Category Archives: Japanese Study: Intermediate

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 »

The *other* uses of polite language in Japanese

I think it’s fair to say that polite language (敬語, keigo) is one of the most difficult things to master in the Japanese language. Polite language includes the basic desu/masu forms that students generally learn early on, but there are also more advanced forms of polite language with varying nuances (ex: 召し上がる、お目にかかる). For the purposes… 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 »

The upward spiral of language learning

The other day I had a revelation about the difference between studying a foreign language by choice (using classes, textbooks, etc.), and being forced to learn it in an immersive environment (like at home or on the job)––in the former you always have the option to quit, whereas in the latter you don’t, or it’s… Read More »

Hitori Saito (斎藤一人): entrepreneur, best-selling author, motivational speaker

In this post I’d like to discuss Hitori Saito(斎藤一人), a man who is somewhat famous in Japan these days. Hitori Saito is the entrepreneur behind Ginza Marukan (銀座まるかん), a successful cosmetics and health food business. He also has a large number of books (many available on Amazon Japan, what you could call 啓蒙書 or “enlightenment… 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 »

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 »

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 »