How to use べき ( = beki)



= Nani ga atte mo nihongo no benkyou wo tsuzukeru beki dayo.

= Whatever happens, you should keep studying Japanese, OK?

Hi everybody!  Today’s guest teacher is my old friend and he is now my Angel buddy, Max.  !JYANE! 

He used to live in Prague, but he is now lives in Doggie Heaven with me.

We’ve made a couple of lessons together in the past.


Hello, long time no see! I’m Max.
Maggie and I made this lesson together for Facebook before we became angels.
I will add more information this time and would like to dedicate this lesson to my beautiful mom, Nina. boucingheart! 

Today’s focus grammar is べき ( = beki). It is a suffix indicating obligation. It is used when you describe something should be done or someone must do something,

 :rrrr: must, need to do something, ought to do something, have to do something.

 !star! How to use this form:

verb plain form+ べき ( = beki) + ( = da)/です ( = desu) *more polite

 :i: Exception: する ( = suru)

:rrrr: するべき ( = surubeki ) or it could be ( = su) + べき ( = beki)  

(するべき = surubeki is more conversational)

Negative form :

verb plain form + べき ( = beki)

ではない ( = dewa nai)

+ ではありません。* more polite 

+ じゃない ( = janai) more casual

+ じゃないです/じゃありません(=janai desu / ja arimasen) casual but polite


So べき ( = beki) is used to show when you think someone must do something or something should be done.
It sounds much stronger than した方がいい ( = shitahou ga ii ) should.

:w: In affirmative sentence: should do / must do something

Ex. 彼女ににあやまるべきです。

= Kanojo ni ayamaru beki desu.

= You ought to apologize to her.

Ex. そんなことを言うべきではありません。

= Sonna koto wo iu beki de wa airmasen.

= You must not say things like that.

Ex. 今しかできないことをやるべきです。

= Ima shika dekinai koto wo yaru beki desu.

= You should do the things that you can only do now.

Ex. あんな人とは別れるべきだ。

= Anna hito to wa wakareru beki da.

= You should break up with someone like that.

Ex. 「マギー先生、もっとやせるべきだよ。」

= Maggie Sensei Motto yaseru beki dayo.

= You should lose more weight, Maggie Sensei.

Ex. この映画は絶対に観るべきだ。

= Kono eiga wa zettai ni miru bekida.

You really should see this movie.

Ex. Ninaも日本に行くべきです。

=Nina mo Nihon ni iku beki desu.

= Nina should also go to Japan.

Ex. 彼女に知らせるべきだ。

= Kanojo ni shiraseru bekida.

= You should tell her.

Ex. 今、私達はもっと節電をすべきだ。

= Ima watashitachi wa motto setsuden wo subekida.

= We should save electricity more now.

Ex. マイホームを買うべきか迷う。

= Maihoumu wo kaubeki ka mayou.

= I don’t know whether I should buy my own house or not.

You can ask someone for their opinion on whether or not you should do something.

Ex. 「ねえ、彼に電話をするべきだと思う?」

= Nee, kare ni denwa wo surubeki dato omou?

= Hey, do you think I should call him?


= Un, yuuki wo dashite kare ni denwa wo kakeru beki dayo.

= You should be brave and call him!

Note : するべき ( = surubeki) should do

 :rrrr: You also say べき ( = subeki) in more formal Japanese.

Ex. もっと勉強すべきです。

= Motto benkyou subeki desu.

= You should study more.

Ex. これからの日本はどうすべきか。

= Korekara no nihon wa dou subekika.

= What Japan should do now?

 :s: Negative Basic form: shouldn’t do something / must not do something

verb plain form

+ べきではない ( = beki de wa nai)

+ べきではありません ( = beki de waarimasen.)*more polite 

+ べきじゃない ( = bekijanai) casual

+ べきじゃないです/じゃありません。 ( = bekija nai desu/ ja arimasen) casual but polite

Ex. そんなことを言うべきではない。

= Sonna koto wo iu beki dewa nai.

= You shouldn’t say such a thing.

 :rrrr: (more colloquial)


= Sonna koto wo iu beki janai.

Note : If you want to suggest more softly, you should use

:rrrr:verb (し)た方がいい ( = V (shi)ta hou ga ii )/verb (し)ない方がいい ( = V (shi)nai hou ga ii)

Ex.  漢字の勉強をあきらめるべきではありません。

= Kanji no benkyou wo akirameru beki dewa arimasen.

= You shouldn’t give up on studying kanji.

Ex. 結論を急ぐべきではない。

= Ketsuron wo isogu beki dewa nai.

= We shouldn’t jump the conclusion.

Ex. 今は、そんなことをやるべきじゃないよ。

= Ima wa, sonna koto wo yaru beki janai yo.

= It is not the right time to do that. (We shouldn’t do that now.)

 :ee: Past tense : to show your regrets:

Should have done something

:rrrr:Verb plain form + べきだった = bekidatta

+ べきでした = bekideshita (more polite)

shouldn’t have done something

:rrrr:Verb plain form

+ べきではなかった = ~ beki dewa nakatta

+ べきではありませんでした = ~ beki de wa arimasen deshita. (more polite)

+べきじゃなかった = beki ja nakatta. (more casual)

+べきじゃありませんでした = beki ja arimasen deshita. (casual but polite

Ex. 彼と別れるべきじゃなかった。

= Kare to wakareru beki janakatta.

= I shouldn’t have broken up with him.

Note : It sounds stronger than


= Kare to wakarenai hou ga yokatta)



= Kare to wakarenakereba yokatta.

Ex. 私も同じものを頼むべきだった。

= Watashi mo onaji mono wo tanomu beki datta.

= I should have ordered the same thing.

Ex. 彼女の電話番号を聞くべきだった。

= Kanojo no denwa bangou wo kiku beki datta.

= I should have asked her phone number.

(The translation might be the same but it sounds much stronger than


= Kanojo no denwa bangou wo kiite okeba yokatta.)

Ex. もっと一生懸命勉強するべきだった。

= Motto isshoukenmei benkyou wo suru beki datta.

= I should have studied harder.

Ex. あんな派手な結婚式をするべきではありませんでした。

= Anna hade na kekkonshiki wo surubeki de wa arimasen deshita.

= We shouldn’t have had that luxurious wedding party.

Ex. 君にうそをつくべきではなかった。

= Kimini uso wo tsuku beki dewa nakatta.

= I shouldn’t have lied to you.

verb plain form +べき = bekika = Whether you should do something or not

Ex. 生きるべきか死ぬべきか.

= Ikiru beki ka shinu beki ka.

=To be or not to be.

verb plain form +べきかどうか ( = beki ka douka)

Ex. 日本語の勉強を続けるべきかどうかわからない。

= Nihongo no benkyou wo tsuzukeru beki ka douka wakaranai.

= I don’t know whether I should keep studying Japanese or not.

Ex.  iPhone 6を買うべきかどうか迷っている。

= iPhone 6 wo kaubeki ka douka mayotte iru.

= I am wondering whether or not I should buy an iPhone 5.

verb plain form  + べき ( = beki) + noun = things that you should do

Ex. やるべきことがいっぱいある。

= Yarubeki kotoga ippai aru.

= There are many things that I should do.

Note : It has the same meaning as やらなければいけないこと ( = yaranakereba ikenai koto ) things that you have to do

〜なければならない (= nakereba naranai) is more conversational

Ex.  この作文には直すべき間違いがいくつもある。

= Kono sakubun niwa naosubeki machigai ga ikutsu mo aru.

= There are several mistakes in this composition.

 :qq: Variation

verb plain form +べく=beku = in order to do something/ for the purpose of ~

べく=beku  is a formal expression but when you want to show your intention to do something you use べく( = beku)

Ex. 彼は、弁護士になるべく法学部に入った。

= Kare wa, benkgoshi ni narubeku hougakubu ni haitta.

= He entered the law faculty in order to be a lawyer.

(In conversation we use ために ( = tameni) more. In this case 弁護士になるために = bengoshi ni naru tameni  would be more conversational.)


= Minasama no gokitai ni sou beku doryoku shite mairimasu.

= I will do my best to meet your expectation.

Ex. みんなの力になるべくがんばって日本語を教えます。

= Minna no chikara ni naru beku ganbatte nihongo wo oshiemasu.

= I will do my best to be helpful in teaching everyone Japanese.

verb plain form + べからず = bekarazu = literal/ written JapaneseYou shouldn’t / Don’t ~

When you tell people not to do something in a strong manner, you use べからず ( = bekarazu)
This expression is only used in written form when you warn, prohibit people not to do something.  It’s quite common in old expressions/sayings.
So don’t use it in conversation unless you are quoting an old expression/sayings.

