1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

だいぶ, ずいぶん, かなり

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by hubiOk, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. hubiOk New Member

    Hey, I was always thinking about differences of だいぶ、ずいぶん、かなり. Can someone tell differences? :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2013
  2. carp3 New Member

    Japanese - Tokyo
    This is an interesting question. I feel there is small difference in meaning but I cannot explain. I may be using these 3 words to explain the same things depending on the mood or just to avoid repeating the same words.
  3. Tonky Senior Member

    ※Please let me know if I didn't make myself clear enough, and/or feel free to correct my English.

    This is a tough one! I need to make a huge wall of text for this.
    Please note that this is my personal point of view on the difference, and other Japanese may or may not share it.
    These "Degree Adverbs" change meanings over time, or depending on user groups (community, area, or age) more or less.
    In fact, ずいぶん(随分) originally meant "as much as possible", "within one's means"... very different from the current usage, and so was かなり(可也). Please refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_change for how such changes are common in every language.

    かなり is probably the most often used, both in speeches and written forms. I take it as a rather objective way of describing the degree, often rather closer to the highest degree, but not the highest. Often used in a comparison. "Much more (~) than the average/standard level". The "average/standard" here does have the speaker's potential bias, but still the speaker expects a commonly shared value. What I mean by "objective" here is that the speaker thinks or knows that listeners would probably agree to the suggested degree. (Sometimes it may be the case that the speaker utters it as the same degree as the highest, but uses it to be humble about his/her judgement.)
    かなり can take の and な to modify the nouns that have some adjectival degrees.

    ずいぶん(と) is more or less subjective to me and the actual degree varies. "Much more (~) than the expectation level". It can mean "extremely" or "very", but the comparison comes from the speaker's experience, thus it can be very biased and the speaker is (or should be) often aware of it. You may call this "latent comparison". It may sometimes imply that the speaker's expectation level or the past experience was rather low (degree).
    ずいぶん(と)大きくなりましたね。 (compared with something/someone the speaker knew in the past)
    ずいぶん(たくさん)料理を作ったなあ。 (compared with the speaker's personal experience)
    ずいぶんあっさりした味 (compared with the taste that the speaker has experienced)
    When ずいぶん modifies nouns using な, it changes the meaning by adding negative evaluations to the modified. It cannot take の to modify nouns.
    ずいぶんな料理 (=ずいぶんひどい料理, but rather ironic way of saying it horrid)
    ずいぶんな言い方 (=ずいぶんひどい言い方, same as above)

    だいぶ or だいぶん(大分) has a different point of view. The speaker has his/her perfect (or expected) degree of something as 100%, and だいぶん satisfies around 60 to 90% (varies depending on users and context) of it. It is often used with 主体変化動詞 -not sure of the English equivalent, but telic verbs?- but not with 瞬間動詞 (semelfactives?) such as die or break, and だいぶ talks about the achievement degree denoting duration. 
    だいぶ does not fit well with certain adjectives such as 熱い, 冷たい, 重い, おいしい, etc, probably it is lexical rather than grammatical. (hotness or coldness has to reach certain degree to feel it unlike other adjectives such as 温かい, 涼しい...etc.)
    ?だいぶ重い (can be used for sickness, but not for weight unless with ~くなる/なった)
    You should also note that だいぶ cannot modify other quantity degree words like かなり or ずいぶん does, most likely the same reason as above.
    <note: * represents the sentence is incorrect.>
    だいぶ does not usually take な or の to modify nouns unless used in local dialects.

    to summarize, here are a couple of examples.
    A says "It got much better", and he or she may be almost fine, or at least close to the best (how he/she should be). Whether he or she is good enough to say "fine" depends on the speaker though.
    B says "It got much better" too, but it implies that his/her previous state was much worse, and his/her actual health status varies. He or she may be far from saying "fine", may be close enough, it depends.
    C says "It got much better" too, but it is hardly close enough to its best, implying it is still in the process of getting better gradually (and hopefully will be fine eventually).
    D 大変よくがんばりましたね。
    E かなりがんばりましたね。
    F ずいぶんがんばりましたね。
    G だいぶがんばりましたね。
    D is what you often hear, "Very well done" or "You worked very hard". E is very close to the best effort, F is "unexpected" good effort, or much better in comparison with that person's work in the past, G is good effort but not quite there yet, implying "could do better, but good enough for now".

    ※I listed the examples to show differences, but in many cases they can be replaced with one another and does not always follow what I said above. Remember the lines are very vague. Hope to hear what others think on this.

Share This Page