569 - ~ようとしない

If you're studying for N3, then there are a few things you should already know.

First, when I say crazy grammar jargon like "volitional form," you should assume that I'm talking about verbs ending in ~よう or ~ましょう.

Second, you should know how to conjugate volitional verbs, as well as their varied nuances.

Need some review?

The short version: We use ~よう and ~ましょう to say (1) let's VERB or (2) I think I'll VERB.

The long version: The following two lessons...

[NDL #54] - I think I'll... go to sleep.
[NDL #55] - Yo, hey. I think I'll... tell you my plans...

Now, if ~よう means "I think I'll VERB" in some cases, then it should make sense that adding と and しない or しません, "don't do," to the end of it gives us "doesn't even think about VERB-ing," "has no interest in VERB-ing."

That also just so happens to be our lesson topic today:


JLPT N3: ~ようとしない (doesn't even think about ~ing)

An example:


イワンさんは見たことのない食べ物は決して食べようとしない
イワンさん は みた こと の ない たべもの は けっして たべようとしない。
Ivan-san won’t even consider trying food that he’s never seen before.
Literally: “Ivan-san + は + saw + thing + の + doesn’t have + food + は + never / by no means + doesn’t even think about eating.”


Ivan has always been a bit closed-minded.


Let's break this down:

V-ようとしない
doesn't even think about VERB-ing; won't even consider VERB-ing


We use this grammar form when talking about how other people make absolutely no effort and/or show absolutely no interest in doing something they should or would be expected to do.

Above, we saw:

食べる(たべる // to eat
↓ 🐳 ↓ 🐳 ↓
食べようたべよう // let's eat; I think I'll eat
↓ 🐳 ↓ 🐳 ↓
食べようとしないたべようとしない // doesn't even think about eating;won't even consider eating


Makes sense, yeah?

*You nod head.*

Oh, what a relief. I don't know how else to explain it.


[Bad student] doesn't even think about reading the next three examples.


うちの犬は、雨の日は散歩に行こうとしません
うち の いぬ は、 あめ の ひ は さんぽ に いこうとしません。
Our dog has no interest in going for walks when it’s raining.
Literally: “home + の + dog + は, + rain + の + day + は + walk + に + doesn’t even think about going.”


彼は人に言われないと、何もしようとしない
かれ は ひと に いわれない と、 なにも しようとしない。
He won’t even think about doing something unless someone tells him to.
Literally: “he + は + person + に + not be told + と, + nothing (=what + も) + doesn’t even think about doing.”


妹は毎日遊んでばかりで、全然働こうとしない
いもうと は まいにち あそんで ばかり で、 ぜんぜん はたらこうとしない。
My little sister just goes out every day; she doesn’t even think about getting a job.
Literally: “younger sister + は + every day + play (and) + only + で, + not at all + doesn’t even think about working.”


To reiterate, ~ようとしない is used to talk about other people making absolutely no effort to do something.

We can never use ~ようとしない when talking about ourselves.

So don't use it in the first-person:

× わたしは漢字を勉強しようとしません
× わたし は かんじ を べんきょう しようとしません。
× I don’t even think about studying kanji.
× Literally: “I + は + kanji + を + studies / studying + don’t even think about doing.”



That's all for this one.

If it's too hard, then I recommend reviewing the two lessons I linked to at the beginning of this lesson. Those should give you a firm-ish grasp of ~よう, thus preparing you take on the beast that is ~ようとしない.

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