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
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.
I can only run 5 km today.
I have nothing but 100 yen on me.
I have a lot of homework today, so I can only hang out for 2 hours.
The main difference between しか
, 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.
There were a lot of things in the refrigerator, but I just took out an apple.
Apples were all that was in the refrigerator, so I ate an apple.