In our Season 4 Episode 4 of the Nihongo Master Podcast, we looked at the ways to say “too much” and “not enough” in Japanese as part of our Study Saturday Language Series.

I remembered the times I went somewhere in Japan and needed to express something that’s too much or not enough — let alone having to request for something more or less because of it. My beginner Japanese textbooks did not teach me these. 

So I thought, hey, I can take my past struggles and make it into something someone else can learn from.And here I am — guiding you through all the language you need to navigate through the excessive and insufficient!

The Study Saturday language series on the podcast is formatted just like the Nihongo Master online learning system, so for a sneak peek at what our program has to offer, tune in to our podcast!

Too Much using すぎる

Maybe you ate too much for dinner? Or over the weekend you were in bed practically the whole day because the night before you drank too much beer! 

The phrase to use to say “too much” is “sugiru” (すぎる). So to say “too much”. We attach this to the end of adjectives and verbs

With Adjectives

For adjectives, we take off the i (い) from i-adjectives and na (な) from na-adjectives, then attach the phrase at the end. The format is:

I-adjective (without い) + すぎる

Na adjective (without な) + すぎる

Let’s say you want to say “it’s too old” in Japanese. The world for “old” is “furui” (古い). First we take い out of furui to get furu (古),  then add the phrase. You get: “furusugiru” (古すぎる). 

That’s an example for i-adjective. Here’s an example for na-adjective: “It’s too easy.” The word for “easy” is na-adjective “kantanna” (簡単). First you take out the な from kantanna to make kantan (簡単) Then you add the phrase to get: kantansugiru (簡単すぎる).

With Verbs

For the verbs, it’s pretty similar to adjectives. Take out ru (る) from ru-verbs, and change u (う) from u-verbs to i (い). The format is:

U-verb (without う) + い + すぎる

Ru-verbs (without る) + すぎる

Here’s an example for u-verb in a sentence: “I drank too much beer”. “Beer” is easy: bīru (ビール). To drink is nomu (飲む), then and because it’s an u-verb, you change the ending う to い, and you get nomi (飲み) Using the format, you get: “bīru wo nomisugita.”(ビールを飲みすぎた。)

すぎる conjugates like a ru-verb, so its past tense is sugita.

Here’s an example for a ru-verb in a sentence: “I ate too much for dinner.” “Dinner” is yūshoku (夕食). “To eat” is taberu (食べる), which becomes tabe (食べ). The sentence you get using the format is: “yūshoku ni tabesugita. (夕食に食べすぎた。) 

Now, to say something’s not enough, there are two ways — the first is using the word tarinai, the negation of tariru which means “to be enough”. So if you want to say “I don’t have enough money”, we say it as “okane ga tarinai”. Oh, aren’t we all short on cash… But anyway, this phrase is more often attached to nouns as it translates more closely to “there isn’t enough….”

Another way is using juubun (it literally translates to ten parts but in Japanese it refers to being 100%). If you want to say you haven’t eaten enough, you say it as “juubun ni tabetenai”. You have to negate the verb in the sentence when you use juubun.

Not Enough 足りない and 十分〜ない

What about… if you don’t have enough money! Or what if for dinner, instead of eating too much, you didn’t eat enough?

To say something’s not enough, there are two ways: the first is using the word tarinai足りない, the negation of tariru足りる which means “to be enough”. This phrase is more often attached to nouns as it translates more closely to “there isn’t enough….” You add ga after the noun. The format is:

Noun + が + 足りない

Here’s an example sentence: “I don’t have enough money”. “Money” is “okane” (お金). Then using the format we get this sentence: “okane ga tarinai.” (お金が足りない。)

Another way is using “juubun” (十分). It literally translates to ten parts but in Japanese it refers to being 100%. This phrase can be used with verbs. First, you add the phrase then add ni (に). Then, you have to negate the verb in the sentence. The format is:

十分 + に + Verb (ない form)

Noun + 十分 + じゃない

十分 + な + Noun + がない

Let’s translate this sentence using the verb format: “I haven’t eaten enough”. Following the format, you get: “juubun ni tabenai.” (十分に食べない。)

BONUS: Requesting using 多めで and 少なめ

When you get something too much or not enough, you might find yourself requesting to fix it. You might want to make requests to add more of something because it’s not enough or add less of something because it’s too much. This was something I had to figure out the hard way, but not for you guys!

If you want more of something, you use the phrase “omori de” (おもりで) or oome de” (多めで) after the noun. The format is:

Noun + おもりで / 多めで

Say you want a larger portion of rice or pasta at a restaurant. You’d want to say something like this: “a large portion of rice, please”. “Rice” is gohan (ご飯). Then add the phrase to get: “gohan omori de onegaishimasu”. (ご飯おもりでお願いします)

Let’s have an example with the other phrase. Say you want more pickles in your dish, for whatever reason, just say “pikurusu oome de onegaishimasu”. (ピクルス多めでお願いします。)

What about the opposite? What if you want less of something? 

Something that’s extremely fresh in my memory is when I went to Starbucks and wanted to ask for less syrup in my coffee — I don’t know why, but Starbucks coffee is always extremely sweet! So I found out that all you have to do is say “sukuname” (少なめ) to mean less than usual.

Noun + 少なめ

So in my case, using the format we get: “shiroppu sukuname onegaishimasu!” (シロップ少なめお願いします。)

Vocab Recap

We used a lot of new words in the episode, so let’s have a list for reference:

Furui (古い) — old

Kantan (簡単) — easy

Tariru (足りる) — to be enough

Okane (お金) — money

Karai (辛い) — spicy

Chuumon (注文) — order. The verb is chuumon suru (注文する)

Kirai (嫌い) — hate

Sushi ya (寿司屋) — sushi shop. Ya (屋) can be attached to anything to mean shop, like ramen ya  (ラメン屋) is Ramen shop

Itsumo (いつも) — always

Aji (味) — flavour or taste

Nemu (眠む) — to rest or sleep. Nemuru (眠る) is also another way to say to sleep 

Enki (延期) — postponement

Tanoshimi suru (楽しみする) — to look forward to something

Tomodachi (友達) — friend

Shoukai suru (紹介する) — to introduce

Nomikai (飲み会) — drinking party

Too Much or Not Enough?

So you see, the grammar language introduced here is useful for both travel and everyday conversations. What is something that is too much or not enough for you recently?

If you’re interested in similar bite-sized grammar pointers, head over to the Nihongo Master Podcast for more. On the blog, we have recap posts of our podcast episodes — not only is there a brief summary of what we discussed in each episode but also the full vocab list for you to refer back to.