Category Archives: Japanese Study: Beginner

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 »

Japanese word 我慢 (gaman): putting up with it

The Japanese word “gaman”, often written in kanji as 我慢 (or sometimes in hiragana as がまん)、is one of those words that seems conceptually simple, but doesn’t always have an easy English equivalent. “Gaman” is fundamentally about suppressing or putting up with some emotion or desire. Similarly, it can also have a nuance of enduring of… Read More »

Pronunciation: one of the hardest parts about learning Japanese (and a review of a great resource to help with that –– OJAD)

The other day I came across a recently-started blog about learning Japanese that talked about how easy Japanese pronunciation was. This really frustrated me, but my search for a way to leave a friendly comment to the author ended in failure, so someday you may come across that post (and others like it). After over… Read More »

A mistaken case of mixing spoken and written language (ですし,”desu shi”)

Listening or reading to many types of Japanese––novels, newspapers, blogs, TV shows, movies, anime, magazines––is a great way to increase your vocabulary. It also helps you train that elusive skill for what just sounds “natural”. However, in Japanese (and perhaps many other languages) there is an important distinction between spoken language (話し言葉) and written language… Read More »

Japanese sentence-ending particle ぞ (zo) and being eaten by a green monster

Japanese particles––small words with big grammatical and affective meanings––are one of the things that make the language unique. They can cause problems for those who are not too strong with grammar, but once you spend some time studying them I think you’ll find out their usages and meanings are pretty logical (though the particles with… 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 »

A great Japanese word: 脱サラ (dassara) –– getting away from The Grind

I’m sure many people are working full time for a company that they don’t own any part of, getting paid on a periodic rate based on a set contract. And I’m also willing to bet that a good portion of those people wish they could go independent and become their own boss, choosing what and… Read More »

Confusing Japanese loanword: エール (Eeru)

As you’ve probably already discovered, Japanese has a huge number of loanwords, especially from English––and that number seems to be increasing fast. Fortunately, a majority of these can be guessed from context if you can manage to match them up to their original word by sound. But some of them are hard to guess because… Read More »