だけ

だけ Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: Only / Merely / Just

Construction: 

  • Noun + だけ
    • E.g. クリスだけ [Only Chris]
  • Noun + だけ + (が / は / を)
    • E.g. クリスだけが / クリスだけを / クリスだけは [Only Chris]
  • Noun + Particle (other than が / は / を) + だけ
    • E.g. クリスにだけ [To only Chris]
    • E.g. クリスからだけ [From only Chris]
  • Noun + だけ + Particle (other than が / は / を)
    • E.g. クリスだけに [Only to Chris]
    • E.g. クリスだけから [Only from Chris]
  • (Verb / い-Adjective) informal + だけ + (だ / です)
    • E.g. はなすだけだ / はなしただけです [X only speaks / X only spoke]
    • E.g. たかいだけだ / たかかっただけです [X is only expensive / X was only expensive]
  • な-Adjective stem + (な / だった) + だけ + (だ / です)
    • E.g. しずかなだけだ / しずかだっただけです [X is only quiet / X was only quiet]
  • Potential form verb + だけ
    • E.g. できるだけ [As much as one can]

Notes:

  • だけ is basically equivalent to the English word “Only“. However, the precise connotation depends on whether だけ modifies a noun, adjective, or verb.
  • When だけ modifies a noun, the associated particle is important:
    • , , and can optionally be dropped, but if they remain they must be placed AFTER だけ.
      • E.g. スミスさんだけ(が)[Only Mr. Smith came.]
    • Other particles such as , , or can NOT be dropped. They may be placed before or after だけ depending on the speaker’s intent. When the particle is placed before だけ, the sentence conveys a stronger feeling of exclusiveness.
      • E.g. スシロだけにました。[I went to Sushiro only.]
      • E.g. スシロにだけました。[I ONLY went to Sushiro.]
  • With adjectives and verbs, keep in mind that だけ modifies the full preceding phrase rather than the single preceding word. Misplacing だけ can completely change the connotation:
    • E.g. さかなだけをべた。[I ate only fish.] Here だけ follows the noun さかな and not the predicate べた, so the sentence conveys the idea of “The only thing I ate was fish“.
    • E.g. さかなべただけだ。[The only thing I did was eat fish.] Here だけ follows the full phrase さかなべた, which conveys the idea of “I ate fish and did nothing else“.
  • A potential form verb + だけ expresses the idea of “Do X as much as one can“.
    • E.g. おどれるだけおどろう。[Let’s dance as much as we can.]
    • E.g. べられるだけべたい。[I want to eat as much as possible.]

Example Sentences:

スミスさんだけ(が)た。[Only Mr. Smith came.]

ぼくにだけはなしてください。[Talk to me only, please.]

わたし日本にほん一度いちどだけった。[I only went to Japan once.]

雪子ゆきこさんとはデートしただけだ。[I only dated Yukiko, nothing more.]

このいえおおきいだけだ。[This house is big, that’s all.]

このお菓子かしいろがきれいなだけだ。[This candy has a pretty color, that’s all.]

できるだけゆっくりはなしてください。[Please speak as slowly as possible.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line at 1:08: 大事だいじなことは本気ほんきかどうかだけ [The only thing that’s important is whether or not you’re serious]
Listen this this line from 1:29: ゆえにあいつたえておこう、いまあるだけ [Therefore I will convey my love, I only have the present moment]
Listen to this line at 1:00: かおこえおもだけで、てもってもれない [Just thinking of your face and voice, I can’t contain myself]

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