訳ではない – How to Say "It's Not Necessarily the Case that…" in Japanese


Have you ever heard the Japanese phrase “そんな訳じゃない” or “そういう訳ではないんです“?  This is a very common Japanese phrase that can be used in a number of different circumstances.
In this blog post, we will provide a review of the contents from the video above, and examine the JLPT N3 Grammar point: 訳じゃない/訳ではない (wake janai/wake de wa nai).
However, if you are not already familiar with じゃない and じゃありません – check out this basic Japanese Grammar guide.  It looks at negative and short form negative Japanese verbs.

What Does 訳じゃない/訳ではない Mean

What does 訳じゃない or 訳ではない mean?  A basic translation is “it is not necessarily the case that~” or “it doesn’t mean that~”.  This phrase is often used to clarify a position on a certain matter or situation.
訳 (わけ/wake or やく/yaku) by itself, translates to “reason”, “circumstance”, or “meaning”.  The kanji is used in 通訳つうやく – spoken translation or interpretation, as well as 翻訳ほんやく – meaning a written translation.
In a polite context, you can end the phrase with です or ありません, while in a casual setting simple ない form is perfectly acceptable.  Additionally, in either situation, you can use either 訳では or 訳じゃ~.  But keep in mind that the former is slightly more polite.
There are a number of different situations in which 訳じゃない – or one of its variants – can be used.  Let’s look at some examples!

Using 訳じゃない/Wake de wa Nai – Examples

Let’s look at the examples from Yuka-sensei’s video.

“I’m not necessarily on a diet…”

晩ご飯サラダですか? ダイエットしているんですか?
Ban gohan sarada desu ka?  Daietto shiteiru ndesu ka?
Just salad for dinner?  Are you on a diet?
いいえ、ダイエットしている訳ではないんです。でも、最近毎日野菜を食べるようにしています。
Iie, daietto shiteiru wake de wa nain desu.  Demo, saikin mainichi yasai o taberu you ni shite imasu.
No, it’s not that I’m on a diet.  But lately I have been trying to eat more vegetables everyday.
In this example, Yuka-sensei is clarifying that although she might feel a *little* bit that she wants to go on a diet, she is not necessarily eating salad for this reason.
ダイエットしている訳ではないんです ー “I’m not necessarily on a diet.”
In this particular instance, Yuka-sensei clarifies her reasoning for eating salad.  She likes it because it’s easy to make, it’s healthy, and it tastes good.  It is not necessarily the case that she is on a diet.
Let’s take a look at another example!

“It’s not that I don’t cook, I’m just not very good at it.”

よく料理しますか?
Yoku ryouri shimasu ka?
Do you often cook?
料理しない訳じゃないんですが、あまり得意じゃないです。
Ryouri shinai wake janaindesu ga, amari tokui janai desu.
It’s not that I don’t cook, I’m just not very good at it.
Maybe you are someone who cooks on occasion, but you aren’t super skilled.  Or you might just not enjoy it – either way, 料理しない訳じゃない。”It’s not necessarily that I don’t cook…” or “It’s not entirely the case that I don’t cook…”
Can you think of some other ways in which 訳じゃない can be used?  Let us know on one of our social media accounts – like Twitter!

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