Wild Nihongo!


ばかり Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: Only / Just / Have just done X / Nothing left to do but X / Nothing but X / Approximately X


  • Verb informal non-past + ばかり
    • E.g. はなすばかり [There’s nothing left to do but speak]
  • Verb informal past + ばかり
    • E.g. はなしたばかり [X has just spoken]
  • Verb て-Form + ばかり
    • E.g. はなしてばかり [X does nothing by speak]
  • い-Adjective informal non-past + ばかり
    • E.g. たかいばかり [X is nothing but expensive]
  • な-Adjective Stem + なばかり
    • E.g. しずかなばかり [X is nothing but quiet]
  • Noun + ばかり
    • E.g. 先生せんせいばかり [Nothing but teachers]
  • Noun + Particle + ばかり
    • E.g. 学生がくせいにばかり [To nobody but students]
  • Quantifier + ばかり
    • E.g. 一時間いちじかんばかり [About 1 hour]


  • The basic meaning of X ばかり is that there is nothing except X. The connotation depends on the part of speech and the tense that precedes ばかり.
  • With informal non-past verbs:
    • X ばかり means “there is nothing left to do (to complete something) but X”.
      • E.g. このレポートはあと結論けつろんくばかりだ。[There is nothing left to do to finish this report except write a conclusion.]
    • In some contexts, X ばかり can also mean that someone does nothing but X (i.e. the same meaning as て ばかり, which is described below).
      • E.g. かれわらうばかりでなに説明せつめいしてくれない。 [He does nothing but laugh and does not explain anything to me.]
  • With informal past tense verbs:
    • X ばかり indicates that someone has just done X.
      • E.g. 松山まつやまはシカゴにいたばかりです。[Mr. Matsuyama has just now arrived in Chicago.]
  • With て-form verbs:
    • X てばかり expresses the idea that someone or something is nothing but X or does nothing but X. It often conveys a judgmental or pejorative connotation. The stative verb いる often follows てばかり。
      • E.g. ボブはあそんでばかりいる。 [Bob is doing nothing but playing.]
  • With nouns and informal non-past adjectives:
    • X ばかりsimply means “nothing but X”.
      • E.g. このレストランはやすいばかりだ。[This restaurant is nothing but cheap (i.e. the only merit this restaurant has is the fact that it’s cheap).]
    • When ばかり follows (Noun + ) or (Noun + ), and are dropped and replaced by ばかり. When ばかり follows (Noun + ) or (Noun + ), and may optionally drop. When ばかり follows other case marking particles (e.g. or ), the case marker must remain.
      • E.g. フィッシャー先生せんせいはりさとばかりはなしている。[Prof. Fisher is speaking with nobody but Lisa.]. Here the particle mandatorily remains.
      • E.g. デニスはビールばかりんでいます。 [Dennis is drinking nothing but beer.]. Here, is dropped and replaced by ばかり.
  • With quantifiers:
    • X ばかり expresses conjecture about some quantity or amount. It translates to “About X” or “Approximately X“. This usage of ばかり stems from its usage in classical Japanese.
      • E.g. 十人じゅうにんばかりの友達ともだち手伝てつだってくれました。[About ten friends helped me.]

Example Sentences:

デザートはべるばかりになっている。[As for the dessert, there is nothing left to do except eat it.]

マイクはいてばかりいてなにはなそうとしない。[Mike is doing nothing but crying and won’t talk about anything.]

わたしひるごはんをべたばかりだ。[I just ate lunch.]

この仕事しごとはめんどうなばかりであまりもうかりません。[This job is nothing but trouble and doesn’t bring much profit.]

このりょうんでいるのは男子だんし学生がくせいばかりだ。[The people who live in this dorm are all male students.]

わたし1ヶ月いっかげつばかりパリにいた。[I was in Paris for about a month.]

WILD Examples:

At 0:18, listen for this line: からないことばかり [There’s nothing but things that I can’t understand.] The context here is that Tarzan has just encountered fellow humans, and he wants to learn more about them.
At 0:19, listen for this line: さっきわかれたばかりなのに [Even though we just parted a short time ago]
Listen for this line at 0:18: ゆめひとみ空想くうそうばかり [With dreaming eyes, doing nothing but daydreaming]

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