Grammar Info
N3 Lesson 3: 4/22

just, only, nothing but

ばっかり, ばっか, ばかし, and ばっかし are all fairly common casual variations of ばかり

Verb[て]+ ばかり
Noun + ばかり
Register Standard
使用域 一般
When used after verbs followed by the 接続助詞(せつぞくじょし) (conjunction particle) て, or nouns, the 副助詞(ふくじょし) (adverbial particle) ばかり highlights that ‘nothing but (A) is being done’, or ‘only (A) exists’. In relation to verbs, てばかり is often followed by いる, as a modified version of the standard ている. However, adding いる is not a requirement, and the same nuance may be conveyed without it.
  • 先生(せんせい)はいつも怒(おこ)ってばかりいる。
    Our teacher does nothing but yell.
  • 最近(さいきん)はお菓子(かし)ばかり食(た)べているから、お腹(なか)てきた
    Recently, I've been eating nothing but junk, so my stomach is bulging out.
When a sentence consists of a part (A) and a part (B), ばかり will be followed by either で (with verbs or nouns), or いて (only with verbs). This is when ばかり appears directly before the sentence conjunction point, and other combinations are possible (such as ばかりだから).
  • 先月(せんげつ)生(う)まれた息子(むすこ)がずっと泣(な)いてばかりいて、全然(ぜんぜん)寝(ね)れない
    My son who was born last month does nothing but cry, so I can't sleep.
  • 彼(かれ)は毎日(まいにち)残業(ざんぎょう)してばかり全然(ぜんぜん)家(いえ)事(こと)手伝(てつだ)ってくれない
    All he does is work overtime everyday, and he won't help me with house chores.
  • 彼(かれ)は口(くち)開(あ)ける文句(もんく)ばかり、一緒(いっしょ)いるだけで疲(つか)れる。
    When he opens his mouth, all he can do is complain, so just being with him is exhausting.
It should be noted that the で with ばかり here is not the particle で, but the 連用形(れんようけい) (conjunctive form) of the 助動詞(じょどうし) (auxiliary verb), .
Fun Fact
ばかり is rarely seen using kanji, but it originally comes from 許(ばか)り (sometimes 計(はか)る). This kanji means ‘to let off’, or ‘to let through’, and implies that (A) is the only thing that is being ‘permitted’ in a specific situation.
Slow Male
Hide All
Hide Japanese
Hide English
He does nothing but tell lies.
My little brother does nothing but play video games.
If you eat sweets only, you will have more cavities.
Page 144
[DBJG] A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
Page 84
Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide
Page 249
[AIAIJ] An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese
Page 55