5

I've encountered sentences like:

「皆【みんな】に足【た】りるだけの椅子【いす】がありません」and

「皆に足りるだけのコーヒーがありません」.

In English, we wouldn't say, "There aren't just enough chairs," except perhaps as, "There barely aren't enough chairs," in which case we are emphasizing that we are just short of the necessary amount. In the context I encountered the foregoing uses of 「足りるだけ」, this did not seem to be the case, which made me wonder if this is just idiomatic language.

I guess my question is why is「だけ」is being used here.

5

「足{た}りるだけ」 is hardly an idiomatic expression.

「だけ」, in this context, means "as many/much (to be sufficient for a given purpose)". It seems you are thinking of its other meaning of "just/only".

"There are not enough chairs for everyone (to sit on)."

This usage of 「だけ」 is very useful as it enables one to express ideas such as:

「好{す}きなだけ食{た}べなさい。」 = "Please eat as much as you like."

「SEでは、質問{しつもん}したいだけ質問できます。」 = "On SE, you can ask as many questions as you want."

  • To my English native brain it still seems redundant with the meaning of 「足りる」, which itself carries the semantics of sufficiency. So even parsing 「だけ」as "as many/much," 「足りるだけ」still reads to me as, "as much as is sufficient," which is unnatural in English unless you're emphasizing that it is just/only enough. The examples you gave make sense to me because「だけ」there bears the concept of sufficiency alone, without「足りる」. It's really the combination that's tripping me up. – Jon Mar 16 '18 at 23:28

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