Number/Amount + は - Grammar Discussion

at least
sort of
or so

Structure

  • Number + Counter + ( くらい / ぐらい ) +
  • Noun + くらい / ぐらい +

[Often used together with 少なくとも or せめて for emphasis]

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Does this mean that は can be considered either the topic marker or “at least” depending on which fits better with the context?

@AdalwinAmillion Hey! は still essentially plays the role of “as for” here. When used with a number/amount, くらい・ぐらい, or 少なくとも or せめて, then the whole phrase becomes “at least.” Let’s take a look at the first example sentence. この食べ物は少なくとも床に3秒は落ちていたから食べられない。If we were to just say 床に3秒は落ちていた then you might translate the sentence as “As for 3 seconds, (the food) was on the floor.” It is only when we add 少なくとも does the nuance of “at least” arise. I hope this helps. Cheers!

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So for this grammar point I’m a bit confused.
If a counter is present do you or do you not use くらい
I’m not really sure what putting it in ( ) is supposed to show. Does it mean it’s optional?
All the example sentences look like they don’t use くらい when there is a counter. But then it says : “Before は, the counter is regularly followed by くらい (or ぐらい). T”
Could someone please let me know because it looks like it’s optional to me but I’m really not certain either way

Hey @Superpnut !

くらい can be used, or it can be omitted. Adding くらい/ぐらい adds stronger emphasis to the ‘or so’ meaning.

2キロはあると思う。‘I think this is at least 2 kilograms.’ (this must weigh at least 2 kilograms)
2キロくらいはあると思う。‘I think this is at least 2 kilograms or so.’ (this must weigh 2 kilograms or so)

In the first sentence, the speaker is a little more certain that the thing is close to 2 kilograms, but in the sentence the speaker is less confident and thinks that the thing is at least close to 2 kilograms. As you can see, the meaning of the sentence does not change too much, but there is a slight change in the nuance.

I hope that this helps!

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