Grammar detail: difference between だけ and しか

difference between だけ and しか
115 words
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Both だけ and しか mean 'only' or 'nothing but'. However, there are a few differences between the two expressions.
Most importantly, しか is followed by a negative verb, whereas だけ is usually followed by a positive verb.
  • 私は英語だけ分かります。I only understand English.
  • 私は英語しか分かりません。I only understand English.
However, there is a more subtle difference: だけ contains no emotional implications - it merely expresses a fact. しか, on the other hand, implies an underlying (negative) judgement. Using the above examples, the first simply states the fact - you only understand English. The second, however, implies perhaps a tone of apology, or pessimism, or perhaps the idea that you think you really ought to understand another language.
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Kanji used in this grammar

シ   わたくし    わたし I, myself   
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エイ    England; hero; flower   
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ゴ   かた to talk, relate   かたらう to talk together, chat   
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ブン   ブ   フン   わける to divide, to distinguish   わかる to understand   わかれる to be divided   わかつ to share, distribute   
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