Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 1: 7/23


At least


せめて + Phrase


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About せめて

Coming from the verb ()める, meaning to have the 'onus to do (A)', せめて is an adverb that indicates that doing (A) is the minimum expected in order to achieve some desired outcome. It is often translated simply as 'at least' in English.
せめて usually alters the meaning of an entire phrase, and will appear at the beginning of sentences.
  • (はん)(のこ)しても()いから、せめて刺身(さしみ)だけは全部(ぜんぶ)たべて。
    You can leave the rice, but at least finish the sashimi please.
  • せめて国語(こくご)宿題(しゅくだい)はやっておきなさい。
    At least finish your Japanese homework in advance.
Stemming from ()める, this structure usually implies that there is some sort of onus or responsibility to do (A), rather than (A) simply being a minimum amount. Due to this, it is often used with grammar points that express desire or opinions such as たい, ほしい, てほしい, べき, and others.
  • せめてこの(きょく)だけでも()けるようになりたい。
    I want to be able to play this song, at least.
  • えっ... たったの5千円(せんえん)だけ?せめて1(まん)()しいよ。
    What…only five-thousand yen? I want at least ten-thousand yen.
  • (べつ)毎日(まいにち)洗濯(せんたく)をしろっては()わないけど、せめて晩御飯(ばんごはん)だけは毎日(まいにち)(つく)ってほしい。
    I'm not telling you to do laundry everyday, but I want you to at least make dinner every night.
  • 1(にち)せめて1リットルの(みず)()むべきだ。
    You should drink at least 1 liter of water a day.




    She could have at least closed the door...


    Mother: 'At least eat your sides.' (side dish)


    I realize it is not possible to win the marathon, but I want to finish it at least...


    The protagonist of a light novel: 'You are a freeloader, so at least you should cook your own food!'


    I cannot reach the level of power I had before, but I hope I can attain at least half of it.

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