Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 6: 13/24

だけしか~ない

To emphasize '~only', Nothing but

Can express pity

Structure

Noun + だけしか + ない

Details

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    Standard

  • 使用域

    一般

About だけしか

だけしか is a combination of two adverbial particles, だけ 'only', and しか 'nothing but'. This structure primarily follows nouns, before part (B) of the sentence will have a corresponding ない based word.
  • (かれ)野菜(やさい)だけしか()べられません
    He can only eat vegetables.
  • 土曜日(どようび)だけしか(いそが)くないから出来(でき)たら土曜日(どようび)じゃないほうがいい
    I am not busy except for Saturdays, so if possible it would be better if it wasn't a Saturday.
  • この(なか)はタケシだけしか下手(へた)じゃない。(ほか)みんな結構(けっこう)うまい。
    In this group, Takeshi is the only one that isn't good. Everyone else is considerably skilled.
  • (なん)このコップだけしか500(えん)ではない
    Why is this cup the only one that is 500yen?
Despite all of these possibilities, it should be noted that だけしか~ない is an expression that appears with negative verbs, far more than any of the other combinations.
  • (わたし)日本語(にほんご)だけしか(はな)せないです
    I can only speak Japanese.
Fun Fact
だけしか may appear as though it is saying 'only' twice, but each particle has its own specific nuance. These nuances are as follows:
だけ - Removes one thing (from within a group), and presents it as the 'only' thing that fits a certain criteria.
しか - Highlights something that exists by itself as not having any alternatives.
Due to this, each meaning compounds together, with だけ saying 'just this', while しか adds 'and only this!'. Reversing the order and putting しか before だけ would not work, as the sequence of selection needs to be logical.
  • 日曜日(にちようび)しかだけ(やすみ)()ない
    I can take only breaks on Sunday. (Unnatural Japanese)
  • 日曜日(にちようび)だけしか(やす)()ない
    I can only take breaks on Sunday. (Natural Japanese)

Examples

  • この時間(じかん)医師(いし)一人(ひとり)だけしかいません

    At this time of day, there is only one doctor present.

  • 椅子(いす)ここあるものだけしかありません

    Chairs are the only things here.

  • (わたし)には従兄弟(いとこ)一人(ひとり)だけしかいません

    I only have one cousin.

  • (ぼく)日本語(にほんご)だけしかできません

    I can only speak Japanese.

  • 現金(げんきん)(いま)1000(えん)だけしかありません

    I only have 1000 yen in cash.

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だけしか – Grammar Discussion