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Adverbs (Common Degree Adverbs)

Adverbs (Common Degree Adverbs)

In Japanese, adverbs are commonly used in conjunction with the particle に but there also exists a set of even more common adverbs which do not use the particle に at all. These are the common degree adverbs とても, すこし, ちょっと, ぜんぜん, and あまり.

とても (very)

Example(s):

この宿題はとても難しいです。
Kono shukudai ha totemo muzukashii desu.
(This homework is very hard.)

携帯電話はとても便利ですね。
Keitai denwa ha totemo benri desune.
(Cellphones are really convenient, aren’t they?)

すごく- very (casual, used more for conversation)

Example(s):

この帽子はすごく綺麗ですがすこし高いです。
Kono boushi ha sugoku kirei desuga sukoshi takai desu.
(This hat is very pretty but it’s a little expensive.)

すこし(少し) – a little

Example(s):

この帽子はすごく綺麗ですがすこし高いです。
Kono boushi ha sugoku kirei desuga sukoshi takai desu.
(This hat is very pretty but it’s a little expensive.)

ちょっと– a little (casual, used more for conversation)

Example(s):

私の弟はちょっとうるさいです。
Watashi no otouto ha chotto urusai desu.
(My little brother is a little noisy.)

すこし and ちょっと are commonly used as euphemistic expressions in that they do not provide clear subjections on the speaker’s behalf. Due to this, すこし and ちょっと are more naturally used in negative statements to soften what may be a harsh statement if otherwise expressed forthrightly. When used in the positive form, they express the connotation that the albeit positive, the characteristic may have not met expectations.

ぜんぜん – not at all

Example(s):

彼女は全然可愛くなかった。
Kanojo wa zenzen kawakunakatta.
(She wasn’t cute at all.)

あまり – not really

Example(s):

私はあまり上手じゃない。
Watashi wa amari jyouzu jyanai.
(I am not very good.)

あまりis only used in negative-form sentences. Traditionally, ぜんぜん was also used in negative-form sentences as well, however, it has gradually become commonly used in positive-form sentences in which it serves a positive emphatic function similar to the English “completely”, “wholly”, and/or “entirely”. For example, the expression 全然平気 (ぜんぜんへいき) [zenzen heiki] means to be “complete okay” or “perfectly fine”.