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All About Japanese Particles: ばかり (bakari)

Note: More informal forms of bakari are bakkari, bakashi, and bakkashi

1. Indicates an approximate amount or extent; in contrast to kurai and hodo, bakari tends (but only tends) to focus on the smallness of the amount: “approximately, about.”

Note: Kurai (#19, no. 1) and hodo (#20, no. 1) may replace bakari in this usage.

明日から2ばかり旅行に行ってきます。
Ashita kara futsuka bakari ryokō ni itte kimasu.
Beginning tomorrow, I’ll be making a trip for a day or two. / Tomorrow I’ll be leaving on a trip for a couple of days.

1万円ばかり貸していただけませんか。
Ichi-man-en bakari kashite itadakemasen ka.
Could you lend me, say, something like ¥10,000?

2. “Not only … but also.”

Note: While dake (#22, no. 4) may replace bakari in this usage, bakari is slightly more emphatic.

原田さんはピアノばかりでなく、歌もうまいんですよ。
Harada-san wa piano bakari de naku, uta mo umai-n desu yo.
Harada is good not only at the piano but also at singing.

英語ばかりでなく、フランス語も勉強したいんです。
Eigo bakari de naku, Furansu-go mo benkyō shitai-n desu.
I want to study not only English but French as well.

3. Emphasizes the singularity of the immediately preceding word: “only, nothing but.”

Note: (1) Since the position of bakari in the sentence affects the meaning, several versions of one sentence have been given to exemplify the difference. In loose usage, however, bakari tends to shift from the word it is intended to modify, leaving the meaning to be gathered from context. (2) In this usage, bakari contains a degree of disapproval which lake does not.

課長はこの頃ウイスキーばかり飲んでいますね。
Kachō wa konogoro uisukii bakari nonde imasu ne.
The section chief is drinking nothing but whiskey these days.

課長はこの頃ウイスキーを飲んでばかりいますね。
Kachō wa konogoro uisukii o nonde bakari imasu ne.
The section chief is doing nothing but drink whiskey these days.

課長はこの頃ウイスキーを飲んでいるばかりですね。
Kachō wa konogoro uisukii o nonde iru bakari desu ne.
All the section chief does these days is drink whiskey.

テレビばかり見ていると目を悪くしますよ。
Terebi bakari mite iru to me o waruku shimasu yo.
If all you do is watch TV, you’ll ruin your eyes. / If you watch TV all the time, you’ll ruin your eyes.

Note: Here, terebi o mite iru bakari da to me o waruku shimasu yo is also possible (and grammatically more acceptable), but the example above is more common and has the same meaning.

4. Used after the – ta form of verbs: “just.”

Note: If tokoro (#38, no. 1) replaces bakari in this usage, the meaning is similar, but bakari shows more emphasis.

父は今帰ってきたばかりです。
Chichi wa ima kaette kita bakari desu.
My father just now came home [just got home).

順ちゃんは、ご飯を食べたばかりなのに、もうおやつを欲しがっています。
Jun-chan wa, gohan o tabeta bakari na no ni, mō oyatsu o hoshigatte imasu.
Even though Jun has just eaten a meal [just finished eating], he already wants a snack.

*5. Emphasizes a reason or cause in the phrase bakari ni; “(Just, merely) because, for the simple reason.”

渡辺さんはステレオを買いたいばかりに、一生懸命にアルバイトをしている。
Watanabe-san wa sutereo o kaitai bakari ni, isshō-kenmei ni arubaito o shite iru.
Watanabe is working like a dog at his part-time job for the simple reason that he wants to buy a stereo. / Watanabe wants to buy a stereo so badly that he is working for all he’s worth at his part-time job.

山田さんは政治家と結婚したばかりに、苦労している。
Yamada-san wa seiji-ka to kekkon shita bakari ni, kurō shite iru.
Simply because Yamada married a politician, she is having a hard time. / Just because she married [happened to marry] a politi-cian, Yamada is finding the going tough.

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

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