604 - くらい (just; only)

JLPT N3: くらい (just; only)

くらい is a word that has quite a few meanings depending on the context in which it is used.

In this lesson, we are looking at how くらい (or ぐらい) can be used to say that something is "not a big deal," "not important," and so on. This often gets translated as things like "just," "only," or "at least."

An example:

5分遅刻したくらいで、そんなに怒るなよ。
ご ふん ちこく した くらい で、 そんなに おこるな よ。
Don’t get so mad. I was only five minutes late.
Literally: “five minutes + (being) late + did + くらい + で, + so much / that much + don’t get angry (=[negative command]) + よ.”


By including the word くらい, the speaker in the above sentence is showing that he does not think that being five minutes late is a big deal.

5分遅刻した
ご ふん ちこく した
(I) was five minutes late
Literally: “five minutes + (being) late + did”

↓ ↓ ↓

5分遅刻したくらい...
ご ふん ちこく した くらい...
(I) was only five minutes late (, so...)
Literally: “five minutes + (being) late + did + くらい”


Note that people often say ぐらい instead of くらい, as in the following sentence:


一つぐらいつまみ食いしてもばれないだろう。
ひとつ ぐらい つまみぐい しても ばれない だろう。
No one’s gonna notice if I just snag [eat] one (piece).
Literally: “one (thing) + ぐらい + snatching food / secretly eating + even if (I) do + won’t be exposed / (secret) won’t leak out + だろう (=[conjecture]).”


When do we use ぐらい instead of くらい?

Well, there are not any strict rules regarding which word is appropriate in a given sentence. However, you'll find that it's pretty common to change くらい to ぐらい when it comes right after a NOUN.

Speaking of which...


👷 Construction 👷

くらい will come directly after a NOUN or a VERB or ADJECTIVE in plain form (and we include な after na-adjectives).

NOUNくらい・ぐらい

VERB or ADJECTIVE in Plain Formくらい・ぐらい


The majority of our examples in this lesson have くらい・ぐらい coming after NOUNS...


朝食を食べたばかりだから、昼食はサラダぐらいで十分です。
ちょうしょく を たべた ばかり だから、 ちゅうしょく は サラダ ぐらい で じゅうぶん です。
I just ate breakfast, so just a salad is plenty for lunch.
Literally: “breakfast + を + ate + just (did) + だから (=so / therefore), + lunch + は + salad + ぐらい + で + enough / plenty + です.”


私が作れる料理はみそ汁くらいです。
わたし が つくれる りょうり は みそしる くらい です。
The only food I know how to make is miso soup.
Literally: “I + が + can make + cooking + は + miso soup + くらい + です.”


That's all for this one.

Be sure to remember that the thing you are making light of comes directly before くらい・ぐらい.

So it's: "[thing that's not a big deal] くらい・ぐらい..."

I use this grammar all the time. And after you get a fair bit of exposure to it, I hope that you find yourself using it quite a bit, too. ^_^

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