Every-so-often Grammar/Phrase/Word

APL is a natural extension of assembler language programming; ...and is best for educational purposes. -- A. Perlis

ばかり (bakari)

ばかり (bakari)
Basic meanings: only ~; just ~; be ready to do ~; have just done/just did ~; about/approximately ~
Comments: a particle which indicates that something is the only thing/state that exists, or the only action someone will take, takes, took, or is taking
Key sentences:
  1. デザートは食べるばかりになっている。
    dezaato wa taberu bakari ni natte iru.
    The only thing left to do with the dessert is to eat it. (= The dessert is ready.)
    See footnote 1.
  2. 友子は遊んでばかりいる。
    tomoko wa asonde bakari iru.
    Tomoko is doing nothing but playing.
    See footnote 2.
  3. 私は昼ご飯を食べたばかりだ。
    watasi wa hirugohan o tabeta bakari da.
    I have done nothing since eating my lunch. (= I have just eaten lunch.)
    See footnote 3.
  4. このレストランは安いばかりだ。
    kono resutoran wa yasui bakari da.
    This restaurant is just cheap. (Its only merit is the low price.)
    See footnote 4.
  5. デニスはビールばかり飲んでいる。
    denisu wa biiru bakari nonde iru.
    Dennis is drinking only beer.
  6. 私は一月ばかりパリにいた。
    watasi wa hitotuki bakari pari ni ita.
    I was in Paris for about a month.
  • V-dict ばかり: 食べるばかり (taberu bakari) (= ready to eat; eating can be done at any time)
  • V-te ばかり: 話してばかり (hanasite bakari) (= nothing but talking)
  • V-ta ばかり: 来たばかり (kita bakari) (= just came)
  • Adjective(nonpast) ばかり: 安いばかり (yasui bakari) (= just cheap)
  • Na-Adjective な ばかり (nonpast): 静かなばかり (sizuka na bakari) (= just quiet)
  • N ばかり: 先生ばかり (sensei bakari) (= only teachers)
  • N prt ばかり: 先生にばかり (sensei ni bakari) (= only to teachers)
  • Quantifier ばかり: 一時間ばかり (itijikan bakari) (= about one hour)
Additional examples:
  1. 彼は笑うばかりで何も説明してくれない。
    kare wa warau bakari de, nanimo setumei site kurenai.
    He just laughs and won't explain anything to me.
  2. 私ばかり怒られる。
    watasi bakari okorareru.
    I am the only one being scolded. (Said in such a way as to garner sympathy.)
  3. 肉ばかり食べないで、野菜も食べなさい。
    niku bakari tabenaide, yasai mo tabenasai.
    Don't just eat meat. Eat some vegetables too.
  4. 春江は泣いてばかりいて、何も話そうとしない。
    harue wa naite bakari ite, nanimo hanasou to sinai.
    Harue is just crying and won't try to talk about anything.
Usage notes:
  1. The basic idea which ばかり (bakari) expresses is that there is nothing except what is stated. When V-dict precedes ばかり, it means that there is nothing left to do besides what is being stated by the verb (see key sentence 1), or that one is doing nothing except what is being stated by the verb (see example sentence 1). For the present progressive tense, however, -てばかりいる (-te bakari iru) should be used (as in key sentence 2 and example sentence 4).
  2. When V-ta precedes ばかり (bakari), the meaning is that there has been almost no time for anything to happen since what is stated took place. Thus, something has just happened, or someone has just done something. In this usage, ところ (tokoro) can usually be used interchangeably with ばかり.
  3. When ばかり (bakari) follows the particle が (ga) or を (o), が or を drops (as in key sentence 5). The directional particles へ (e) and に (ni) may be either deleted or retained. Other particles do not drop when followed by ばかり.
  4. ばかり (bakari) in classical Japanese expressed the speaker's conjecture and this usage is still seen in the pattern in which ばかり follows a quantifier, where ばかり means "about" or "approximately". くらい (kurai) and ほど (hodo) may also be used in this pattern, replacing ばかり. Both ほど and ばかり can also be used when referring to an exact amount (their usage makes the sentence seem a bit less direct), whereas くらい always refers to an approximate amount (and thus cannot be used with an exact amount). Also note that ぐらい (gurai) is equivalent to くらい and can be used interchangeably with it. It's simply a matter of pronunciation, actually. See the following sentences:
    • 一時間ばかり勉強した。
      itijikan bakari benkyou sita.
      I studied for about an hour.
      In this sentence, ばかり can be replaced with either ほど or くらい, with the meaning of "about" (though I'm not sure whether using ほど with a time duration is common).
    • そのりんごを二つばかりください。
      sono ringo o futatu bakari kudasai.
      Please give me two of those apples.
      In this sentence, ばかり can be replaced with ほど, but not with くらい, because although ばかり/ほど would seem to imply a meaning of "approximately two apples", the actual meaning is exactly two apples, because they are obviously sold in whole units. ばかり, then, serves as a softener. くらい, which always has the meaning of "approximately", cannot be used with an exact quantity (though perhaps you could use it if you really wanted to say "approximately two apples"?).
  1. As with the given English expression, this is not the most direct way to say that the dessert is ready to eat.
  2. In this sentence, だけ (dake) can replace ばかり (bakari), but it alters the meaning. The version with ばかり would be used more commonly, perhaps when griping about how she is just playing and not doing her homework or something of that nature. The version with だけ might be used, say, in response to the question "What does she do (for a living)?", with the meaning that she doesn't have a job.
  3. In this form, ところ (tokoro) can replace ばかり (bakari), and the meaning is unchanged. See the following sentences:
    1. 智美は出た{ばかり,ところ}だ。
      tomomi wa deta {bakari,tokoro} da.
      Tomomi just left.
    2. 智美は出るところだ。
      tomomi wa deru tokoro da.
      Tomomi is just about to leave.
    Either ばかり or ところ can be used in the first sentence, with the meaning that something has just occurred, but ところ should be used when saying that something is just about to happen.
  4. A more natural way to say this is the following:
    kono resutoran wa yasui bakari ga torie da.
    This restaurant's only merit is that it's cheap. (取り柄 (torie) = merit, saving grace)
    だけ (dake) can replace ばかり in the above sentence.


