How “shikata nai” and “shouganai” are used in a conversation

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Learn Japanese online: Learn Speaking Japanese

In English, both ‘shikata nai しかたない’ and ‘shouganai しょうがない’  mean  “can’t be helped”. The usage of these two forms are pretty much the same, so they’re interchangeable in a conversation. To Learn Japanese properly, you have to understand this nuance. Speaking Japanese is where the true difficulty begins. Now, let’s look at the examples below on what speaking Japanese looks like.

“Can you help me study for the test please?”

Ashita tesuto no benkyou o tetsudatte kuremasenka? Onegaishimasu!


“Geez, can’t be helped, fine. Just this time.”

Mooo, shouganai na. Konkai dake dayo.


Mom, I want to eat an ice-cream. Would you like to buy me one?

Mama, Aisukuri-mu o tabetai! kattekureru?


Oww, sure!

shou ga naina!


However, ‘Shikata nai しかたない’ is the shortened casual conversation form of “Shikata ga arimasen しかたがありません’. So, on formal occasions ‘shikata ga nai’ or the more formal ‘shikata ga arimasen’ is more suitable than ‘shouganai’.

The Level of politeness(descending):

Shikata ga gozaimasen


Shikata ga arimasen


Shikata ga nai


Shou ga nai


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