Nai at the end of a word

Hi, i am still learning japanese.

I am confused with nai form, I know it’s negative.

But according to various sentences such as this one,
From song → “いまは あなたしか 見えないの” It seems to not indicate a negative.
my translation → “Right now I only see you” — Where is the negative part???

So my question is, What does “nai” mean in this situation, and how do I know when to use this definition of nai or when to use nai as a negative indicator?

*Oh yea, anyone can explain why all of the translations exclude the “Right now” part even though “ima” is present in the sentence?

I think it’s しか that’s throwing you off. It works in conjunction with a negative to create what is effectively an affirmative structure. If you look up how to use it, you’ll familiarize yourself with these structures.

しか~ない basically means “not [do something] except for [thing]” which equates to “do only [something] related to [thing]”.

あなたしか見えない “can’t see anyone except you” (where except is like しか) which means the same as “I can only see you”


Oh ok, but is shika always paired up with -nai? If so, is there any reason behind it? (for future references)

Yes, しか has to be used with a negative. You cannot say something like あなたしか見える.

I’m not sure what you mean exactly by a reason for it. Negative polarity items, as they are called, exist in Japanese and English and しか is one of them.


Oh nvm about that, I understand better now.
My only question for now is, for your translation, why is “right now” or “currently” not a part of it? Because “Ima” is in the line

I mean… I left いまは out of the Japanese line as well since it’s not related to the ない question, it’s not like I didn’t translate it. I was just focusing on the part the thread was focused on.

I don’t know what translations you’re referring to as not including it.

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Oh just that my poorly educated brain doesnt know why いま seems to be left out. it means “currently” but your translation doesnt include that currently part in which is what im confused about

Just to help keep the thread from de-railing too much: Leebo did leave out いま when talking about the sentence. While, it remains in the original post.

So, for what Leebo was focusing on, there was no いま, and thus, no “currently” or “now” to translate within that context. :slight_smile:

P.S. I think it was fair to do so, as well, since the main confusion really didn’t seem to have anything to do with いま.


I took it out of both lines, so of course it won’t be in the English either.

But we can put it back in.

Right now I can only see you.

But here

You referenced “all of the translations” excluding it, and that’s what I don’t know about.


By all translations i meant all other website translations of this song

I kind of figured, but you didn’t link to any or tell us what the song is, so we can’t look into it.

I guess I should have explained that it’s not something that is going to be answerable from just looking at the information you gave. I can’t say if it’s a mistake without seeing the full thing.

It’s worth mentioning though that lyric sites tend to just copy content from each other, so it’s entirely possible one person translated the song one time and everyone else just copied that, and so it doesn’t necessarily mean lots of people excluded “right now” from their translation in that sense.


Yea, I’m just gonna say “currently” whenever i see “ima” unless otherwise.

Toki no Nagare ni mi wo Makase [時の流れに身をまかせ] - Teresa Teng [鄧麗君] Lyrics in ENGLISH & ROMAJI - YouTube this is the song if you’d still like

It’s possible that people who translated it just felt that that seemed clunkier with “right now” or “currently.” And “I can only see you” already has a sense of being in the present as well. “Currently” definitely sounds clunky to me.

I don’t see anything in the surrounding parts explicitly taking on the role of いまは in the translations, which is what I thought might be possible.

Without asking them it’s hard to say why they chose to do it the way they did with certainty.

Think of ~しか as similar to “anything but ~”.

あなたしか見えない - “I (don’t) see anything but you”, or in more understandable English: “I see nothing but you”.

In English, we need a negative verb to go along with “anything”. It’s the same in Japanese.

It’s like when you use “nothing” in Japanese, if you’ve covered that yet. You need to use a negative verb:

なに食べたくない - I don’t want to eat anything.

しか works in the same way. It’s excluding the thing you’re attaching it to.

Some more examples:

すししか食べたくない - I don’t want to eat anything but sushi - I only want to eat sushi.

自転車しか乗れない - I can’t ride anything but a bicycle - I can only ride a bicycle.

ケーキが1つしか残っていない - Cakes aren’t remaining except for one (cake) - There’s only one cake left.

勝者は一人しかいない - There aren’t any winners but one (person) - There’s only one winner.

I took some liberties with some of the translations because you need to bear in mind that often Japanese will rarely translate cleanly into English. This is one such area because of how differently the grammar works in each language. It’s like trying to connect a lego piece and a puzzle piece.


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