The expression あまり (
so much that,
to the point that, but also
not so much when used in a sentence in the negative form (ない).
あまり in general means something that is done excessively, which then translated becomes
so much that or
not much when in the negative.
In this post we learn more about the meaning of あまり, how it is formed, and when あまり is used through real example sentences.
Where does the meaning of あまり come from
The expression あまり comes from the noun and adverb 余り, which means
余り in turn is the noun of the verb 余る, which translates as
to be in excess,
to be too much.
We can thus understand where its meaning of
to such an extent that... comes from. In fact, in general 余り indicates something that is in excess or more than necessary, something left over.
You can find あまり in a more colloquial form read as あんまり, or in some cases also あんま.
あまり~ない: "not much"
The most common expression using あまり is あまり~ない.
This expression consists of the use of あまり in a sentence in the negative, where the verb, adjective, or noun is in the form in ない (
to not exist):
As we have seen, あまり indicates something that is in excess. However, when the sentence is in the negative the meaning becomes "not in excess", which translates more naturally as
not too much:
Not very cold.
We note how あまり indicates something that exists, but which is still tolerable and not too much. In the example we use the adjective 寒い
cold in its negative form 寒くない:
The use of あまり~ない makes us understand that, although it is cold, this cold is not excessive, but rather tolerable.
あまり: "to such an extent that"
When instead あまり is used in a positive sentence it means something that has reached a limit, something that is in excess.
あまり is used in negative situations, and generally indicates a criticism for something that is excessive.
あまり applies to a verb or noun (with の), an adjective ending in い (which becomes a noun when conjugated with さ or み and followed by の), or an adjective ending in な:
I was so happy that I didn't sleep well that night .
In the example we see how あまり is associated with the noun 嬉しさ
happiness, which derives from the adjective 嬉しい
The use of あまり indicates that the
happiness is so much and in excess, to such an extent that I couldn't sleep well (negative result).
I was so emotional that I cried.
余りに: "so much that"
あまり in its adverbial form can be followed by the particle に to form the expression 余りに, which means
so much that....
余りに is used to indicate something that is "so much" that it causes surprise or shock, or in general an unexpected or unwanted result.
余りに is added before an adjective, adverb, or noun (with の instead of に) that you want to indicate as
It is also possible to add the particle も (にも) to give even more emphasis to the degree of surprise.
I arrived too early.
It's too expensive.
Examples of あまり
This book is not very good.
That is too much.
I didn't quite understand the meaning of this kanji.