How to use かねる/かねない ( = kaneru / kanenai)


= Boku no okodukai no kingaku desu ka? Sore wa okotae shikanemasu.

= The amount of my allowance? I’m afraid it is difficult for me to answer.

Hi everyone!

I’m Cookie. Just the other day a very rude human asked me how much allowance I get! Can you believe that!  失礼だなあ… ( = Shitsurei danaa… = How rude!)

Of course, I wasn’t going to tell him how rude he was. I am a mature dog so I know how to answer nicely.  :) 

So, today I will teach you how to use Vかねる ( = kaneru ) / Vかねない ( = kanenai)

These are in JLPT N2 word list, and they are pretty formal.

 :purple: How to form:

1) Vかねる ( = kaneru)

verb masu-stem + かねる ( = kaneru)

(1) make a masu-form: わかります = wakarimasu = to understand

(2) delete ます ( = masu) and make a masu-stem

わかり( = wakari)

(3) add かねる ( = kaneru ) / (polite) かねます ( = kanemasu)

わかりかねる ( = wakari kaneru ) / わかりかねます ( = wakari kanemasu.)

2) Vかねない ( = kanenai)

verb masu-stem + かねない ( = kanenai)

(1) make a masu-form: 言います = いいます = ii masu = to say

(2) delete ます ( = masu) and make a masu-stem

言い = いい = ii

(3) add かねない ( = kanenai)

言いかねない = いいかねない = iikanenai

 :ee: How to use:

  Vかねる ( = kaneru) (formal)

1) (even if you have intentions to do so) It is difficult to do something / not capable to do something (polite/formal)

So you use this expression to say “No”/“No I can’t” in a polite way.

For example, when you want to decline someone’s request:

The first phrase that might come to mind is:


= Sore wa dekimasen.

= We / I can’t do that.

However this might come across as  too direct in certain formal situations.

Instead, you can say:

 :rrrr: それはできかねます

= Sore wa dekikanemasu.

= I’m afraid it is hard for us/me to do.

or more humbly:

 :rrrr: それは致しかねます

= Sore wa itashikanemasu.

= I’m afraid that would be hard for us/me to do.

Note 1): 致す( = itasu) is a polite (humble) way to say する ( = suru) to do

Note 2): You don’t use this expression when talking about a third person.

So you can’t say:

X 彼はできかねます

= Kare wa dekikanemasu.

= I’m sorry but it is hard for him to do.

As I mentioned above, it’s a formal expression and you use it in business conversation or in writing.

Warning: if you use it in conversation with your friends, they may look at you funny. (^_−)−

All the following phrases are very formal.

Ex. 今回の人事移動は納得しかねます

= Konkai no jinji idou wa nattoku shikanemasu.

= I’m afraid I disagree with the personnel transfer this time.

Ex. その件については私にはわかりかねます

= Sono ken ni tsuite wa watakushi niwa  wakari kanemasu.

= I’m afraid I am unfamiliar with that matter.

Ex. 新しい方針には賛成しかねます

= Atarashii houshin niwa sansei shikanemasu.

= It is difficult for me to agree with the new policy.

Ex. 申し訳ございません。私ではお答えしかねます

= Moushiwake gozaimasen. Watakushi dewa okotae shikanemasu.

= I am very sorry. I am not in a position to answer that question.

 :ii: Idiomatic expressions:

* 待ちかねる = machikaneru = to wait impatiently / to look forward

Ex. みんな、新しいゲームの発売日を待ちかねている

= Minna, atarashii geemu no hatsubaibi wo machikanete iru.

= Everybody is waiting impatiently for the day the new game goes on sale.

You can modify a verb

お待ちかね = omachi kane no

Ex. お待ちかねのデザートです。

= Omachi kane no dezaaato desu.

= Here’s the dessert you have been waiting for.

*たまりかねる = tamari kaneru = not be able to bear

Ex. 電車の中で子供達があまりにうるさいので一人の男性がたまりかねて叱りつけた。

= Densha no naka de kodomotachi ga amarini urusai node hitori no dansei ga tamari kanete shikaritsuketa. 

= The children on the train were so loud/annoying that one man couldn’t help but scold them.

*かねる = mikaneru = can’t bear to see

Set phrase

見るに見かねる = miru ni mikaneru = not be able to just to watch something/someone without doing something/ be unable to remain indifferent

Ex. 大きな荷物をもって階段を上っているおばあさんがいたので見るに見かねて声をかけた。

= Ookina nimotsu wo motte kaidan wo agatte/nobotte iru obaasan ga ita no de miru ni mikanete koe wo kaketa.

= I couldn’t help myself when I saw an old woman going up the stairs with a big bag and called out to her.

