How to use なかなか ( = nakanaka)

NAKANAKA

Clyde:「僕、なかなかイケメンでしょ!」

= Boku nakanaka ikemen desho!

= Don’t think I am a fairly handsome guy?

NAKANAK2

Khloe: 「こんなかわいい猫はなかなかいないよ」♩

= Konna kawaii neko wa nakanaka inaiyo!

= I bet you can’t find a cute cat like me easily.

/ It is not easy to find a cute cat like me, you know!

Hello everyone!

Today we have these lovely guest teachers, Clyde-sensei and Khloe-sensei from the U.S.

They have been waiting to be guest teachers since last June.

お待たせしました。= Omatase shimashita. = Thank you for waiting!

*********

みなさん、はじめまして!= Minasan hajimemashite! = Nice to meet to you, everyone!

We are Clyde and Khloe! We can finally be your guest teachers. !onpu!

I hope our sister who has been studying Japanese can learn something in this lesson as well. :) 

Today we will teach you

:u:

!star! How to use なかなか (=nakanaka)

1) ★なかなか ( = nakanaka) + adjective = fairly/ pretty/quite/rather/ very

We also use とても ( = totemo), すごく ( = sugoku) or かなり ( = kanari)   for these meanings but

なかなか ( = nakanaka)  is more moderate than these.

For example, the translation could be the same but when you see something really nice, you say

 :rrrr: It’s VERY nice!

:u:

Ex. とてもいいですね。

= Totemo ii desune.

Ex. すごくいいですね。(slightly more colloquial)

= Sugoku ii desu ne.

When you see something which is not quite reaching “VERY nice” level but fairly nice, you say

Ex. なかなかいいですね。

= Nakanaka ii desu ne.

= It’s pretty nice.

The kanji for なかなか  ( = nakanaka)  is 中中 or 中々 but we usually use hiragana

As you can see the kanji 中  ( = naka)

You describe something which is in between, not the best but not the worst either.

Also it sometimes adds the feeling that something was nicer than what you had expected.

 

Ex. なかなか面白い映画だった。

= Nakanaka omoshiroi eiga datta.

= It was quite an interesting movie.

Ex. この曲、なかなかイケてるね。

= Kono kyoku, nakanaka iketerune.

= This song is pretty cool.

*イケてる ( = iketeru) is slang word for something cool.

Ex. 孝雄の彼女、なかなかかわいいね/ かわいいな

= Takao no kanojo, nakanaka kawaiine/ Kawaiina

= Takao’s girlfriend is pretty cute, isn’t she?

Note:

~かわいいね  ( = kawaiine) for female speech

Ex. うちの子もなかなかしっかりしてきました。

= Uchi no ko mo nakanaka shikkari shite kimashita.

= My child is getting more mature.

 

Ex. この本、なかなか面白いよ。

= Kono hon, nakanaka omoshiroiyo.

= This book is fairly interesting.

!Anapple! From the first picture above:

Clyde:「僕、なかなかイケメンでしょ!」

= Boku nakanaka ikemen desho!

= Don’t think I am a fairly handsome guy?

 !to right! キリリ ( = Kiriri) is a Japanese Onomatopoeia for something stiff,firm and slackless and also is used to describ someone “sharp

★It doesn’t always means “something is fairly good”. It emphasizes the adjectives which comes after “moderately” / Something is ~  more than you expected.

Ex. 「試験どうだった?」

= Shiken doudatta?

= How was the exam?

なかなか難しかった。」

= Nakanaka muzukashikatta.

= It was rather difficult.

Ex. Khloe先生はなかなか厳しい。

 = Khloe sensei wa nakanaka kibishii.

= Khloe-sensei is pretty strict. (more than I thought.)

2) ★なかなか( = nakanakano) +noun =some / quite a~/ fairly ~

Ex. 彼はなかなかの人物だ。

= Kare wa nakanaka no jinbutsu da.

= He is quite a person.

Ex. 彼女はなかなかの料理の腕前を持っている。

= Kanojo wa nakanaka no ryouri no udemae wo motte iru.

= She is some cook.

Ex. 私のお姉さん、なかなかの美人でしょ。

= Watashi no oneesan, nakanaka no bijin desho.

= My older sister is quite beautiful, isn’t she?

Ex. この車、なかなかの値段したんだ。

= Kono kuruma, nakanaka no nedan shitanda.

= This car was fairly expensive.

 :pika: Useful conditional pattern:

★(someone verb + たら+ なかなかのものだ

(someone  ni)verb+  tara + nakanaka no monoda.

= (If you let someone do something, he/she/they are pretty well. )

= Someone does something pretty well.

