Japanese phrase ender し (shi)

By | May 4, 2014

It’s time for one of those posts which I rarely do – one where I focus on a single word. This time not only is it a single word, but a single character and single sound.

“し” can mean everything from poetry (詩) to death (死), but in this case I’m referring to neither. Rather I’m talking about when し is used at the end of a phrase (or a sentence), as in the following example:

  • 付き合ってあげるよ。宿題もう終わった。暇だし。

This word expresses a feeling of “and”, or “in addition”, not unlike the Japanese expressions “それに” or “しかも”. So the above sentence could be translated as:

  • I’ll hang out with you. My homework is done, and I have free time.

Here’s another example sentence:

  • そのレストランは安い、美味しいからしょっちゅう食べてるよ。
  • That restaurant is cheap and tasty so I eat there all the time.

Here the main purpose of the し (after 安い)is just to continue the sentence. Changing things to “安くて美味しいから” wouldn’t change the overall meaning much, if at all.

One subtle difference between these two usages is the first one (暇だし) is used at the end of a sentence, and the second example (安いし。。。)is used in the middle. But in both cases the concept of ‘this… and something else’ is embedded in the word. Sometimes, as in both of these examples, “し” also has a light nuance of giving a reason for something.

This word is somewhat informal, and used less (if at all) in polite Japanese (敬語). Also, it doesn’t have a very intellectual image to it.

For example, there is a Japanese TV celebrity by the name of Rola (ローラ) who frequently speaks with this expression and draws out the し sound. Although I think it is all an act, her character is very ditzy and seems like she has a two-digit IQ. So when you are using し, make sure to not overly draw out that sound, unless you a young girl and want to project that sort of image. (:

As long as you use this expression wisely, I think you’ll get a great deal of mileage out of it. I used to preface many of my sentences with  “それに。。” but I realized that removing それに and adding し to the end of my sentence was a whole lot more natural.

I’ll give one more example:

  • 日本語の勉強は難しいけど楽しいし、やりがいもある。
  • Studying Japanese is difficult but it’s also fun and rewarding.

For those who want to learn more about this word’s usage, here is a great article in Japanese with many example sentences and additional details about the word.









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