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Posts Tagged ‘definitely’

Adverbs 03 – Doubtlessly Helpful Words

Posted by Darkslime Z on 2011/05/28

Today we’re going to look over some ways to express the feeling of “definitely” doing something or “certainly” being a certain way, and look into some of the more subtle nuances of the words and the different structures they can have.


First off we have かならず, to mean “definitely”, such as in the sentence:

No matter what happens, I’m definitely going.

As an adverb, all you have to do is plop it before a verb and you’ve got yourself a perfect sentence! However, important to note is the fact that you can only use かならず with positive verbs – in other words, you can’t use the word to say you’re definitely not going to do something. That role is left to…


As with かならず, all you do is stick 絶対に in front of a verb to mean “definitely”:

That person is definitely not going.

As you can see, 絶対に can be used with a negative verb as well as normally with a positive verb, such as in the phrase 絶対に勝つ(I’ll definitely win).

Both 必ず and 絶対 are similar to the word きっと, but きっと carries slightly less certainty with it. 必ず is also used in the grammatical expression 必ずしも, but that’s another story.


You may have heard the word まったく muttered under the breath of a character you’ve seen on TV, and they usually mean it in the “geez…” sense. However, it does work as a legitimate adverb to mean “completely” or “totally”:

My thoughts exactly. / I precisely and completely think and feel the same way as you do.

It can be used either with positive or negative verbs:

I don’t really understand at all. / I am in a complete state of not understanding so and so.

Basically, you’re emphasizing that not only is something “very” X, but it is “completely” X.


This word means “of course”, of course! It’s slightly different than the above in that it also implies a certain level of obviousness, or something that is basic and generally known to all in the conversation.

I’m obviously all for it. / I am in great agreement with this thing [someone] has stated, of course.

If you have trouble remembering where to put it in the sentence, just keep in mind that this is an adverb, like all the other words so far: just place it before the verb or predicate, and you’re good.


確かに is a bit of an oddball in terms of usage. It generally means “definitely” or “without a doubt”, but in English it translates better to “of course [X]… (but…)” If that confuses you, let’s look at some examples.

A lot of people are certainly fascinated by that city.

The normal usage is a bit hard to “get” out of context. Whoever is saying this is essentially agreeing with something else said – such as “this city has been on the news more often lately”, which leads this person to say “yeah, a lot of people seem fascinated by it”. A good English equivalent, in this case, would be “indeed”.

Indeed, dreams themselves often combine bits of both reality and imagination.

Again, this isn’t something you would just say right off the bat – the speaker has been obviously been talking about dreams and how they relate to the real world, and then follows up with this kind of sentence.

The most important thing to remember about 確かに is that it’s a kind of “follow-up” word, and using it to start your first sentence in a conversation wouldn’t make any sense. It’s almost like an agreement, but not really, and it can get a bit confusing.

This “certainly” expression is indeed difficult to explain.

There’s one more use of the adverb, but it’s not as important:

I have certainly received it. / Without a doubt, I have received it.

This last sentence seems more like a grammar form than anything else: it’s just a weird way to use たしかに. When you want to confirm that something has been done – and it’s usually you having gotten something, or come into possession of it – you can use a sentence like this. This is very polite, though, and really doesn’t make sense in casual conversation.

Closing Notes

For those of you who know a bit more of the language, you may have noticed that a few other seemingly-obvious additions are missing, such as 全然 and おそらく. These words don’t technically fall under this category, but will be covered at a later date(probably). Until then, remember how to use these five words!

My examples all came from goo辞書 and スペースアルク. The initial idea for getting adverbs of one type together and explaining them as a group came from a document called よく使う副詞の機能別一覧, a document floating around on the Web.

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