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ようやく has the following definitions in romajidesu:

  1. (adv) finally; at last
    「そっか」ウィリーはようやく納得した。
    "Well, OK," Willie finally agreed.

  2. barely; narrowly; hardly; only just
    9時20分の電車にようやく間に合った。
    I barely made the 9:20 train.

  3. gradually; little by little; by degrees

I'm wondering, when is the last definition relevant?

For example, consider the following sentence:

ようやく理解できたんでしょうね。

Should I read it as "he finally understood what he had to do" or "he gradually understood what he had to do"?

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ようやく理解できたんでしょうね。

In this sentence ようやく means "finally" "at last".

"It seems (s/he) finally understood."


I'm wondering, when is the last definition relevant?

Here are a few examples using ようやく in the sense of "gradually":

  • 人々はようやくに列を乱して*(夏目漱石『趣味の遺伝』)-- デジタル大辞泉
  • 寒さもようやくゆるんできた -- 大辞林
  • ようやく秋もたけなわになった Autumn has gradually ripened. -- プログレッシブ和英中辞典

* sounds pretty old-fashioned.

ようやく as "gradually" is usually used with a verb phrase expressing a change of state, such as ~~てくる, ~~になる.
ようやく is not very commonly used in this sense in contemporary Japanese. Some might say it's an outdated usage.

  • ようやく sounds like “too late”. You can say ようやく仕事が終わった. But it would be better not to say ようやく仕事終わったの?. – Yamacure Sep 20 at 8:38
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ようやく理解できたんでしょうね。

I'm not an expert, since I'm also learning how to translate Japanese language through internet. The biggest problem is so minimum info of the subject, so just by this line can be translated into many sentences.

んでしょう -- can be translated to: I think, I guess, I suppose, probably, it seems, right?, isn't it, etc.

できた -- can be translated to: can, capable, able,etc.

理解 -- can be translated to: understand, know, realized, comprehend, etc.

So, we need to read the earlier sentences to translate the sentence that you were asking about.

  • 1
    Perhaps this would be better left as a comment asking for more context? But either way, it’s an example sentence, so there is likely no context available... – Darius Jahandarie Sep 18 at 19:34
  • I can't put a comment, my credit not enough. – Amanda Zhang Sep 18 at 19:55

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