Category Archives: grammar

Using the Japanese particles “to” (と) and “tte” (って) to quote [plus abbreviated uses and particle combinations]

The Japanese particle と (to) has a fairly large number of usages. In one of my dictionaries there are ten independent meanings listed. While I’d like to cover them all eventually, in this post I’m going to focus on one of the most common usages, that is when “to” is used to quote something. By “quote”,… Read More »

Japanese quiz 2: Basic verb conjugation

This is the second quiz in a new series that will test your Japanese skills in various areas. While these quizzes will not specifically be targeting the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), I think practicing these sorts of fundamentals will help those studying for the JLPT and similar tests of Japanese ability. This quiz is… Read More »

Talking about ways of doing things in Japanese with 〜かた (~kata)

When you first learn a foreign language, you might be frustrated (or at least challenged) by how it differs from your native language. But the more you study, the more you’ll find aspects unique to that language that allow you to express things in convenient ways. In Japanese, by using the suffix かた (sometimes written… Read More »

Japanese quiz 1: Basic particle usage

This is the first of a new series of quizzes that will test your Japanese skills in various areas including grammar and vocabulary. While they will not specifically be targeting the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), I think practicing these sorts of fundamentals will help those studying for the JLPT and similar tests of Japanese… Read More »

Adverbial “~ku”(〜く)form of Japanese i-adjectives (and challenges of translating them)

Compared to English, I feel that Japanese is a grammatically pure language, meaning that there are less complex grammar rules, and those rules can be used more freely without becoming ungrammatical or awkward. For example, Japanese has much fewer verb tenses than English, and factors such as the subject are not taken into account when… Read More »

Japanese word highlight: 相談 (soudan)

In this post, I’d like to focus on the word 相談 (そうだん / soudan) for two reasons: it’s high frequency in business-level Japanese and the fact it doesn’t have a great single-world (one-size-fits-all) translation in English. I’d like to begin the explanation by giving the Japanese definition of the word from Dictionary Goo, followed by… Read More »

Tricky Japanese verb pair: 預ける / 預かる (azukeru / azukaru)

In Japanese, there are many transitive/intransitive verb pairs, whereas in English we use often word order to describe whether an action is transitive or intransitive. Masting these pairs is an important step in becoming fluent in Japanese. As a simple example, let’s take つける (tsukeru), a transitive verb with a bunch of meanings, but for… Read More »

Japanese expression ありそうでなかった (ari sou de nakatta), and some tasty soy sauce

Whenever I am at around Japanese food products, I always try to read the labels to learn new words, especially since there are many food-specific words and expressions that you won’t normally hear in daily conversation. The other day I was reading the label for a “Butter Soy Sauce” product (バターしょうゆ) and came across some… Read More »

A tale of particles: “ni” (に) vs “wo” (を), the verb “kizuku” (気づく), and a bus full of moles

Particles––small words that have big grammatical meaning––are one of the challenges to real mastery of Japanese. The particles “wo” (を) and “ni”(に) generally have fairly defined roles. “wo” is used when something is the direct object of an action (ex: りんごを食べる / eat an apple) whereas “ni” is used for the direction of an action… Read More »

Japanese colloquial expression: “sorya sou desho” (そりゃそうでしょ) and related phrases

In this post I’d like to talk about the colloquial Japanese expression “sorya sou desho” (そりゃそうでしょ). This expression is made up a handful of fundamental words in Japanese which have multiple purposes and shades of meaning. So the end result can be a little hard to guess if you just try to put together things mechanically.… Read More »