Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 5: 16/20

(Number) + しか〜ない

No more than, Not exceeding, As few as・as little as, Only


Number + しか + Verb[ない]


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About Number + しか〜ない

The adverbial particle しか is often compared to だけ, in that it also expresses 'only'. However, unlike だけ, しか can only be used in negative statements. Due to this, しか~ない is regularly translated as 'there's only (A)', or 'there's nothing but (A)'. しか~ない may be used to express numbers, or nouns. In this lesson we will examine numbers.
To use this construction, the number that you want to express as being 'all that exists' will go before しか, then しか will be followed by a verb in its ない, or ありません form.
  • 今日(きょう)5キロしか(はし)ない
    I can only run 5 km today.
  • 今日(きょう)100(えん)しか()ていない
    I have nothing but 100 yen on me.
  • 今日(きょう)たくさん宿題(しゅくだい)があるから2時間(じかん)しか(あそ)ない
    I have a lot of homework today, so I can only hang out for 2 hours.
Fun Fact
The main difference between しか and だけ, is that だけ suggests that (A) was 'chosen' from among a group where several other choices exist. しか on the other hand, implies that there are no other choices, and (A) is the only possibility/thing that exists.
  • 冷蔵庫(れいぞうこ)(なか)色々(いろいろ)(もの)(はい)ていたけど、リンゴだけ()()
    There were a lot of things in the refrigerator, but I just took out an apple.
  • 冷蔵庫(れいぞうこ)(なか)リンゴしかなかったから、リンゴ()
    Apples were all that was in the refrigerator, so I ate an apple.




    Even though (they) are rich, (they) have no more than 1000 yen in cash.


    I have met her no more than once.


    You can submit only one plan.


    He has no more than three hairs on his head.


    You only have (the period of) one month. Can you change?

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      Number + しか〜ない – Grammar Discussion

      Most Recent Replies (2 in total)

      • max99x


        In this sentence:

        • 2回しか経験していないのに,自信満々だね。
          (You) have experienced (it) no more than twice, and yet (you) are brimming with confidence.

        Why is 経験する in the progressive form? The English translation to me suggests past.

      • Pushindawood


        @max99x Hey! ていない is often used to describe events or actions that did not happen/take place in the past. This is especially true for events/actions that occurred recently. Here is a great breakdown of the difference between ていません and ませんでした. Cheers!

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