On jlpt grammar list n3 i found ippou da and bakari da,but i don’t really get the difference. I know that they both need the dictionary form but still is there a certain difference betweeen them or do they overlap in some cases? “Ippou da” means to continue doing something “Bakari da” also seems to mean to continue doing something

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    Could you please explain why you think they are similar?
    – G-Cam
    Mar 20, 2018 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


Both may describe something undesirable continues all the way, but Vする一方だ implies escalation, and Vするばかりだ does not. In this sense, you can replace Vする一方だ with (ますます/どんどん)Vするばかりだ.

If the verb already has a cumulative meaning, then the two expressions make no difference.

死傷者は増える一方だ。 = 死傷者は増えるばかりだ。
Casualties keep on increasing.

Otherwise, these two would not be interchangeable.

子どもはおびえる一方だ。 The child only gets more and more frightened.

子どもはおびえるばかりだ。 The child can do nothing but being frightened.

  • I'm not sure if this deserves a question, but what do you mean with "cumulative meaning"? From your reply and my book I thought a verb showing change, like 「増す」, 「増える」, 「なる」, but my book gives 「このごろ、雨が降る一方だ」 as a wrong example, and given your example about fear I'm not sure why that's wrong and what's the difference. My book says that both of them have to apply to verb showing change, the only apparent difference, which you ruled out, according to my book seems to be that 「ばかりだ」 is an increase in a bad direction, while 「一方だ」 just an increase (it gives 「ティーナさんの日本語の力は上がる一方です」 as an example).
    – Mauro
    Apr 26, 2020 at 22:28
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    @Mauro "Cumulative" is not a grammar term AFAIK, I just wanted to say that it represents a kind of action that will pile up as it repeats by nature, so なる and 降る are not. I'm not very excited with the "bad direction" explanation in theory and reality, though I see many Japanese learning sites say so. For example, Google returns 30k+ hits for "良くなるばかりだ" while 50k+ for "悪くなるばかりだ". My impression is that the uncontrollability implied by ばかり leads to such inclination of thinking. Apr 27, 2020 at 13:22
  • Since you said that both describes something undesiderable, is the 「ティーナさんの日本語の力は上がる一方です」 unaccurate? Also, why is 「このごろ、雨が降る一方だ」 wrong? I don't really see the difference with your 「子どもはおびえる一方だ」 example. ("Bad direction" is my translation of 「悪い方向にだけ進んでいるころ」, from my book.)
    – Mauro
    Apr 27, 2020 at 14:24
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    @Mauro (1) Yeah I should've written "when describing something undesirable..." (2) 雨が降る has either raining or not raining, right? (At least in Japanese, the verb has no function to say raining more or raining less.) If you want to say it rains heavier and heavier, it's 雨が激しくなる一方だ. Apr 27, 2020 at 14:33
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    @Mauro Yes, that なる translates English "grow --er" in "grow bigger" or "grow older", which naturally means "become more and more something". なる outside the idiom is simply "become", where you become it once there is no twice. Apr 27, 2020 at 14:45

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