Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 5: 13/20

(Amount) + は

At least, Sort of, Or so

は is pronounced "わ"

Structure

Number/Amount + Counter + (くらい(1)) +
Noun + くらい(1) +

(1) ぐらい

Details

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About Number/Amount + は

The particle has two primary functions. The first is to mark the topic of a sentence, as learned very early in our Japanese language journey. However, the second common usage of is to highlight contrast (making a comparison). When is used after a number/counter, it regularly has this comparison meaning. This can be translated as 'or so', or 'at least'.
  • ディズニーランド(ねん)5(かい)()ている
    I go to Disneyland at least 5 times a year.
  • (わたし)毎日(まいにち)、テレビ5時間(じかん)()ている
    Every day, I watch TV for 5 hours or so.
Before , the counter is regularly followed by くらい (or ぐらい). This just softens the statement, and further highlights the 'or so' meaning.
  • 2キロくらいはある(おも)
    I think it is at least 2 kilograms.
  • 倉敷(くらしき)1(かい)ぐらい()(ほう)がいい
    You should go to Kurashiki at least once.
Despite being translated as 'at least', the comparative meaning of itself is what creates the nuance of this grammar structure. The thing before is being highlighted as an amount, while also implying that there are other amounts. This implication of another amount makes sound as if it could mean 'as opposed to (B)'. So in essence, this grammar structure sounds like 'As for (A), as opposed to (B)', where (B) is not usually mentioned.

Examples

  • この()(もの)(すく)なくとも(ゆか)3(びょう)()ちていたから()べられない

    This food was on the floor for at least 3 seconds, so I can't eat it.

  • ()()っているんだから()ぐらいつないだでしょう

    Since you are going out, you were at least holding hands, right?

  • 彼氏(かれし)(にち)(かい)電話(でんわ)かける

    My boyfriend calls at least 8 times a day.

  • 心配(しんぱい)母親(ははおや):「(にく)ぐらい(すこ)()べて。」

    Worried mother: 'Please eat some meat at least!'

  • スティーブン・ホーキング一回(いっかい)()いたかったのに

    (But) I wanted to meet Stephen Hawking at least once

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Number/Amount + は – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (5 in total)

  • Superpnut

    Superpnut

    About 1 year ago

    So for this grammar point I’m a bit confused.
    If a counter is present do you or do you not use くらい
    I’m not really sure what putting it in ( ) is supposed to show. Does it mean it’s optional?
    All the example sentences look like they don’t use くらい when there is a counter. But then it says : “Before は, the counter is regularly followed by くらい (or ぐらい). T”
    Could someone please let me know because it looks like it’s optional to me but I’m really not certain either way

  • Fuga

    Fuga

    About 1 year ago

    Hey @Superpnut !

    くらい can be used, or it can be omitted. Adding くらい/ぐらい adds stronger emphasis to the ‘or so’ meaning.

    2キロはあると思う。‘I think this is at least 2 kilograms.’ (this must weigh at least 2 kilograms)
    2キロくらいはあると思う。‘I think this is at least 2 kilograms or so.’ (this must weigh 2 kilograms or so)

    In the first sentence, the speaker is a little more certain that the thing is close to 2 kilograms, but in the sentence the speaker is less confident and thinks that the thing is at least close to 2 kilograms. As you can see, the meaning of the sentence does not change too much, but there is a slight change in the nuance.

    I hope that this helps!

  • dementati

    dementati

    About 28 days ago

    In the second case, with the non-counter noun:

    the くらい is not in brackets. Does that mean that if the preceding noun is not a number/counter, it’s required? How does that affect the meaning? The description of the grammar point doesn’t seem to discuss the case of a non-counter/number at all, but I have gotten some review sentences wrong because I omitted the くらい, so unless that was incorrect it does seem to be important.

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