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第148ー 普通・普段・並み

There are a few words in Japanese that mean “normal” and could be confusing. We are going to discuss three in this post.

A- (み)
B- 普段ふだん
C- 普通ふつう

The first one, なみ, could be used as a suffix (プロみ) which follows nouns to mean “on the level of/same as” or could modify other words as a noun (なみのホテル) and in that case it means “normal/average.”

For the first usage of み as a suffix, it is usually written with the okurigana み. Let’s look at an example to understand its meaning more:

1- あのひと技術ぎじゅつはプロみだ。
That person’s skills are pro-level.

2- 彼女かのじょ日本語にほんごはネイティブみですね。
Her Japanese is native-level isn’t it?

3- 彼女かのじょ人並ひとなはずれた能力のうりょくぬしだ。
She possesses ability beyond normal people.
(人並ひとなみみ is a set phrase meaning “being average / ordinary”)

As for the second usage of なみ (without the okurigana), you modify other words with the particle の. Let’s look at an example:

4- 旅行りょこうしていたときなみのホテルにまった。
I stayed at an average hotel when traveling.

Another usage for なみ is when ordering food in which case it means the “normal” (as in “not the small” or “big”) portions:

5- 牛丼ぎゅうどんなみおねがいします。(牛丼ぎゅうどん注文ちゅうもんするとき)
I would like a (normal size) bowl of beef.

Understanding なみ separately from 普通ふつう and 普段 is easy I think, but the reason we mentioned them together is because there are a few cases where なみ and 普通ふつう are interchangeable:

6- こんなこと(なみ普通ふつう)の人間にはとうていできまい。
No normal person is capable of doing this.

普通ふつう普段ふだん

As for 普通ふつう and 普段ふだん, generally speaking the first means “normal” while the latter means “usual.”

One differentiation to make about 普通ふつう and 普段ふだん when speaking about a “norm” is that 普通ふつう is more general (as in “people normally do (not do) this”) while 普段ふだん could be personal (as in “I normally do (not) do this”).

Compare the two examples below.

7- 普通ふつうは、こんなものべないよ。
People don’t normally eat this (maybe it’s bad or weird to eat it).

8- 普段ふだんは、こんなものべないよ。
I don’t usually eat this (but this case may be special, so I’m eating it).

Looking at some more examples will help clarify the difference (in some cases they are interchangeable without a change in meaning):

9- (普通ふつう普段ふだん)はそんなことしないのに。
Even though normally/usually you wouldn’t do such a thing.

10- (普通ふつうみ)の人生じんせいなんてつまらない。
A normal/average life is boring.

11- 普通ふつう1いちばん
Normal is best!

12- 普段ふだんから健康けんこうにはをつけています。
I am always careful about my health.
(普段ふだんから is a set phrase meaning (on a routine basis / regularly)

13- (普段ふだん普通ふつう)はらないみせはいってみた。
I entered a shop I normally don’t go into.

14- 普段ふだん努力どりょく大切たいせつだよ。
The usual effort is important.

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