82 - I simply cannot write a lesson today.

Do you ever have one of those days where studying seems...





You know you should study.

But your brain is begging you to veg out and relax.

Just this once. You deserve it!

I have days like this, too.

Not only for studying, but for writing these daily lessons, as well.

My coping method is to write the lessons (and do my Anki flashcards) every morning 起きたらすぐ(おきたら すぐ / right when I wake up).

Days like that are awesome. Once I'm finished, I have all day to work on other stuff (like my real job).

Then there are days like today, where I have to submit something for work really early... which means not studying right when I wake up--and not writing this lesson right when I wake up!

Days like today are hard.

Because before you know it, it's lunchtime! And by a strange (err, I mean, regular) turn of events, Rei and I wander into a bookstore and spend an hour fantasizing about all the books we want to read.

Fast forward to 6 p.m.

I'm on the train home--exhausted. And all I'm thinking is, I simply cannot write a lesson today.

So I turn to Rei and say:

きょう レッスン かく の むり!
There's no way I can write a lesson today.
Literally: "today + lesson + write + の + impossible."

Boom. Lesson Topic:

Impossible! // No way!

無理(むり)is one of the coolest words in the Japanese language.

Here are 6 reasons why:

#1 - The kanji are totally (il)logical.

無 means "nothing; nil; nada; naught; non-."

理 means "logic; reason."

So, "non-logic(al)" is "impossible; unreasonable."

It is 無理(むり).

#2 - You can use it to talk about food you despise.

Let's say you're at a Japanese restaurant... despite all that kanji studying, you have no idea what kind of food this restaurant serves (welcome to my life).

So you randomly point at something and order it.

Then when the food comes, there's a giant pile of natto (stinky, sticky, fermented soybeans) on top!

Your delicate palate says, I can't even right now.

So in Japanese, you say...

えー(わたし)なっとう むり!
Oh... I can't eat natto!
Literally: "[sound for surprise & disappointment] + (I) + natto + impossible."
Note: Yeah, you want want to practice this えー sound with a native speaker.

#3 - You can use it to complain about going to work.

You stay up until 6 in the morning watching Japanese Netflix in bed, and now you have to go to work.

A crime against humanity!

So you say:

きょう しごと むり!
I can't go to work today. // I really don't want to go to work today.
Literally: "today + work + impossible!"
Note: You can say this even if you are going to work, by the way. It just feelsimpossible.

#4 - You can use it to tell people their requests are whack.

Your D-Bag boss rolls up, and he's like:

Hey, Gaijin. Complete the following [giant list of work] by the end of today.

After silently cursing him, you say:

そんな の むり だよ。
That's impossible. // There's no way I can do that.
Literally: "that sort of + の + impossible + is + よ."
Note: This の is acting as a nominalizer. We could translate it as "thing." In other words, the "thing" you're asking me to do.
Note #2: This is a bit too casual to say to a boss in most situations. But if your friend makes an unreasonable request, it's chill to use.

Or let's say that one thing led to another, and now you're living in Tokyo, married to an absolutely amazing Japanese man or woman.

As sometimes happens, you have a bit too much fun with coworkers one night, and you miss the last train home.

You call your significant other and ask:

むかえに きて くれない? 
Will you come pick me up?
Literally: "greeting + に + come and + will you not give me?"
Note: 迎えに来る(むかえにくる)means "to come pick [someone] up."

But your significant other is already in bed. And they explicitly told you NOT to miss the last train!

So they oh-so-eloquently respond with:

ぜったい むり。
Absolutely not.
Literally: "absolutely + impossible."

Bummer, yo.

#5 - You can use it to tell a coworker that they don't need to work so hard.

The editor I work for in Tokyo says this 無理 phrase to me all the time.

We'll get some ridiculous amount of work, and I end up spending a borderline unhealthy amount of hours on it, and somewhere in the midst of that, he says:

むり しないで ね。
Don't overdo it, OK? // Don't burn yourself out.
Literally: "impossible + don't do + ね."

If you (being the hard-working role model that you are) live in Japan...

#6 - You can use it to tell people not to worry about finishing their meal.

A friend comes over for dinner at your house.

You notice that they might be getting full, but there is still a mountain of food on their plate.

You could say...

むり に たべなくて いい よ。
You don't have to eat everything. // You don't have to eat it if you don't want to.
Literally: "impossible + に + not eat (and) + good + よ."

Level Up: なんて

Sometimes you will also see 無理 being used with なんて.

This deserves its own lesson, but bascially you can attach なんて to the end of a suggestion or proposition that you think is outrageous, unreasonable, or absurd. Then after なんて, you can say 無理 (among other things).

Like if someone recommends that you start waking up at 5 every day:

ごじ に おきる なんて むり!
You can't seriously expect me to wake up at 5 A.M.! // Like I could ever wake up at 5 A.M. // Wake up at 5 A.M.? Yeah right!
Literally: "5 o'clock + に + get up + なんて + impossible!"

Or if you tell your lover that you got a scholarship for a one-month intensive Japanese study program at a Buddhist temple in some remote mountain village, he or she might say:

いっかげつ も あえない なんて むり!
I can't go a month without seeing you!
Literally: "one month (period) + も + cannot meet + なんて + impossible!"

The sacrifices we make for love.

無理 is not always 無理

We say 無理 a lot when we feel something is impossible.

But that doesn't mean that it is.

I felt like writing this lesson was impossible... but I did it!

Kind of like how I learned Japanese.

Maybe it's the same for you?

Bonus Phrases

おきたら すぐ れんらく して。
Call right after you wake up.

Complete and Continue