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]
Register Standard
使用域 一般
The 副助詞(ふくじょし) (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 否定表現(ひていひょうげん) (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キロしか走(はし)れない
    I can only run 5 km today.
  • 今日(きょう)100円(えん)しか持(も)っていない
    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)しか遊(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)中(なか)色々(いろいろ)物(もの)入(はい)っていたけど、リンゴだけ取(と)り出(だ)し
    There were a lot of things in the refrigerator, but I just took out an apple.
  • 冷蔵庫(れいぞうこ)中(なか)リンゴしかなかったから、リンゴ食(た)べ
    Apples were all that was in the refrigerator, so I ate an apple.
Slow Male
Hide All
Hide Japanese
Hide English
Even though (they) are rich, (they) have no more than 1000 yen in cash.
I have met her no more than once.
[only once]
You can submit only one plan.
[no more than/not exceeding one plan]
Genki II 2nd Edition
Page 58