I came across a sentence that ends with ひとつだけ in a book and searching on jisho gave me zero results (https://jisho.org/search/ひとつだけ); nor did searching for the individual parsing of what I remember from the audio of the VN (i.e. hitotsu--DakE) give me any helpful results that would make sense in context.


TDLR: What does the sentence end(?) ひとつだけ mean in the above context and does it have a general meaning when used at the end of a sentence as opposed to being used elsewhere in the sentence?


Context: Narrator is describing a unfamiliar room he wakes up in. I think that ひとつだけ in the above context will not work as individual parsings as ひとつ most likely means either the "adverbial noun – just" or the numeric one in the above context that adverbially/numerically describes the 鉄扉 (iron door). The next bit, だけ most likely is a particle ("only") but I don't see how the "only" can affect the 鉄扉 as the ひとつ is already doing that to the "iron door". The only way I can see both affecting 鉄扉 is if ひとつだけ is a qualifier sentence (technically a qualifier phrase) being used in reverse-order.

  • 1
    Try appending です at the end -- does it make more sense now?
    – psosuna
    Mar 8, 2019 at 16:48
  • @psosuna I think of ひとつだけです but it still does not make sense, as my main issue is that the sentence just, kind of, ends with a particle that Jishio does not confirm to be a sentence-end particle that can also mean the same thing as ひとつ, meaning it could be "only only", "just one", "only one", etc... Maybe I'm overthinking it again.
    – Toyu_Frey
    Mar 8, 2019 at 16:56
  • 2
    I think it means 出入り口は錆の浮いた鉄扉がひとつだけある, with ある being omitted.
    – Sweeper
    Mar 8, 2019 at 20:53
  • 5
    ^ 「しかも出入口は鉄扉が一つだけある。」って、おかしいと思うんですけど。。「 しかも出入口は 鉄扉(が)一つだけだ 。」ならいいですが。 「もはや食料は、おにぎりが一つだけあった。」がおかしいのと同じで・・・。「もはや食料は、おにぎり(が)一つだけだった。」ならいいですけど。
    – chocolate
    Mar 9, 2019 at 2:18
  • 1
    はい, I meant to say... しかも出入口は鉄扉が一つだけある sounds strange/unnatural to me. しかも出入口は 鉄扉(が)一つだけだ  would be fine/natural, though.. It's similar to how (or, For the same reason as why(?)) もはや食料は、おにぎりが一つだけあった sounds strange/unnatural. もはや食料は、おにぎり(が)一つだけだった would be fine/natural. (... Sorry, I didn't know how to say がおかしいのと同じで in English.. (T.T)
    – chocolate
    Mar 10, 2019 at 5:41

1 Answer 1


Consider these simpler examples:

  • リンゴ2個です。
    The number of apples is two.
  • 参加者3人です。
    The number of participants is three.
  • 「箱の中には何がありますか?」「バナナ2本です。」
    "What is in the box?" "Two bananas."

Although "Apples are two" makes no sense in English, リンゴは2個です is a perfectly valid way to tell the number of things in Japanese. As you already know, the topic marker は is used for things already in the universe of discourse. が is used to introduce a new item into the universe of discourse.

You can use both は and が at the same time:

Regarding (the number of) participants, there are three Japanese people.

You can drop です/だ to make a sentence look more compact and/or dramatic (体言止め):

(There are) three participants.

You can add だけ (or のみ) to add the meaning of "only".

The number of participants is only three.

Combined together, we have something like:

Regarding participants, there are only three Japanese people.

This is exactly how your sentence in question is constructed, too.

  • Veery clear as usual, thanks! Is it possible to use existence verbs (ある/いる) in (some of) these sentences? If so, what makes them different from the OP’s sentences? Mar 13, 2019 at 1:09

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