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The Particle だけ as “just, only”

The Particle だけ as “just, only”

だけ is a common Japanese particle that translates into English as “just” or “only” and works in an almost completely similar manner to its English counterpart words.

だけ can be used with any of the three main word types (adjectives, nouns, and verbs) simply by attaching it right after said word to express “just WORD” or “only WORD.”

Example(s):

わたしだけ (watashi dake) “just me”
あなただけ (anata dake) “just you”
面白いだけ (omoshiroi dake) “just interesting”
勉強するだけ (benkyou suru dake) “just studying”

Unlike the similar particle しか which can only be used in negative form sentences, だけ can be used in both positive and negative form sentences.

Example Sentence(s):

今日だけバナナパクチー味のアイスが買えるよ!スーパー限定だから!
Kyou dake banana pakuchi- aji no aisu ga kaeru yo! Su-pa- gentei dakara!
“The banana coriander flavor ice cream is available only today! It’s super limited edition!”

やばい!半分のレッスンだけ勉強した。
Yabai! Hanbun no resson dake benkyou shita.
“Oh no! I only studied half of the lesson.”
*Note how だけ also fulfills the function of the direct object marker/particle を here. However, this will not always be the case, as the double particle usage of だけを is also possible (the reversed order of をだけ is grammatically incorrect).

彼は使える人(だけに/にだけ)優しい。
Kare wa tsukaeru hito (dake ni/ni dake) yasashii.
“That guy is only nice to people who are useful.”
*When だけ is used with certain other particles, the double particle combination is reversible; however, certain orders may be much more common and sound more natural.

僕だけが犯人の顔を見ました。
Boku dake ga hannin no kao o mimashita.
“It was just me who saw the culprit’s face.”
*The double particle combination of だけ and が can only be used in that order.

*The particle のみ is considered to be a formal version of だけ, usually only appearing in written language.

Similar Grammar Pattern(s):