703 - だけの

JLPT N2: だけの (equivalent to; proportionate to)

We just discussed だけ in our last N2 lesson: [NDL #696] - JLPT N2: だけまし.

We also saw it in these lessons:
- [NDL #485] - JLPT N3: (ただ)~だけでなく
- [NDL #563] - JLPT N2: だけあって

To be honest, this article on だけの probably should have come before that lesson on だけあって. Oops. I'll get to why that is the case in a minute.

First, let's just dive into an example:


素晴らしいコンサートだった。遠くから来ただけのかいはあった。
すばらしい コンサート だった。 とおく から きた だけの かい は あった。
It was an amazing concert. It was worth traveling all that way for.
Literally: “fantastic + concert + だった. + far away + from + came + だけの + worth + は + there was.”

Zooming in on the second sentence, we have:


遠くから来ただけのかいはあった。
とおく から きた だけの かい は あった。
It was worth traveling all that way for.
Literally: “far away + from + came + だけの + worth + は + there was.”

I mentioned in the last lesson that だけ, aside from meaning "only," means something ほど、くらい、etc. To put it another way, だけ can carry a meaning of "equivalence" or "counterbalancing."

In the above sentence, we are saying that the positive experience at the concert was sufficiently good to offset the negative cost of traveling a far way to see it.

There was enough "good thing" to counterbalance "bad thing."

In English, we might just say "(the concert) was worth traveling all that way for."

In Japanese, we get "traveling all that way だけの value there was."

Kind of makes sense, perhaps?


If you're still with me, then I can explain to you why I should have written the だけあって lesson after this one.

In the だけあって lesson, we saw sentences like this:


彼女はさすがF1レーサーだけあって、運転が上手い。
かのじょ は さすが エフワン レーサー だけあって、 うんてん が うまい。
As might be expected of an F1 racer, she’s a good driver.
Literally: “she + は + as one would expect + F1 racer + だけあって, + driving + が + skilled.”

We can think of だけあって as an abbreviation of だけのことはあって.

Let's look at this sentence phrased that way:


彼女はさすがF1レーサーだけのことはあって、運転が上手い。
かのじょ は さすが エフワン レーサー だけの こと は あって、 うんてん が うまい。
As might be expected of an F1 racer, she’s a good driver.
Literally: “she + は + as one would expect + F1 racer + だけの + こと + は + あって, + driving + が + skilled.”


Thing A (=being an F1 racer) is in proportion to Thing B (=being good at driving).
→ As might be expected of Thing A, Thing B.


Don't panic if this sounds confusing because you probably don't need to know all this stuff to pass the JLPT test. I just happened to have an interesting email conversation with my editor in Tokyo about this topic, and now there is a ton that I want to say about it.

Speaking of which, have you ever heard someone say 好きなだけ?

For example, if you have guests over for dinner, and there is some food out in serving trays, you can tell them:


好きなだけ取ってください。
すきな だけ とって ください。
Take as much as you'd like. // Help yourself to as much as you'd like.
Literally: “liked + だけ + take (and) + please.”

For years, I had thought that it was strange that Japanese people said "take only what you'd like" and that it meant "take as much as you'd like." But no one is saying "only" in this sentence. What's being said is "take the amount that is equivalent to how much you'd like," "take the amount proportionate to what you'd like." In normal English: "take as much as you'd like."

We'll eventually cover this usage of だけ in an N3 lesson, by the way.


When we use だけの, it will be followed by a NOUN and preceded by pretty much anything in plain form.

So:


たかがポップコーンに1時間も待つだけの価値はないと思う。
たかが ポップコーン に いちじかん も まつ だけの かち は ない と おもう。
I don’t think it’s worth it to wait an entire hour just for popcorn.
Literally: “just for / it’s only + popcorn + に + one hour + も + wait + だけの + value + は + there isn’t + と + think.”

Quasi-literally: "I don't think that (the cost of) a 1-hour wait is proportional [equivalent] to the value of just some popcorn."

You'll find that the NOUN coming after だけの is typically a NOUN that expresses some kind of value (in a given context).


When we get fancy with だけの, we'll start to encounter sentences that don't include the word "worth" in their English translations, although we are still talking about equivalence and proportion:


運動が健康にいいことは知っているんですが、それをするだけの時間がないんですよ。
うんどう が けんこう に いい こと は しっている んです が、 それ を する だけの じかん が ない んです よ。
I know that exercising is good for my health, but I just don’t have the time.
Literally: “exercise + が + healthy (=health + に + good) + thing + は + am knowing + んです + が, + that + を + do + だけの + time + が + don’t have / there isn’t + んです + よ.”


Now we're straying awfully close to "だけ = only" land, yeah? But this can still match up with our current formula if we get a little bit creative with our quasi-literal translation:

"The need to exercise for my health is not proportional [equivalent] to the amount of time I have."

None of my grammar books cover this kind of usage of だけの. Instead, they just say that だけの means "be worth," and they only use examples that fit with this meaning. It would be nice if they weren't teaching people that だけの means "worth," though, since the concept of "worth" isn't really embedded in just だけの. Rather, the concepts of "equivalence," "proportion," and so on are.

Maybe these grammar book writers are basing their content off of past JLPT N2 tests, though? If so, it might be a good idea to note that だけの will very often be followed by the nouns 甲斐 (かい // worth) or 価値 (かち // value), and in such sentences, we're likely to see the English word "worth" showing up in our translations.


I'll leave you with a couple more examples that you can ponder on your own. If you're feeling worn out, you can call it quits here, but reading lots and lots of examples is one of the best ways to really get a grammar point to stick.

Just saying...


この本がバカ売れすれば、遊んで暮らすだけのが手に入るのに。
この ほん が バカうれ すれば、 あそんで くらす だけの かね が てにはいる のに。
If this book just sold like crazy, we’d make enough money to be set for life.
Literally: “this + book + が + selling like crazy (=idiot + selling) + if (it) does, + play (and) + live + だけの + money + が + obtain / get a hold of (=hand + に + enter) + if only (=のに).”

1000人という人数を収容するだけの場所を探すのは大変だ。
せんにん という にんずう を しゅうよう する だけの ばしょ を さがす の は たいへん だ。
It’s hard to find a place that can accommodate 1,000 people.
Literally: “1000 people + という + number of people + を + accommodation / housing + do + だけの + place + を + search for + のは + tough / difficult + だ.”

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