"わるくはないです。"

Translation:It is not necessarily bad.

June 13, 2017

62 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lazar.ljubenovic

What's は doing here?

June 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KiritsuguZFC

くはない is just a construction to mean "not necessarily/ it's not that....,"(as in "it's not that it is bad... (but...)". For i-adjectives it is formed by changing the last い into く and then adding はない(です). The は is pronounced as "wa" in this case.

June 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SlowAndUpset666

Could you point to some resources? This is the first time I encountered this.

June 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeChatParle

Check out the following link. Based on that native speaker's response, it seems as though くはない emphasizes that while the person doesn't want to do, or the person doesn't believe that the previous is true, they may think or feel something else about the previously mentioned thing.

Here's the excerpt:

「くない」は「くはない」とどう違いますか。

it is difficult to explain. these are the same meanings but nuance is little different.

ex)

彼は言った。「私はこれを食べたくない。」 he said ”i don't want to eat this.”

彼は言った「私はこれを食べたくはない」 he said ”i don't want to EAT this.” (he don't want to eat, but i feel he want to do this somehow, he might wants to take this out or he just might wants to smell or look this. but i don't know.)

https://hinative.com/ja/questions/2814104

November 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsolaCiao

I am confused, how does that example have anything to do with the question being asked?

December 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

It’s a source that shows the way in which adding は changes the nuance by putting special emphasis on the adjective (in the source 食べたい is a verb with a volitional ending "want to eat" but those behave like adjectives in most respects). So:

私はこれを食べたくない。 "I don't want to eat this."

Add は:

私はこれを食べたくはない。 "I don't want to EAT this (but maybe just look at it or smell it, it's just EATING that I don't want to do with it)."

Transfer this to our sentence:

悪くないです。 "It isn't bad."

Add は:

悪くはないです。 "It isn't BAD (but...)"

By using は you imply that while you don't want to call it bad, it is something else (judging by context probably something undesirable). The only way this can be translated to English is by strongly emphasising the word "bad". Or by adding an adverb like "necessarily" as was done by the contributors. I would expect it to be accepted without "necessarily" though.

December 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsolaCiao

AbunPang, I can't reply directly to you, but thank you for clarifying. I wouldn't have thought of the -tai form of the verb as an adjective. I think your explanation will help everyone understand the example better.

(You've left out the -ta in your explanation, though: 私はこれを食べたくない、私はこれを食べたくはない)

December 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

I have no idea how that could happen! Thank you for pointing out my mistake. I corrected it now :)

December 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richie255873

I think rather than that, I read it as "Bad is not how i'd describe it." For waruku wa nai desu.

But waruku nai desu would mean "It's not bad at all!"

December 23, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsolaCiao

I found this helpful.

When you use わるくない (waruku nai), you're saying that something is "not bad", but when you say わるくはない (waruku wa nai), you're saying "it's not bad (except for this which I'm not saying)", which is what duolingo is translating as "not necessarily bad".

December 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Monicat77

Simply google -i adjectives negation on google and I'm sure you'll find all you need ?

July 30, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/diobsb

Thanks for the explanation

June 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/coonest

thanks

January 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

Not a native speaker but as far as I can see you could break it further down like this:

わるく: badly (adverb form of わるい)

は: topic particle attached to わるく

ない: is not, does not exist

です: politeness marker

So a very literal translation would be "as for badly, 'it' is not". Or a little more freely: "Bad is not the way in which [it] exists".

Note that it's essentially the same as わるくない without the は. The topic particle puts more stress on the "bad": "It isn't bad [but...]"

June 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KeithWong9

The は is for comparison. The second part of the sentence is omitted.

わるくないが、なにか問題ある。

It is not bad, but there are some problems.

This is the added nuance to the plain わるくない. I would translate わるくはない as "It is not bad, (but...)"

June 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shomav

i think HA(wa) mean "IS" its like when i was studing english, i asked: why i need to put "IS" every time.in Russia: IT (is a) MEAT - ЭТО МЯСО.

