Language | WELL SAID

Just once I'd like to use 'ichido' correctly

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writers

Ichido, Yōroppa ni itte-mitai. (Just once, I want to go to Europe.)

Situation 1: Mr. Sere and his girlfriend, Yuri, are on holiday.

ゆり: 私、一度、ヨーロッパに行ってみたいなあ。アジアしか行ったことがないんだもの。

セレ: そうか。ぼくの国に、一度ゆりをつれて行きたいなあ。

Yuri: Watashi, ichido, Yōroppa ni itte-mitai nā. Ajia shika itta koto ga nai-n da mono.

Sere: Sō ka. Boku no kuni ni, ichido Yuri o tsurete-ikitai nā.

Yuri: Just once, I want to go to Europe. I’ve haven’t been to anywhere besides Asia.

Sere: Ah, really. I would like to take you to my country one time.

As a counter of frequency, 度 (ど) is a slightly more formal version of 回 (かい). You’ll often hear it in the term 一度 (いちど), which means “once” or “one time.” When counting, the kanji also appears in 二度 (にど, twice) and 三度 (さんど, three times), and both those words appear in other Japanese terms:

二度としません。 (I won’t do that again. [Literally: I won’t do that twice.)

一度 is also used in the pattern “一度 X, Y,” in which “X” is a verb in its conditional form (i.e., ば/たら/と) and “Y” is a phrase or clause. This structure conveys the idea that once someone experiences “X,” “Y” occurs:

これは、一度食(た)べたら忘(わす)れられない味(あじ)だ。 (If you eat this just once, you’ll never forget the taste.)

Situation 2: At the office, Mr. Mita is trying to move a big pile of documents.

三田: よいしょ!うわっ、だめだ!

グレイ: そんなに一度に持っていくのは無理よ。3回ぐらいにわけようよ。

Mita: Yoisho! Uwa, dame da!

Gurei: Sonna ni ichido ni motte-iku no wa muri yo. Sankai gurai ni wakeyō yo.

Mita: Alley-oop! Argh, oh no!

Gray: It’s impossible to carry all that at once. Let’s divide it into three parts or so.

Various particles can be attached to 一度 in order to modify the meaning of what follows. In Situation 1, for example, the sentence 一度、ヨーロッパに行(い)ってみたい (I’d like to try going to Europe once) could be changed to 一度は、ヨーロッパに行ってみたい (I’d like to try going to to Europe at least once) for emphasis.

In Situation 2, Ms. Gray’s 一度に modifies 持(も)っていく (to take) and means “all at once.” Another example would be: みんなで一度に話(はな)したら、わかりません (If you speak all at once, I won’t be able to hear any of you).

一度も means “never” when paired with the negative form of a verb: 生(なま)ものは一度も食べたことがない (I’ve never eaten raw food). 一度ある means that you’ve done something once, but 一度しかない emphasizes that you’ve done something only once: デートはいつも私(わたし)持ちで、彼が払(はら)ったことは一度しかない (I always pay when we go out on a date, he has only paid one time).

Bonus Dialogue: Four colleagues discuss their futures.

三田(みた): 一度きりの人生(じんせい)だ。男(おとこ)として生(う)まれたからには、死(し)ぬまでに経験(けいけん)したいことがあるんだ。

グレイ: 私も、人間(にんげん)として一度はやってみたいことが…。

セレ: 三田くんは何(なに)をしたいの?

三田: ぼくは、一度でいいから、モテモテの経験をしてみたいよ。

グレイ: なんだ、そんなこと?

セレ: 三田くん、けっこうモテてると思(おも)うけどなあ。問題(もんだい)は長続(ながつづ)きしないことだ。

田町(たまち): 私は一人旅(ひとりたび)で世界(せかい)一周(いっしゅう)したい。

グレイ: あ、それはきっと実現(じつげん)できるよ。私は、リタイヤしたら、タイとかベトナムとか、いろんな国(くに)の施設(しせつ)で英語(えいご)を教(おし)えるボランティアがしたい。貧(まず)しい子(こ)どもたちは、英語をマスターすれば社会(しゃかい)でチャンスが与(あた)えられるの。そのお手伝(てつだ)いがしたい。セレさんは?

セレ: ぼくは、そんなこと一度も考(かんが)えたことがなかったよ。死ぬまでに夢を見(み)つけるのがぼくの夢というわけだ。

Mita: We only have one life. Since I was born a man, I have something I want to experience before I die.

Gray: Me too — as a human — I have something I’d like to do just once.

Sere: Mita, what do you want to do?

Mita: I want to, just once, experience being a ladies man.

Gray: What? A thing like that?

Sere: Mita, I think you’re kind of a ladies man already. The problem is not to be like that for too long.

Tamachi: I want to travel around the world on my own.

Gray: Oh, that’s possible. I’d like to work as a volunteer teaching English at orphanages in various countries like Thailand and Vietnam, after retirement. Those poor children can get a chance in society by mastering English. I want to help them. How about you, Mr. Sere?

Sere: I’ve never thought of a thing like that. Now, it’s my dream to find a dream before I die.

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