- Starting with dake meaning
- Difference between dake and shika
- Shika meaning
- Use both together
Starting with dake meaningBelow is dake meaning and definition.
- dake – だけ : an adverbial particle to mean ‘only’, ‘just’ or ‘alone’. Depending on words used together, it can mean ‘as many as’, ‘as much as’ or some such. This particle can go with not only positive expressions but negative ones as well.
Example 1: with a verb
- watashi – 私 (わたし) : a pronoun which corresponds to the English pronoun, “I”.
- wa – は : a binding particle working as a case maker or topic maker. In the example sentence, it works as a case maker to help the pronoun “watashi” to become the subject.
- Kyoto – 京都 (きょうと) : a noun which is a name of one of the most popular Japanese cities.
- ni – に : a case particle to indicate a direction of an action expressed by a following verb. In the example sentence, it indicates a direction to Kyoto which is the object of the verb, “iku”.
- iku – 行く (いく) : a verb to mean ‘to go’.
Example 2: with an i-adjective
- utsukushii – 美しい (うつくしい) : an i-adjective to mean ‘beautiful’.
Here, I recommend you to put the adverb, “tada”, before “utsukushii” to stress its meaning and to support the particle. So the example sentence becomes;
Example 3: with a na-adjective
- kireina – 綺麗な (きれいな) : a na-adjective to mean ‘beautiful’. It ends with “na” for smooth connection with “dake”.
A bit off topic, but from the grammatical point of view, a form ending with “na” is not a plain form really. On the other hand, Japanese learners learn it as the base of na-adjectives. So perhaps some of them regard it as a plain form. For this reason, I didn’t mention a form of the na-adjective, “kireina“, above.
Example 4: with a potential formNow dake meaning and its role are different. Below is an example.
- dekiru – できる : a verb to mean ‘can do’ or ‘to be able to do’.
- nagaku – 長く (ながく) : a ku-formed i-adjective “nagai” which means ‘long’.
- iru – いる : a verb corresponding well to English be verbs. Depending on context, it means ‘to stay’.
This is a kind of special case. But, this expression is widely used in daily conversation. So I recommend Japanese learners to master this use.
Difference between dake and shikaSo far, I’ve explained dake meaning and shown some examples. Before going to explanations of the other one, “shika”, let me explain simple differences between these two particles.
First, “shika” is always used together with the i-adjective, “nai“. This means, “shika” can go only with negative expressions. Usually they give us a very strong negative impression. Due to this difference, “shika” cannot replace “dake” used in the above examples.
Secondly, only “dake” can be used with a potential form. In principal, “shika” cannot go with a potential form to mean ‘as blah blah as possible’.
Lastly, “dake” can be used more widely than “shika”. The examples above show how “dake” can be connected well with a verb, i-adjective and na-adjective. Contrary to this, we cannot connect shika with them easily. Sometimes, adjectives need to be changed to their noun form for better connection. I will show it later through an example.
Shika meaningBefore going to examples, let me check shika meaning and definition as follows.
- shika – しか : a binding particle to mean ‘only’, ‘just’ or ‘alone’. This particle needs to be together with the i-adjective, “nai”. As its definition suggests, it is bound more or less.
Example 5: with a verbBelow is an example of “shika” with a verb.
- nai – ない : an i-adjective to deny a meaning of a prior word. Its role is more or less the same as “not”.
With an adjective“Shika” definitely can be used together with an adjective. However, sometimes connection could sound weird. Actually, even Japanese native speakers often use noun formed adjectives instead of adjectives themselves. So I recommend Japanese learners also to do so. I will show you an example with a noun formed i-adjective below.
Example 6: with a noun formed i-adjective
- utsukushisa – 美しさ (うつくしさ) : a noun formed i-adjective, “utsukushii”, meaning ‘beautiful’.
Japanese people often change i-adjectives to their noun form to make connection with “shika” smooth. They use this method quite often in conversation. So you can easily find it.
For na-adjectives, by the way, they do not use the same method. In principal, Japanese na-adjectives consist of a noun and conjugative suffix. So Japanese people usually just extract a noun part only and use it together with “shika”.
Use both togetherTo be honest, I should’ve told you before. But surprisingly Japanese people often use both particles together in order to make strong negative expressions which correspond to an English expression, “nothing but”.
When these two particles are used together, they form a phrase, “dake shika”. Normally, no other word is in between them. Here we need to recall that “shika” is always together with “nai”. Therefore, “dake shika blah blah nai” is considered as a kind of fixed phrase. Dake meaning and also shika meaning are still the same as explained. Therefore, more or less the same meaning is repeated. Let’s see what a strong impression it gives through an example below.
Example 7: dake with shika
SummaryLet me summarize what I’ve explained so far.
- dake – だけ : an adverbial particle to mean ‘only’, ‘just’ or ‘alone’. When it is used together with a potential form, it can mean ‘as many as’, ‘as much as’ or some such. This particle can go with not only positive expressions but negative ones as well. Basically, it can be connected with a noun, verb, i-adjective or na-adjective easily.
- shika – しか : a binding particle to mean ‘only’, ‘just’ or ‘alone’. This particle is always together with the i-adjective, “nai”, and makes negative expressions only. It cannot follow a word in potential form. Connection with other words is a bit limited.
- dake shika – だけしか : a phrase which make a very strong negative expression. It corresponds well to an English expression, “nothing but”.
Japanese Particles Master
Masaki Mori is a Japanese particles master. Through teaching Japanese language, he is trying to spread the culture of Japan. His goal is to preserve it as much as possible.