いちばん Japanese Grammar Lesson
Grammar Type: Adverb
Essential Meaning: Most / -est
- いちばん + (い-Adjective / な-Adjective)
- E.g. いちばん高い [The highest]
- E.g. いちばん静かだ [The quietest]
- いちばん + い-Adjective Stem + く
- E.g. いちばん高く[Most highly]
- いちばん + な-Adjective Stem + に
- E.g. いちばん静かに [Most quietly]
- いちばん (一番 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 is an adverb, it can not be affixed directly to nouns. For example, “#1 Friend” can not be expressed as 一番ともだち in Japanese. Instead, an adjective such as いい [Good] can be used in conjunction with 一番 (e.g. 一番いいともだち [Best Friend]). That being said, the adjective or adverb that follows 一番 is sometimes omitted in casual speech if the context is obvious.
- E.g. 松本さんと池田さんと清水さんのなかで、だれが一番(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.
クラスの中で大川さんが一番頭がいい。[In this class, Ogawa is the smartest.]
この中でどの映画が一番おもしろいですか。[Among these films, which is the most interesting?]
松本さんと池田さんと清水さんのなかで、だれが一番(よく)できますか。[Among Matsumoto-san, Ikeda-san, and Shimizu-san, who can do it the best?]
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