This article will explain the difference between だんだん(Dandan), どんどん(Dondon) and ますます(Masumasu). All of them are onomatopoeia that shows the way things progress.
Difference between だんだん(Dandan), どんどん(Dondon) and ますます(Masumasu)
だんだん(Dandan): Slow progress
どんどん(Dondon): Fast progress
ますます(Masumasu): More progress
Both だんだん(Dandan) and どんどん(Dondon) are used when things are changing. The former is used when the speed of progress is slow while the latter is used when the changing speed is fast. On the other hand, the word ますます(Masumasu) does not have the connotation of a rate of change, but rather an increase or decrease of something that is not zero.
Definition of だんだん(Dandan)
The word だんだん(Dandan) means a slow and sequential change. The word だんだん(Dandan) derived from 階段/かいだん/Kaidan which means stairs. So when written in Kanji, だんだん(Dandan) can be written as 段々 or 段段 but it is usually written in hiragana when used as an adverb. だんだん(Dandan) can also be used as a noun that refers to something with several steps such as staircase, and in that case, it’s written in Kanji. As synonyms for the word だんだん(Dandan), there are words such as 次第に/しだいに/Shidaini, 徐々に/じょじょに/Jojoni and 追い追い/おいおい/Oioi which all refer to a gradual change in the degree or state of things.
Examples of だんだん(Dandan)
Dandan shiken ga chikazuite kuru
The exams are getting closer.
Dandan natsu rashiku natte kita
It's getting more and more like summer.
Benkyo shiyoto shitara dandan nemuku natte kita
I'm trying to study, but I'm getting sleepy
Definition of どんどん(Dondon)
The word どんどん(Dondon) means that things are progressing vigorously. It is also used to describe the sound made when an object is struck hard or loudly. The origin of this word is soldier's march. As a similar word or synonym, there is a word ぐんぐん(gungun) which means an energetic progression in a good direction.
Examples of どんどん(Dondon)
Kawa no nagare ga dondon susundeiku
The river is flowing faster and faster.
Kodomo no seicho wa dondon susundeiru
Children are growing up faster and faster
Otona ni naruto dondon jibun no jikan ga hetteiku
As we grow up, we have less and less time for ourselves
The word だんだん(Dandan) and どんどん(Dondon) can be replaced but the nuance of the sentences changes slightly.
Definition of ますます(Masumasu)
The word ますます(Masumasu) means that the degree of something becomes more extreme. ますます(Masumasu) is written in kanji as 益々 or 益益. This word can be used in everyday life as well as in business situations with people who are superior to you. As synonyms, there are words such as さらに/Sarani, もっと/Motto and 一層/いっそう/Isso which means the degree is getting further.
Examples of ますます
Kare no hanashi wo kiite masumasu wakaranakunatta
I'm even more confused after I heard his story.
Masumasu no gokatsuyaku wo oinori itashimasu
I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
It can be used in both positive and negative situations and can be used in both daily life and business situations.
If you are not sure which word to use, remember to use だんだん(Dandan) to indicate slow change, どんどん(Dondon) for the fast change, and ますます(Masumasu) to indicate more change.