I wanted to say "Stores are closed at least until April, 13th", and speaking with two different Japanese people I had two different answers: one said that 「せめて四月の十三日まで」 was right, the other said that it sounds odd and 「少なくとも四月の十三日まで」 would be better.

I found that they differ in strenght/emotion, but if that's the only difference both of them would be right depending on how the speaker feels about the stores being closed.

I tried to do a bit of research, and it seems that 「せめて」 is more linked to wanting/asking at least a certain quantity of something, like 「せめて一度は日本に行きたい」, but I'm not sure if it can or not be used in the opening sentence.


1 Answer 1


せめて is linked to wanting/asking as you wrote. It is used when someone asks/wants something that will still not be satisfactory even if it is realised.

For example, in the situation where you say せめて四月十三日まで休業していただきたい, you actually wanted stores to be kept closed longer but had to settle for 13 April because it seemed difficult to request more, or only a shorter period seemed feasible for some other reason.

"Stores are closed at least until April, 13th" does not look like a request nor a desire, so せめて is not appropriate. Instead, we use 少なくとも, 最短で(も), 早くとも, etc.

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