793 - ~なくてもいい (doesn't have to be...)

JLPT N4: ~なくてもいい (doesn't have to be...)

You will recall that we just had an N4 lesson on ~なくてもいい, and how it is used to say "don't have to VERB" or "(it's) not necessary to VERB."

Here, we're looking at something very similar: Using ~なくてもいい to say "doesn't have to be (something)."

For this usage, we are not using verbs. Instead, we're using i-adjectives, na-adjectives, and NOUNS.

The meaning is a bit different, too. Instead of saying "You don't have to do X," we are saying "A doesn't have to be B" or "It's OK if A is not B."

Let's look at an example...

 Doctor: 
毎日でなくてもいいから、お酒を飲まない日を作ってください。
まいにちでなくてもいい から、 おさけ を のまない ひ を つくって ください。
It doesn’t have to be every day, but please make some days no-alcohol days.
Literally: “every day + even if (it’s) not + good + because, + alcohol + を + don’t drink + day + を + make (and) + please.”


The doctor is making a concession, saying that an "acceptable solution" (=not drinking some days) is fine, instead of the "optimal solution" (=not drinking any days).

 



👷 Construction 👷

First, the patterns:

i-adjective くなくてもいい
na-adjective で なくてもいい
NOUN でなくてもいい


Don't be too thrown off if you see じゃなくてもいい instead of なくてもいい attaching to na-adjectives and NOUNS.

Also, like we saw in the previous N4 lesson, words like かまいません/かまわない are fine instead of いい, too.

Last, more colloquial forms like ~なくていい (=no も) and ~なくたっていい are used, also.

We have examples showing what I mean below...

 

付き合う人は、優しい人がいいです。頭がよくなくてもかっこよくなくてもいいです。
つきあう ひと は、 やさしい ひと が いい です。 あたま が よくなくても、 かっこよくなくてもいい です。
I want to be with someone who is kind. He doesn’t have to be smart or good-looking.
Literally: “go out with / go steady with + person + は, + nice / kind + person + が + good + です. + even if (he’s) not smart (=head + が + even if [it’s] not good), + even if (he’s) not good-looking/cool + good + です.”

 



 Teacher: 
いらない本があったら学校の図書室に寄付してください。新品でなくてもかまいません
いらない ほん が あったら がっこう の としょしつ に きふ して ください。 しんぴんでなくてもかまいません。
If you have any books that you don’t need, please donate them to the school library. It doesn’t matter if they’re new or not.
Literally: “don’t need + books + が + if (you) have / if there are + school + の + library (room) + に + donation + do (and) + please. + new item + even if (it’s) not + doesn’t matter / (we) don’t mind.”

 



もっと安いチケットはありませんか。直行便でなくてもかまいませんから。
もっと やすい チケット は ありません か。 ちょっこうびんでなくてもかまいません から。
Would you happen to have any cheaper tickets? It’s all right if it’s not a direct flight.
Literally: “more + cheap + ticket + は + don’t have / there aren’t + か. + direct flight + even if (it’s) not + doesn’t matter / (I) don’t mind + because.”

 



Here's an example of dropping the in ~なくてもいい

寝るだけなんだから、泊まる場所はおしゃれじゃなくていいよ。
ねる だけ なんだ から、 とまる ばしょ は おしゃれじゃなくていい よ。
All we’ll do there is sleep, so the place we stay doesn’t have to be nice.
Literally: “sleep + only + なんだ + because, + stay (e.g. at a hotel) + place + は + nice / fancy + even if (it’s) not + good + よ.”


And here is ~なくたっていい instead of ~なくていい

寝るだけなんだから、泊まる場所はおしゃれじゃなくたっていいよ。
ねる だけ なんだ から、 とまる ばしょ は おしゃれじゃなくたっていい よ。
All we’ll do there is sleep, so the place we stay doesn’t have to be nice.
Literally: “sleep + only + なんだ + because, + stay (e.g. at a hotel) + place + は + nice / fancy + even if (it’s) not + good + よ.”

 



The end!

You are now the ~なくても master.



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