March 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

I’m afraid the fact that English sometimes has an “is” in a similar place to where Japanese might put a は is nothing more than a coincidence. For example:

  • 映画を見ました。 (I watched a movie.)
  • 犬が好きです。 ([My] Mom likes dogs.)
  • これ食べていいんですか? (Can [I] eat this?)

In none of these sentences は can be translated as “is” (or any other form of “to be”).

は marks the topic of conversation. Basically if you see “Xは”, it’s signaling you: “I’m going to talk about X now. Everything I’m saying now is a comment about X.” In English this can be roughly mimicked by using a phrase like “as for X, as far as X is concerned”, only English doesn’t make nearly as frequent use of such phrases as Japanese does of は. So the above sentences are literally:

  • As for me, [I] watched a movie.
  • As for [my] mom, dogs are something likable. (好き is a noun “something likable” rather than a verb “to like”, hence the use of the subject marker for the thing that is liked)
  • As for this, is it ok [for me] to eat [it]?

Sentences where English happens to have an “is” (or other form of “to be”) where Japanese has は:

  • 学生です。 (As for me, [I] am a student. => I am a student.)
  • お父さんどこですか? (As for [your] father, where is [he]? => Where is your father.)

Note that because は only signals “I’m talking about X now”, it can be used not only for the logical subject but also the object (as in the “Can I eat this” sentence above) or other more peripheral roles (for example a time or place) as well. The use of は just tells you that whatever follows is a comment on the topic of X, but not the relationship of X to the other parts of the sentence. You have to deduce that from context.

March 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TerminatorAlso

I would pay for a premium account if it provided explanations for all of the answers. I don't understand why the answer isn't わるくないです

July 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AaronSherw

I'm basing my comment on other answers and my intuition, so take this with a grain of salt, but..

わるく is the adverb form of わるい, which changes it from "bad" to "badly". the は particle indicates topic, and ない is "not". so i think the best way to translate this that conveys the nuance would be, "as for 'badly', that is not the way in which this exists". idiomatically, it seems that this means, "it's not necessarily bad".

August 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ephoralolol

This comment section is a blessing <3

December 26, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jenessa71

Could you also say "わるいはないです。"?

August 18, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rchive2

Friendly not to everyone: don't downvote honest questions. Someone else might have the same question and need it answered.

November 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsolaCiao

When you negate an "-i adjective", the final "i" turns to a "ku" and you add "nai". That's why わるい (warui) becomes わるくない (waruku nai) (or in this case the more complicated わるくはない "waruku wa nai").

December 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/V2Blast

No.

September 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richie255873

Here's my interpretation from observing people talk:

"Waruku nai desu"

Means

"It's not bad at all!"

And "Waruku wa nai desu"

Means

"Bad isn't how I would describe it!"

Because the wa is used to refer to the waruku.

December 23, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ever2662

For people just getting up to this wanting more context on the は, I found this link helpful: https://japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/18662/%E3%81%8F%E3%81%AF%E3%81%AA%E3%81%84-vs-%E3%81%8F%E3%81%AA%E3%81%84-in-adjective-negations

Having read through it, I'm not sure Duolingo's "necessarily" translation makes sense. My take is that は makes the 悪い stronger, the same way "it's not bad, but..." sounds worse than "it's not bad" in English. But "necessarily" to my ears does the exact opposite, and softens the criticism. Thoughts?

November 10, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsolaCiao

I understand what they're doing with the translation, it's not perfect but translating Japanese nuance into English never is. When you say "It's not bad", to me there's usually a positive connotation. When you say "it's not necessarily bad" it implies that it's not necessarily good either. I can't think of a time when "not necessarily bad" would have a positive meaning, but maybe I'm just thinking too small.

December 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/briana.jones0110

Is は really necessary in this sentence?

June 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/V2Blast

It emphasizes the "bad", and thus deemphasizes negation. It ends up meaning something like "It's not bad[, but...]" or "It's not necessarily bad".

