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All About Japanese Particles: きり (kiri)

[Serie: All About Japanese Particles]

1. Used after nouns and verbs, indicates a “cutting-off point, i.e., a limit; may also be pronounced kkiri (っきり): “only.”

Note: Kiri means basically the same thing as dake (#22, no. 1) but is a more colloquial usage. Shika may be used after kiri for emphasis.

Ano ojī-san wa, hitori kiri de ōki na ie ni sunde iru.
That old man lives alone [all by himself] in a big house.

Sono kodomo wa, damatta kiri de nani mo iwanakatta.
The child just sat [stood, etc.] there, without saying a word. (Lit., That child, only keeping quiet, didn’t say anything.)

2. Used with a small number or amount to emphasize a negative meaning; dake may replace kiri: “only.”

Ato hassha made nifun kiri da kara, Yamamoto-san wa totemo ma-ni-awanai darō.
The train leaves in just two minutes, so it’s very unlikely that Yamamoto will make it in time.

Okane wa ichiman-en kiri shika nai kara, ano konpyūtā o kau no wa muri da.
I have only ¥10,000 to my name, so there’s no way I can buy that computer. / Since all I have is ¥10,000, there is no way I can afford that computer.

3. Indicates the most recent incidence of something: “the last.”

Aran-san kara wa, kyonen kurisumasu-kādo ga kita kiri de, sono ato tegami ga kimasen.
The last [I heard] from Allen was a Christmas card last year; since then, no letters have come.

Kishi-san to wa, sengetsu no kurasu kai de atta kiri desu.
The last [time] I saw Kishi was at last month’s class meeting.

– Source: All about particles – A handbook of Japanese function words


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