Ex. 彼に歌を歌わせたらなかなかのものだ

= Kare ni uta wo utawasetara nakanaka no monoda.

= He sings pretty good. / He is quite a good singer.

Ex. 私に料理をさせたらなかなかのものだよ。

= Watashi ni ryouri wo sasetara nakanaka no mono dayo.

= (If you give me a chance too cook, you will see my cooking is not bad. )

= I am quite a good cook.

Ex. この絵はなかなかの作品だね。

= Kono e wa nakanaka no sakuhin dane.

= This picture is something.

3)  When something is taking time/work more than you expected

Ex. ここまで来るのになかなか時間がかかった。

= Kokomade kuru noni nakanaka jikan ga kakatta.

= It took me longer time than I had expected  to get here.

Ex. なかなか苦労したけれどもついにレッスンができました。

= Nakanaka kurou shitakeredomo tsuini ressun ga dekimashita.

= I have had lots of difficulties but I finally made a lesson.

4) When you have troubles more than you think./ When things don’t work so easily

(You express a little frustration be by using なかなか ( = nakanaka) becaues things don’t work out as you had expected.)

なかなか ( = nakanaka) + verb  negative form.

Ex. 体重がなかなか減らない。

= Taijuu ga nakanaka heranai.

= It is pretty hard to lose weight.

Ex. マギー先生、なかなか日本語が上手になりません。どうしたらいいですか?

= Maggie sensei, nakanaka nihongo ga jouzu ni narimasen. Doushitara iidesuka?

= Maggie sensei, my Japanese’s hasn’t improved as much as I’d hoped. What should I do?

 :rrrr: Maggie : なかなか難しい質問ですね。

= Nakanaka muzukashii shitsumon desune.

= It is a quite difficult question, huh?

Ex. 仕事がなかなかはかどらない。

= Shigoto ga nakanaka hakadoranai.

= I can’t get my work done as I expected./ My work isn’t progressing as I expected.

Ex. なかなか準備ができないのでこちらで待っていて下さい。

= Nakanaka junbi ga dekinai node kochira de matteite kudasai.

= It is taking too time for preparation so please wait here.

Ex. 風邪がなかなか治らない

= Kaze ga nakanaka naoranai

= It is taking me a long time to get over my cold.

Ex. いい人がなかなか見つからない。

= Ii hito ga nakanaka mitsukaranai.

= It is not so easy to find the right man(woman).

Ex.新しい単語がなかなか覚えられない。

= Atarashii tango ga nakanaka obowaranai.

= It troubles me (more than I thought) to memorize new words.

Ex.なかなか手に入らないものほど、欲しくなるものだ。

= Nakanaka te ni hairanai mono hodo, hoshiku naru monoda.

= We tend to want  what we can’t have easily.

Ex. 煙草は体に悪いとわかっていてもなかなかやめられない。

= Tabako wa karada ni warui to wakatte itemo nakanaka yamerarenai.

= I know smoking is bad for health but it is not so easy to quit smoking.

Ex. 忙しくてなかなか休みが取れない。

= Isogashikute nakanaka yasumi ga torenai.

= I’ve been so busy that it is pretty difficult to take a vacation.

Ex.心の傷はなかなか消えない。

= Kokoro no kizu wa nakanaka kienai.

= It is not so easy to remove an emotional wound.

Ex. パーティーではなかなか普段では会うことができないセレブに会うことができた。

= Paatii dewa nakanaka fudan au koto ga dekinai serebu ni au koto ga dekita.

= I got to see some famous people who I don’t usually have a chance to to see.

Ex. 昨夜は興奮してなかなか眠れなかった。

= Sakuya wa koufun shite nakanaka nemurenakatta.

= I was so excited last night that I had difficulty in falling asleep.

 :n: From the second picture above:

Khloe: 「こんなかわいい猫はなかなかいないよ」♩

= Konna kawaii neko wa nakanaka inaiyo!

= I bet you can’t find a cute cat like me easily.

/ It is not easy to find a cute cat like me, you know!

OK, that’s about it.

このレッスンは簡単でしたか?それともなかなか難しかったですか?

= Kono ressun wa kantan deshitaka? Soretomo nakanaka muzukashikatta desuka?

= Was this lesson easy or fairly difficult?

日本語を教えるのはなかなか楽しかったよ。

= Nihongo wo oshieru nowa nakanaka tanoshikatta yo.

= Teaching Japanese was  kind of fun.

 

maggie-senseiマギー先生より= Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

Clyde先生、Khloe先生、ありがとう!

= Clyde sensei and Khloe sensei!

= Thank you Clyde sensei and Khloe sensei!

