704 - はおろか

JLPT N1: はおろか (not to mention; much less; let alone)

はおろか means something like "not to mention" or "much less."

(Careful! Note that the は in はおろか is the particle "wa.")

Here is the pattern:

A はおろか B
B, not to mention A
B, much less A
B, let alone A

An example:


この町にはスターバックスはおろかコンビニもない。
この まち に は スターバックス はおろか コンビニ も ない。
There’s not even a convenience store in this town, not to mention a Starbucks. // There’s not even a convenience store in this town, much less a Starbucks.
Literally: “this + town + には + Starbucks + はおろか + convenience store + も + there isn’t / doesn’t have.”


"A", which comes before はおろか, is natural or expected. For example, it would be natural or expected for a very small town in the countryside to have no Starbucks.

"B", which comes after はおろか, is something that is drastic, extreme, or unexpected. Although most small towns in Japan don't have Starbucks, it's rare to come across any town in Japan without a convenience store.


Be very careful with the order of words because it's the opposite in English:

スターバックスはおろかコンビニ
a convenience store , much less a Starbucks


I like はおろか because it reminds me of the word 愚か (おろか), which means "foolish" or "stupid."

You don't hear it all that often in everyday conversation, but I do come across it in shows and video games from time to time. It's got kind of a serious ring to it.


人間というものは愚かな生き物である。
にんげん という もの は おろかな いきもの である。
Humans are foolish creatures.
Literally: “human + という + thing + は + foolish + living thing / creature + である.”


Sadly, this is not the おろか being used in はおろか. If we were to write this おろか in kanji, it would be 疎か. I've seen it translated as "neglect(ing)," "carelessness," and so on. Sort of makes sense, considering the usage we're looking at in this lesson, yeah?


👷 Construction 👷

This is fairly straightforward: Put a NOUN in front of はおろか.

NOUNおろか
not to mention NOUN; much less NOUN; let alone NOUN


It is also possible to slip a particle in between the NOUN and おろか.

For example, we could say:


清水さんは日本史の先生なのに、鎖国についてはおろかフランシスコ・ザビエルが誰なのかすら知らなかった。
しみず さん は にほんし の せんせい なのに、 さこく について はおろか フランシスコ・ザビエル が だれ なのか すら しらなかった。
Shimizu-san is a Japanese history teacher, but she didn’t even know about Francis Xavier, let alone sakoku. // Shimizu-san is a Japanese history teacher, but he didn’t even know who Francis Xavier was, much less knowing about sakoku.
Literally: “Shimizu-san + は + Japanese history + の + teacher + although (=なのに), + sakoku + about (=について) + はおろか + Francis Xavier + が + who + なのか + even (=すら) + didn’t know.”
Note: "Sakoku" refers to the isolationist foreign policy of the Japanese Tokugawa shogunate. Francis Xavier is a famous missionary that visited Japan in the 1500's.


↑ I thought that the first of the two translations I wrote for that Japanese sentence sounded better, but the second one is closer to the Japanese.


This is also a good opportunity to mention that terms of emphasis often show up in はおろか sentences. For example, in that last example we have すら, which I suppose we can translate as "even." Our first sentence had , which emphasizes that there are "not even" convenience stores, and our later examples will have さえ and まで, which can also be translated as "even," depending on the context in which they appear:


フランシスコ・ザビエルが誰なのかすら知らなかった。
フランシスコ・ザビエル が だれ なのか すら しらなかった。
He didn’t even know who Francis Xavier was.
Literally: “Francis Xavier + が + who + なのか + even (=すら) + didn’t know.”


コンビニない。
コンビニ も ない。
There’s not even a convenience store.
Literally: “convenience store + も + there isn’t / doesn’t have.”


包丁を握ったことさえない。
ほうちょう を にぎった こと さえ ない。
She's never even held a kitchen knife.
Literally: “kitchen knife + を + has never even held (=gripped + こと + even [=さえ] + doesn’t have / there isn’t).”


ベッドやソファまで捨ててしまった。
ベッド や ソファ まで すててしまった。
He even got rid of his bed and his couch.
Literally: “bed + や + sofa + まで + (completely) threw out.”


Two more examples, and you will be a はおろか master:


妻は火を使うことはおろか包丁を握ったことさえないらしい。
つま は ひ を つかう こと はおろか ほうちょう を にぎった こと さえ ない らしい。
Apparently my wife’s never even held a kitchen knife, let alone use a stove.
Literally: “(my) wife + は + fire / flame + を + use + こと + はおろか + kitchen knife + を + has never even held (=gripped + こと + even [=さえ] + doesn’t have / there isn’t) + apparently (=らしい).”


From time to time, we can translate sentences containing はおろか without including phrases like "not to mention," "much less," and "let alone."

It was hard for me to fit any of those phrases into the translation of the following sentence, so I just went with something completely different:


断捨離にはまった兄は、不必要なはおろかベッドやソファまで捨ててしまった。
だんしゃり に はまった あに は、 ふひつような もの はおろか ベッド や ソファ まで すててしまった。
My (older) brother got really into minimalism, and on top of throwing out stuff he doesn’t need, he went so far as to get rid of his bed and his couch, too.
Literally: “minimalism / de-cluttering + に + got hooked on / got really in to + older brother + は, + unnecessary + thing + はおろか + bed + や + sofa + まで + (completely) threw out.”


You're done!

Oh, wait. One last thing. I think this goes without saying, but we don't use はおろか when we are trying to get someone to do something. In other words, don't use it in suggestions, commands, and so on.