Difference between tada and tatta

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by Eso, Dec 15, 2006.

  1. Eso Member

    Atlanta, Georgia
    USA / Native Languages: English, Cantonese
    What is the difference between these two words? The dictionary lists them as:

    tada - sole; only; mere; usual; common;

    tatta - only; merely; but; no more than;

    They both seem very similar, other than tatta carrying a sense of limit. Can they be used interchangably?

    Thank you!
  2. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Good question, Eso!

    They have the same meaning but they belong to different parts of speech. Let me start answering your question, even if I cannot give a comprehensive list of contrastive pairs.

    Tada and tatta can modify nouns when suffixed with -no. Note that the latter can be used only with expressions that quantifies something.

    John-wa tada (*tatta)-no kodomo janai (mō hakasegō-o motteiru).
    John is not just a kid (but a Ph.D. already).

    Kono hōchō-wa tatta (*tada)-no sambyaku en desu.
    This kitchen knife is only 300 yen.

    Without the -no suffix, the two are used to modify verbs or sentences.
    tada okashikatta.
    It was utterly hilarious.

    tatta ichijikan-de Ōsaka-ni tsuita.
    It just took one hour to get to Osaka.
  3. Juli07 Member

    Japanese / Japan
    Hi Eso!

    "tatta" derivers from "tada". That’s why the words are similar, but, as you noticed, tatta focuses only on the number. By contrast tada carries the sense of “nothing else than ...”. So, tada is often used with “nomi” or “dake
    Let me give you some examples.

    A single house was on the hill.
    → Oka no ue ni tada ikken, ie ga atta. (It emphasises that there was nothing else than the house.)
    → Oka no ue ni tatta ikken, ie ga atta. (It emphasizes that there was only one house.)

    He only shrugged his shoulders. 
    → Kare wa tada :tick: / tatta :cross: kata wo sukumeta dake datta.

    I have only 300yen in my purse now.
    → Ima saifu niwa tada :tick: / tatta :tick: 300 yen aru nomi / dake da.


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