Copyright 2012-02-19 12:01PM
I think your copyright notice at the bottom of this page is pretty amusing, considering you've copied it almost word for word from "A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar".
an anonymous Sarah
RE: Copyright 2012-03-19 06:42PM
Hi Sarah,

I certainly did not copy it from "A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar", and in fact had never heard of that book before you mentioned it. Perhaps the author of that book and I have both taken it from the same source -- a man named Richard Stallman, who created the Free Software Foundation, the GNU project, the GNU Public License (GPL), and many other initiatives related to the ideas of sharing, copyleft, and freedom of information.

I first saw this copyright notice attached to one of Richard Stallman's newspaper articles, with "page" replaced by "article". It struck me as a mini GPL -- his GNU Public License condensed into a single sentence -- and I thought that was very clever. If you've looked at my software page, you may have noticed that essentially all of my software is either in the public domain or licensed under the GPL, and I generally believe in Richard's ideals of sharing and freedom of information, so I appropriated the copyright notice (actually a copyleft notice) for my website. Knowing RMS, that's exactly what he wanted people to do. :-)
RE: Copyright 2012-03-19 08:41PM
Hello again,

Come to think of it, perhaps you meant for "it" to refer to the article rather than the copyright notice, in which case you weren't making a cute comment but a more serious accusation. But in that case, I'm not sure what you're talking about since most sentences look like they were composed by me; it's my writing style, anyway.

If any part was copied, it might have been the general layout and some of the example Japanese sentences that I was explaining or the basic formation, and in that case I'd guess I got them from either a worksheet or a friend that I was studying with (though if that were the case, I wouldn't know where they got them from). But certainly the explanations, in particular the usage notes and footnotes and at least most of the translations and all of the romanizations, are my own? And don't those make up the majority of the text? I certainly remember crafting some examples myself, too.

I don't think I had this book then, and I certainly don't have it now, but if you say my article was copied word for word from some other source, I'd be very much interested in seeing an excerpt from that source to confirm this. You can post a link to a photograph of the relevant page(s)...
thank you 2014-06-16 04:19AM
Thank you for writing this! I've been confused by this word for the longest time and thankfully you've clarified this since 2004!
an anonymous nuud
Tokoro 2015-09-07 08:47AM
Hi, can you make this kind of note about "Tokoro" ?
Thanks in advance
an anonymous Joey
RE: Tokoro 2015-09-14 05:28PM
Hi, Joey. I'm sorry, but I haven't studied Japanese for more than 10 years, and I've forgotten most of it, so I'm no longer capable of producing these notes. :-(
2018-03-25 12:33AM
This is actually so useful. I was getting confused with how to pair bakari with nouns and verbs and whether -te was acceptable even though -ta was. I had no idea it could basically go with any noun/verb/adjective!
an anonymous Loic
Copyright 2020-04-06 12:35AM
Similar to dake de naku, the majority of this article is a direct 1:1 copy of the Dictionary for Basic Japanese Grammar. I compared them and all the key sentences were taken as is without modification. The first three "additional example" sentences seem to be your sentence, but sentence four is example sentence 2 of the dictionary. The usage notes are again exactly the same notes as in the dictionary (same order, same topics) just with slight rewordings.

I find it amusing that you say that "most sentences look like they were composed by me" when it is actually clear for any outside observer with the Dictionary of Japanese Grammar books that the content was either mostly copied from those books or maybe were typed off from worksheets you received while studying Japanese which in turn were copies from this book. Most certainly, the majority of the content in this article is not your own.
an anonymous SirEdgar
Link to Basic Grammar book 2020-04-06 09:56AM
Did a google search and found a 1994 edition on a google drive. bakari is on book page 84 / PDF page 94 and following:
an anonymous anonymous
copy 2021-04-23 04:55AM
how can you claim copyright when you literally copied it word for word
an anonymous copy

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