[JLPT grammar] ​Is there a difference between だけ and しか〜ない?

Today I am going to share the Q&A quoted from my JLPT N4 course!


[Student’s Question]

is there a difference between だけ and しか〜ない?
It seems both mean “only.”
I am wondering if they can be used interchangeably.


[My Reply]

The two meanings (situations) are the same, but the nuances are different.

There is only one cookie.

=You are just stating the fact that “there’s only one cookie.” There are no personal feelings or judgment.

There is only one cookie.

=You are emphasizing how much cookie there isn’t and how small the amount is. In this case, it sounds like you are complaining that just one piece of a cookie is not enough.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean しか(〜ない) is always used in negative context to complain about something.

Tomorrow I have only one hour of class.

=You are emphasizing how much less than usual. This may make you happy.

I hope my answer helps you.😊


In the JLPT course, you can ask me any questions as much as you want.
I will teach you until you get it!



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