もっと早くゲスト先生として迎えたかったのですが、なかなか長い時間がかかってしまってごめんなさい。

= Motto hayaku gesuto sensei to shite mukaetakatta no desu ga, nakanaka nagai jikan ga kakatte shimatte gomennasai.

= I wanted to have you as guest teachers earlier but I am sorry that it took a longer time than I had expected.

 

Special Note

This lesson is translated by Laura in Spanish.  I put the translation on my Facebook page.   *dated Feb.12th, 2015. Muchas gracias ,Laura, por todo el trabajo!
***

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46 Comments

  1. Maggie sensei,

    If I want to say ” I am having trouble with getting up early” by using なかなか、can I say:

    なかなかはやくおきない(おきていない?)
    Is it OK? Actually, I feel sthg is not right here, but I can’t explain, just a feeling.

    Could you help me that point also?

  2. Maggie sensei,

    Thanks for the great lesson.
    I understand that なかなか is used to describe a level (fairly, quite) of something.

    Could you help to arrange the level in below sentences in order (from small to big).

    Group 1

    (1)彼女はきれいです
    (2)彼女はなかなかきれいです。
    (3)彼女はとってもきれいです。

    Is that the level goes from (1) – beautiful , then to (2) quite beautiful and (3) extremely beautiful

    Group 2
    (1) 仕事がはかどらない。
    (2)仕事がなかなかはかどらない。
    (3)仕事がとってもはかどらない。

    Thanks Maggie sensei in advance.

    1. Group 1
      Yes, that’s right.

      Group 2
      The order is right but (3) should be
      (3) 全然はかどらない。 instead of とっても/とても〜ない

  3. Hi,

    Does this sentence make sense?

    Zenbu shirabemashita ga, nakanaka mondai wa arimasendeshita.

    It was a multi-answer question. Other options besides nakanaka are (dandan, choudo, tokuni).

    Please help me with this,

    Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

    1. Hi Trang

      You don’t say なかなか問題(もんだい)はありませんでした。
      If you say that, you are expecting to have a problem but it is hard to have a problem.
      So it should be
      問題は特(とくに)にありませんでした。
      There was no particular problem

    1. They are similar but you don’t use かなり in a negative sentence.

      なかなかいない
      xかなりいない

      なかなか休みが取れない
      xかなり休みが取れない

  4. Hi Maggie sensei!
    Sorry to add more troublesome question…

    It has been 8 months since I came in Tokyo and I indeed noticed that なかなか is quite often used both in casual and in formal situations. Even in TV I heard it a lot of times. Since many adverbs of this kind is actually used too, I was trying to do quite a “degree list” of the most used ones.

    ものすごく > すごく、とても、非常に、大分、大いに、よっぽど > かなり > なかなか > 結構 > 十分に

    Is this, in a broader way, correct? I hear 結構 too a lot of times, many of which as a starting point for a following sentence.

    Thank you very much!

    1. @Daniele

      Hi Daniele,

      Yes なかなか can be used both in formal and casual way.

      As for your degree list,
      ものすごく is very casual. It is the same level as 非常に.
      よっぽど and 大いに、大分 are bit different in the usagewise. (For example, you don’t say よっぽど美しい/おいしい  大分美しい/おいしい as a compliment. )]If you say 十分にきれい。You are beautiful enough.
      You use 十分に when you are talking about amount. 
      Ex. 十分食べた= I had enough.

    1. @ruchi

      Hi ruchi,
      なかなかどうして is an expression and it stresses the meaning of “なかなか”
      You use this expression when someone/something is better than what you have expected.

      Ex. 彼は歌は下手だと思っていたらなかなかどうして上手だった。
      = Kare wa uta wa heta dato omotte itara nakanaka doushite jouzu datta.
      = I thought he was a bad singer but he was pretty good in fact.

  5. こんな素晴らしいサイトはなかなかない! JLPTの準備のためマギー先生の説明をよく使っています。わざわざ知識を伝えてくれてありがとうございます。 :n:

  6. Hello Maggie-sensei!

    I’ve just stumbled upon your website… It’s a real gem! Thank you so much for your time and effort, these lessons are so helpful!

    I have a question; it’s about this sentence:
    “このふんわり具合 …… なかなかですね。”
    There is no adjective between なかなか and ですね, and the dictionary says ふんわり is an adverb. How should I take なかなか then?

    1. @Arya

      Hi Arya,
      Welcome to our site! :)

      “このふんわり具合 …… なかなかですね。”
      So the speaker must be talking about something fluffy (hair, pillow, etc.) or soft (sponge cake,etc.)
      ふんわりぐあい means “fluffiness” “softness” of something. なかなかですね there means “quite something/pretty good”

    1. @Angelina

      Hell Angelina,
      Don’t cry!!!!!!!
      And don’t give up! !nemui!
      You don’t need to memorize anything. Feel free to practice making sentence using なかなか here. I will check it for you.

