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I have never actually seen the words for almost used in Japanese. Below are the various translations for "Almost" that I came accross:

「大方」

「粗」

「九分」

「殆」

「もう少しで」

Could you please highlight which should I use in those generic contexts? And also how to use them?

  • I almost fell down
  • I pray almost every day
  • Almost all the gold is gone (to contrast with "Most of the gold is gone")
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You know there's a corpus attached to most dictionaries that can give example sentences? For instance, jisho.org/sentences?jap=%E4%B9%9D%E5%88%86&eng= and jisho.org/sentences?jap=%E6%AE%86&eng= (though for the second generally ほとんど in contemporary Japanese writing). –  virmaior Aug 20 at 12:16
    
If you want to say "almost" as a single word statement, you could say "おしい". You can't use it as an adjective in a larger sentence. What was "almost" would have to be inferred by the context surrounding such a one word sentence. I think I've observed that, in a slang type of conversation, usage of "おしい" is not uncommon. –  user312440 Aug 20 at 17:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There is no one particular Japanese word that you can use everytime you want to use "almost" in English contexts.

"I almost fell down." = 「もう[少]{すこ}しで[転]{ころ}ぶところだった。」

That would be by far the most natural Japanese sentence. Native speakers would almost never say 「ほとんど転んだ。」 unless they were trying to sound humorous. You, as a learner, could end up arriving at that if you tried to "directly translate" the English sentence "I almost fell down."

"I pray almost every day." = 「ほとんど(or ほぼ)[毎日]{まいにち}お[祈]{いの}り(を)します。」

With this one (and the next one), you could use ほとんど/ほぼ like you would use "almost" in English.

"Almost all the gold is gone." = 「ほとんど(or ほぼ)[全]{すべ}ての[金]{きん}がなくなってしまった(or simply なくなった)。」

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Great, I always felt that ほとんど was not natural in all situations. BTW, do we have to write like this: [全]{すべ} for the spelling? There is no furigana feature here? –  Aki Aug 20 at 14:33

Similar to the relationship between だけ and しか, you could also use [危]{あや}うく or [辛]{かろ}うじて with the negation/opposite of what you are trying to say. Since these words mean "barely", the negation/opposite of the premise would translate together as "almost".

例文:

  • 危うく終電に間にあった。 → I barely caught the last train home. → implies "I almost missed the last train home".
  • 辛うじて試験に合格する → To barely pass the test → implies "to almost fail the test"

危うく can also carry the direct meaning of "almost", and be used similar to もう少しで.

  • 危うく[梯子]{はし・ご}から落ちるところだった。 → I nearly fell off of the ladder.
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