第195課: The Adverbs やはり & さすが: “As One Thought”
Both the adverbs やはり and さすが are often translated as “as one thought.” Each are also frequently described as being great examples of unique Japanese words which are hard to directly translate. This is because although “as one thought” does a good job at capturing what they generally mean, nuancing often leads to other translations being more accurate depending on the context.
In this lesson, we will take a closer look at both words so that you may have a clearer understanding on how to use them. As both of these words are frequently used in both the spoken and written languages, you’ll certainly need to add them to your vocabulary.
The Adverb やはり
The adverb やはり is heavily used in both the written and spoken language with the meaning of “just as one thought,” but there is a wide range of situations in which it can be used in. Its nuances can be summarized into three distinct scenarios.
1. Emphasizing how something has not changed since last being compared to something else. In this sense, it can be translated as “as of yet.”
2. Emphasizing how something is just as one predicted. This is synonymous with the adverb 案の定. However, the latter is more nuanced to refer to “plans/situations” being carried out as predicted.
3. Emphasizing how something remains the same/true regardless of how one thinks about it. In this sense, it is synonymous with つまるところ and 結局（のところ）. This can be translated as “in any case.”
Either nuance is common in speech and writing. However, it is still possible for やはり to be taken the wrong way if used incorrectly. In either case above, the speaker has in their mind a certain conjecture (推察)–in other words, ～〇〇であろう・・・–and it turns out that the speaker is right. One’s past thought is no different than one’s current thought. Thus, if your thought started out negative, the use of やはり remains negative.
Even thought I didn’t want it to snow today of all days, it ultimately snowed.
Just when I thought that that bug had already been fixed, sure enough, it occurs in the same spot.
Just as I (thought/had suspected), I had become infected with COVID.
Generally speaking, though, やはり is intended to be used in a more positive light. Although this is not a requirement by any means, contexts are generally positive/affirmative in nature.
No matter if I’m stopped, in any case, I intend to go to America.
Looking at Mt. Fuji up close surrounded by nature is, as expected, the best!
Although rain after a drought is grateful, I still hate (the rain).
Etymology Note: Although やはり may be spelled in Kanji as 矢張り, this is 当て字 and not reflective of its origin. Considering that instances of /ha/ in modern native vocabulary occur from hypercorrections on former pronunciations, it is theorized that it was once pronounced as /yawari/ and that it shares its etymology with the /yawa-/ found in words like 柔らかい (soft).
Before seeing further examples, it must also be noted that やはり takes on several colloquial forms in the spoken language. The most common are やっぱり and やっぱ, but it is also possible to hear やっぱし in some regions.
The house just as I had imagined.
(He) was killed–just as I had expected.
Yep, it’s no good.
Here you’ve come (just as expected).
Sensei: “How was your summer break?”
Lee: “I studied Japanese.”
Sensei: “Well, so you got to do a lot of studying, right?”
Lee: “Yes, but, I thought that there was a lot of free time.”
Sensei: “True, by the way, what kind of restaurant did you go to yesterday?”
Lee: “I went to a Mexican-style restaurant.”
Sensei: “Was it good?”
Lee: “Yes, but since I’m Korean, I thought that the flavor was quite different from a Korean restaurant.”
The Adverb/Adjectival Noun さすが
The first difference between やはり and さすが can be surmised from the difference in their grammatical categorization. The latter has the additional ability of being used as an adjectival noun. This can be demonstrated with the following simple sentences.
It is that way after all!
It’s as one would expect!
These sentences are almost identical in usage with the slightest difference between that さすが is more frequently directed at people’s behavior/abilities. Grammatically, however, there is an even clearer difference. It is ungrammatical to say やはりだ, although it is possible to omit そうだ altogether. In this case, though, it would function as an interjection rather than as an adjectival noun.
As can be further surmised from what we’ve seen already, the first usage of さすが is to show appreciation for how the facts line up with one had anticipated or made judgment on. When used as an adverb, it must be noted that it takes the form さすがに, which is further proof of how it is an adjectival noun.
Of course you’d notice that!
Living by myself is really lonely just as expected.
Mr. Tanaka can sure hit a homerun just from being a pro, huh.
It’s absolutely the case that “time is money,” you know.
Just from being a famous restaurant, since there is always a long line formed, it’s safe to say that waiting a long time to be sat down is a certain, as is to be expected.
Occasionally, the form さすがは will be seen. Semantically, it is a very emphatic alternative to さすがに. The particle は in the construction, however, must not be confused for it topic function. Rather, it is merely used here as an adverb intensifier.
Just what you’d expect from a Mercedes.
The people, too, will most certainly take the president’s statements as being superb.
Just what you’d expect from her!
Another meaning of さすが actually involves indicating contrast. Imagine a circumstance that the speaker admits to some degree but in certain situations has the opposite feelings. These situations are also described as being さすが. This is another contrast it has with やはり, which is not used contradictory (even in negative contexts).
It would be one thing if things were as per usual, but because the situation now is undoubtedly oh so different, I think that (the individual) ought to resign.
Even if it’s a fantastic movie, if you watch it too much over and over again, you’ll undoubtedly get bored of it.
Taking on this same meaning, it’s very common to see the pattern used in さすがの～も. Here, we see it uses the particle の when used before another noun phrase.
Even Seth of all people makes mistakes in Japanese.
Even I can’t say that much for certain.
Even the fans seem unable to hide their astonishment.
Phrase Note: さしもの is interchangeable with this use of さすがの. However, it is slightly more nuanced in that it’s akin to saying “even the most outstanding…” The Kanji spelling 然しもの exists but is outdated.
Even the most outstanding craftsmen would not be able to construct a wooden high-rise building.
Orthography Note: さすが is frequently spelled in Kanji as 流石, but this actually 当て字 and not reflective of its meaning or origin. Rarely, you may also see the character 遉 used.