I’ve noticed that Japanese seems to have a large number of words that are used to describe the complete absence of something, or complete negation of something like an action. These words would generally be used in a sentence or phrase that ends in a verb in the negative tense. In English, this would correspond to something like “not at all”.
I’ll give example sentences for some of the more common words.
- 全然 (zenzen) [common in conversation, handy for many types of situations]
- 全然勉強したくない [zen zen benkyou shitakunai]
- I don’t want to study at all.
- やる気全くないよ [yaruki mattaku nai yo]
- I have absolutely no motivation.
- 一切 (issai) [sounds a little formal]
- そういう事を一切しないようにしてください [sou iu koto wo issai shinai you ni shite kudasai]
- Please try to not do that sort of thing at all.
- 一向 (ikkou) [sounds formal, sometimes followed by “ni”]
- 何も (nanimo) [somewhat general purpose, has the nuance of “nothing”]
- まるで (marude) [sounds a little stuff to me, also can have the nuance of “just like”]
- ちっとも (chittomo)
- 少しも (sukoshimo)
- これっぽちも (koreppochimo) [sounds casual/slangy, meaning is similar to the previous two words]
- さっぱり (sappari) [limited use, often used with “wakaranai”]
- まるっきり (marukkiri) [also “marukiri”)
- 満更 (manzara) [has a nuance of ‘not altogether’]
You can also use the form “一 + [counter] + も”, as long as the counter fits the object being discussed. For example:
- 人は一人もいない (hito wa hitori mo inai)
- There wasn’t even a single person.
Another word that is similar is 何一つも (nani hitotsu mo).
There are also a few words that mean “not very much”. These too should be used with a negative verb when you want to express that meaning.
- あまり (amari) [good conversational use with wide applicability]
- あまりお腹空いてない (amari onaka suite nai)
- I’m not very hungry.
- ほとんど (hotondo) [another one word for general use, can optionally be followed by 全て [subete] ]
- ほとんど終わってるよ [hotondo owatteru yo]
- Things are mostly done.
- ほぼ (hobo) [sounds a little stiff to me, can optionally be followed by 全て [subete] ]
- まず (mazu) [sounds a bit more formal, also has the unrelated meaning of “first”]