Grammar Info
N3 Lesson 6: 9/24

not really, not particularly, it's not like...

別に + Verb[ない]
別に + [い]Adjective[ない]
別に + [な]Adjective + ではない(1)
別に + Noun + ではない(1)

(1) じゃない
Register Standard
使用域 一般
When paired with ない (either the い-Adjective or the auxiliary verb), the 副詞(ふくし) (adverb) 別(べつ)に ‘separately’ changes slightly in definition to that of 特(とく)に ‘especially’. Let’s have a look at a few examples.
  • 私(わたし)は別(べつ)に構(かま)わないけど、お父(とう)さんはそういう気(き)にするから、お父(とう)さんの前(まえ)ではそういう事(こと)言(い)わないでね。
    I actually don't mind, but my dad cares a lot about things like that, so please don't say such things in front of him.
  • 別(べつ)に痛(いた)くないよ。少(すく)しチクってするだけ
    It's not really painful. It just stings a little.
  • あなた事(こと)は別(べつ)に嫌(きら)いではないよ。ただあなた何(なに)について話(はな)せばいいか分(わ)からないだけ
    It's not that I don't like you at all. It's just that I don't know what to talk about with you.
  • パーティーってみんな言(い)っているけど別(べつ)にそんなに大(たい)したものではないよ。
    Everyone is calling it a party, but it is actually not that big of a deal.
This ‘especially’ nuance of 別(べつ)に comes from ‘separately’ being negated. The literal meaning of 別(べつ)に~ない is something like ‘(A) cannot be separated/differentiated’. This comes across as ‘maybe it is a little (A), maybe a lot (A), but in any case, it cannot be said that it IS (A)’.
別(べつ)に will quite often be paired with わけではない, as they both express uncertainty. However, it should never be paired with わけがない, as this would be combining a statement that removes certainty, with one that adds certainty.
  • 別(べつ)にケーキが嫌(きら)いというわけではない。今(いま)は食(た)べくないだけ
    It is not that I dislike cakes. I just don't want one right now.
  • 別(べつ)にケーキが嫌(きら)いというわけがない。今(いま)は食(た)べくないだけ
    It is not that I SO don't not like cakes. I just don't want any right now. (Grammatically correct, but very confusing for the listener)
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I'm not really saying that Tom is bad.
Even if the music is that loud, I don't really care.
I don't really mind being drenched in sweat, but I don't like other people's sweat.
[AIAIJ] An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese
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