What’s the difference between いっぱい vs たくさん in Japanese?

Both can be translated as:

  • A lot
  • Many
  • Much

たくさん

  • usually refers to something is “enough”.
  • usually for countable things.

いっぱい

  • refers to something is complete or full, or there’s no more availability or space.
  • usually for uncountable things e.g. liquids.

Examples

仕事のことで頭がいっぱい。
I’m occupied with thinking about work.

そばをたくさん食べました。
I ate a lot of soba noodles (but I still have room for dessert).

そばをいっぱい食べました。
I had too many soba noodles (and I can’t eat any more).

お腹がいっぱい。
I’m full now.

予約がいっぱい。
Fully booked.

予約がたくさん。
There are many bookings (but there’s still vacancy).

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