The Particle だけ

第92課: The Particle だけ

In a nutshell, the adverbial particle だけ shows limitation meaning “just/only.” This lesson will teach you how it is used to mean just this.

The Adverbial Particle だけ

だけ means “just/only” and shows the extent/limit of something.  だけ can also be after verbs, adjectives, etc. that are in the れんたいけい. So, いやなだけ not いやだけ. This is because it’s actually from the noun 丈(たけ), which means “length”. 

 Noun + だけ 形容詞 + だけ 形容動詞 + だけ Verb + だけ
 手 + だけ → 手だけ ほしい + だけ → ほしいだけ 好き + だけ → 好きなだけ 話す+ だけ → 話すだけ

Particle Note: が and を are optional after だけ. Don’t put them before it.

1. テストのことを思うだけで不安ふあんになった。
    I became uneasy just at the thought of the test.

2. 赤いリンゴだけ五つください。
    Please give me five red apples only.

3. 君だけを愛している。
    I only love you.

4. 私は英語えいごだけ(を)勉強します。
    I only study English. 

5. 人は外見がいけんだけでは分かりません。
    You can’t tell a person just by looks.

6. 今回こんかいだけは見逃みのがしてください。
    Please overlook just this one time.

7. 一人ひとりだけ{です・います}。
    There is only 1 person.

8. ほしいだけつ。
    To carry just what one wants.

9. 彼は、この前の週末しゅうまつ洗濯せんたくだけしたのよ。(Feminine)
    He only did the laundry last weekend!

10. 彼女は、この前の週末に掃除そうじだけしたんだよ。(Masculine)
      She only did cleaning last weekend! 


だけで{(は)・じゃ}なく means “not only”. 

11. ねこがいるだけでなく、もいます。
       Not only are there cats, but there are also dogs.

12a. あの部屋へやは広いだけでなく、とても明るくて美しいです。(ちょっと不自然)
12b. あの部屋は広くて明るいです。(もっと自然)
        That room is not only spacious, but it’s also very bright and beautiful.


だけ(のこと)だ states that there is nothing more than something. So, it can be translated as “…is no more than”. With the inclusion of のこと, the statement is more forceful.

13. 風邪かぜいただけだよ。
      I only caught a cold.

14. 会社かいしゃ破産はさんしただけのことだ。
      It’s just that the company went bankrupt.

15. 見ているだけです。
      I’m just looking.

16. ひざいただけ。
      I only grazed my knee. 

Speech Level Note: The deletion of だ makes だけ a final particle. It makes the sentence less blunt. だけです is perfectly fine for polite speech.

 With こそあど

   With これ, それ, あれ, and どれ, だけ translates as “much.”

18. 便利べんりなサイトはこれだけです。
      These are the only useful sites.

19. これだけ切符きっぷあつめていた。
      I’ve collected this many tickets.

20. それだけなの?(A little feminine)
      Is that all? 

21. その入門書にゅうもんしょは本当に高いが、それだけの価値かちがある。
      The beginner’s book is really expensive, but it has the worth.

22. どれだけくるしくても僕ははなしはしない。
      No matter how hard it is, I won’t let go.


だけ shows a limit, and in this expression you make it even more clear that you are not expecting, wanting, or doing any more.  

23. このことは両親にも話すだけは話しておいた方がいい。
      As for this, it’s best that you at the most talk to your parents.  

24. やるだけはやったんだから、静かに結果を待ちましょう。
      I’ll wait quietly for the results since I did what I had to do.

25. 言うだけ言ったらすっきりした。
      I feel good now that I’ve said (what I had to say).

26. まあ聞くだけ聞いてくれ。  
      Come on, at least listen to what I have to say.


 Potential + だけ

With the potential form of the verb, it can be translated in this way as “as much as…”

27. できるだけして。
      Do as much as possible.

28. 私れるだけりました。
      I ran as much as I could.

なるべく VS できるだけ

Both mean “if possible/as (much) as possible”. なるべく is (somewhat) formal. できるだけ can be followed by の. To use it with なるべく , you have to use the rare なるたけ/なるだけ.

29. なるべくタバコをすうな。
      As much as possible/if possible, do not smoke.

Grammar Note: な in the above sentence creates the negative imperative.

30. なるべく午後ごごてほしいです。
      I would like you to come during the afternoon if possible.

31. できるだけくの必要ひつよう
      I need as much money as possible!

32. できるだけってください。
      Please come home as soon as possible.


As an adverb, ただ means “just what you’re doing”. For example, “you’re just hoping that you get a good grade in Japanese class”. Other synonyms include もっぱら and ひたすら. Or, it may stress that there’s “nothing else” or that there is “merely” something. Other words for this include たった and わずかに.

  ただ…だけ means “mere(ly)”, but だけ isn’t necessary. ら ≒ “entirely”, so there is no need for だけ.  Neither is there a need for it with ひたすら. ほんのか…だけ = “just a few”. たった comes from ただ to mean “mere” and is frequently used with だけ. 


33. たったつ 
      Just one

34. たったえたんだよ。
      It disappeared just now! 

35. ただいま
      I’m home!

Culture Note: Whenever you come home, you say ただいま. People there will response with お帰り(なさい) “welcome home.” The added part makes it polite. 

37. もっぱらのうわさだよ。
       It’s widely rumored.  

38. ただの理由りゆう
      With just a mere excuse

39. それはたん程度ていど問題もんだいじゃないか?
       Isn’t that just a problem of degree?

Word Noteに means “purely/simply/merely” and is also often used with だけ.

40. 単私見しけんべただけだよ。
      I merely stated my own opinion.

Nuance Note: Simply as in “easily” can be 単純たんじゅんに, 簡単に, に, etc. with just slight differences. The first shows a heavy emphasis on simplifying a process down. The second shows more so the easy, and the latter emphasizes on the extent of the matter. 

41. 東京までたった10キロです。
      It’s just 10 kilometers to Tokyo.

42. あられがほんのわずかっただけだ。(Somewhat written style)
      There was only a light amount of hail that fell.

43. ほんの一度だけ
   Just one time

Word Note: ほんの is an attributive phrase that means “mere”. ほんのし means “just a little.” The word gives the sense that there really is nothing else beyond it. It can also be written as の.

44. ただの風邪かぜでしょう。
     It’s probably just a cold.

Word Note風邪 means “cold” but comes from and is pronounced just like  (wind). 

45 [徒・只]より高いものはない。
     Nothing costs more than what is given to us.

46. 道はただひとつ。
      There is but one way to live. 

47. はただ皮一枚かわいちまい
     Beauty is but skin-deep.  

ただでは in a negative sentence means that something serious is to happen.

48. ただではおかないぞ!
      You’ll pay for this!