Ex. 働かざるもの喰うべからず  (Old saying)

= Hatarakazaru mono kuu bekarazu

He who does not work, neither shall he eat.

Ex. 入るべからず

= Hairu bekarazu

= Do not enter

Ex. ペンキ塗り立て。触るべからず

= Penki nuritate. Sawaru bekarazu

= Freshly painted. Do not touch!

(It sounds much stronger than 触らないでください =  Sawaranai de kudasai = Please don’t touch)

So going back to the picture,


= Nani ga atte mo nihongo no benkyou wo tsuzukeru beki dayo.

= Whatever happens, you should keep studying Japanese, OK?


= Minna, ganbattene!

= Study hard, everyone!

maggie-senseiマギー先生より= Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


= Max Sensei, arigatou!

= Thank you, Max Sensei!


= Watashi mo Max Sensei nimattakku doukan!

= I totally agree with you.


= Donnani taihen demo, nihongo no benkyou tsuzukete ne.

= No matter how hard it is, please keep studying Japanese.


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  1. Maggie Sensei, こんにちは!
    Thank you for the lesson, now I know another way to express “should” but I don’t really catch the nuance between each of them ;)

    To say “You should study japanese” I have those translation :

    I am confused, what is the difference ?

    1. 1. You should study Japanese.(It implies you don’t have but it will be better to study Japanese for example to improve your Japanese.)
      2. You must study Japanese. / You’d better study Japanese.
      While 5) is talking about present or near future, 2 could be just for future in general. )
      3. You can study Japanese./Why don’t you study Japanese?/I think you should study Japanese. (Giving some ideas.)
      4. One is supposed to study Japanese. (The speaker is guessing what the listener would do.)
      5. You have to study Japanese (Usually talking about what one have to do now because there is no choice.)

  2. Maggie sensei,

    Happy New Year!

    I am making a New year reflection and I see that I am using a lot of べきだった…
    That makes a question floating in my head.

    Is べきだった only used for the first person (I) since it has some reflection meaning.
    Is べきだった used for the other person also?

    1. Happy New Year!!
      You can use べきだった for someone else, too.
      You should have been nicer to her.
      He should have tried harder.

    1. べき is more literal and stronger.
      なきゃ/なくちゃ is much more casual.
      Also unless you express your own regret, 〜べきだった, you don’t usually use べき for yourself.

      I have to study more.
      I gotta study more.
      もっと勉強しなくちゃ/なきゃ。(conversational but very common)

  3. Maggie sensei,

    Hello again !

    I read over and over your lesson then 1 more question comes out.

    If べき is used for telling what should be done from your point of view,
    then what to use for telling what should be done from regulation point of view, such as

    (1) as the national law, people under 18 years should not drink alcohol
    (2) As the company rule, people should were uniform.

    Thanks Maggie sensei as always.

    1. Hello

      You can use for example, Vなくてはならない or Vといけない/(negative form) Vてはならない/ Vてはいけない (+ことになっている: more explanatory. S is (not) supposed to do something)

      (1) お酒を飲んではいけない(+ことになっている)。/ お酒を飲んではならない。(+ことになっている)
      (2) 制服を着なくてはいけない。(+ことになっている)/制服を着なくてはならない。(+ことになっている)

  4. Maggie sensei,

    I have a question about べき。 Could you help me as you always do !
    If べき is more about obligation, then I don’t know what the obligation in this sentence.


    Since breaking up with him is the choice of the one person, not an obligation, isn’t it?


    1. Right. You can decide whether you break up with someone or not.
      If your friend is going out with a bad person. How would you feel? You think your friend should break up with that person, right?
      When you strongly think that someone should do something if possible, you can use べき.

  5. Hi!
    This lesson has been very useful, thank you. I have a question.

    This example you gave:

    The translation you provided is:
    There are several mistakes in this composition.

    Should it be “You should correct several mistakes in this composition” ? Because of “直すべき”

    Thank you!!

    1. @yuuna

      OK, the literal translation of that sentence is

      There are several mistakes that I should fix in that composition.
      There are several mistakes that should be fixed in that composition.

