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Questions tagged [polarity-items]

極性項目. Words that appear exclusively in affirmative or negative (or interrogative) environments. For example, the adverbial particle しか only appears in negative contexts. Some words have an association with one polarity but also appear outside that context; for example, 全然 appears chiefly in negative contexts but also appears in affirmative contexts. Some words, such as あまり, are polarity items only in certain uses.

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Do Positive Polarity Items ever induce pitch changes?

1 Context: NPIs Induce Pitch Changes In Japanese, when various words are used as a Negative Polarity Item (NPI), their pitch often changes to Heiban. For example, this post illustrates this with なんの: ...
George's user avatar
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Is there a difference between ます and ません for sentences carrying an exclusive connotation(しか)?

私は野菜しか食べません。 apparently means "I only eat vegetables"? Shouldn't there be a negative connotation with the ません-ending? If that's the case what does 私は野菜しか食べます mean? Is there a special ...
Emu_Flock's user avatar
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How does 一回だって in this sentence mean "not even once" when there's no negative?

I came across this sentence watching March Comes In Like a Lion. I'll transcribe it to the best of my ability: (here's the episode though, and the quote happens at 5:46) 僕【ぼく】は遠慮【えんりょ】することにばかり気【き】...
Cranberry48's user avatar
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1 answer
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Negative in Japanese, but positive in English translation. Why? 俺は自分が生き残ることしか考えていなかった‌

俺は自分が生き残ることしか考えていなかった‌. the only thing I thought ‌about was surviving.‌ ore ha jibun ga ikinokoru koto shika kangaeteinakatta‌. I don't really understand why in Japanese it uses 考えて in the negative, ...
blas's user avatar
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1 answer
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人間では決して勝ちえることのできぬ存在, how to handle 決して?

人間では決して勝ちえることのできぬ存在. In this sentence, how should 決して be translated? My dictionary says this should be "never" but I'm thinking it should be "able". Otherwise, with the ぬ at the ...
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別に恥ずかしいとか思わない。別に I dont get it

別に恥ずかしいとか思わない。 What is 別に? I didnt get it. Ive already read some articles about it, but sill.. The first article I read. I learned the meaning of it, which can be "not really, not particularly", and ...
Omokaato's user avatar
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2 answers
370 views

Difference between よもや and まさか?

They seem interchangeable when used in the meaning of conveying disbelief of something. まさかこの時点でやめる気じゃないよね?  よもやこの時点でやめる気じゃないよね?
shoryuu's user avatar
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3 votes
3 answers
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-まい suffix usage in sample sentence

This sentence is rather confusing. あの人は、二度と嘘をつくまいと誓ったのです。 Apparently the translation is: 'That person had sworn to never lie again' but I previously thought まい is a negative intention so surely it ...
Jack D's user avatar
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あまり when used to answer a negative question

When answering a negative question with あまり, it will normally be the positive (by japanese rules). For example: person A: 彼に来ないで欲しいですか? person B: あまり By literal translation, person A is asking ...
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Does ません sometimes not negate?

彼ら は 自分 の 事 しか 考えて いません。 The translation of this sentence from my learning materials is apparently "They only think of themselves." Now it all makes sense to me until the ません at the end. To ...
sups12's user avatar
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誰でも, 誰も, 何でも, 何も

何でも食べる 何も食べない "it is as much as something, eat." = if it's anything, I'll eat it/I eat it. "as much as something, not eat." = if it's anything, I will not/don't eat it. 何でもない = &...
Teru Hayama's user avatar
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3 answers
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What is the grammatical function of と in the sentence 同じ心を持った人は二人といない

What is the grammatical function of と in the sentence: 同じ心を持った人は二人といない。
Arie's user avatar
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決して~ない vs まったく~ない

What is the difference between 決して~ない and まったく~ない?
Rehan Khan's user avatar
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2 answers
158 views

どうしてもね potential meaning

A and B are talking about a technology. A: Bは"technology"の導入には反対だったな A/B: reason 1 しreason 2 から, どうしても……ね I'm not sure what is the supposed meaning of どうしてもね here. Also the reason I'm ...
4th Dimension's user avatar
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2 answers
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Does 稀に have negative polarity?

In English, you have the following phenomenon: ○ I sometimes play jazz piano. ? I rarely play jazz piano. That is, when you have a predicate that usually does not take place, you can use "...
Darius Jahandarie's user avatar
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1 answer
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What verb form is くださねばなるまい

The following is from a mystery manga. The criminal mastermind is lamenting that his accomplice Masumi failed to properly kill Kimisawa. ますみの奴・・・ 最後の最後でしくじったな あの至近距離でよもや急所をはずす ...
G-Cam's user avatar
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1 answer
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どこにでもある or どこかにある

When I translate this sentence "The stone could be anywhere." into Japanese, How can I do that? I asked a native English speaker this meaning, he said it means "The stone can only be in one place but ...
Yuuichi Tam's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
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Why does 何も mean "anything"?

That is, why does adding the 「も」 particle to question words give it a universal, for lack of a better term, word. It's not even always required to be there, as in sentences like お好み焼きが何よりいい ...
mutedAjar's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
586 views

必ずしも within this sentence

I was learning about 限らない and encounter this particular sentence. 社長の意見が必ずしも正しいとは限らない I'm pretty sure that the meaning would be "Manager's opinion is not always right" But if I check the ...
Alice28's user avatar
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7 votes
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How to use ~でも and ~も?

I have looked up 誰 in the dictionary, and found that both 誰も 誰でも can mean everyone and everybody. If there is a difference between them, what is the correct way to use each of them? It is not ...
Display Name's user avatar
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Can tokidoki only be used in a negative sentence?

I heard that ときどき can only be used in an affirmative sentence, and never in a negative sentence. Is that true? If anyone could please provide an example of ときどき in a negative sentence, that would be ...
Kate's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
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Uncertain about なにも

I encountered a short sentence that I'm having trouble understanding completely. なにも遊ぶのは人間だけじゃない。 The context is, a young girl is playing with a dog for the first time. I'm pretty sure I at least ...
G-Cam's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
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誰も used in a positive sentence

I am reviewing the interrogative words like 何、誰、どこ etc. and I saw 誰も being used in a positive sentence, I wonder what the difference would be if みんな were used instead. For example: 誰もが知っている ...
Tchang's user avatar
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1 answer
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"again" word: 二度{にど}, 再び{ふたたび} - usage, difference

Do they mean the same thing when used as a sequence word ("again, a second time") or is there any difference (apart from 二度 also being used to mean "two times")?
user9685's user avatar
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1 answer
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Using double negative

Would appreciate if someone helped me understand the following word patterns with examples: なかなか〜ない ほとんど〜ない ぜんぜん〜ない Can any of them be used in a positive context too?
IUnknown's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
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The role of と particle in 「二度としない」

What is the role of と particle in 「二度としない」? Is it quotative, adverbialisation, change of state or supposition? Also, what extra nuances does it contribute to the expression compared to if も is used ...
Lukman's user avatar
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34 votes
3 answers
6k views

The reason for using 何も+negative, but 何でも+positive

In one of the Japanese classes I attended, I've been taught that while we use 「何も出来ない」to say "He cannot do anything", to say "He can do anything" we use 「何でも出来る」 instead of 「何も出来る」. Why is there a ...
Lukman's user avatar
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