Use and Meaning of Shikatanai(仕方ない) : Shikata ga nai or Shikata nai is a very common phrase mainly used in situations when something unstoppable/uncontrollable happens and you just pretty much roll with it. I know you’re probably thinking, “I still don.t get it.”. Well, we’ll talk about it more in depth with this blog! Buckle up boys and girls.
Shikata nai: What does it mean?
I’m As Japanese students and as people who are interested in everything Japanese, there is a high possibility that you have heard this phrase in popular media.
“Shikata nai” (仕方ない) or “Shikata ga nai” (仕方がない)
when directly translated is quite straightforward. The kanji 仕方 (Shikata) translates to “method” or “way” and where as to “(ga) nai” means “no/the lack of”. As you can see from the direct translation, it directly translates to “There is no way” or “There is no method”. Based on these translations, you can have a bit of a hint on it’s uses.
The phrase itself is used as “It can’t be helped” or “There’s nothing we can do”. “Shikata nai” (仕方ない) is what one would usually say in a situation where things happen where it is out of your control and simply can’t do anything about. Another use of it is the english equivalent of “There is no other choice but to..” or “Theres no other choice but to..”. It’s a bit confusing but we will provide you with examples below to give you some context on when and how to use this phrase.
Usage and a few examples
Did it start raining the moment you started grilling hotdogs in your backyard? “Shikata nai”. Did your train end up coming late so you have no chance in getting to work on time? “Shikata ga nai”.
Did you get invited out with the promise of going out for a few drinks but end up haphazardly walking home drunk at 5 in the morning? “SHIKATA GA ARIMASEN.”. In a way, it’s close to the english equivalent of saying “Oh well. S*** happens.”, the French saying, “C’est la vie”, or maybe even that shrugging emoji that we used to use on AIM ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Here is an example of a conversation where the phrase is used.
Wa--atama ga itaidesu.
Aah--my head hurts.
Daijoubu? Kaze desuka.
Are you okay? Maybe it’s a cold.
Ano...Kinou ame ni nurechatte...
Uhm… I got wet from the rain yesterday.
E?! Shikata ga nai ne. Odaijini!
What?! Well, it can’t be helped. Get well soon!
As you can see from the above conversation, it is used in a situation where something has happened and they have nothing else left to do but accept what’s happening as it is out of their control. Here is another conversation where the phrase is used.
A: おちた。。。 Ochita… I failed...
Zannendatta ne. Subete wo ichi jikan de oeru koto wo kitai shitashi, shikata ga nai yo.
That’s a shame. They expected you to finish everything in an hour so there was really nothing you could do.
And another example.
Atsukutte shikata nai.
Has the connotation of: “It’s very hot. Oh well”
As we talked about a few phrases back, we talked about “Shikata nai” translates to “There is no way”. Because of this, “Shikata nai” can also be used as the English equivalent of “We have no other choice but…” and “There is nothing else to do but..”.
Here are a few examples.
Watashi tachi wa mise ga aku made, shibaraku matsu yori shikata ga nakatta.
There was nothing else to do but wait for a while until the store opened.
Iku yori hoka ni shikata ga nai.
We have no choice but to go.
It isn’t necessarily used just for negative outcomes as it can also be used for generally uncontrollable things that happen like maybe when you get asked out by your crush, or maybe when you get surprised with a gift! Of course, “Shikata ga nai” and you accept them all! Here is an example.
Chuushoku ni ikou. Kyou wa ogoru yo!
Let’s go get lunch. It’s my treat today!
Obento wo motte kimashita ga shikata ga nai desu ne. Ikkou!
I brought packed lunch with me but it can’t be helped. Let’s go!
Looking back at all the possible uses of this phrase, it mainly has the connotation of “There’s nothing we can do”, “It can’t be helped” and “There was no choice but to..”. Since it is quite a casual phrase and can be categorized as slang, it’s meaning can differ depending on the context. Just to give you guys another tip, “Shikata nai” is used quite similarly to the other more common phrase “仕様がない: Shouganai” which is also used as “It can’t be helped”. So there you have it! The usage of “Shikata nai” and a bonus phrase for you to use as well. Hopefully this blog has helped you understand this phrase better!