Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 10: 1/21


Merely, Nothing but, No more than


Noun + しかない


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About でしかない

でしかない is a construction comprised of the conjunctive form of だ, で, the particle しか, and the い-Adjective, ない. Like all other しか based structures, it is used to indicate that the target word is 'no more than (A)', or 'merely (A)'. The primary difference with でしかない compared to other similar grammar patterns is that it will only appear directly after nouns.
  • それは()(わけ)でしかない
    That is nothing but an excuse.
  • 先輩(せんぱい)(あい)のムチだと()っているが、暴言(ぼうげん)でしかない
    My senpai says that he is saying this out of love, but it's nothing more than abusive language.
  • 息子(むすこ)にとっては宝物(たからもの)かもしれないが、(わたし)にとってはゴミでしかない
    To my son, it is something precious, but to me it is nothing but garbage.
Although でしかない can be used with either a positive or negative nuance, it tends to be seen more frequently with a slightly negative nuance in relation to (A), indicating that it has no value or significant meaning beyond (A).




    In an accident, if you are safe, there is nothing to worry about. A car is nothing but a car.


    No matter how much he grows up, the parents will always see their son as nothing more than a child.


    She shared some secrets with me, but they were nothing more than lies.


    The idea is not bad, but it is merely academic gossip.


    What you are saying is plausible, but after all, it is merely an ideal.

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でしかない – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (4 in total)

  • Pushindawood


    @Whologist Great question! Most Japanese will tell you that they are completely interchangeable in the majority of situations and would not be able to tell the difference if you swapped one out for the other. It really boils down to the nuances of both しかない and すぎない. すぎない expresses a bit more humility and is used when the speaker wishes to be more modest or is making an effort to raise the subject matter up on a pedestal. しかない usually carries with it a slightly more negative nuance, often expressing dissatisfaction with an outcome or with oneself. Here is a discussion of how Japanese perceive the two. Hope this helps. Cheers!

  • Whologist


    Thank you so much!

  • dokidokiwakuwaku


    What would the difference be between this point and だけしかない? Thank you!

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