September 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/logan812545

I guess its still called a particle but here you guys go. It is not a mistake. http://www.guidetojapanese.org/forum/viewtopic.php?id=1686

July 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rchive2

Link is broken for me, FYI

November 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hqt

under what situations would one use 'warui' as opposed to 'kirai'?

August 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PholaX

Kirai - when you dislike something. Warui - when something is bad.

September 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rchive2

Is a semi reasonable literal translation here, "On the topic of whether or not it's bad, it's not." ?

November 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsolaCiao

I don't think that quite hits the nuance. Ever2662 posted a helpful link and started a good discussion about the meaning.

December 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lorien215634

Why can't I say, "it's not all that bad"?

December 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Spencer595917

It is not necessarily bad.

Oo, sick burn. XD

April 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NiyamBhushan

It is not bad. Why is this translation incorrect?

March 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nhscott

It would seem that the translation "it's not that bad" would be acceptable. is that incorrect?

July 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hustlebwnz

If theres one thing duo has taught me, its that i dont know how to spell "necessarily".

August 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Claire611

All i can think of is Levi but it helped me so...lol

November 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/deeredman1

So correct me if I am wrong but; isn't the は here making "わるく" part of the subject and then emphasizing the topic "ないです。"? If that is the case, shouldn't it be more like; "it IS NOT bad." Which is very different from "it is not BAD." unless. The only thing I can figure is that the は is not actually making わるくpart of the subject but still serving its role in de-emphasizing the subject. Which would imply that は, as a particle, is never allowed to start a sentence so if you want to de-emphasize the subject while at the same time omitting it; you have to do something like this. Right?

December 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

To come back to your original question (as the one about contrastive vs topic は seems already fairly exaustively discussed below): I’m afraid you’re getting a few things mixed up here (understandably – は is rather difficult to wrap your head around at first if you don’t speak a topic-prominent language already).

は does not mark the subject but the topic – the thing that is placed at the focus of the sentence and then commented on. The only way you can emulate this in English is with the rather contrived formula: “As for x,…” Oftentimes the subject also happens to be the topic because situations where we want to tell somebody what some person (whom we both know) did. But that doesn’t have to be the case. If it’s not, then the non-topic subject is marked with が instead (that is, if it’s not omitted because it can be understood from context). For example:

  • この本は読みましたか? (“As for this book, did you read it?” <- the object “this book” is the topic).
  • あのマンションには幽霊があると聞きました。 (“As for in that apartment building, I heard there are ghosts [there].” <-- the place adverb “in that apartment building” is the topic)

If you want some guidelines on what should be made the topic, here are some rules of thumb I found:

  • The topic is pretty much always “old information” – something that the speaker expects the listener to know about. It may be something that came up in the conversation before, a proper name that they expect the listener to recognize, or maybe a general category such as “dogs” or ”teachers” in general.
  • The topic is never ever a question word such as “who, what, where”. Also in the answer to a question containing such a word, the part that answers the question word is never the topic either. So for example, if you want to ask who ate your cake, “who” couldn’t be the topic, the cake would be: わたしのケーキはだれたべましたか? And similarly, the culprit who answers “I ate the cake” couldn’t make “I” the subject because it answers the question “who”. So they would say: わたしたべました。 The reason for this is actually the same one as the point above: If you’re asking a question, the question word – and the answer – represent new information that you don’t know yet. So it cannot be the topic. (I’m guessing it was examples like this one that gave you the idea of は having a de-emphasising effect? If so, I suggest forgetting that idea because it’s only a side-effect of its real purpose, and only in this kind of sentences.)

Now there is also a second application of は which some people like to keep separate as “contrastive は”, others understand it as a special application of the topicalising function. In any case, here は is used to contrast two (or more) things against each other. For example:

  • 犬は好きんだけど、猫は大嫌いです。 (“I like dogs, but I hate cats.” <-- dogs and cats are contrasted with は)
  • この映画はもう見たけど、あの映画はぜったい見ない、こわいから。 (“This film I have already watched, but that film I am absolutely not going to watch, it’s [too] scary.” <-- the two films are put in contrast. Note also how they are in fact emphasised here even though they are marked with は, because of the contrast.)

