Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 1: 4/18


Gradually, Little by little, Step by step


だんだん + () + Phrase


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About だんだん

だんだん is an adverb that is used to express the slight, but constant, progression of something. Originally, it comes from the kanji construction 段々(だんだん), which can be thought of as meaning 'step by step', 'stepwise', or even 'steadily'. だんだん is similar to ほとんど, in that it can modify the meaning of entire phrases, rather than just single words.

To use だんだん, simply put it before the phrase that you want to express as '(A) that is increasing steadily'.

While だんだん can take the particle , it is not required. In fact, is very often omitted from adverbs/onomatopoeic words (words that represent a sound or motion) in Japanese.


Initially, it can be easy to mix-up だんだん, with どんどん. どんどん is an onomatopoeic word that represents loud banging (like on a drum), so is used to express fast changes/progression. This is unlike だんだん, which expresses slower changes/progression.

  • だんだん(あめ)()
    It is starting to rain. (Slow progression, does not imply great speed or severity)
  • どんどん(あめ)()
    It is starting to rain. (Rapid progression, may imply great speed and/or severity)


  • 先輩(せんぱい)後輩(こうはい)(はな)している:「大丈夫(だいじょうぶ)だんだん上手(じょうず)になる。」

    A senpai speaking to their kouhai: 'Don't worry, you will become better gradually.'

    • 友達(ともだち)(はな)している:「(あき)になったからこれからだんだん(さむ)くなる。」

      Friends talking: 'Autumn is here, so it will gradually become cooler, don't you think?'

      • 英語(えいご)教師(きょうし)生徒(せいと)(おや)(はな)している教師(きょうし):「(むすめ)さんだんだん英語(えいご)うまくなってきました。」

        An English teacher talking with a student's parents, teacher: 'Your daughter has been gradually improving in speaking English.'

        • 友達(ともだち)(はな)している:「だんだんあのやつ(こと)(きら)になってきていて、(いま)()けるようにしている。」

          Chat between friends: 'I gradually came to dislike that guy, and now I do my best to avoid him.'

          • (かあ)さん子供(こども)(はな)している:「あなただんだんおかし()べたくなくなる。」

            A mother speaking with a child: 'You will gradually lose interest in sweets.'

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            だんだん – Grammar Discussion

            Most Recent Replies (9 in total)

            • deltacat3


              Like you wouldn’t believe! Thank you, thank you so much!

            • deltacat3


              Interviewed student: “Speaking of origami, at first I thought it was hard and I wouldn’t be able to do it, but I gradually got accustomed and reached a point where I could do it.”

              What is the と after 慣れてくる expressing in this statement?

            • Pushindawood


              @deltacat3 This と is the conditional, “if・when” と from this lesson. It would probably be better to think of it as “once” in this sentence to make the phrase “once I got accustomed,” but it sounds a bit strange to say “once I gradually got accustomed” in English. I hope this helps!

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