Grammar Info
N4 Lesson 5: 10/20

most・mostly, adequately・generally, for the most part, roughly・approximately, in the first place

だいたい + Phrase
だいたい + Number(1)
だいたい + + Noun

(1) Degree
Register Standard
使用域 一般
大体(だいたい) is an adverb that is used to highlight the ‘main point’ of something in Japanese, and therefore has several different nuances. 大体(だいたい) will regularly be translated as ‘mostly’, ‘generally’, or ‘for the most part’.
As with other adverbs that highlight amounts, 大体(だいたい) can be used to modify entire phrases, or can be used directly before a noun as 大体(だいたい) + noun.
  • だいたいでいいから何時(なんじ)くらいに着(つ)く教(おし)え
    Since a general time is okay, can you let me know around when you will arrive?
  • 水曜日(すいようび)だいたい5時(じ)に起(お)きています
    On Wednesdays, I generally wake up at 5 am.
  • だいたい人(ひと)たち薔薇(ばら)という漢字(かんじ)書(か)ません
    Most people do not know how to write the kanji ‘bara’. (薔薇(ばら) is the kanji for ‘rose’)
In a similar way to そもそも, a noun/adverb which means ‘in the first place’, 大体(だいたい) can also have this meaning. This nuance is frequently quite obvious, as the rest of the sentence will highlight a desired outcome that unfortunately did not happen.
  • だいたいなんでお前(まえ)ここ
    Why are you here in the first place? (No one wants you here)
Although these 2 primary uses of 大体(だいたい) may seem quite different, they are both just expressing what is ‘essentially’ correct, most common, the original, etc.
Fun Fact
A common synonym for 大体(だいたい) is 根本(ねもと), a noun which means ‘the source’, or ‘the origin’ or something. In this way, 大体(だいたい) just expresses the way something is, without receiving any alterations (regardless of whether any subsequent alterations are positive or negative). This is where the ‘in essence’ meaning comes from.
  • と言(い)うこと私(わたし)たち言(い)っていることだいたい一緒(いっしょ)なの
    In that case, what we are both saying is the same in essence.
Slow Male
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"I roughly understand Japanese."
Couple talking about freshly baked bread, girlfriend: "How is it?"
Boyfriend: "I think it is mostly good, but…" [adequately]
"She has the general idea of the situation."
[knows most of the situation]
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