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I'm currently studying on my Intermediate Japanese book and I stumbled upon the usage of なるべく, with the meaning of as ~ as possible. The book gives me two examples and with the first one there's no real difficulty.

  • 教室の外でも、なるべく日本語を使った方がいいでしょう。 ( with the meaning of it will be better if you speak Japanese as much as possible even outside the classroom )

But then it shows me another example, which I didn't really comprehend as far as the usage of なるべく is regarded. Which is the following:

  • 宿題は、なるべく次の日に出してください。( I get the meaning of the sentence which should mean something along the lines of please hand in homework the next day if possible but still, I thought that there would be something like a set phrase just like the as much as possible that we find in the first sentence )

So my final quesion is: what's the use of なるべく in the last sentence? Why does the book put them both under the same grammar rule? ( I get that it may be quite a silly question but this keeps on bugging me since yesterday ) Thanks in advance.

4

なるべく may be close to the English word "preferably" and it doesn't always mean "as much as possible". For example, you can say なるべく静かにしてね (Please keep as quiet as possible).

"なるべく + adverb" means "as adverb as possible" like "as much as possible (なるべくたくさん)", "as soon as possible (なるべく早く)".

So you may think たくさん is omitted in your first sentence.

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I would say that なるべく, when it is modifying not an adjective or adverb but a verb phrase, (as in your examples) means you'll do something if possible, often with the connotation that you'll make your best efforts to make it happen. (I'm failing to come up with a corresponding English set phrase.)

宿題は、なるべく次の日に出してください。

Hand in your homework the next day, if possible (and do your best to make it possible!)

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You can translate as "as much as possible":
宿題は、なるべく次の日に出してください。
Please hand in the homework as much as possible on the next day.

The important thing to notice is that なるべく is used as an adverb.

  • Not sure what you mean by 'as much as possible' here. 1) Even if you've only done half of it please hand that in. 2) hand it in if you are at all able to. – user3856370 Nov 5 '16 at 14:43
  • なるべく is an adverb that modifies 次の日. So it means "if possible on the next day, if not possible on the following days". – hisao m Nov 5 '16 at 15:40

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