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Expressing various degrees of amounts
This lesson will cover various expressions used to express various degrees of amounts. For example, sentences like, "I
only ate one",
"That was all that was left", "There's just old people here", or "I ate too much" all indicate whether there's a
lot or little of something. Most of these expressions are made with particles and not as separate words as you see in English.
Indicating that's all there is using 「だけ」
The particle 「だけ」 is used to express that that's all there is. Just like the other particles we have already learned, it is directly
attached to the end of whichever word that it applies to.
- Just apple(s) (and nothing else).
-Just that and this (and nothing else).
particles usually start from the most specific to the most general.
- Just don't eat that. (Anything else is assumed to be OK).
- Didn't sing just this song.
- That person was the only person I liked.
The same goes for double particles. Again 「だけ」 must come first.
- Cannot use 500 yen coin in just this vending machine.
With minor particles such as 「から」 or 「まで」, it is difficult to tell which should come first. When in doubt, try googling to see the level of
popularity of each combination. It turns out that 「からだけ」 is almost twice as popular as 「だけから」 with a hit number of 90,000 vs. 50,000.
- A reply has not come from only Kobayashi-san (topic + target).
Unlike some particles, you can directly attach 「だけ」 to verbs as well.
- Since the preparations are done, from here we just have to eat.
- Is it ok to just write [my] name here?
Using 「のみ」 as a formal version of 「だけ」
A particle that is essentially identical both grammatically and in meaning to 「だけ」 is 「のみ」. However, unlike 「だけ」, which is used in regular
conversations, 「のみ」 is usually only used in a written context. It is often used for explaining policies, in manuals, and other things of that nature.
This grammar really belongs in the advanced section since formal language has a different flavor and tone from what we have
seen so far. However, it is covered here
because it is essentially identical to 「だけ」. Just googling for 「のみ」 will quickly show the difference in the type of language that is
used with 「のみ」 as opposed to 「だけ」.
- This boarding ticket is only valid on the date on which it was purchased.
- The targets of this survey are only college students.
Indication that there's nothing else using 「しか」
I carefully phrased the title of this section to show that 「しか」 must be used to indicate the lack of everything else. In other words, the
rest of the sentence must always be negative.
（１） これしかない。- There's nothing but this.
The following is wrong.
（誤） これしかある。- (Wrong, wrong, wrong)
As you can see, 「しか」 has an embedded negative meaning while 「だけ」 doesn't have any particular nuance.
（１） これだけ見る。- See just this.
（２） これだけ見ない。- Don't see just this.
（３） これしか見ない。- Don't see anything else but this.
Let's see some example sentences.
（１） 朝ご飯しか食べられなかった。- Couldn't eat anything but breakfast.
Notice that unlike 「だけ」, it is necessary to finish off the sentence.
（質問） 全部、買うの？- You're buying everything?
（１） ううん、これだけ。- Nah, just this.
（２） ううん、これしか買わない - Nah, won't buy anything else but this.
（誤） ううん、これしか。 - (Wrong, the sentence must explicitly indicate the negative.)
While the major particles always come last, it turns out that 「しか」 must come after 「から」 and 「まで」. A google search of 「からしか」 beats
「しかから」 by an overwhelming 60,000 to 600.
（１） アリスからしか何ももらってない。- I didn't receive anything except from Alice.
You can also use this grammar with verbs.
（１） これから頑張るしかない！- There's nothing to do but try our best!
（２） こうなったら、逃げるしかない。- There no choice but to run away once it turns out like this.
（３） もう腐ったから、捨てるしかないよ。- It's rotten already so there's nothing to do but throw it out.
Expressing the opposite of 「だけ」 with 「ばかり」
「ばかり」 is used to express the condition where there's so much of something to the point where there's nothing else. Notice this is
fundamentally different from 「しか」 which expresses a lack of everything else but the item in question.
In more casual situations, 「ばかり」 is usually pronounced 「ばっかり」 or just 「ばっか」. For example, let's say you
went to a party to find, much to your dismay, the whole room filled with middle-aged women. You might say the following.
- What the? Isn't it nothing but obasan?
Or perhaps a little more girly:
- Eww. It's nothing but obasan.
Let's look at some more examples.
- Takashi-kun is reading nothing but comic books... He's so uncool.
It is quite common in casual speech to end midsentence like this.
Notice 「読んでて」 is the te-form of 「読んでいる」 with the 「い」 dropped. We assume that the conclusion will come somewhere later in the story.
- He's nothing but mahjong. (He does nothing but play mahjong.)
- You're hanging out with Naomi-chan all the time, aren't you!
- Lately, it's nothing but work.
