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  5. About ぐらい and くらい(位)


About ぐらい and くらい(位)

「5分くらいかかります」- "It takes about five minutes"

So today I came across the above usage of 「くらい」 in the sense of "approximately" or "about". I have been using and only really remember reading 「ぐらい」 and I have not been corrected on that so far.

I took to a dictionary and lo and behold, the particle (not sure what the actual classification is, but I'm calling it a particle) is listed as 「くらい」 with the voiced version 「ぐらい」 listed under "other forms". Gasp! Have I been using it wrong?

After some digging in Japanese grammar sources I have come to the understanding that the different forms had different usages in the past, but they are basically entirely interchangeable these days, and you use what sounds better. Basically.

I found it interesting to see this excerpt from an NHK language handbook (source):

「このくらい(ぐらい)の広さ」「10歳くらい(ぐらい)の子」などの「くらい」「ぐらい」は、どちらを使ってもよい。 以前は、次のような使い分けが行われていた。

  • 体言には「ぐらい」が付く。
  • 「この・その・あの・どの」には「くらい」が付く。
  • 用言や助動詞には、普通は「ぐらい」が付くが、「くらい」が付くこともある。

And it seems those rules are still somewhat followed (at least according to the survey in the source link). So I just wanted to share this realization and ask more experienced speakers if you ever consciously think about the usage or follow any rules "about" it.


February 22, 2019



interesting thank u for the share


Yes, the くturns to ぐ when up against a vowel sound. There are other words that change like this too in Japanese. I honestly don't think about it anymore. It just comes naturally after awhile.


It's called "rendaku." It's pretty common, but not entirely predictable. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:



I tend to think ぐらい is easier to say. For instance Duo teaches どれくらい, but Rocket Japanese teaches it as どれぐらい (seems to roll off the tongue much easier).

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