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I'm confused about some lessons

I was doing lessons (I think the two lessons "food") and now I'm very cofused about "much" "not much" "not not much" hahaha

Can someone explain it to me? If possible, explain each word that is used in Duolingo to express this kind of adverb. Thanks :D

[sorry about my English, it is not my first language; please correct my mistakes :) ]

November 22, 2017



Which words, in particular, are you confused about?


In particular, I am confused about phrases like: おさけはまったくおおくないですよ。(There is not too much alcohol, you know.) I think I read more phrases like that, but I can't remember or find it now. Duo said まったく is "not too much" and おおくない is also "not too much". It is very confusing to me hahaha two negative expressions in one phrase.

I think I don't understand the following sentece too: コーヒーはすくなくないです。(There is enough coffee) What I understand is: there is not only a bit of coffee, so it means that have a good quantity of coffee ("enough coffee"). But I don't know if it is wrong to think in this way.

Another point is: I don't understand the difference between the words あまり, けっこう, とても and たいへん. I don't know if they are really synonyms or there are particular cases to use each one. I think it is one of the reasons that I am struggling to understand this skill, because I don't know when I use, for example, "とてもすくない" or "おおくない".

I hope I had expressed myself well and thanks for helping xD


Thanks for the clarification. I figured you were asking about a couple of those, but didn’t want to incorrectly address your concerns.

  • まったく多くない Entirely not much.
  • おおい A lot; many
  • おおくない Not much
  • すくない A small amount; a few
  • すくなく+ない Not too little; not too few.

()↓sign indicates whether generally used in a negative or positive expression↓

  • (-)まったくEntirely (not)
  • (-)あまり Not really
  • (+)けっこう Relatively; fairly; pretty
  • (+)とても Very
  • (+)たいへん Very very

すくない: Despite ending in ない, すくない is not really a negative, as it is not modifying an adjective. It is simply an indication of a small quantity. Think of it as the 人がおおい / 人が少ない There are many people / There are few people. 人がおおく+ない / 人がすくなく+ない

まったく means completely, entirely. In a negative context this translates to ‘not at all’. This is to emphasize the extent to which the thing is not big, delicious, fun, etc. ‘This game is no fun at all’: このゲームはまったくおもしろくない。Think of it as an exclamation point. An equivalent to まったく would be ぜんぜん, which means about the same thing.

あまり: As Japanese tend to prefer to be somewhat indirect, simply saying something is boring, bland, small, etc. might be considered as too forceful of an opinion. あまり is a softener, making the expression sound less harsh or direct. If, for example, I do not want to go to the movies, I might say あまりえいがを見にいきたくないです (I don’t really want to go to the movies).

けっこう: This is used positively, usually with a bit of pleasant surprise. This does not mean that it is less strong than とても or たいへん, just that it either surpassed your expectations.

とても: This is the closest in definition and usage to the English very. No further explanation necessary.

たいへん: Either somewhat formal or showing extreme appreciation for something. As とても is the de facto way to express ‘very’, this can lend some uniqueness and emphasis to the expression.

Following are some situations in which you might use the various expressions of ‘very’: このパスタはけっこうおおしい – Hey, this pasta is pretty good. (said to a friend eating with you) このパスタはとてもおいしい – This pasta is very good. (said to a friend who made you dinner) * このパスタはたいへんおいしい – This pasta is extremely good. (said to the head chef who prepared your entree).

While there is no rule that says you can’t use these in negative expressions, they generally are not used in this manner.

Now for the hard part...

(+)あまり combined with に or にも: Used in a positive expression this means ‘so much’. しごとがあまりにいそがしくていえにかえれなかったです。Work was so busy that I couldn’t go home.

(-)たいへん: Aside from another meaning (bad; serious; grave), this word can be used as ‘very’ in negative contexts to convey severity, not necessarily preceding a ない word. たいへんおこってる (extremely angry), たいへん弱い (extremely weak).

Finally, while ない normally signifies a negative, when used in questions it means ‘isn’t it’. For example: これおいしくない? Would mean ‘Isn’t this delicious!’. But I digress.


Wow, that is a lot to unpack! Thank you for all the examples - I'm making flashcards as I speak. I think one of my first questions here, a few months ago, was about まったく. This answer really made things clearer.

Going back to "There is not too much alcohol, you know" for a second: so this means there really isn't even a can of Miller Lite to be had, yes?

Because, from the phrasing, I had wondered if it was a kind of Bertie-Wooster-at-the-Drones situation. Him, surveying lines of bottles of port, spirits etc: "I say, there is not too much alcohol, old chap". But no?


I daresay, Jeeves, even one hundred bottles of Miller Lite would still not be nearly enough alcohol.

Sorry, while I do enjoy Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, I am not very familiar with much of their work. I will attribute that to being a culturally-stunted yank.

まったく, as it is generally used, indicates severity; a severe lack of something.or extreme frustration, or the frustration at the lack of something. If there were 2 bottles of wine for 5 dinner guests you could say ワインがたりないですね。If there was only one bottle you would say ワインがまったくたりないですよ。The kanji for まったく(全く)means 'all; complete; utterly', as in ぜんぶ(全部). As in, 'Completely unbelievable' (まったく信じられない).

Often, it is used as an isolated expression of frustration or exasperation, like 'bloody hell!' (まったく! / まったくもう!).


Wow!! I love it!! Now I understand :) Thanks a lot for spending your time helping me!! xD


よろこんで! (Gladly!)


Your English is great! I'm at level 13 in Italian and I can barely say what you wrote in Italian. I know the levels don't always match up perfectly, but that's still really good!


Thank you a lot, Tushar!

Actually, most of the grammar and vocabulary that I know I didn't learn on Duolingo, but it helps me with some words and expressions :)

About Italian, you are level 13, I suppose you have already finished the Italian course tree, have you ever tried to do the Inverse Tree (English from Italian - if you are learning Italian from English)? I think it can help you :D I did this with English and I learned some new words. I'm planning to do same with the Japanese course because I'm close to the end of the tree (I think I finish it in one week).

I would do it with Esperanto course, but I think Duo doesn't have English from Esperanto... or it does? hahaha

Thanks xD

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