Grammar Info
N4 Lesson 1: 4/18

Gradually, Little by little, Step by step

だんだん + () + Phrase
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使用域 一般
だんだん is an adverb that is used to express the slight, but constant, progression of something. Originally, it comes from the kanji construction 段々(だんだん), which can be thought of as meaning ‘step by step’, ‘stepwise’, or even ‘steadily’. だんだん is similar to ほとんど, in that it can modify the meaning of entire phrases, rather than just single words.
To use だんだん, simply put it before the phrase that you want to express as ‘(A) that is increasing steadily’.
  • 12月(がつ)になっからだんだん寒(さむ)くなっ
    Since December, it has gotten colder steadily.
  • だんだん仕事(しごと)環境(かんきょう)慣(な)れ
    I have steadily gotten used to work’s environment.
While だんだん can take the particle , it is not required. In fact, is very often omitted from adverbs/onomatopoeic words (words that represent a sound or motion) in Japanese.
  • 最近(さいきん)だんだん暑(あつ)くな
    Recently it has progressively gotten hotter, right? (Slow progression)
Initially, it can be easy to mix-up だんだん, with どんどん. どんどん is an onomatopoeic word that represents loud banging (like on a drum), so is used to express fast changes/progression. This is unlike だんだん, which expresses slower changes/progression.
  • だんだん雨(あめ)降(ふ)っ
    It is starting to rain. (Slow progression, does not imply great speed or severity)
  • どんどん雨(あめ)降(ふ)っ
    It is starting to rain. (Rapid progression, may imply great speed and/or severity)
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A senpai speaking to their kouhai: "Don’t worry, you will become better gradually."
Friends talking: "Autumn is here, so it will gradually become cooler, don’t you think?"
An English teacher talking with a student’s parents, teacher: "Your daughter has been gradually improving in speaking English."
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