Number/Amount + は - Grammar Discussion

at least
sort of
or so


  • 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!


In the second case, with the non-counter noun:


the くらい is not in brackets. Does that mean that if the preceding noun is not a number/counter, it’s required? How does that affect the meaning? The description of the grammar point doesn’t seem to discuss the case of a non-counter/number at all, but I have gotten some review sentences wrong because I omitted the くらい, so unless that was incorrect it does seem to be important.

I keep getting this mixed up with the lesson for も.

When it comes to this number counter, when would I use は vs. when would I use も?

EDIT: This is the other grammar point I am talking about.

Hey @okayfrog !

The Main difference between these grammar point is that は has the nuance of ‘at least’ while も has the nuance of ‘as much as’ and has the nuance that the speaker is surprised.

For example, the sentence, 彼は昨日4人前ぐらいは食べた (He ate at least four peoples worth of food last night) is just stating the fact that he ate 4 servings while, and in the sentence, 彼は昨日4人前も食べた (He ate as much as 4 peoples worth of food last night), you can see that the speaker is surprised by the fact that he ate as much as 4 peoples worth of food.

I hope that this answers your questions!

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I’ll try and keep that in mind, thank you.