812 - ~かねる

JLPT N2: ~かねる (cannot...)

Before reading this lesson, you should go back and review this one: [NDL #444] - JLPT N2: ~かねない.

In it, you'll see that ~かねない is used when expressing that something (undesirable) could happen:

彼女に現金を与えたらまたギャンブルに使いかねないよ。
かのじょ に げんきん を あたえたら また ギャンブル に つかいかねない よ。
If you give her cash, she might gamble with it again.
Literally: “she + に + cash + を + if you gave + again + gambling + に + could use + よ.” 



It should come as no surprise, then, that ~かねる is used when (it feels/appears as though) something cannot be done:

このままこの仕事を続けるか、実家に戻って家業を継ぐか、決めかねています
このまま この しごと を つづける か、 じっか に もどって かぎょう を つぐ か、 きめかねています。
I can’t decide if I should keep doing this job, or if I should move back home and take over the family business.
Literally: “as things are / as it is + this + job + を + continue + か, + (parents’) home + に + return (and) + family business + を + succeed / inherit (e.g. a business) + か, + am being unable to decide.”



 



Using ~かねる

First, you take a verb that denotes a certain action which, from a specific person's viewpoint, cannot be done.

Note that we're not talking about an action that one is physically incapable of doing. Rather, it's an action that one perceives to be impossible or too difficult.

In our first example sentence, that verb was 決める (きめる // to decide).

The speaker felt that she was incapable of deciding whether she should keep her job or go home and take over the family business.

Accordingly, she took the ます-stem of the verb 決める, which is 決め- (きめ-) and attached かねる to the end of it: 決めかねる (きめかねる).

Vますかねる
(one feels/believes that one) cannot VERB


Here's the sentence once more:

このままこの仕事を続けるか、実家に戻って家業を継ぐか、決めかねています
このまま この しごと を つづける か、 じっか に もどって かぎょう を つぐ か、 きめかねています。
I can’t decide if I should keep doing this job, or if I should move back home and take over the family business.
Literally: “as things are / as it is + this + job + を + continue + か, + (parents’) home + に + return (and) + family business + を + succeed / inherit (e.g. a business) + か, + am being unable to decide.”



 



Let's look at some more examples...

彼女は職場でのプレッシャーに耐えかねたらしく、会社をやめてしまった。
かのじょ は しょくば で の プレッシャー に たえかねた らしく、 かいしゃ を やめて しまった。
It seems she quit her job because she couldn’t handle the pressure at her workplace.
Literally: “she + は + workplace + で + の + pressure + に + couldn’t bear / couldn’t put up with + apparently (=[hearsay marker]), + company + を + ended up quitting.”



出来合いのものばかり食べている私をかねて、同僚がお弁当を作ってきてくれた。
できあい の もの ばかり たべている わたし を みかねて、 どうりょう が おべんとう を つくって きて くれた。
My coworker got so fed up with watching me eat ready-made meals every day that he [she] brought me a homemade lunch.
Literally: “ready-made (e.g. meal from a convenience store) + の + thing + only + am eating + I + を + couldn’t (bear to) watch (and), + coworker + が + bento + を + make (and) + come (and) + gave (me).”
Note: It appears the coworker was worried about the speaker's health, or something.



 



You'll sometimes hear ~かねる being used in the service industry, as it is useful for telling customers that you cannot fulfill their requests or demands:

 Customer: 
いつごろ再入荷されますか。
いつごろ さいにゅうか されます か。
Around when will it be back in stock?
Literally: “around when / approximately when + restocked / arrival of goods (again) + is done + か.”



 Worker: 
申し訳ありませんが、現時点ではお答えいたしかねます
もうしわけございません が、 げんじてん で は おこたえ いたしかねます。
I’m terribly sorry, but I’m presently unable to answer that question.
Literally: “I’m terribly sorry + が (=but), + at the present moment + で + は + answering + cannot (humbly) do.”



↑ If you don't understand how the worker is using humble language, you may want to review this lesson: [NDL #809] - JLPT N4: お~する.

 



Here's a formal business situation in which the speaker is politely rejecting someone's idea:

面白いアイディアだとは思いますが、私どもとしては賛成しかねます
おもしろい アイディア だ と は おもいます が、 わたくし ども として は さんせい しかねます。
While I do think that it is an interesting idea, we (as a company) cannot agree to it.
Literally: “interesting + idea + だ + と + は + thing + が (=but), + we + as for + は + agreeing + cannot do.”



 



Finished!