Tag Archives: foreign language

The Japanese volitional form (~しよう、〜しましょう): much more than just “Let’s”

This time I’d like to focus on the volitional form in Japanese which an important pattern often used in both written and spoken speech. Many times I have seen this form introduced to beginner students of Japanese as meaning “Let’s …”, and while this is one of the common usages there are several more. I first… Read More »

The Japanese 〜ている form used to express a state

The progressive tense, which involves a 〜て form of a verb plus いる (ex: 食べている) is very convenient for English-speakers learning Japanese since it has similarities to the “-ing” form (ex: “I am eating”). This usage means something is actively ongoing. This is all well and good, but the fact is that there is a… Read More »

Dreaming in Japanese

Often when learning a foreign language, one has to not only learn verbs and nouns, but also natural combinations of the two which make expressions. For example, let’s take the following English sentence. Yesterday I had a good dream. If we were to translate this word-by-word to Japanese (shifting around words for correct word ordering),… Read More »

The real story on three Japanese conditionals (すると、したら、すれば) [suru to, shitara, sureba]

I think it’s fair to say that all modern languages (which the exception of those constructed by academics) grow and evolve in response to the times and the culture of the countries speaking those languages. This means that there aren’t many hard and fast rules that work 100% of the time. It’s almost as if exception… Read More »

The Art of Conversation (in a foreign language)

Of all of the activities we do on a daily basis, I feel that the act of communicating with another person using spoken language and a series of back and forth exchanges, what we call “conversation”, holds a very unique place. If you think about all the things involved in this process, and how closely it is… Read More »

Survey: What is your level of advancement in Japanese?

I’d like to wish a Happy New Year to everyone and best of luck with whatever foreign language(s) you are studying, if any. I’m always curious to learn more about those who read my blog, and it helps me customize the content to fit my audience. With that, I’ve created a poll that focuses on… Read More »

ある (aru) and いる (iru) in Japanese: two ways to express “existence”

When learning a foreign language, sometimes you run across words or expressions that, compared to your native language, can actually be more logical or simpler in some way. ある and いる are a pair of verbs in Japanese that are very fundamental and should be taught early in any language acquisition course. These verbs express… Read More »

Japanese grammar focus: これ/それ/あれ/どれ vs. こう/そう/ああ/どう

In any basic Japanese textbook you likely be taught about the ’こそあど’ words, which refer to something that is ‘close’ (either emotionally or physically), ‘far’, ‘very far’, or ‘uncertain’ (respectively). For example, the below set of four are probably the easiest to grasp as a beginner: これ – this それ – that あれ – that… Read More »

Foreign Language Immersion Trick: Satellite TV

Recently I had the opportunity to visit a relative in Arizona who had Dish Satellite TV (http://www.dish.com), and happened to contain a single channel of Japanese broadcast TV. At first I thought that it was cool such a channel could be seen in America, but after all in the age of the internet nearly any… Read More »

Two modes of foreign language reading: content-focused and language-learning-focused

When reading in a foreign language we are not yet fluent in, our brain is struggling to do a great deal of things simultaneously. We’re desperately trying to grasp the overall meaning of the passage at hand, while looking up individual word meanings and pronunciations. We are also trying to think in terms of grammar… Read More »