Tag Archives: grammar

Japanese grammar spotlight: だって (datte) vs だから (dakara)

In this post I want to focus on two common Japanese words that sound similar but have very different meanings––in fact opposite meanings. These words can have a few different usages, but I will be focusing on the following usage, where だって or だから begins a new sentence. 「sentence A」。だって「sentence B」 「sentence A」。だから「sentence B」 Besides… Read More »

まえ (mae) vs まで (made): what’s the difference?

Words that sound similar can cause trouble for those learning a foreign language, especially if the words have similar meanings. In this post I want to go over the difference between the Japanese words ”mae” (written either as まえ or 前) and “made” (usually written as まで, but in rare cases as 迄), which are… Read More »

Japanese grammar: An overview of the “te” form (and an important use nobody taught you)

The “te” form of verbs, sometimes (confusingly) referred to as the “gerund” form, is a cornerstone of Japanese grammar. Not only are there only a few verb forms in the language, but the “te” form has a variety of uses. In this post I’ll go over the main ones, including one you may not be… 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 »

Tricky Japanese verb pair: 預ける / 預かる (azukeru / azukaru)

In Japanese, there are many transitive/intransitive verb pairs, whereas in English we use often word order to describe whether an action is transitive or intransitive. Masting these pairs is an important step in becoming fluent in Japanese. As a simple example, let’s take つける (tsukeru), a transitive verb with a bunch of meanings, but for… Read More »

Japanese expression ありそうでなかった (ari sou de nakatta), and some tasty soy sauce

Whenever I am at around Japanese food products, I always try to read the labels to learn new words, especially since there are many food-specific words and expressions that you won’t normally hear in daily conversation. The other day I was reading the label for a “Butter Soy Sauce” product (バターしょうゆ) and came across some… Read More »

A tale of particles: “ni” (に) vs “wo” (を), the verb “kizuku” (気づく), and a bus full of moles

Particles––small words that have big grammatical meaning––are one of the challenges to real mastery of Japanese. The particles “wo” (を) and “ni”(に) generally have fairly defined roles. “wo” is used when something is the direct object of an action (ex: りんごを食べる / eat an apple) whereas “ni” is used for the direction of an action… Read More »

The correct way to describe a negative state using そう (sou): “なさそう” vs. “なそう” (nasasou vs. nasou)

Sometimes in languages there are grammatical rules which are tricky or obscure such that even native speakers have difficulty with them. One example in English could be comma usage (although depending on who you ask, there is some subjectivity involved there). In this article, I’d like to go over an aspect of Japanese grammar that… Read More »