What's wrong with this sentence?

しか5日ないまでがくせいなりましょう

I am trying to say, “Five days until I am a student” but the translator says “Five days until I become a habitual user”, which doesn’t make sense…

Any tips?

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Well, you have a lot of the words in the wrong order and are missing at least one particle, plus you have a volitional in there that you don’t want, so a computer translation is trying to pull sense out of confusion and failing :slight_smile:

Some hints:

  • for “until X” the X has to go before まで (a general principle in Japanese: particles go after the clauses they mark)
  • the time period similarly must go before the しか particle
  • you can’t have the noun がくせい lying around in the sentence without a particle following it to show how it connects to its verb
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I made the adjustments but the sentence seems unnatural; may you double-check the order, please?

学生をなりますまで5日しかない

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That’s a lot closer. Two more things: in a sub clause verbs are always plain form so it is なる (if you want to add politeness you can make the main verb at the end of the sentence masu form if you like); and なる uses the particle に to indicate what the subject is becoming, not を (it’s an intransitive verb).

I can’t guarantee native speaker naturalness but that at least gets you to basically grammatically correct.

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私は学生になるまで5日しかない

どうもありがとうございます!

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I think I would use が rather than は there. 私 is the subject of なる, so it’s in the subclause, so it can’t be は marked there. I feel like using は at sentence level thus feels like a strong “as for me in contrast to e.g. my brother who’s not going to school for another six weeks” that you probably don’t intend. The plain “There are only five days til I become a student” would use が.

Or as usual omit it if clear in context. は vs が is always tricky though, so don’t get too hung up on it…

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@pm215 After reading some more sentences I understand that まで signifies an endpoint, and works well with から.

So the above sentence can mean, I become student, (use まで to signify endpoint); five days and nothing more.

So after adding あと and modifying が for は, I get:

私が学生になるまであと5日しかない

No, it can’t. まで marks the endpoint (in this case, the endpoint that there are only five days left until), yes, but the definition of the endpoint in this sentence is the subclause (私が)学生になる “(the time when) I become a student”. The particles and the sentence structure work to tell you what the meaning of the words is in relation to each other. Compare the English: “until” signifies the endpoint, and the endpoint is defined by the subclause “(the time when) I become a student”.

Also 5日しかない doesn’t mean “five days and nothing more”, it means “there are only five days”.

You can throw in an あと if you like, but it’s not necessary and it doesn’t make the sentence less ambiguous, because it’s not ambiguous to start with. It’s like saying “there are only five days left until…” vs “there are only five days until…”

It kinda does. That’s the subtext implied by ~しか~ない that using だけ instead lacks.

鶏だけがある = there are only chickens here
鶏しかがない = there ain’t nobody here but us chickens

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What I was trying to get across is that 5日しかない is a valid complete sentence which is the grammatical core of the full example sentence here, in the way that “there are only five days left” is and “five days and nothing more” is definitely not.

I agree on the だけ vs しか nuance in general, but for this kind of numerical thing “only $NUMBER” is a fine translation that captures the “there’s this much, and that’s all” sense. Compare the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar:

この学校は学生が百人しかいない - This school has only a hundred students

PS you don’t want a が after しか. (After だけ it is optional.)

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