Wild Nihongo!
いちばん

いちばん

いちばん Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Adverb

Essential Meaning: Most / -est

Construction: 

  • いちばん + (い-Adjective / な-Adjective)
    • E.g. いちばんたか [The highest]
    • E.g. いちばんしずかだ [The quietest]
  • いちばん + い-Adjective Stem + く
    • E.g. いちばんたか[Most highly]
  • いちばん + な-Adjective Stem + に
    • E.g. いちばんしずかに [Most quietly]

Notes:

  • いちばん (一番いちばん in kanji) is a superlative marker. With adjectives, it is equivalent to the superlative adjective suffix “-est” as in “Biggest“, “Ugliest“, or “Longest“. With adverbs, it is equivalent to “Most X“, as in “Most highly” or “Most quickly“.
  • Note that since 一番いちばん is an adverb, it can not be affixed directly to nouns. For example, “#1 Friend” can not be expressed as 一番いちばんともだち in Japanese. Instead, an adjective such as いい [Good] can be used in conjunction with 一番いちばん (e.g. 一番いちばんいいともだち [Best Friend]). That being said, the adjective or adverb that follows 一番いちばん is sometimes omitted in casual speech if the context is obvious.
    • E.g. 松本まつもとさんと池田いけださんと清水しみずさんのなかで、だれが一番いちばん(よく)できますか。[Among Matsumoto-san, Ikeda-san, and Shimizu-san, who can do it the best?] Here, the adverb よく [Well] may be omitted since it is clear from context that the speaker is referring to how well the three teachers can do something.

Example Sentences:

クラスのなか大川おおがわさんが一番いちばんあたまがいい。[In this class, Ogawa is the smartest.]

このなかでどの映画えいが一番いちばんおもしろいですか。[Among these films, which is the most interesting?]

松本まつもとさんと池田いけださんと清水しみずさんのなかで、だれが一番いちばん(よく)できますか。[Among Matsumoto-san, Ikeda-san, and Shimizu-san, who can do it the best?]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line at 1:40: 一番いちばんえらひとへ、おれたちはいまなにをするべきか? [What do we need to do now become the most remarkable person?]

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