Category Archives: grammar

A simple explanation of the particles wa (は) vs ga (が)and the surprising equation “1+1=2”

I’ve dedicated a great deal of my time to having a good understanding of Japanese grammar, and proper usage of the particles “wa” and “ga” is one of the tricker areas. I’ve written some posts on this topic, and you can find many others if you google around. I am not going to go into a… Read More »

The mysterious case of the double wo (を) particle

Japanese particles can be tricky because of their many usages and combinations. For example 「で」 can be seen with other particles in the two-particle pair 「では」or 「での」 or even in the 4-particle combination 「ならではの」. On the other hand, the 「を」 particle (written as ‘wo’ or just ‘o’), is one of the most straightforward to learn.… Read More »

Japanese particle combination: ”no ni” (のに)

Japanese particles are small words packed full with meaning and often don’t have direct parallels to English. In a few past articles I’ve talked about a few particle combinations (での, への, では、and ならではの). In this post I’d like to go over the combination のに (“no ni” or “noni”) which is pretty commonly used. There are… Read More »

Two types of “can’t” in Japanese: improper vs impossible

When learning a foreign language, often it is good to try and get away from your native language and think in the foreign language so you don’t end up saying things that sounds like they came out of a translation program. Having said that, when speaking that foreign language it will take time for your… Read More »

Talking about the future in Japanese (mirai, shourai, kore kara, ima kara, etc.)

In this post I’d like to discuss a few ways of talking about the future in Japanese. To begin with, one of the first words students students learn about the future is 未来 (mirai), which can be used to talk about something that has not occurred yet. Let’s use this word in a simple sentence:… Read More »

Japanese Expression Highlight: 「水を得た魚 」(mizu wo eta sakana)

The other day when I was working away at writing a new blog post, I was told: 君、水を得た魚だね (kimi, mizu wo eta sakana da ne) I admit I was a little confused when I hard this. So what does it mean? First, let’s look at the words one by one: 水 (mizu): water 得た (eta):… Read More »

Review: 日経おとなのOFF: 美しい日本語と正しい敬語が身に付く本 (“Guidebook to beautiful Japanese and proper polite language”)

日経大人OFF (Nikkei otona OFF) is a magazine series by the same company that publishes the Nikkei daily business paper. In this post I am reviewing a special edition of that series from 3/15/2012 titled: 「美しい日本語と正しい敬語が身につく本」, roughly translated as “Guidebook to beautiful Japanese and proper polite language”. As you can guess from its title, this magazine… Read More »

A primer on Japanese emotive sentence-ending particles: ne, na, naa, yo (ね、な、なあ、よ)

One of the tricky things about running a language-learning blog is deciding what to write about. When I first started this blog back in December 2013, I mostly intended to act as support for those learning Japanese without necessarily getting too involved into detailed explanations about fundamental grammar structures that might already be covered elsewhere in… Read More »

The Japanese particle は(wa), 癒やし (iyashi), and therapeutic dogs.

Grammar is interesting because it allows packing a lot of meaning into only a few words. In Japanese, a language where words are often omitted, that is even more so. In this post I want to analyze the following sentence, which I heard the other day: 犬は癒やされますね。 [Inu wa iyasaremasu ne] This sentence is quite… Read More »

Using “~ga suru” (〜がする) to express feeling or sensing something in Japanese

In this post I’d like to discuss a grammar construct that I had not explicitly learned into fairly late in my Japanese studies. I saw it used often but until I researched it I didn’t understand it completely. The pattern is  “[noun] + ga suru”.  First, before we talk about the combination of “ga” and… Read More »