I came across this sentence (下町ロケット, p.239):


Meaning-wise, it seems hard to imagine it means anything other than 感じはじめた頃だろう. However, I wonder, is there is a slight difference in nuance, or something else that would have made the author choose this rare (at least I don't think I've seen it before) usage of だろう?





  • 1
    Makino's Intermediate Grammar Dictionary says that this use of だろう is not grammatical.Instead, であろうshould be used.
    – xeta217
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 6:02
  • For completeness :) it makes sense to translate the quote to English. My possibly bad translation is: "How about returning home soon?" he started saying after 65 years has passed and he started to feel that he probably becomes weaker.
    – yk7
    Commented Mar 25 at 3:42

1 Answer 1


I think there is a slight difference in what the uncertainty is about:

  1. … 六十五歳を過ぎ、<unsure>体力的な衰えを感じはじめた</unsure>だろう頃だ。
  2. … <unsure>六十五歳を過ぎ、体力的な衰えを感じはじめた頃</unsure>だろう

In #1, the uncertainty is less about the actual time frame, and more about what their physical condition had been. In #2, it seems that the uncertainty is mainly about the time frame.

Likewise, in the sentences below, #1 is unsure whether the children were hungry, while #2 is unsure whether these children had it worst:

  1. いちばん大変だったのは、お腹が空いていたであろう子供たちだ。
  2. いちばん大変だったのは、お腹が空いていた子供たちであろう

I did not know that this use of だろう is technically incorrect and should be であろう instead (as brought up by xeta217 in the comments). I could also find one page online that agrees with this rule. However, there are probably many other books that use phrases like だろう頃に, so it may be that this rule is not widely known, or debatable.

  • Extremely clearly put, thank you! As for the rule, well, I feel like any rule that is disagreeing with language used in a professionally edited novel written by a multiple-literary-award-winning author is probably some safely ignorable prescriptivism... :-) Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 18:17
  • Whether these children had it worst? To me the second sentence sounds like: "The top priority (いちばん大変だったの) is supposedly (であろう) children that were hungry." Or more literally: "the thing (の) that was (だった) very (大変) number one (いちばん)." What am I missing?
    – yk7
    Commented Mar 25 at 3:55
  • @yk7 Good question. The 大変 in this sentence means "difficult" as in having a hardship, not "very".
    – mirka
    Commented Mar 27 at 12:24

You must log in to answer this question.

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