Is it true that the べつに when used to mean "nothing particularly" is pronounced differently from when it is used to mean "separately / apart" ?

Like am I right to say that these 3 examples belong to the same "sound":

  1. たまに朝飯を抜いたって別に悪いことじゃない。

  2. 「何を考えてるの?」「別に・・・」

  3. べつにいがみあっている敵同士ではあるまいし。

and these other 3 belong to a different "sound":

  1. ニンジンは別にして、彼が食べないものはない。

  2. ソースを別にください。

  3. 別にサービス料を申し受けます。

Also I was wondering whether this sentence 私は別に怪しい者ではありません。 will belong to the first category or the second one?

  • 5
    I pronounce 別に in your seven examples in the same way, or at least I do not notice any difference. But this is just my personal observation. Aug 4, 2011 at 14:49
  • @Tsuyoshi ok thx for the info =)
    – Pacerier
    Aug 5, 2011 at 17:30

2 Answers 2


The difference does not appear on 別に, but appears on the part following it. In the first usage ('nothing particularly'), the word following 別に maintains its own accent nucleus, so the tone lowers at the beginning:

Capital = High tone, Lower case = Low tone

beTSUNI waRUi koto
beTSUNI [end of accent nucleus]

In the second usage ('separately/apart'), 別に is accently compounded with the part that follows (the accent nucleus is removed from the following part), so the high tone sustains into the word following:


私は別に怪しい者ではありません。 belongs to the first category:


This can be explained by the fact that in the first usage ('nothing particularly'), 別に is a sentence modifier, so its bonding with the following word is weak. In the second usage ('separately/apart'), 別に is either part of a predicate or is a verb-phrase modifier, so its bonding with the following word is strong.

  • heys thx for the help =D btw i was wondering will it sound weird if we say the に of べつに as if it is a stand-alone. so instead of べつに will it sound weird if we say べつ[fast-short gap]に and the に sounds like the way we will say the に in a sentence like this: 図書館[fast-short gap]に行こう, so that it sounds more like べつ + に instead of べつに
    – Pacerier
    Aug 5, 2011 at 17:29
  • I think it sounds wierd, but also feel 図書館[fast-short gap]に行こう, as wierd. I do not get what you mean by that.
    – user458
    Aug 5, 2011 at 17:50
  • ok erm, i've uploaded 2 audio files, box.net/shared/8dtdhuzkjgf905j1he9f and box.net/shared/4axk7o9bdmco9z6q9gqa which do you think is weird?
    – Pacerier
    Aug 6, 2011 at 15:05
  • @Pacerier Both of your files do not sound like native standard Japanese pronounciation. They are unnatural. The first one sounds like "beTSUNI kudasai", the second one "BEtsuNI kudasai".
    – user458
    Aug 6, 2011 at 18:32
  • ok thx for pointing that out, i'll take note of it. btw so is it that in the second file the betsuni is wrong and the betsuni for the first file is more right ?
    – Pacerier
    Aug 7, 2011 at 16:45

I think pronunciation is the same. But emphasis / intonation for #2 could be different, depending on the situation. Another example that might illustrate it better is


Where the second person really is upset, even though he is responding with 'not particularly'. In which case this person may respond with added emphasis as if they are offended they would be asked such a question.

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