625 - にかぎる (just the thing; nothing beats...)

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Speaking of which...


JLPT N3: にかぎる (just the thing; nothing beats...; ...is the best)

There are lots of grammatical constructions that use the verb 限る (かぎる).

Most of them are covered in JLPT N2 grammar. We've already seen a handful of uses:

- [NDL #430] - JLPT N2: に限らず
- [NDL #458] - JLPT N2: 限り (so long as)
- [NDL #465] - JLPT N2: 限り (as much as possible)
- [NDL #535] - JLPT N2: ないかぎり
- [NDL #543] - JLPT N1: かぎりだ

As mentioned in those lessons, the verb 限る can have a smattering of meanings:

限る
かぎる
to restrict; to limit; to confine; to be restricted to; to be limited to; to be confined to

Yikes.

Here we're looking at how に is combined with 限る to say that something is "the best" or is "just the thing" for a certain occasion.


An example:


新鮮な魚は、刺身で食べるにかぎる
しんせんな さかな は、 さしみ で たべる にかぎる。
The best way to eat fresh fish is as sashimi.
Literally: “fresh + fish + は, + sashimi + で + eat + にかぎる.”


In a quasi-literal translation, that above sentence would be saying: "As for fresh fish, it is limited to eating sushi."

By a great feat of mental gymnastics, however, we understand it to mean "The best way to eat fresh fish is sashimi."


Here's another example:


目覚めの一杯は、濃いコーヒーに限りますよね。
めざめ の いっぱい は、 こい コーヒー にかぎります よ ね。
When you’ve just woken up, nothing beats a strong cup of coffee, right?
Literally: “wake up + の + one cupful + は, + thick / strong + coffee + にかぎります + よ + ね.”


Starting to make sense?

It is worth noting that に限る is only used for stating one's subjective opinion that something is the best.

That is, you are stating your personal feeling that something is "the best;" you are not stating something based on objective evidence.

As such, you'd be unlikely to hear a dentist say something like this:


✕ 虫歯を予防するには、きちんと歯を磨くに限ります。
✕ むしば を よぼう する には、 きちんと は を みがく にかぎります。
✕ In order to prevent cavities, brushing well is the best.
Literally: “cavities + を + prevention + do + には, + properly / well + teeth + を + brush (=polish) + にかぎります.”


A dentist would say this based on their own considerable experience and knowledge of dental literature showing that brushing your teeth well is essential to good dental health. Saying that it is "the best" might seem a little subjective (what about flossing?!), but there is no denying that there is objective evidence that brushing well is beneficial.

Where, on the other hand, is the objective evidence that a strong coffee is the best thing to have just after waking up? Maybe it exists, but I don't know about it.


Formation

The word coming directly before に限る will be a VERB in plain form or a NOUN. Specifically, V る or V ない. So...

V るに限る
V ないに限る
NOUNに限る



天気の悪い日は、家から一歩も出ないに限る
てんき の わるい ひ は、 いえ から いっぽ も でない にかぎる。
When the weather is bad, staying home all day long is the best. // On rainy [bad weather] days, not even stepping foot out of your house is the greatest.
Literally: “weather + の + bad + day + は, + house + from + one step + も + don’t go out + にかぎる.”



英語をマスターしたければ、とにかく単語を覚えまくって、たくさん話す練習をするに限る
えいご を マスター したければ、 とにかく たんご を おぼえ まくって、 たくさん はなす れんしゅう を する にかぎる。
If you want to master English, the best thing you can do is just learn tons of vocabulary and gets lots of speaking practice.
Literally: “English + を + master + if you want to do, + at any rate + vocabulary + を + do a lot of memorizing (and) (=memorizing + do a lot of [and]), + a lot of + speak + practice + を do + にかぎる.”


Personally, I used to find a lot of situations in which to say:

...冷たいビールに限る
...つめたい ビール にかぎる!
Nothing beats a cold beer when/on...
Literally: "...cold + beer + にかぎる!"

For example, "on a hot day," "after a long day of work," "after waking up," and so on.

This grammar isn't terribly complex, so maybe try it out if you get a chance to mention something that you feel is, quite simply, the best.

Discussion

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