JLPT N2 Grammar – How to Say Something is Very Hard to Do Using がたい

Posted by on August 26, 2020 – Japanese Study

In Japanese conversation, you may have heard the expression 〜にくい to describe when something is hard to do.

However, in this blog we will introduce another way to express this – but in a different context: JLPT N2 grammar 〜がたい (~gatai).

First, watch Nami-sensei explain it in the video above – And you can watch more videos like this on our Youtube channel!

How to Use 〜がたい – JLPT N2 Grammar

In the video above, Nami-sensei explains that 〜がたい (~gatai) is used to express when something is “very difficult” or “nearly impossible” to do.

This is different from 〜にくい (~nikui) in that 〜がたい expresses a higher level of difficulty – or impossibility – than 〜にくい.

For example, 信じがたい → very difficult/almost impossible to believe, as used in the video:

友達の話が信じがたいです。
Tomodachi no hanashi ga shinjigatai desu.
It’s very difficult to believe what my friend is saying.

The format is: (ます form) Verb ます + がたい

Are There Exceptions for Using がたい?

Yes. This word is used to describe things that are mentally or emotionally difficult to do – not physically. Here’s a BAD example:

このカフェが勉強しがたい
Kono kafe ga benkyou shi gatai

This is incorrect and cannot be used in this way. In this instance, にくい would be used instead.

このカフェが勉強しにくい。
Kono kafe ga benkyo shi nikui.
This Cafe is difficult to study in.

Likewise, as Nami-sensei pointed out in the video above, にくい cannot be used for when the action is an internal/mental one. Such as:

  • 忘れる
  • 信じる
  • 頼る

Make sure not to mix these two up! But now you can use this JLPT N2 grammar point to sound more like a native Japanese speaker 🙂

If you are studying for the JLPT N2, check out this guide!

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