I'm translating a DIALOUGE sentence from Japanese to English, and I'm having issues with keeping the negation of the verb "have not" in my translation while following proper English grammar, or avoiding the sentence reading awkwardly in English.

Below is the original Japanese sentence and underneath that are the individual segments parsed out with their English equivalent. (Particles are Japanese 'articles', and can mean different things based on the surrounding words or phrases).


貴女 - feminine - 'you'

とて - particle - 'even'/'even though'/'on the grounds that'

想い - noun - 'thought'/'experience'/'hope'/'expectation'

は - topic particle (denotes topic of sentence)

同じ noun - 'same'/'similar' / etc.

では - conjunction - 'then'/'well'/'so'/'well then'

ありません - sentence ending verb - 'to have'/'to exist'/'to come about' negative polite form

か - Japanese question mark

The following are the English translations I've made after converting the literal translation to proper American English.

Even though you have not had similar thoughts then?

Even though you have not had similar thoughts as well?

Even you have not thought the same as well?

Even you have not similar thoughts as well?

A only-English-speaking friend I've run the above translations by suggested "Even you must have had similar thoughts?" which fits the situation, but leaves out the 'not'.

Based on the information above, which sentence works while leaving in the 'not', or what would you suggest as a alternate translation that works in English that contains the negation?

  • Have even you yourself not thought so?
    – Xanne
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 0:36
  • Perhaps: You yourself haven't had similar thoughts as well? "Yourself" can give a similar flavor to "even." You can make a skeptical question by taking a sentence and putting a question mark at the end. You would pronounce it with a skeptical or persuasive tone. Or perhaps: Haven't you yourself had similar thoughts as well? Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 5:40
  • @aparente001 "yourself" can do that? I can't recall seeing it being used in that way before.
    – Toyu_Frey
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 19:58
  • @Toyu_Frey - Something fun for you to look up in a dictionary that gives usage examples! Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 11:33
  • @aparente001 What is the dictionary you use that has usage examples?
    – Toyu_Frey
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 20:01

1 Answer 1


I think you're focusing too much on word-to-word translations. A Japanese-English dictionary cannot tell you what is appropriate in actual translation. All of the suggested "translations" you included in your question are either ungrammatical or so confusing as to be incomprehensible. That's the result of hewing too closely to "literal" equivalency: you get a "translation" that doesn't mean anything close to the original.

A negative question isn't the only way to convey the same meaning as ありませんか. In this sentence, that serves to mark the sentence as a tag question. There are other structures in English that express the same meaning. Same with the とて. "Even" isn't the only way to convey the kind of emphasis that とて expresses.

I'd suggest either

You must've had similar thoughts yourself.


Have you not had similar thoughts yourself?

if you're really dead-set on keeping a negative question.

In the future, I'd recommend trying to understand the meaning and purpose of the Japanese sentence as a whole before trying to convey that meaning in English. Breaking the sentence into its components and replacing those components one-by-one is not going to lead to an accurate translation.

  • Where did you glean the "yourself" from?
    – Toyu_Frey
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 1:17
  • "Yourself" serves the same purpose as とて. When とて directly follows a noun, it has a very similar meaning to だって or も. "You've thought the same yourself" uses "yourself" to put emphasis on "you".
    – sky
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 1:20
  • I think I understand what you're saying about とて, that it's a emphasis particle/verb ending? Would "Surely you have thought the same, haven't you?" work as a translation, now that I know that the sentence is a tag question (I didn't recognize it as one)? I'm just trying to double check my newly gained knowledge of tag sentences.
    – Toyu_Frey
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 1:26
  • Yes, I think that would work too.
    – sky
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 1:29
  • 1
    Now that I think about it, I don't know if "tag question" is the right term. It's a broader category that includes other kinds of rhetorical questions. For example, "Haven't you done that already?" is not a tag question question. But it isn't neutrally seeking information either, it assumes the answer. I don't know the term for it, but in Japanese, as in English, oftentimes negative questions are seeking confirmation, or aren't true questions at all.
    – sky
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 1:40

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