Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 1: 5/18


Progressively, Rapidly increasing, More and more

どんどん - Swift change, だんだん - Gradual change


どんどん + () + Phrase


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About どんどん

どんどん (or ドンドン) is one of the countless words in Japanese that represent a particular sound or sensation. These words are known as onomatopoeia (オノマトペ in Japanese). どんどん represents the sound of banging (like on a drum), or the pounding of feet. In this way, it is regularly translated as 'rapidly', or 'quickly'.
Like だんだん, どんどん may be used before almost any phrase.
  • 彼女(かのじょ)出来(でき)からどんどん(かね)()
    Since I got a girlfriend, my cash has been rapidly decreasing.
  • どんどん(たの)
    Quickly order! (Literally means 'more and more' in a sentence like this, with the nuance of 'don't hold back, order in rapid succession')
While どんどん can take the particle , it is not required. In fact, is very often omitted from adverbs/onomatopoeic words in Japanese.
  • バス運転手(うんてんしゅ)どんどん()ている
    The number of bus drivers is rapidly decreasing.
Initially, it can be easy to mix-up どんどん, with だんだん. だんだん is used to express slower changes, and may be thought of as similar to 'steadily', or 'step by step' in English.
  • 毎日(まいにち)ピアノ練習(れんしゅう)ているからだんだんピアノ上手(じょうず)にな
    Because I practice the piano everyday, I have steadily gotten better at playing. (Slow progression)
  • 毎日(まいにち)ピアノ練習(れんしゅう)ているからどんどんピアノ上手(じょうず)にな
    Because I practice the piano everyday, I have rapidly gotten better at playing. (Rapid progression)
Fun Fact
When the particle is used with onomatopoeic words, it is very similar to one of 's main usages as a quotation marker in Japanese. This means that has a similar role to words like 'went', or 'goes' in English. For example, In English, we would say:
The door 'goes' BANG with the wind.
However, the door doesn't actually go anywhere. This is similar to what is doing here.


  • どんどん(あつ)くなる

    It will progressively get warmer and warmer.

  • どんどん日本語(にほんご)上手(じょうず)なりたい

    I want to progressively get better at Japanese.

  • 先週(せんしゅう)から(かれ)意見(いけん)どんどん()えた。

    (The number of) his opinions have rapidly increased starting from last week.

  • 日本(にほん)人口(じんこう)どんどん()

    The Japanese population will rapidly decrease.

  • (おと)どんどん(おお)きくなる

    The sound will get louder and louder.

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どんどん – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (4 in total)

  • mrnoone


    You can use both answers here (With slightly different nuances)

    As you know, the difference lays in tempo - だんだん would be slower, while どんどん is more rapid. Also, どんどん (comes from drumming noise) sometimes is understood to express continuous change, while だんだん (段々 - kanji used for stairs/steps is used) to express the change that happens in small increments.

    This is why どんどん is most of the time translated as “steadily, rapidly, more and more” while だんだん as “gradually, by degrees, by steps, more and more”.

    When the last translation is used, the nuance is kind of lost though.

    I hope it helps,

  • Ambo100


    どんどん → swift change
    だんだん → more gradual change

    I keep confusing these two so the way I’m trying to think about them now is:

    どんどん - Also used as Japanese onomatopoeic in Katakana for a drumming and banging noise, so typically fast.

    だんだん - Derived from the kanji form 段々, you can think of this as ‘step by step’ so typically something more gradual.

  • testing


    Thanks for those explanations! I feel like they point me in the right direction, but I’m not sure how to differentiate between “steadily” and “rapidly”.

    E.g., どんどん日本語が上手になりたい。( I want to steadily get better at Japanese.)

    If someone tells me that they want to “steadily” get better at it, it feels like “consistent change”, but not necessarily fast. But does どんどん日本語が上手になりたい。 always have the connotations of both “consistently” and “quickly” at the same time? How would I know which one? It feels like most contexts would make both equally likely.

    Same problem with 日本の人口がどんどん減る。(The Japanese population will steadily decrease.)

    After reading the Japanese sentence, I would’ve expected it to decrease rapidly, but from the English sentence I would expect it to be constant, but not super quick.

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