Grammar Info
N3 Lesson 7: 15/21

滅多(めった)に〜ない
hardly, rarely, seldom

Structure
Casual
Formal
めったに + Verb[ない]
Noun + + めったにない
めったに + Verb[ない]
Noun + + めったにありません
Details
Register Standard
使用域 一般
Information
めったに~ない is an expression that may be translated as ‘hardly’, ‘seldom’, or ‘rarely’. Originally, 滅多(めった) is a な-Adjective that means ‘thoughtless’, or ‘reckless’. Due to this, as a 副詞(ふくし) (adverb), 滅多(めった)に literally means ‘thoughtlessly’ or ‘recklessly’.
めったに~ない will usually be paired with a verb in the negative form, or following a noun, and the 副助詞(ふくじょし) (adverbial particle) は.
  • 大人(おとな)になってから駄菓子屋(だがしや)めったに行(い)かない
    Ever since I became an adult. I hardly go to candy stores.
  • 親(おや)は正月(しょうがつ)以外(いがい)めったに会(あ)わない
    Other than New Years, I hardly see my parents. こんなチャンスはめったにないぞ!
    A chance like this is very rare.
  • パーティーに行(い)くことはめったにない
    I hardly do things like go to parties.
Caution
It is far more common to see めったに written without kanji, than with. However, both are used.
Fun Fact
As めったに originally means ‘thoughtlessly’, when appearing in a negative statement, the nuance becomes ‘to not (A) thoughtlessly’ (mindlessly, or aimlessly). This simply expresses that the speaker will not do (A) unintentionally, or (A) will not happen unless there is some special reason for it.
  • 私(わたし)は何(なに)か大事(おおごと)なこと起(お)きない限(かぎ)り、電話(でんわ)はめったに掛(か)けない
    Unless something big happens, I don’t mindlessly make phone calls.
  • 家(いえ)誰(だれ)かテレビ見(み)ていない限(かぎ)り、自分(じぶん)からはテレビめったに見(み)ない
    Unless someone in my house is watching TV, I don’t aimlessly watch TV on my own.
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父(ちち)めったにテレビを見(み)ない
My father rarely watches TV.
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彼女(かのじょ)についての悪口(わるぐち)をめったに聞(き)かない
I seldom hear bad things about her.
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せっかく日本語(にほんご)勉強(べんきょう)したけど、めったに話(はな)さないね。
After going through all the trouble of studying Japanese, you hardly speak it.
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