Language | WELL SAID

You'd be considerably well off in Japanese by learning to differentiate between 'daibu' and 'kekkō'

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writers

Kega, daibu yoku natta mitai ne. (Your injury seems to have gotten better.)

Situation 1: Ms. Gray speaks with her colleague Ms. Patel, who broke her right arm.

グレイ: けが、だいぶよくなったみたいね。

パテール: うん、昨日ギプスがとれたんだ。すごく気分がいいよ。

Gurei: Kega, daibu yoku natta mitai ne.

Patēru: Un, kinō gipusu ga toreta-n-da. Sugoku kibun ga ii yo.

Gray: Your injury seems to have gotten better.

Patel: Yeah, I got my cast taken off yesterday. It feels great.

The adverbs だいぶ and けっこう both convey a sense of degree. だいぶ can translate as considerably, fairly, pretty or quite, anything that illustrates the degree of something that is higher than average:

彼女(かのじょ)は若(わか)いころ、だいぶ苦労(くろう)したらしい。 (I heard that she had quite a hard time when she was young.)

予定時間(よていじかん)をだいぶ過(す)ぎてから列車(れっしゃ)は駅(えき)に到着(とうちゃく)した。 (The train arrived at the station well after the scheduled time.)

鈴木(すずき)さんは年(とし)よりもだいぶ若く見(み)える。 (Mr. Suzuki looks much younger than his actual age.)

だいぶ also has the connotation that the degree it’s expressing will continue to advance, and is often used with the expressions such as 進(すす)む, an i-adjective + くなる or a na-adjective + になる:

だいぶ暑(あつ)くなってきた。 (It’s getting pretty hot.)

日本語(にほんご)がだいぶわかるようになった。 (I have come to understand Japanese quite a bit.)

Situation 2: Mr. Sere is teaching ukulele to his girlfriend, Yuri.

セレ: ウクレレは初めてって言っていたけど、けっこう弾けるね。

ゆり: 実は昔、ギターを弾いていたの。

Sere: Ukurere wa hajimete-tte itte-ita kedo, kekkō hikeru ne.

Yuri: Jitsu wa mukashi, gitā o hiite-ita no.

Sere: You said this was your first time with a ukulele but you play quite well, don’t you?

Yuri: To tell the truth, I played guitar a long time ago.

As an adverb, けっこう means fairly, pretty or quite, and expresses that the degree of something is higher and more satisfying than was expected. けっこう is more of a colloquial expression that conveys an impression that what was expected was rather low, so be careful when using it:

午後(ごご)2時(にじ)でもレストランはけっこう混(こ)んでいた。 (The restaurant was rather crowded even though it was 2 p.m.)

冷蔵庫(れいぞうこ)がなくても、コンビニが近(ちか)くにあるからけっこう何(なん)とかなるよ。 (I can get along well enough without a refrigerator because there is a convenience store nearby.)

Bonus Dialogue: It’s around noon on a Sunday and Mr. and Mrs. Shiba are walking near their local train station.

妻(つま): おなかがすいたなあ。ねえ、ここのレストランで食(た)べない?値段(ねだん)のわりに、けっこうおいしいってネットに書(か)いてあった。

夫(おっと): それはいいね。あ、お昼(ひる)を過ぎているけど、けっこうお客(きゃく)さんが入(はい)っているみたいだ。他(ほか)にしよう。

妻: 本当(ほんとう)だ。このへんもだいぶいろんな店(みせ)ができたね。

夫: マンションも増(ふ)えたから、にぎやかになって住(す)みやすくなったよ。

妻: でも、うちの両親(りょうしん)の住んでいるところはだんだん人(ひと)が減(へ)ってきて、けっこう空き家(あきや)が多(おお)いらしいのよ。お店もいくつか閉店(へいてん)になってしまったんだって。

夫: 町(まち)がだいぶ高齢化(こうれいか)してきているせいだなあ。あのへんは坂道(さかみち)が多くて大変(たいへん)だし。うーん、最近(さいきん)の日本(にほん)の問題(もんだい)だよ。

Wife: I’m hungry. Hey, why don’t we eat lunch here? It was written online that it’s pretty tasty considering the price.

Husband: That’d be good. Oh, it’s past lunchtime but it seems there are quite a lot of customers in there. Let’s go somewhere else.

Wife: That’s true. There have been quite a few shops popping up around this area.

Husband: Apartments are popping up too, so it has become a lively spot that’s easy to live in.

Wife: But, there are less and less people where my parents live and it seems that there are quite a few vacant houses. I also heard a lot of shops have closed.

Husband: It’s because the town is getting older. There are lots of slopes around that area, and it’s hard to live. Well, it’s a recent problem in Japan.