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On a certain online correction site, my sentence:

正直に言うと、最近アメリカのドラマを観ていたばかり

Was given many possibilities. Some people crossed out 「ばかり」 like 「観ていたばかり」 in the following sentences so I'm inclined to think I might've been wrong:

正直に言うと、最近アメリカのドラマを観てばかりいた

正直に言うと、最近アメリカのドラマばかりを観ていた

正直な話、最近はアメリカのドラマばかり観ていた

One of the answerers also wrote the same ending as I did though, so I'm slightly confused:

正直、最近アメリカのドラマを観ていたばかり

Is there a reason why there's so many usages of 「ばかり」, and is one or more of these more "correct" than the others or are they somehow arbitrary?

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  • There are may possibilities: I only have watched American dramas, I have only watched American dramas, I have watched only American dramas, I have watched American dramas only. Is there a reason why there's so many "usages" of "only", and is one or more of these more correct than the others or are they just "arbitrary"?
    – user458
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 1:58
  • @sawa yeah fair enough. The reason I asked was many people crossed out the original ばかり on 観ていたばかり so I thought the first might be wrong.
    – cypher
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 2:05
  • I don't think it's exactly the same, but I've just noticed a similar question: how do we tell if ばかり means “about” or “only”?
    – cypher
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 2:37
  • I see. That is indeed related.
    – user458
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 2:39

1 Answer 1

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It actually has two meanings. When it is put after the predicate like your original example, it means "just now", and it conflicts with 最近 "recent". That is why your sentence was corrected.

(?)正直に言うと、最近アメリカのドラマを観ていたばかり。 (Meaning-wise odd)
'Being honest, I have just now been watching American dramas recently.'

If you put it within the predicate phrase like the first three sentences of your four examples below that, it means "only" or "exclusively". In this second meaning, the focus of "only" moves depending on where you put it and which part is accented.

正直に言うと、最近アメリカのドラマを観てばかりいた。
'Being honest, I have been exclusively watching American dramas.'
I.e., "I have not done anything but watching American dramas."

正直に言うと、最近アメリカのドラマばかり(を)観ていた。

Interpretation 1.
'Being honest, I have been watching exclusively AMERICAN DRAMAS."
I.e., "(I may have done activities other than watching something, but) I have not watched anything other than American dramas."

Interpretation 2.
'Being honest, I have been watching exclusively American DRAMAS."
I.e., "(I may have done activities other than watching some American things, but) I have not watched any American things other than dramas."

Interpretation 3.
'Being honest, I have been watching exclusively AMERICAN dramas."
I.e., "(I may have done activities other than watching dramas, but) I have not watched any dramas other than American ones."

I have no idea why you have the last sentence. It is almost the same as your original sentence, and does not improve anything.

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