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Kagiri, Kagiranai, Kagiru - Meaning in Japanese

Monday, January 2, 2017
Perhaps the word I had the most problem understand its meaning in Japanese was kagiri 限り, and later the verb it came from: kagiru 限る, specially its negative form: kagiranai 限らない. They often show up in already confusing sentences and only make them even harder to decipher. So here I'm going to explain what they mean.

First off, let's start with its non-past affirmative form: kagiru 限る. It means "to limit (something) (to something else)," and has really no trick in using it.

  • jippun ni kagiru 十分に限る
    Limit [it] to 10 minutes.
  • ningen ni kagitteiru 人間に限っている
    Limited to humans. (not animals, plants, etc.)


The problem is: you almost never see this verb used like the above. Its derived words kagiri and kagiranai are used with a lot more of frequency, and those ones are trickier to get.

Kagiri 限り

The word kagiri basically means "as long as (what's before) (what's after)." Let's see some example:
  • idou suru kagiri kateru 移動する限り勝てる
    As long as [we] move [we] can win.
  • idou shinai kagiri kateru 移動しない限り勝てる
    As long as [we] do not move [we] can win.
  • idou shinai kagiri katenai 移動しない限り勝てない
    As long as [we] do not move [we] can not win.
  • idou suru kagiri katenai 移動する限り勝てない
    As long as [we] move [we] can not win.

Remembering that [we] may be different from context. For example, idou suru kagiri katenai is more likely to be "as long as [he's] moving [we] can't win."

Kagiranai 限らない

The meaning of the word kagiranai 限らない is somewhat related to kagiri 限り, except it's in negative and works in a different way. It often means that "(something) is not guaranteed" or something else may happen. This usually happens when a sentence ends in to wa kagiranai とは限らない.
  • sou wa kagiranai そうは限らない
    It isn't limited to that.
    It may not be just that.
    Something else may happen.
  • kachi to wa kagiranee 勝ちとは限らねえー
    Victory ain't guaranteed.
  • aitsu ga kuru to wa kagiranai あいつが来るとは限らない
    It isn't guaranteed he'll come.
  • onaji kekka ga matsu to wa kagiranai 同じ結果が待つとは限らない
    The same result may not be waiting.
    You may not get the same results.

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