Learn Japanese – The Complete Video Series (presented by becauseofdreams) - 「Learn Japanese」 Dictionary-Form VERB + ことはない as “there is no need to VERB”

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「Learn Japanese」 Dictionary-Form VERB + ことはない as “there is no need to VERB”

「Learn Japanese」 Dictionary-Form VERB + ことはない as “there is no need to VERB”

Using the Dictionary-Form of a VERB with the phrasing ことはない is one of the many ways to express that there isn’t a need to do VERB. Two other methods are the Negative-Form of the 必要がある grammar pattern that literally means “there is no need to VERB” and the なくて-Form of a VERB (the Negative-ない-Form then in turn conjugated into its て-Form) plus the phrasing いい that literally means “it’s okay to not do VERB.” The former of these two is probably the most formal and literal way to express the concept of a “necessity.” (必要, which directly translates to “need,” is also the word used in conjunctions with NOUN words to express a need for an object as opposed to an action.) In this line of thinking, taking a look at the literal translation of Dictionary-Form VERB + ことはない may seem confusing at first, but it can also be a helpful way to memorize how the grammatical construction naturalizes into the much more sensible expression of “there is no need to VERB” if we can familiarize ourselves with contexts in which it is used.
Taking a look at the construction of Dictionary-Form VERB + ことはない, we can see that it can be broken down into three parts: the VERB word used, the word こと which translates to “thing,” and the phrasing はない which essentially serves as the negation of the existential phrasing がある that means “there is.” With this, we can construe the literal meaning of this construction to be something along the lines of “there is no thing to VERB.” With a bit more help from a sample VERB such as 心配する (“to worry”), we can see how this ambiguous grammar can transition into something much more sensible like “this is not something to worry about” and in turn into the actual natural definition of “there’s no need to worry.”
All in all, despite not quite literally translatable into “there is no need to VERB,” Dictionary-Form VERB + ことはない is one of the most common grammatical constructs used to express this idea. It is rather common in casual speech, in which the particle は can even be dropped entirely from the construction.

*While somewhat seldom, in some cases, this grammar pattern will translate to “never VERB” instead of Dictionary-Form VERB + ことはない as “there is no need to VERB.” The way to know which meaning is being used relies primarily on the context of the sentence.
*Due to this grammar pattern’s literal definition and natural usage being rather different, the grammar pattern that can be said is the opposite of this, Negative-ない-VERB + ことはない, does not simply translate to the opposite of “there is no need to VERB,” or, “there IS a need to VERB.” Instead, it translates to “can VERB/not impossible to VERB.” Refer to the section on that particular grammar pattern for more.

Example(s):
ただの風邪だから、心配することはない。
Tada no kaze dakara, shinpai suru koto wa nai.
(“It’s just a cold, so there’s no need to worry.”)

時間は十分あるんだから、そんなに急ぐことはないよ。
Jikan wa jyuubun arun dakara, sonnani isogu koto wa naiyo.
(“There’s still plenty of time, so there’s no need to rush so much.”

大丈夫だから、あなたが謝ることはないよ。
Daijoubu dakara, anata ga ayamaru koto wa naiyo.
(“It’s alright, so there’s no need for you to apologize.”)

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