2) hesitate to do something / to be reluctant to do something

Ex. 会社も彼を首にするかどうか決めかねているようだ。

= Kaisha mo kare wo kubi ni suru ka douka kimekanete iru you da.

= It seems like the company can’t decide whether or not they should fire him.

Ex. 彼に本当のことを言いかねている。

= Kare ni hontou no koto wo iikanete iru.

= I am reluctant to tell him the truth.

  Vかねない ( = kanenai)

1) could happen / might do something

So かねる ( = kaneru) is not be able to do something and かねない ( = kanenai) is a double negative. “not” be able to “not do st”

You use it when there is a possibility of doing something or something happening.

Note: You use this expression when you talk about unfavorable outcomes / possibilities.

Ex. 彼ならやりかねないね。

= Kare nara yarikanenai ne.

(It is not impossible to imagine he would do such a thing based on his usual behavior.)

= I wouldn’t put it past him.

Note: * While you use use かねる ( = kaneru) is for yourself, you  use かねない ( = kanenai) when you are talking about a third person.

X 私はやりかねない

= Watashi wa yarikanenai.

sounds strange.

Ex. この道に信号をつけないと次の事故が起こりかねない

= Kono michi ni shingou wo tsukenai to tsugi no jiko ga okori kanenai.

= If they don’t put up a traffic light on this street, another accident might happen.

Ex. そんなことを言ったら彼女を傷つけかねない

= Sonna koto wo ittara kanojo wo kizutsuke kanenai.

= If I said things like that, I might hurt her feelings.

Ex. この食品サンプルは本物そっくりだから誰かが間違って食べかねない

= Kono shokuhin sanpuru wa honmono sokkuri da kara dareka ga machigatte tabekanenai.

= This food sample looks so authentic that someone might eat it by mistake.

Ex. 私がニューヨークに行くといったら弟も行くと言い出しかねない

= Watashi ga nyuuyooku ni iku to ittara otouto mo iku to iidashi kanenai.

= If I said I was going to NYC, my little brother might say he was going there too.

Note: You can also use  かも ( = kamo) instead of かねない ( = kanenai) in the above examples.

The difference between  かも ( = kamo) and かねない ( = kanenai)

While you use かも ( = kamo) when you talk about positive/neutral/negative possibilities, you only use かねない ( = kanenai ) for something negative or with something that the speaker fears might happen.

Ex. 妹は東京の大学に行くかもしれない。

= Imouto wa Toukyou no daigaku ni iku kamo shirenai.

= My little sister might go to university in Tokyo.

This is a neutral sentence. The speaker doesn’t express any feelings with this sentence.

If you use かねない ( = kanenai), however: 

Ex. 妹は東京の大学に行きかねない

= Imouto wa Tokyou no daigaku ni ikikanenai.

The translation could be the same:

 :rrrr: My little sister might go to university in Tokyo. / There is a possibility that my little sister will go to university in Tokyo.”

…but in this example we can tell the speaker doesn’t want it to happen.


マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


= Cookii no okodukai wa, tsuki ni jaakii juugohon to ringo sanko desu.

= Cookie got 15 pieces of dog treats and 3 pieces of apples for his allowance every month. 



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:rrrr: Audio File for this lesson.

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  1. こんにちは先生。
    温暖化の問題で、 夏は、 気温があがりかねない。 それで、 水不足になりかねない。
    7月は、 はじめて、 日本に行く予定です。 それは、 お待ちかねの旅行です。
    いつも、 お世話になっております。

    1. こんにちは、Pavithra D!

      それで、 水不足になりかねない。

      それは、 お待ちかねの旅行です。

  2. Hello Maggie sensei,

    May I … ask 1 more question.

    I am re-organizing the level of denying a request and the order I am thinking is:

    If some one makes a request to me, then

    the normal deny is できません。
    the strongest deny is できっこない。
    and the polite deny is できかねる。

    Is it correct sensei?

      1. Thank you Maggie sensei !!!!

        I have 1 more question about idomatic expression with かねる.
        Kaneru is very formal way to say NO.

        But is idomatic expression with かねる still formal? Or we can use expression more informal case?

  3. Maggie sensei,

    I have 1 question. Could you help me to clear away it?

    As for かねます, we dont use it for the third party person. But かねます also has some idomatic expression.

    My question is whether we can use idomatic expression for the third person always.

    As seen in the example from this lesson, I tell to myself that idomatic expression with かねる (まちかねる,,,) can be used for the third person.

    But could you teach me that?

    Thanks Maggie sensei as always

  4. AHAHAHAHAHAHAH the final sentence XD does it mean that it was Maggie-sensei to ask Cookie? X°D
    I love you, Maggie-sensei! a HUG from italy

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