Some help translating きゃ

As I go through the WK lessons, I typically try to read/parse as much of the example sentences as I can (absurd as they often are) as practice. I ran into this sentence fragment (from 過ごす vocab):


It translates to:

…so we had to spend the hot day without an air‐conditioner.

I understand everything up to the きゃならなかったんだ. My knowledge of grammar is still pretty rudimentary, so bear with me. I understood 過ごさなきゃ as being “must spend time on,” and I thought ならなかった was the negative past conjugation of 成る (with explanatory んだ appended). But when I put those together, I get “we did not become that we had to spend time…”, which is the opposite of the translated meaning. I appreciate any help figuring this out!


The きゃ replaces ければ in this use!

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This looks like the grammar point なきゃならない.

Check out sections 2 and 4 here: Expressing “must” or “have to” – Learn Japanese

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〜なきゃ is an informal, contracted way to say “need to”.

The full form is

〜なければ + [verb in a negative form]
(“if it doesn’t 〜, it doesn’t verb”)

Examples include:

What you have here is a variant of the last option, 〜なければならない, but with なければ shortened to なきゃ and ならない conjugated to ならなかった.

It’s quite literally something like:
“If we didn’t spend the hot day without an air conditioner, it wouldn’t become.”


I used that article as reference and I think I see my mistake - I had assumed that when you shortcut with きゃ you HAVE to leave out the だめ/いけない/ならない, but now I see that the ならなかった just comes from the past conjugation of the ならない there. Rookie mistake!


Just to add on this, the きゃ is not a part in itself. It starts from なきゃ.

I know you already have your answer, but here’s an article filled with a bunch of these contracted forms such as the one you asked about:

Hopefully this can be helpful as you encounter more of these contractions.


Thanks! This is very useful. I’m finding these contractions peppered everywhere in conversational dialogue and I’ve had to jump back and forth across multiple references to remember what they mean.

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Yeah, it’s a pretty nice centralized listing. It’s had pretty much every contraction I’ve encountered so far.

But, yes, I feel the pain on conversational Japanese. Between the contractions, the dropped particles, etc. it can be quite an eyeopening experience.

What a nostalgic question. Reminds me of my time as a fresh learner: Strange conjugation 止まらなきゃ

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