  7. お久しぶりですよね!マギー先生、お元気ですか?日本語が学習に戻りましたよ〜 色々なものを忘れてしまったのでなかなか繰り返す必要がありました。とても恥ずかしいです。とにかく、「なかなか」について簡単ように見えるけれども最新の用法はなかなか厳しいようですよ。
    これを使いにくいと思います。というか覚えにくいですよ。

    1. @ocd

      Welcome back!!! おかえりなさい!日本語の勉強は久しぶりですか?でも日本語きちんとかけていますよ。
      また時々このサイトに勉強しにきてくださいね。

  8. sensei

    in this sentence こんな人と仲良くなるなんて、ツチオ殿も中々隅に置けませんなー、このこの!

    is this kanji 隅 correct? or a typo? because the sentence feels weird (T_T)

    1. @just a novel lover’s

      隅に置けない is an idiom. You use it when you discover someone has some abilities unexpectedly or who you thought they were innocent/immature were actually not.
      In this case, the speaker was surprised because they thought ツチオ was a shy person but actually he was dating someone who is out of his league.

  9. sensei I found new variant it’s なかなかに + adjective

    is that have the same meaning as なかなか + adjective?

    1. なかなかに(中々に)is used in Classical Japanese and it has 2 meanings:
      1. something is unfinished / half done / incomplete;
      2. on the contrary / rather / all the more.

      ご参考に。

    2. hmmm…

      the~n is this sentence 空から見た学院都市は、なかなかに美しかった。 means “The academy city seen from the sky was rather beautiful.” ?

      1. @just a novel lover’s

        Hello again.
        As 天人さん said なかなかに is a classical Japanese words, and personally I have never used it or heard it in conversation but I found out on Google that there are people who use it as なかなか even in modern days.
        なかなかに面白い
        なかなかに優秀

        The meaning is the same なかなか面白い、なかなか優秀

      2. is that so sensei?

        no wonder it’s not on the example hehehehe

        Even I quite shocked when 天人さん said that なかなかに is Classical Japanese Words. I thought,”huh? classical? I thought you are a modern boy, Tsuchio!”

        thanks 天人さん for answering my question ^^, and Maggie-sensei for confirming it hehehe

  10. Hi, maybe a difficult question, maybe not.
    When you take the word “hi” 日 and add a “ru” – you get “hiru” 昼.
    When you take “evening” “yuugata” 夕方, extract “yuu” and add a “ru” – you get “yoru” 夜. (Or am I making a mistake in this one?)

    What does this “ru” mean in itself? Does it have a kanji?

    Thank you for this incredible website.

    1. @Ross

      Hello Ross,
      ひる=hiru= means “day time/afternoon/noon” And the kanji for ひる=hiru is “昼”
      And よる=yoru means “night” and the kanji for よる=yoru is 夜
      The word ゆうがた=yuugata means “evening” and we use two kanji 夕(=ゆう=yuu)方(=がた= gata)

      So your question
      What does this “ru” mean in itself?
      It doesn’t mean anything. It is just a part of a word.
      And you can’t combine 日(=hi) and る(=ru) and stuff.

  11. 私が「なかなか」のレッスンを取っていないのに、変に意味がなかなか分かる。リスニングとの関連があると思います。とにかく、マギー先生のレッスンを読み終わって、全部分かりました!。。。そうならいいですね <—- 質問!この最後の「ね」は女だけが使うの「ね」ですか。

    1. @Humberto
      なかなかの表現、耳で覚えていましたか?
      Humbertoの日本語上手に書けていますが、ちょっとだけお手伝いしますね。

      *変に意味がなかなか分かる。→なぜかわからないけれども意味がわかります。(If you want to use なかなか there, このレッスンは”なかなか”わかりやすいです。)
      You use a verb with 「なかなか」in a negative sentence なかなか〜ない or 時間がかかる/苦労する etc.
      *そうならいいですね。(that ね is not just for women. Men can use it as well.)

      1. しまった!You’re right, I guess I didn’t have it that clear after all :P ..thank you so much now I think I got the last part of the lesson! I wasn’t sure how to write the “listening” part, I hope it turned out ok. I vaguely remember my sensei using it sometimes and I hear it often on tv shows and songs, but as far as I can remember this is the first time I’ve come across with a lesson focusing specifically on it. 手伝ってくれてありがとう!

  12. I am having a bit of trouble fully understanding this sentence:

    “なかなか手に入らないものほど、欲しくなるものだ。”

    what role is the ほど playing in it?

    I think a literal translation would help too.

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