Saying there's too much of something using 「すぎる」
「すぎる」 is a regular ru-verb written 「過ぎる」 meaning, "to exceed". However, much like 「~てほしい」 you can modify the meaning of
other verbs and adjectives. When 「すぎる」 is attached to the end of other verbs and adjectives, it means that it is too much or that it has exceeded the
normal levels. For verbs, you must directly attach 「すぎる」 to the stem
of the verb. For example, to eat too much would become 「食べすぎる」 and to drink too much would become 「飲みすぎる」.
For adjectives, you just attach it to the end with the one condition that the 「い」 in i-adjectives must be removed (as usual). One more rule is that
for both negative verbs and adjectives, one must remove the 「い」 from 「ない」 and replace with 「さ」 before attaching 「すぎる」. There is no
tense (past or non-past) associated with this grammar. Since 「すぎる」 is a regular ru-verb, use of this grammar results in a regular ru-verb.
Using 「すぎる」 to indicate there's too much of something
例） 食べる → 食べすぎる
例） 太る → 太り → 太りすぎる
2. For na-adjectives, simply attach 「すぎる」. For i-adjectives, remove the last 「い」 first before attaching 「すぎる」.
例） 静か → 静かすぎる
例） 大きい → 大きすぎる
3. For negative verbs and adjectives, replace the last 「い」 from 「ない」 with 「さ」 and then attach 「すぎる」
例） 食べない → 食べなさ → 食べなさすぎる
例） 面白くない → 面白くなさ→ 面白くなさすぎる
Note: I-adjectives that end in 「ない」 in their regular forms will follow the third rule even though they are not negative.
例） つまならない → つまならなさ → つまならなさすぎる
例） もったいない → もったいなさ → もったいなさすぎる
- Satou-san is good at cooking and I ate too much again.
- Be careful to not drink too much, ok?
- It won't fit in the trunk cause it's too big, man.
- It's too quiet. It might be a trap, you know.
- Due to too much of a lack of time, I couldn't do anything.
- She is totally wasted on him (too good for him).
- Man, I don't remember anything about last night.
- That's drinking too much.
Adding the 「も」 particle to express excessive amounts
When the 「も」 particle comes after some type of amount, it means that the amount indicated is way too much. For instance, let's look at the
- I called you like three times yesterday!
Notice that the 「も」 particle is attached to the amount "three times". This sentence implies that the speaker called even three times and still
the person didn't pick up the phone. We understand this to mean that three times are a lot of times to call someone.
- I studied three whole hours for the exam.
- I gained 10 whole kilograms this year!
Using 「ほど」 to express the extent of something
The noun 「ほど」（程） is attached to a word in a sentence to express the extent of something. It can modify nouns
as well as verbs as seen in the next example.
- Today's weather is not cold to that extent.
- Busy to the extent that there's no time to sleep.
When you use this with conditionals, you can express something that translates into English as, "The more you [verb], the more..." The grammar is
always formed in the following sequence: [conditional of verb] followed immediately by [same verb+ ほど]
- About Korean food, the more you eat the tastier it becomes.
The literal translation is, "About Korean food, if you eat, to the extent that you eat, it becomes tasty." which essentially means the same thing.
extent of the action.
- The more I walked, the more I got lost.
- The more you study, the more you will become smarter.
You can also use this grammar with i-adjectives by using the 「ば」 conditional.
- About iPod, the larger the hard disk capacity, the more songs you can save.
- It's not necessarily the case that the cheaper the ticket, the better it is.
strange to use the 「なら」 conditional in this fashion, you will hardly ever see this grammar used with na-adjectives. Since 「ほど」 is treated as a noun, make sure
you don't forget to use 「な」 to attach the noun to the na-adjective.
- The shorter and simpler the sentences, the better it is.
Using 「~さ」 with adjectives to indicate an amount
We will now learn how to add 「さ」 to adjectives to indicate an amount of that adjective. For example, we can attach 「さ」 to the adjective
for "high" in order to get "height". Instead of looking at the height,
we can even attach 「さ」 to the adjective for "low" to focus on the amount of lowness as opposed to the amount of highness. In fact,
there is nothing to stop of from using this with any adjective to indicate an amount of that adjective. The result becomes a regular noun
indicating the amount of that adjective.
Adding 「~さ」 to adjectives to indicate an amount
For i-adjectives: First remove the trailing 「い」 from the i-adjective and then attach 「さ」
例） 高い → 高さ
例） 低い → 低さ
For na-adjectives: Just attach 「さ」 to the end of the na-adjective
例） 穏やか → 穏やかさ
The result becomes a regular noun.
- What is the height of this building?
- If you compare the level of sensitivity of hearing of dogs to humans, it is far above.
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