I am trying to understand the correct usage of this grammar. I have been taught that ばかりか means 'not only A but also B.'

A Japanese friend mentioned that it is only used to talk about negative things?

I have seen many examples that don't fit this description.
For example:


So I tried to practise this grammar by making my own sentences and made many mistakes.

  1. あなたは美しいばかりか、動物にやさしく、しかも聡明である.

I was told this was wrong...and was changed to and I only changed the subject and one description (from the example sentence above)


I won't go through all of them but here are my (bad) sentences. Maybe you can see what my problem is:


Why did they all get changed to だけでなく?

Thank you so so much for your help!

  • Because this ばかりか is an exaggerated expression, I think they judged some of your sentences are too much.
    – user4092
    Aug 24, 2016 at 10:09

3 Answers 3


I would say ばかりか is more emphatic than simple "not only ~ but also ~", and thus should be used sparingly. Perhaps this construction sounds more like "and what's more/worse...". It's probably true that it tends to be used in negative situations (ie., "what's worse"), but you can use it in positive sentences, too.

I feel ばかりでなく is not as emphatic as ばかりか, but still somewhat more emphatic than だけでなく. だけでなく is safe and neutral.


This perfectly makes sense, but sounds like you're fairly proud of being able to speak the two languages — perhaps to the point where you may sound a bit arrogant in business settings. Likewise, Sentences 6 and 7 sound a bit too selfish or confident to me.


Um, I think this sentence is perfect as far as the usage of ばかりか goes. You cannot praise a woman too much.


This is grammatically correct but semantically awkward because the "what's worse" part should come after ばかりか. It's hard to imagine a situation where a sick person cannot drink water but can eat ice cream. "アイスクリームを食べられないばかりか、水も飲めない" is good.


な or である is required after 下手 (ie 下手なばかりか or 下手であるばかりか). And this doesn't sound natural either, because "being bad at pronunciation" is not really a worse thing than "being bad at writing kanji".


Add 物価が or 物【もの】が before 安い; a country cannot be cheap. Otherwise the sentence looks perfect to me.

Regarding Sentence 8, そればかりか at the beginning of the sentence is a valid way of saying "what's more". ばかりに in 安心させたいばかりに is a different idiom.

  • Thank you so much fo your detailed answer. Just one more thing, would having dakedenaku instead of bakarika make me able to talk about both negative and positive things?
    – ichigohime
    Aug 24, 2016 at 13:58
  • 1
    @ichigohime Yes, だけでなく is neutral and can be used both in negative and positive sentences.
    – naruto
    Aug 24, 2016 at 14:02
  • Would ばかりでなく still imply a negative thing? Or is it simply more formal than だけでなく?
    – eefara
    Feb 19, 2020 at 19:28
  • 1
    @eefara ばかりでなく can be used both in positive and negative statements.
    – naruto
    Feb 20, 2020 at 12:06

According to "A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar", page 8:
ばかりか...(さえ): a compound particle/conjunction which is used to connect two nouns or two sentences, the first of which is normally expected, and the second is normally unexpected.

So in the sentence AばかりかB, A needs to be something expected, while B needs to be something unexpected.

In Japan not only children but even adults are reading comic books.


On a more general note, the use of か as a negativizer - in this case ばかり (just, only) into "not only" - is quite a forceful negativizer.

There are several expressions that use this and they are all quite strong (I would except the sentence ender じゃないか which is saying that something is so by double-negative since this is so common that it lacks much force).

If you think of that か as creating a very condensed rhetorical question "and you think that was all?" I think it becomes clearer why would come across too strong too self-confident. too critical etx. in cases where a less forceful negative would be in order.

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