If I say in English "He's only playing" this can mean two things. It can mean something like he's just playing (and he keeps on doing so and it's bothering me because he should be working or something), or it can mean he's only playing (and that's all - what he is doing is harmless so don't be angry at him). The nuance is dependent on the tone.

Now, if I say in Japanese 彼は遊んでばかりいる, does this imply that I am angry at him for only playing? Or is the nuance that I am trivialising the fact that he is only playing and expressing it's harmlessness?

  • 4
    Your question title asks about ways of saying "just" or "only". Your question body asks only about the nuance of ばかり. They might be better served in two questions, but which one do you want to ask about here?
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


彼は遊んでばかりいる implies that you are angry at him for only playing, and not doing something else, because of the word ばかり. However, if you say 彼はただ遊んでいるだけ, it can mean either way depending on the context.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .