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When using あまり in the sense of "too much" (as opposed to "not very"), until recently I had always seen it as あまりにもA, with A being the thing that there was too much of. I never really tried to relate the meaning of individual particles and to the word あまり and try to understand how it takes on the meaning of "too much", I just accept it as a set expression. Here is an example of this usage:

  • あの本はあまりにも面白かったので、読むのに夢中になっていたら、いつの間にか夜が明けていた。

Recently I saw it used as <N>のあまり and <V-dict>あまり with seemingly identical meaning. Examples:

  • 母は、私を心配するあまり、体調を崩したようです。
  • その犬が死んだ時、先生は悲しみのあまり、しばらく仕事を休んでいました。

Is this the same usage of あまり? Could I simply switch to the other pattern in all 3 of the above examples?

  • あの本は面白かったあまり、読むのに夢中になっていたら、いつの間にか夜が明けていた。
  • 母は、私をあまりにも心配して、体調を崩したようです。
  • その犬が死んだ時、先生はあまりにも悲しみ、しばらく仕事を休んでいました。

Is there any difference in nuance here, or perhaps is something flat out wrong? Also, is there any context in which あまり can be used with に or は such as あまりに or あまりは? If so, what is the meaning in this case? Maybe someone could construct an example sentence with translation using あまりに and/or あまりは, if it makes sense.

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1 Answer 1

Yes, the meaning is the same, but the usage is not necessarily interchangeable. According to my book, in the form ~のあまり, the 「~」 part is supposed to be something that expresses emotion or feeling. (感情を表す言葉)

例: 驚きのあまり、心配のあまり、感激のあまり、懐かしさのあまり、などなど

There is also one form that you didn't mention is あまりの~に. The ~ here is often the さ-noun form of an adjective (形容詞に「さ」がついた名詞が来ることが多い).

例: あまりの暑さに、あまりのやさしさに、など

I'm not quite sure about the formation or usage of あまりにもA, as it is one of those patterns that's somehow slipped through the cracks of all my years of studying. But it seems that they all have the same connotations behind them.

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