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I know べつに can mean "nothing", (not) particularly, not a big deal, I don't care etc. But I have some trouble understanding what it means in long sentences like these. I only have an idea, but I'm so not sure so I would like some confirmation. I'm adding some context where necessary.

first sentence

Person 1: 合宿に限らずもうちょっと抑えなきゃって思ったの. 一護に嫌われたくないから.

一護: べつにそんなの...

I can only understand that 一護 is denying what's been said but I don't know what べつに is doing there.

second sentence:

context: two friends are working on a project, one of them sees the other really focused and working hard and says that he must be really enjoying the task. His reply is

え? いいえ. べつに,普通だよ.

I think here it means "it's nothing/not a big deal"?

third sentence:

別に嫌なわけじゃないですし.

does it mean "I don't particularly hate it"?

fourth sentence

矛盾... しててもいいんじゃないですかべつに

I'm kind of lost here. I think it means "nothing" but I'm not completely sure.

I would appreciate if someone can correct my interpretation of the word in each context.

2

べつに means "not particularly". When you use it to deny something, you're saying there's no particular reason it would be that way (べつに...わけではない), or that it's not particularly that way (べつに...ない). べつに is typically used in a negative sentence, but when it gets used in a positive sentence, there's an additional negative sentence that's being implied by the べつに.

So in your first example, "べつにそんなの" is saying there's no particular reason that he would do something like hating her. The negative clause is being omitted and reduced to そんなの ("that sort of thing", referring to him hating her).

In your second example, the speaker feels he's putting in a typical amount of effort, so he's saying there's no particular reason one should think he's having fun. You could consider it an abbreviation of "べつに楽しんでいるわけじゃないよ、普通だよ".

In your last example, the person is asking if it's okay to do something, but with a bit of an attitude. してもいいんじゃないですか is already asking "It's okay if I do this right?" with the presumption that yes, it's okay (this comes from the んじゃない?). Adding べつに is like a supplement to the sentence (they could have put it before the verb, but they're adding it as an addendum), expressing that the speaker doesn't believe there is any particular reason it would not be okay to do.

べつに is commonly used when giving someone permission to do something between friends. If Person A asks "~してもいい?" "Is it okay if I ~?" then Person B can consent with "べつにいいよ", which says "It's okay! (there isn't any particular reason it wouldn't be)".

I would go to http://yourei.jp/%E5%88%A5%E3%81%AB and look at some of the negative sentences it is used with. Try and get a feel for how "not particularly" is used. Also when you see べつに used with a positive sentence, think of what the べつに is trying to say (the "hidden" negative clause).

  • Does it mean "not particularly" in all the sentences though? Given that it's a word with multiple meanings, I had thought it may mean something different depending on the context. – YTKN May 8 '18 at 3:08
  • 別に as a unit is defined by Japanese dictionaries with one meaning (it can be considered its own word because its meaning/usage isn't necessarily obvious from its components). Daijirin: 「とりたてて。特別に。下に打ち消しの語を伴って用いる。」. This is mirrored in Jim Breen's as "(not) particularly; (not) especially; (not) specially". I believe the other meaning for 別に that Jim Breen's dictionary has ("separately, apart, additionally, extra") is 別 + に used in combination with a verb. – Eversome May 8 '18 at 6:37

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