Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 10: 12/20

一体(いったい)

(What) the heck?, (Who) in the world?, (Where) on earth?, (How many) f*ing...

Structure

いったい + Question Word + Phrase

Details

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    Standard

  • 使用域

    一般

About 一体

In order to convey the feeling of 'what the heck', with any 'how', 'what', 'where' or 'why' type question, the adverb 一体(いったい) will be used in Japanese. いったい appears frequently both with, and without kanji.
いったい will usually be seen at the beginning of sentences, before some statement about what the speaker finds unbelievable.
  • 一体(いったい)ここ(なに)()きたん
    What the heck happened here?
  • これ一体(いったい)どういうこと
    What is the meaning of this?
The literal meaning of いったい is 'one body', or 'one form'. In this way, when paired with questions, いったい can be thought of meaning 'in a way that can be understood, what is (A)', or 'in a way that makes sense, what is (A)'.
  • 一体(いったい)なんでこんな(こと)になった
    Explain to me in a way that makes sense, why something like this happened?
  • 一体(いったい)なんであんな(やつ)()()ようと(おも)った
    In a way that I can understand, why did you think of dating someone like him?
Fun Fact
Like the 'one body', or 'one form' meaning mentioned above, 一体(いったい) is sometimes used to mean 'in general', or 'generally' when seen as 一体(いったい)に. However, this use is slowly becoming less common, partly due to how often 一体(いったい) is used simply to express surprise or shock.
  • アメリカ(じん)一体(いったい)親切(しんせつ)です
    Americans are generally polite.

Examples

  • いったいいつになったら外出(がいしゅつ)準備(じゅんび)ができるんだろう。

    When on earth are you going to be ready to go out?

  • 今年(ことし)(おさ)める税金(ぜいきん)いったいいくらになるかしら。

    I wonder how much freaking tax I will pay this year.

  • この牧場(ぼくじょう)にはいったい(なん)(びき)(うし)がいるかな。

    I wonder how many freaking cows there are on this farm.

  • この気持(きも)(わる)()(もの)いったい(なん)ですか?

    What on earth is this ugly creature?

  • (ぼく)たちの未来(みらい)いったいどうなるんだろう…

    What on earth will become of us in the future?

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一体 – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (2 in total)

  • someone2020

    someone2020

    About 4 years ago

    Relatable, useful grammar point

  • mrnoone

    mrnoone

    About 4 years ago

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