This is another post in my Read & Answer series of articles where I give a short passage in Japanese followed by one or more questions to test your understanding. You can see more about this series here, and a list of the other articles in it here.
This will be Level 2, which is the second easiest level and targets those who have studied Japanese for a half of a year to around two years. However, to make this accessible for beginning students as well, I’ve given a list of Kanji words and some of the non-Kanji words with their definitions below the answer choices, so you only need to be able to read hiragana and katakana for this exercise.
What sort of situation fits best with this passage?
Answer Choices 1
a) A man trying to talk to a woman on a train
b) A chapter in a paper textbook
c) A teacher speaking before students in a class
d) A boss telling a underling about an important task
How would you describe the tone of this passage?
Answer Choices 2
a) Extremely formal and stiff
b) Mostly casual, but using woman’s language
c) It begins somewhat formal but becomes less so as it progresses
d) It uses old expressions not commonly used in modern Japanese
How would you describe the meaning of the phrase “について” in this passage?
Answer Choices 3
a) It indicates the verb of the sentence is doing something “related to” or “about” the word before this phrase
b) It excludes the word that follows it
c) It adds a sense of urgency to the verb of the sentence
d) It is a marker with no real meaning that simply signifies an older man or woman is speaking
How would you describe the meaning of the phrase “どこから始めればいいのかな” in this passage?
Answer Choices 4
a) The speaker is stating where he or she will begin the discussion
b) The speaker is asking the audience where he or she should begin the discussion
c) This is a polite phrase that has no particular meaning
d) The speaker is wondering to him- or her-self (out loud) about where (or what sub-topic) to begin the discussion
Word readings and meanings
本日: honjitsu (a formal way to say ‘today’)
科学: kagaku (‘science’) [not to be confused with 化学 which means ‘chemistry’ and has the same pronunciation, including intonation]
お話: ohanashi (a polite way to say ‘discussion’ or ‘talk’)
させていただきたい: sasete itadakitai (a polite way to perform an action, literally: “I would like to have you allow me to…”)
思います: to omoimasu (polite form of omou, ‘to think’)
どこ: doko (‘where’)
始めれば: hajimereba (conditional -eba form of hajimeru, ‘to start’)
Q2: c [the さて and のかな parts are somewhat informal/casual, also note there is no です・ます forms or other polite forms of verbs. Having said that, slipping into less-formal language like this in the middle of talking can be natural, though it would depend on the relationship between the audience and the speaker. For example, I would not expect a student to use this sort of language when giving a presentation before a class.]
Q4: d [literally, this phrase means something like ‘I wonder from where (I) should begin’]
If you enjoyed this please comment and/or like this post so I know to write more. Also let me know if you want more difficult or easier passages.