331 - くらい~はない

First, let's talk about the word くらい・ぐらい.

Generally speaking, this word has two meanings. The first is for approximation:

くらい・ぐらい
approximately; about; around; or so

着くのに二時間ぐらいかかる。
つく のに にじかん ぐらい かかる。
It takes about two hours to get there.
Literally: "arrive + のに + two hours + ぐらい + it takes."

Wait a second. Are we supposed to say くらい or ぐらい?

Well, the simple answer is that either one is fine. Apparently in the past there were rules about which one is appropriate, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. If you want a Japanese challenge, you can read about this here (#10 ベストアンサー). Another person on that same page said that he thinks ぐらい sounds more conversational, but he sees くらい more in written language. That sounds about right to me, as well. But yeah, anyways...

The other meaning of くらい・ぐらい is...

くらい・ぐらい
to the extent that; (almost) enough that; at least; as... as...

In other words, the second usage is grammatical (read: complicated).

The five-second version:

SOMETHING + くらい
=as much as SOMETHING

As you might imagine, the full story is a bit more complicated, but I've found that returning to this little equation can be helpful. The same can be said of ほど, actually (which is a very similar word):

SOMETHING + くらい/ぐらい/ほど
= as much as SOMETHING

With that, perhaps we're ready for today's grammar topic...


JLPT N3: くらい~はない

Vるくらい ~ はない
Nくらい ~ はない
there's nothing morethan N/Vる.

Example:


お風呂上がりのビールぐらいおいしいものはない
おふろあがり の ビール ぐらい おいしい もの は ない。
There's nothing as delicious as a beer just after taking a bath.
Literally: "just out of the bath (=bath + rise) + の + beer + ぐらい + delicious + thing + はない."


Remember the formula I wrote up above? Well here, our SOMETHING is お風呂上りのビール, "a beer just after a bath."

a beer just after a bath ぐらい
→ as much as a beer after a bath

Then we can see that the second half of the sentence is:

おいしいものはない。

In isolation, this sentence would mean "there is nothing delicious."
Literally, "delicious + thing + there is not."

So...

a beer just after a bath ぐらい there is nothing delicious
→ as much as a beer after a bath, there is nothing delicious
→ → there is nothing as delicious as a beer after a bath

If that sounds confusing, just don't worry about it. We shouldn't be trying to match everything up to English, anyways.

Let's just read examples and trust that we'll get a sense for the grammar in time...


彼女ぐらい食いしん坊なやつはいない
かのじょ ぐらい くいしんぼう な やつ は いない。
Nobody loves food as much as her.
Literally: "she + ぐらい + gluttonous + person + はいない."
Note #1: Since we're talking about a living thing (=she), we use ~はいない instead of ~はない.
Note #2: The word 食いしん坊 is used to describe a person that loves eating. It's OK to refer to yourself as this. Or close friends or family. I'd be a little careful using it to describe anyone else, though. Even telling a close friend they have gluttonous eating habits is a little risky.
Note #3: 奴(やつ)is a very casual way to say "person." Generally speaking, I wouldn't use it unless you have a solid grasp of its nuance, as it can be very inappropriate.


With this grammar construction, it is most common to have a noun right before くらい/ぐらい. However, we can also have a verb in dictionary/plain form:


クリスマスの朝、プレゼントを開けるくらい楽しいことはない
クリスマス の あさ、 プレゼント を あける くらい たのしい こと は ない。
There's nothing as fun as opening presents on Christmas morning.
Literally: "Christmas + の + morning, + presents + を + open + くらい + fun + thing + はない."


Even when a verb is used, though, you'll often see that it has been made into a noun by adding こと onto the end of it:


親友の出産に立ち会ったことぐらい感動することはない
しんゆう の しゅっさん に たちあった こと ぐらい かんどう する こと は ない。
There's nothing as moving as seeing your best friend give birth.
Literally: "close friend + の + delivery (of a baby) + に + be present at + thing + ぐらい + being deeply moved emotionally + do + thing + はない."


Level-Up Time

At the beginning of this lesson, I said that ほど is very similar to くらい・ぐらい.

Well, they're so similar, in fact, that we can also replace くらい・ぐらい with ほど in these sentences, and the meaning stays the same:


家族と過ごす時間ほど大切なものはない
かぞく と すごす じかん ほど たいせつ な もの は ない。
There's nothing more important than spending time with family.
Literally: "family + と + spend + time + ほど + important + thing + はない."


This is one of those grammar points that you could probably get by without using in daily speech, but it really adds a lot of flavor to your sentences if you can master it. Also, it's fun to talk about stuff that is unbeatable, awesome, amazing, etc.

Good luck!




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