534 - ことはない

JLPT N3: ことはない

ことはない is used to tell people that there is "no need to" do something.

For example, let's say that I just got a job at your company. You're an amazing person, so we become friends about 30 seconds into my first day at the office.

One of our fellow coworkers, though--let's call him Jeff--seems to hate me! I said hi to him in the hallway and he hardly responded at all.

Maybe he thinks I'm stupid or something. Maybe Jeff thinks my tie is stupid and he's gonna tell the boss and I'm gonna get fired on my first day for not meeting the dress code standards. My life is ruined!

No, no, no, you reassure me, saying...

きにすることはありません。 あの ひと は だれに でも ぶあいそう です から。
There’s nothing to worry about. He acts like that [acts unsociable] with everyone.
Literally: “worry about + ことはありません. + that + person + は + to anyone (=who + に + even) + unsociable / cold + です + から (=because).”

気にする (きにする) means "to worry about something," "to care about something," "to fret about something." The first time we saw this phrase was way back in this lesson: [NDL #62] - You have ketchup on your face.

By adding ことはない, which we could directly translate to "thing + は (wa) + there isn't," we get:

きにする ことはない
There's nothing to worry about
Literally: "worry about + ことはない (=thing + は + there isn't)"

In our example sentence above, we used ありません instead of ない. It means the same thing; it's just more formal.

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ことはない is awesome because it's so easy to use. Just put it right after a verb in plain present form (=Vる):

V ることはない
there's no need to VERB; there's no reason to VERB

Hurray for simple grammatical constructions.

You get invited to the movies. You're poor and can't afford it. Instead of crying like usual, though, you pretend that you're just smart about how you spend your money, saying...

フール― や ネットフリックス が あるんだから、 せんはっぴゃく えん も はらって えいがかん に いくことはない よ。
Since there are services like Hulu and Netflix, there’s no need to pay 1,800 yen to go to the movies.
Literally: “Hulu + や + Netflix + が + there are + んだ + から (=because), + 1,800 yen + も + pay (and) + movie theater + に + go + ことはない + よ.”

You've been studying Japanese for four years. The first 2-3 years, you really noticed yourself improving a lot. But this last year or two, you feel like you're in a rut. You're hardly getting better at all anymore! You express your frustration to your awesome teacher, and she says...

きもち は わかる が、 なかなか じょうたつ しなくても あせることはない。
I understand your feelings, but there’s no reason to get upset just because you’re not improving much.
Literally: “feeling + は + understand + が (=but), + just (not) / (not) quite + improve + even if (you) don’t do + be impatient / be flustered + ことはない.”

A small tangent: So usually I would translate 焦る (あせる) to something like "be rushed" or "be flustered," but the nuance of those English phrases seemed a bit off for the translation of this sentence given the context described in italics above. As a result, I went with "get upset." But we could have said something like, "even if it's taking a long time to improve, that's no reason to rush yourself."

In other situations, 焦る can even be translated to something like "freak out" or "panic." Consider the following:

You feel your pocket, and your phone's gone! No!!! You rummage through your bag--gone! Maybe it was stolen. Maybe you left it somewhere. You just got that phone two days ago.

Turns out you had the phone in your shirt pocket, somewhere you never put it usually. Smiling, you say...

I was freaking out.
Literally: "got flustered / panicked."

ことはない often shows up with the term わざわざ, which we can translate as "go to the trouble of" or "expressly."

Altogether わざわざ~ことはない gives us something like, "no need to go to the trouble of..."

いちど しか きない ウエディングドレス を わざわざ かうことはない よ。 レンタル で じゅうぶん。
There’s no need to buy a wedding dress that you’re only going to wear one time. You can just rent one.
Literally: “one time + only / except for + don’t wear + wedding dress + を + go to the trouble of / expressly + buy + ことはない + よ. + rental + で + plenty / enough.”

☠ DANGER ☠ - Use the advice above with extreme caution, particularly if you're talking to a bride-to-be. Your ingenious frugality may be found to be idiotic, inconsiderate, and unnacceptable.

OK. I didn't actually put "go to the trouble of buying a wedding dress" because it seemed a bit over-translated. "Go to the trouble of" is usually used when describing the effort to do something, which わざわざ can also do, but here it is describing the unnecessary expense of buying a wedding dress. I thought the English pulled off the nuance of わざわざ simply through the use of "only" and "just." Or maybe you can translate it better. ^^

It's also possible to criticize someone's behavior using ことはない.

We do the same thing with the phrase "there's no reason to" in English:

たしか に あの てんいん は しつれい だった が、 そんな に おこることはない。
That employee was rude, but there’s no reason to get so angry about it.
Literally: “certainly + that + shop employee + は + rude + was + が (=but), + that much + get angry + ことはない.”

The speaker here is telling the listener that, while the employee may have in fact been rude, he/she overreacted to the employee's behavior, getting more angry than is necessary.

Finally, note that we'll also see the construction なにも~ことはない quite a bit.

Although なにも technically means "nothing," in sentences like this it'll be translated to something like "certainly:"

there's certainly no need to... // that's certainly no reason to...

シャンプー が めんどう なのは わかる けど、 なにも ぼうず に することはない でしょう。
I understand that washing your hair is a pain, but that’s certainly no reason togo shaving your head.
Literally: “shampoo + が + a pain / a hassle + なのは + understand + けど (=but), + nothing + shaved head + に + do + ことはない + でしょう.”

Translating that sentence into English might be a bit difficult if you're too analytical about it. Maybe we could wing it though:

なにも + 坊主にする + ことはない
→ nothing + shaving your head + no need to
→ → no need to shave your head at all
→ → → certainly no reason to shave your head

Am I just making things more confusing again? Sorry.

Maybe forget the analytical stuff and just listen to your heart. Maybe it's a better translator than your brain...

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