      直すべき modifies 間違い

  6. this form can be used with first person ? like

    1. @Caio

      It is possible to use べき with the first person in certain cases
      Ex. 私は父に謝るべきか迷っている。
      Ex. 私が行くべきだと思う?
      Ex. 私はあんなことを言うべきじゃなかった。
      Ex. それは私がやるべきことです。

      (person) は Verbべきです pattern is when you give someone an advice so 私はVべきです is unnatural.

      〜てはいけない is more natural.

      1. maggie先生、詳しく説明してありがとうございました。もう一つ聞いていいですか。

        I understood your explanation. I should use the form てはいけない in te first person instead beki, but i wish to know if its ok use the form ばいい with first person.


        1. @Caio
          Yes, you can use ばいい with the first person.
          (ればいい sounds much lighter/less obligatory than べき)
          All your sentences are very natural.

  7. I completed JLPT 5 last week
    And I think we learned that form a little in class
    If I remember correctly it’s used to make contrasts
    But I guess I will stick to を until I better understand the concept so I won’t get confused. I am going to Japan in 2 weeks for a program and I can’t wait to test my Japanese skills
    I have revised a lot of my lessons from your website and it really helped me so 本当に ありがとう ございます マッギョ先生 :D <3
    And sorry for commenting too much haha

  8. Oh oh I see thank you
    But I think I will use を when I talk instead of は since that’s how I practiced my speech from my classes haha
    That’s okay right?

    1. @Yasaisan

      You can say

      映画 is an object of the verb, 観る

      this は is a topic marker and introducing a topic, “as for “
      You use this pattern when you emphasize what comes before, in this case “this movie”

      Other example:

      この映画を観たい = I want to see this movie.
      この映画は観たい (stronger feeling/emphasizing this movie) = I’d love to see this movie.
      (This movie is special. Showing the contrast)

      人参(にんじん)を食べない= I don’t eat carrots.
      人参(にんじん)は食べない = I don’t eat carrots. (Emphasizing carrots/ the speaker eats everything but carrots.)

    1. @Yuuki

      Hi Yuuki
      I understand your sentence but
      食べすぎる ( = tabesugiru) means “to eat too much” and you say that when you can’t control your appetite.
      It will be more natural to use volitional verbs with べきじゃなかった

      I would say

  9. こんばんはー!(*^_^*)

    With regards to べき, would like to know if the following sentence is correct?


    A little unsure on how to write a sentence with べき when speaking/referring to more than 1 person..



  10. 早く「べき」の文法は学ぶべきだった。とっても便利だし分かりやすいなぁ。一日で習った。教えてくれてありがとう!

    1. @pcd
      そうそう、生きている間(←Note ”存命中”より自然です)に新しいものにいっぱい挑戦してみてください!

  11. Thank you very much for this lesson, Maggie!
    Also we can sometimes see べし which is the 終止形 of べき used in Classical Japanese (in fact the verb べし has 6 different meanings in Classical Japanese, in Modern Japanese there’s only one meaning).
    EX) もっと日本語を勉強すべし。(=もっと日本語を勉強すべき。)

    The negative form of classical べし in 未然形 is べからず.
    EX) 公園の掲示に「芝生に入るべからず」と書いてあった。(=公園の掲示に「芝生に入るべきではない」と書いてあった。)

    In the middle of the sentence べからざる is used as the 連体形 of べし.
    EX) 許すべからざる行動。(=許すべきではない行動)

    I think that’s all what I wanted to add ^w^

  12. Thanks for this great lesson! I had some lingering doubts about the use of beki, but now I have learned about it and more.

  13. マギー先生、レッスンありがとうございました!とても良い勉強になりました!

  14. Sensei, how do I know if the subject “you, I, we, they”?
    In this sentence, you use subject “you”. この映画は絶対に観るべきだ。

    Whereas here, you use “we” as a subject. あんな派手な結婚式をする べきではありませんでした。

    Can you explain? I’m rather perplexed to determine it.

    1. @Akatsuki

      Unlike many textbook Japanese, we often skip the subject in natural Japanese so it is hard for you to determine the subject in some short example sentences.
      Only the speaker/writer can decide. In this lesson it’s me. :)

      That “you” is “you in general” so you can be replaced with “we”

      あんな派手な結婚式をする べきではありませんでした。
      I meant to write the example to show the regrets of the speaker so I used “we” as a subject. But it could be “I”

    2. Yeah, when I was starting I had the same questions. Over time you will learn that in general you just pick up the subject by context.

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