Looking through resources, it seems that あまり ~ない can be used for 'not verb often', 'not verb much' and 'not verb well' depending on the context. Is there an easy way to tell which version is being used in a sentence and any way to make my own sentences' meanings clearer?

For example: あまり食べません could mean I don't eat much or I don't eat often.

And if I wanted to say "I don't often speak Japanese" could I say 日本語はあまり話さない without it being misunderstood as "I don't speak Japanese well"?

1 Answer 1


There is no way to identify the specific meaning of あまり〜ない other than context...

As for your last qusetion, 日本語はめったにorたまにしか話しません is better to be correctly understood. If you stick to あまり〜ない structure, add 普段. 普段あまり話さない sounds not often, rather than not well.

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