Narubeku mijikaku shite-kudasai (Make it as short as possible, please)

Situation 1: Mr. Tian and his colleague Ms. Shiba are chatting about staying healthy.

ティエン: ぼくはなるべく冷たい飲み物は飲まないようにしているんです。祖母によく言われていたんで。

芝: ああ、私もできるだけ体を冷やさないように注意しています。

Tian: Boku-wa narubeku tsumetai nomimono-wa nomanai-yō-ni shite-iru-n-desu. Sobo-ni yoku iwarete-ita-n-de.

Shiba: Aa, watashi-mo dekirudake karada-wo hiyasanai-yō-ni chūi-shite-imasu.

Tian: I avoid cold drinks as much as possible, because my grandmother often told me to.

Shiba: Oh, I also try as much as possible to keep my body from cooling down.

Today we will introduce uses of the adverb なるべく and できるだけ. なるべく means “as . . . as possible,” “as . . . as one can.” or “if possible.” なるべく is similar in meaning to できるだけ, as in Tian’s remark in Situation 1. However, できるだけ is used when someone makes the utmost effort, while なるべく is used when he/she does something to the extent that it’s possible. Also, できるだけ can be used in the pattern できるだけのX(=noun) but なるべく cannot. Example: 試験(しけん)に合格(ごうかく)するためにできるだけの努力(どりょく)をした。 (I did the best I could to pass the exam.)

Situation 2: At the end of a meeting, section chief Mr. Okubo corners his boss, Ms. Yamani.

大久保: すみません、ちょっと追加の説明をしてもいいでしょうか。

ヤマニ: はい、でも、なるべく短くしてください。次の予定があるので。

Okubo: Sumimasen, chotto tsuika-no setsumei-wo shite-mo ii-deshō-ka?

Yamani: Hai, demo, narubeku mijikaku shite-kudasai. Tsugi-no yotei-ga aru-node.

Okubo: Excuse me, but could I explain a little bit more?

Yamani: Sure, but make it as short as possible, please. I have another appointment.

なるべく expresses when someone does something favorable to the extent that he/she does not feel burdened. Both なるべく and できるだけ are usually used with expressions involving requests, suggestions, desire or volition. Examples: あしたは何時(なんじ) でもいいんですが、なるべく早(はや)めに来(き)てくれますか。 (You can come anytime, but I’d appreciate your coming as early as possible.); できるだけ野菜(やさい)をたくさん食(た)べるようにしたほうがいいよ。 (It’s good for you to eat as many vegetables as possible.); コンサートでは、なるべく前(まえ)のほうに座(すわ)りたい 。 (At the concert, I want to get a seat somewhere at the front.); あしたは忙 (いそが)しいけど、送別会(そうべつかい)にはなるべく出席(しゅっせき)するようにします。 (I’m busy tomorrow, but I’ll do my best to attend the farewell party.). なるべくなら has almost the same meaning as なるべく, but the possibility of realization is lower.

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. and Mrs. Shiba are talking about their house.

妻 (つま): じゅんが大(おお)きくなってくると、このマンションは狭(せま)くなるから、新(あたら)しい家を探(さが)さない?

夫 (おっと):そうだね。なるべく広(ひろ)くて便利(べんり)な家がいいね。

妻: うん、私(わたし)たちのそれぞれの職場(しょくば)からなるべく近(ちか)いところがいいなあ。通勤時間(つうきんじかん)が長(なが)いと疲(つか)れちゃうから。

夫: うん。でも、緑(みどり)もあるところがいいよ。じゅんにできるだけ自然(しぜん)に触(ふ)れさせたいから。

妻: それもそうね。じゃ、ちょっとネットで見(み)てく れる?

夫: うん。[パソコンで調(しら)べる] うーん、今(いま)の条件(じょうけん)に合(あ)わせようとすると、 すごく高(たか)いところしかないよ。ほら。

妻: うわあ、それは無理(むり)。やっぱりこの家にできるだけがんばって住(す)むことにしない?

夫: うん、それが一番(いちばん)いいと思(おも)うよ。

Wife: This condo will be small when our son Jun grows up. Why don’t we look for a new house?

Husband: That’s a good idea. We want to live in a big and convenient house, right?

Wife: I want to live in a place that’s close to both our offices. We’ll be tired if the commute is long.

Husband: Yeah, but I think a town with lots of green would be good. I want Jun to have contact with nature.

Wife: You’re right. So, will you look it up on the Net?

Husband: OK. (Looks it up.) Well, there is nothing that meets our needs except this very expensive one. Look.

Wife: Oh, that’s impossible. We’ll have to live in this condo as long as we can.

Husband: Yeah, that would be best, I think.

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