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I read that dake is followed by a postive. So "Sushi dake taberu" is correct while "Sushi dake tabenai" is wrong. And the first sentence means "I only eat sushi"

So why does this anime title have dake followed by a negative?

It means "A town where only I live."

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    Sushi dake tabenai is ok in some contexts. Where were you told that? Also the title means town where only I am absent.
    – sundowner
    Aug 14, 2023 at 9:14
  • Ohhh I see, it was in a blog post where it said that dake is followed by a positive while shika is followed by a negative. @sundowner Aug 14, 2023 at 10:19
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    @RommelBagasina Well yes, but when 'shika' is followed by a negative, it kind of has a positive meaning. 'Boku dake ga itta' means the same as 'boku shika ikanakatta', 'Only I went', and to make it easier to wrap your head around you could parse the latter as 'Nobody but me went'. 'Boku shika inai machi' is 'the town where only I'm there', while 'boku dake ga inai machi' is 'the town where only I'm not there'
    – Angelos
    Aug 14, 2023 at 10:34

1 Answer 1

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しか is indeed a negative-polarity item, but だけ can be used with both positive and negative sentences:

  • 彼だけ来ます。
    Only he will come.
  • 彼だけ来ません。
    Only he won't come (but others will come).
  • ❌ 彼しか来ます。 (incorrect)
  • 彼しか来ません。
    No one but he will come. / (Unfortunately) Only he will come.

彼だけ来ます and 彼しか来ません roughly mean the same thing, but the former sounds neutral and matter-of-factly, whereas the latter sounds regrettable.

  • 僕だけがいない街
    a town where only I do not exist
    (a normal town but the existence of me has been erased/ignored)
  • 僕しかいない街
    a town where no one but me exists
    (I am the only person in the town)

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