The meanings of 近く

Need some help understanding the spirit of 近く when used as an adverb.

WaniKani describes 近 as meaning “near” or “close”, and for the 近い adjective, both “near” and “close” are valid answers. But for 近く, used as an adverb, “nearly” is a valid option, but not “closely”.

I know that “nearly” and “closely” aren’t completely interchangeable in English:
“That punch nearly hit me” for example uses “nearly” as a synonym for “almost”, something that “closely” doesn’t do, but I don’t think that’s the difference based on the example sentences.

Is this just a matter of “WaniKani doesn’t include every possible synonym” or is there a subtle reason that “closely” is not a good (or as good) a translation here?

As an adverb, 近く almost always relates to time, and we usually don’t use “closely” that way.

It’s like “soon” or “shortly.”

Here’s a Japanese definition: 現時点から時がそれほど経過していないさま。もうすぐ。近々。

EDIT: This is also making a distinction between this and 近い conjugated to 近く. This is a unique entry that has its own meanings from just the standard conjugation. If you feel that you want to think of this entry as just a conjugation of 近い, then you can do that, but it’s not exactly what WK was aiming to teach originally.


Aaaah that makes so much more sense.

I was only thinking of the spatial version of “nearly”, and despite the “soon” synonym I never pictured the English “Christmas is nearly here” temporal usage.

Got it - that clicks now, thank you!


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