And as IsolaCiao pointed out, this is also the function it has in our example sentence above, only the second part of the contrast is left implicit. This is where the implicit “but” comes from – if it’s not bad, it must be something else: “It’s not bad [but…]”

You can view this as a second application of は if it helps you. I personally don’t view it as fundamentally different from the topicaliser は because it essentially still does the same thing: It takes two known things and puts them in focus, so you can make a comment about them. It’s just that those two things happen to contrast with each other in the greater context. But if it helps you to treat it as a separate function, then by all means, do that :)

December 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsolaCiao

は isn't a topic marker here, it is the contrastive wa.

From Stack Exchange:

This is a prime example of the contrastive は. What and where is the contrast in the sentence 「今の仕事は悪くはないです。」, then? It is left unsaid.

When a Japanese-speaker hears or reads a sentence like that using は, he will instinctively "know" that a few words were implied but not said. Those words would be something like 「でも、(特とくに)良よくもないです。」. Particles 「は」 and 「も」 are often used in a pair like that.

「このピザはまずくないです。」 means the pizza is at least average in taste. It may well be a little better than average.

「このピザはまずくはないです。」 means the pizza is average at best.

December 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KeithWong9

は is a sort of topic marker. Even I take a very long time thinking above this throughout my journey in Duolingo, but read AbunPang's explanation. As for two はs in these kind of sentences わたしこれを食べたくない, now I believe the two はs are both topic markers - one is in a broader context and the other is in a narrower one. (rf. the は~が structure)

December 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsolaCiao

Do you not consider the contrastive wa separate from a topic marker wa?

December 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KeithWong9

A while back, I did think they are different, but after looking through all the examples people provided, I think the separation between a "topic" and a "contrast marker" is not clear-cut. Quite difficult to explain but what I now feel is that, to make a contrast, you must also bring up this topic although it may not be the intention.

"As for bad, it is not, but it can be better."

"As for me, talking about the desire to eat, I do not want to eat this but I order this for my friend."

December 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsolaCiao

I see what you're saying. My brain is just going in a different direction. This is one of the few sentence on duolingo that I didn't understand the grammar, and when I started to think of the wa as showing contrast, it helped me understand the structure better.

"It's not bad, compared to the other things it could possibly be."

"I don't want to eat it, compared to other things I might do with it (look at it, smell it)."

December 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KeithWong9

Umm, no, AbunPang's explanation above is 100% correct. わるく is the topic. ないです is related to the topic but is never the topic. は does not really de-emphasize the subject, but it only serves to bring up the topic (as to emphasize that the topic has some kind of relationship). In this case it is the comparison that it is not BAD but is something else.

December 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/angel_campoverde

It does not accept:

悪くはないです

just the hiragana:

わるくはないです

April 30, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ahANpg

わるい is い形容詞 i-adjective

Using i-adjectives to modify or join verbs or nouns, い is replaced by く

Therefore

わるく + ない = not bad おいしく + ない = not delicious おおきく + ない = not big

Japanese dont say わるくはない !U will get a weird look !

July 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidKames

わるくない it is not bad わるくはない it is not necessarily bad

October 9, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidKames

悪くない means it is not bad, while 悪くはない means that it is not necessarily bad. You wont get wierd looks unless you use it incorrectly

October 9, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zazakoolaid

This should be 「わるくないです」

June 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsolaCiao

If you check out some of the discussion above, you'll see that わるくない would just be "it's not bad", but to convey the "not necessarily" part you need は.

December 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zazakoolaid

That is, for this translation

June 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hiba226886

Completely agree

June 18, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sgising2

is including the particle just a non-natural way to form the sentence?

July 31, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wayne427822

And here's where I start punching myself in the balls for choosing Japanese as the language I should learn.

February 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ElderHinrichs

insert Obama face

November 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/logan812545

Ha is not a particle in this case as it is being pronouced ha and not wa

July 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PabloArias470876

It is actually wa, but the robo reader confuses it sometimes

July 30, 2017
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