Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 5: 13/20

(Amount) + は

At least, Sort of, Or so

は is pronounced "わ"


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

(1) ぐらい


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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.




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


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


    My boyfriend calls at least 8 times a day.


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


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

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Number/Amount + は – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (8 in total)

  • okayfrog


    I keep getting this mixed up with the lesson for も.

    When it comes to this number counter, when would I use は vs. when would I use も?

    EDIT: This is the other grammar point I am talking about.

  • Fuga


    Hey @okayfrog !

    The Main difference between these grammar point is that は has the nuance of ‘at least’ while も has the nuance of ‘as much as’ and has the nuance that the speaker is surprised.

    For example, the sentence, 彼は昨日4人前ぐらいは食べた (He ate at least four peoples worth of food last night) is just stating the fact that he ate 4 servings while, and in the sentence, 彼は昨日4人前も食べた (He ate as much as 4 peoples worth of food last night), you can see that the speaker is surprised by the fact that he ate as much as 4 peoples worth of food.

    I hope that this answers your questions!

  • okayfrog


    I’ll try and keep that in mind, thank you.

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