Japanese Grammar | Relative Quantities in Japanese

Don’t know the exact amount of something but want to express its relative quantity in Japanese?

You need to know about different degrees of adverbs!

Until now, we have learned about adverbs and how to use them in sentences.

Today, we are going to show you different degrees of these adverbs.

We have made this in descending order and put English translations wherever similar ones are available.

But you should know that translation between languages cannot be perfect!

There are always nuances and connotations that you need to be careful about. Also, there are some adverbs that can only be used with negative verb forms.

But, without worrying too much, let’s get started with different degrees of adverbs!

NOTE | We have differentiated the adverbs according to the levels high, medium, and low.

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Basic Adverbs: High

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Basic Adverbs: Middle

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Basic Adverbs: Low

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Frequency

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Certainty

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Amount

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Basic Adverbs: High

HiraganaRomajiEnglish
きわめてkiwameteextremely
ひじょうにhijyounivery much
じつに・ほんとうにjitsunihontounireally
*本当に is colloquial
とてもtotemovery
たいへんtaihenextremely, very

Here is an example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
この人形はとても可愛いですね。このにんぎょうはとてもかわいいですね。Kono ningyou wa totemo kawaii desune.That doll is very cute, right?
あなた達は本当に素敵なお客だ。 あなたちはほんとうにすてきなおきゃくだ。 Anata-tachi wa hontōni sutekina okyakuda.You’re such a lovely audience.

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Basic Adverbs: Medium

HiraganaRomajiEnglish
かなりkanarifairly
そうとうsoutouconsiderably
だいぶdaibuquite

Take a look at an example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
私は大分元気になりました。わたしはだいぶげんきになりました。Watashi wa daibu genki ni narimashita.I’m feeling a lot better.
ここからかなり遠とおかったよここからかなりとおとおかったよKoko kara kanari tō tōkatta yoIt’s fairly far from here.

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Basic Adverbs: Low

HiraganaRomajiEnglish
なかなかnakanakaquite
まあまあmaamaapassably
そこそこsokosokoreasonably
たいして*taishitenot very
あまり*amarinot very
ぜんぜん*zenzennot at all

Notes:

Here is an example using an adverb from the above table:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
今日は雨が全然降りませんでした。きょうはあめがぜんぜんふりませんでした。Kyou wa ame ga zenzen furimasen deshita.It didn’t rain at all today.
僕、なかなかイケメンでしょ!ぼく、なかなかイケメンでしょBoku, nakanaka ikemendesho!I’m quite handsome!

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Adverbs of Degree: Frequency

Adverbs of degree can be further subdivided.

We have listed them here for your reference. No matter what the category, usage of adverbs remains the same.

HiraganaRomajiEnglish
いつもitsumoalways
ふつう・ふだんfutsuu・fudanusually
よく
しょっちゅう
たびたび
yokushoucchuutabitabioften
ときどきtokidokisometimes
たまにtamanioccasionally, rarely
あまり*amarirarely
めったに*mettanihardly, seldom

*They have to be used with negative forms.

Here is an example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
山田さんはいつも漢字の勉強しています。やまださんはいつもかんじのべんきょうしています。Yamada san wa itsumo kanji no benkyou shite imasu.Mr. Yamada is always studying Kanji.
ときどきアニメを見ます。ときどきアニメをみます。Tokidoki anime o mimasu.I sometimes watch anime.

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Adverbs of Degree: Certainty

HiraganaRomajiEnglish
ぜったいzettaidefinitely
かならずkanarazuwithout exception
たしかにtashikanicertainly
きっとkittosurely
おそらくosorakuprobably
たぶんtabunmaybe

You can also use these words as stand-alone words as you get fluent in Japanese.

For example, たしかに is also used as あいづち.

あいづち (aidzuchi) are words that are used in between conversations according to context.

Relative Quantities in Japanese | Adverbs of Degree: Amount

HiraganaRomajiEnglish
すべて ぜんぶsubete zenbuentirely, completely, wholly
すっかりsukkaricompletely, thoroughly
たくさんtakusana lot, many
じゅうぶんjyuubunenough, sufficiently
あまり*amarinot very
すこしsukoshia little
ちょっとchouttojust a little
ほとんど*hotondomostly, nearly, almost (zero)
ぜんぜん*zenzennot at all

*They have to be used with negative forms.

Take a look at an example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
りんごはあまり好きではないです。りんごはあまりすきではないです。Ringo wa amari suki dewa nai desu.I don’t like apples very much.
ちょっと食べる。ちょっとたべる。Chotto taberu.I eat a little

Be sure to use these adverbs according to context to get fluent in Japanese. Also, always pay special attention to adverbs that can only be used with negative form of verbs!


Now you know how to talk about relative quantities in Japanese!

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Japanese adverbs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is an adverb of relative quantity?

It is an adverb that expresses an uncertain or approximate quantity of something.

What does たくさん mean?

たくさん (takusan) means a lot or many.

How do I use adverbs in Japanese?

Please see LTL’s lesson on adverbs!

What is a low frequency adverb?

An example is あまり (amari) which means “not very.”

What does ちょっと mean?

ちょっと (choutto) means just a little and is commonly used i spoken Japanese.

What does たしかに mean?

たしかに (tashikani) means certainly in Japanese.

What is a high frequency adverb in Japanese?

An example is とても (totemo) which means “very.”

What is an adverb that expresses certainty in Japanese?

An example is ぜったい (zettai) which means “definitely.”

More grammar

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    Irene Magnosi , Student Advisor

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