Tag Archives: grammar

A discussion on problems students face with the common Japanese verbs もらう、くれる, and あげる (translated from a textbook)

Recently I posted a review of the book “Teaching methods based on student native language, English edition” by Kazuko Nakagawa, which provided some important insights on mistakes English-speakers typically make when learning Japanese. I wanted to translate at least a short portion of this book to give a feel what the content is like, and also… Read More »

Lack of polite Japanese in certain parts of the novel “Downtown Rocket” (下町ロケット)

The other day I wrote a review of the Japanese novel 下町ロケット (“Downtown Rocket”), where I alluded to something about the usage of polite Japanese in that book. In this post I’d like to talk about that matter in some detail. When reading this novel, I was surprised by several scenes where one person from a company spoke to… Read More »

Japanese particle combination での (de no)

Mastering Japanese particles can be difficult, especially when you have to worry about various combinations of particles as well as individual ones. Some time ago I wrote about the combination ならではの which is one of the tricker ones. This time I’d like to talk about the combination of で (de) and の (no), namely “での” (deno). While… Read More »

Japanese expression of respect: “足を向けて寝られない” (“ashi wo mukete nerarenai”)

Japanese is filled with quirky expressions which are commonly used for something deeper than their literal meaning. In this post I’d like to talk about an expression which I recently heard spoken by a Japanese person that caught me off guard. The expression is ”Xに足を向けて寝られない” which literally means “cannot sleep with feet/legs pointing towards X”, where “X”… Read More »

The bridge of translation and “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” (よろしくお願いします) in Japanese

Doing translations between Japanese and English is always an educational endeavor, teaching me so much about Japanese and language in general. One thing that I’ve been thinking about lately is how one can be reasonably skilled in two languages, and yet translating simple phrases can be so challenging. I’ve seen this happen even when I… Read More »

Using the non-past in Japanese when giving instructions

Japanese has relatively few verb tenses, at least compared to English, and you can get a lot across just with the past tense (i.e. shita), non-past (i.e. suru), and te-form (i.e. shite), plus their polite forms (shimashita, shimasu, shimashite [this last one is pretty rare though]). However, while this lack of tenses makes less conjugations to memorize,… Read More »

Several ways to say “Never” in Japanese

In Japanese there are a few expressions which are close equivalents to English “never”, and in this post I’ll go over a few. If you want to express the concept of “never” in Japanese, you can keep things simple and just use the negative form of a verb. Literally, this is close to “~will not”.… Read More »

Japanese Grammar Focus: “tomo” (とも)

Due to a request from one of my readers, in this post I’ll be talking about the Japanese expression “to mo” (とも), which has a variety of uses. First, “to mo” can be used to mean the particle “to” along with the particle “mo”. I won’t be going over either of these particles in great… Read More »

The phrase “itsumo wa” in Japanese (what is the opposite of “always”?)

The Japanese particle “wa” in Japanese (written “は”) is a fundamental part of the language and is used very frequently, although it can difficult for students to learn since there is no direct parallel in English (see my blog post on “wa” and “ga”). To give a quick summary, this particle is used to establish the topic… Read More »

A tale of two Japanese “because” words: “node” (ので)vs “kara” (から)

Recently one of my readers asked about the difference between the Japanese expressions “node” (ので)and “kara” (から), so in this post I’ll go over that. Both of these words are roughly equivalent to the English “because” when used in the following patterns: [dictionary form verb/i-adjective] + から             (ex: 食べるから、寒いから) [noun/na-adjective]… Read More »