Category Archives: grammar

Japanese Literature Review: 「猫を抱いて象と泳ぐ」 (Swim With an Elephant, Embracing a Cat) by 小川洋子 (Yoko Ogawa): A nostalgic ode to chess

Yoko Ogawa (小川洋子) is an award-winning Japanese author who has written over 30 works, with at least eight of them translated into English so far. She is perhaps most known for her novel “The Housekeeper and the Professor” (博士の愛した数式) which was also made into a movie. I read Ogawa’s book “Little Bird” (ことり) last year… Read More »

The expression「お茶はどう?」 (“ocha wa dou?”) and the vagueness of the Japanese language

When compared to English, Japanese can sometimes seem like a language filled with vagueness. Not only are subjects often omitted, but sometimes particles are too, and to make things even more confusing there is less verb tenses (there is no future tense). To be sure, Japanese has it own ways to help clarify the meaning… Read More »

Japanese literary expression:「〜かのように」 (~ka no you ni)

If you read enough books in Japanese you’ll start to come across certain expressions and grammatical patterns that are used frequently in certain genres. In this post, I’d like to go over the expression 「〜かのように」 (~ka no you ni) which I’ve found to be pretty common in Japanese literature. Before I discuss the pattern itself… Read More »

Introducing Mr. Mizuhiro Kaimai (開米瑞浩), diagram wizard

The other day I had the luck of finding out about Mr. Mizuhiro Kaimai (開米瑞浩) when he left a comment on one of my blog posts and introduced me to a section of his blog where he talks about “Japanese Grammar in Logic Diagramming”. In this series of articles, Mr. Kaimai discusses several aspects of Japanese… Read More »

Japanese word comparison: yaru (やる) vs suru (する), two ways of ‘doing it’.

The Japanese verbs する (suru) and やる(yaru) are used quite frequently in the Japanese language, and while both of these mean “to do”, they have different usage. Let’s start with two general rules to help distinguish between these two verbs. First, する is more often used together with a noun to describe some action: 今晩、一緒に練習しましょう… Read More »

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 »