意志動詞, or 話者の意志が入らない動詞 as my textbook phrases it in its definition of ~ないもの(だろう)か) according to an answer of theirs. Thus, it is superfluous to turn ならない into 「c なれない」.

As for 「b しない」, there does not seem to be a special phrase 何とかする, and する is neither a 可能動詞 nor a 無意志動詞, so 「b しない」 is not an acceptable option. Incidentally, I wonder if the interpretation provided in Yaroslav Fyodorov's can be translated as


Can't we do something about the morning rush?

  • I was guessing (based on example in jisho), so I can't argue in favor of my interpretation. However, aren't you ignoring negation of NARU in your translation? Although, there are lots of examples where negation is used to weaken the statement or add politeness, so I really not sure Aug 26, 2022 at 8:31
  • @YaroslavFyodorov I think the negation of なる here is part of the grammar structure ~ないものか mentioned in the question.
    – L. F.
    Aug 26, 2022 at 8:54
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    The sentence is essentially an expression of complaint. One thing is なんとかなる is intransitive, and the subject is of course the rush. Verbosely translating, なんとかならないものか means I wonder if the morning rush dissolves itself somehow (which could be translated "can't we do something about the rush" as well, where "we" is kind of impersonal). なんとかできないものか would sound emphasizing the speaker's volition (and note that なんとかする/できる is transitive and the omitted subject is the speaker or "we").
    – sundowner
    Aug 26, 2022 at 9:50
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    Now what is needed is a validation from someone who knows ;) Aug 26, 2022 at 9:50
  • 1
    Yes, that is correct. Note, for the particular case, "wish" is really just a wish, just because of the nature of rush (i.e., the speaker not really thinks the problem will resolved).
    – sundowner
    Aug 26, 2022 at 13:56

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