If someone says それだけ、食べないでください, does it mean:

  1. Please don't eat only that [eat other things too!]


  2. [You can eat anything you like but] only that, please don't eat it.

What about それだけ、たべてください? Does it mean:

  1. Please eat only that [and don't eat anything else].


  2. [I don't really care if you eat anything else but] only that, please eat it.

  • 1
    That seems terribly ambiguous to me without context or voiced stress... -_-;;
    – deceze
    Jun 22, 2011 at 9:20
  • do you mean the phrase それだけ、食べないでください could mean either 1) or 2) depending on context/voice stress?
    – Pacerier
    Jun 22, 2011 at 9:33
  • The makes this pretty ambiguous IMO. If you read this with a pause after and/or stress on だけ, I'd say it means "don't eat that". Without the pause/stress I'd read this as "don't eat only that". Have you seen this written like this or just heard it? Do you have more context?
    – deceze
    Jun 22, 2011 at 9:50
  • i've not got context though. i read it here: guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/amount which sparked off this question..
    – Pacerier
    Jun 22, 2011 at 10:01
  • 1
    That's actually quite different, there it says それだけ.
    – deceze
    Jun 22, 2011 at 10:03

2 Answers 2


This is really ambiguous and depends on how it's stressed/paused:

"Please don't eat only that."

"Please don't eat that. (Eat anything else.)"

The actual sentence seems to have been this though:


That marks それだけ as the topic, which clearly means "Please don't eat that."

  • heys btw is it true that even if there is a comma (それだけ、食べないでください), it is still ambiguous?
    – Pacerier
    Jun 29, 2011 at 14:04
  • In your second sentence, is だけ just a "stresser"? In other words, it just puts emphasis on それ.
    – dotnetN00b
    Apr 26, 2012 at 22:22

As the comments to the question state, I guess it's just very ambiguous. Real life would probably provide you with something like "everything else is ok, but…" or "if there is no other choice but to do so, then…"

Anyway, without context, for the first sentence, I would lean towards "please don't eat this one" ("it's for the boss").

For the second sentence, however, it just seems a bit weird to say "please only eat that" :) One would rather say "それだけ食べていいですよ" (you may only eat this), so I would understand "at least, eat that".

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .