Monday, May 13, 2013

The word for "fall": taoreru vs. korobu (倒れる vs. 転ぶ)

倒れる "taoreru" is used for objects that fall down while stationary. Therefore, this is used for inanimate objects and for people who collapse.

転ぶ "korobu", on the other hand, is used for objects that fall while moving, so this is used for events like slipping while skiing or skating.

Akira Miura, Essential Japanese Vocabulary, Tuttle

Different kanji for "akeru" あける:開ける、空ける、明ける

Jim Breen's EDICT doesn't really provide the difference between the three different ways to write "akeru": 開ける、空ける、明ける, so I'm going to write this article for my reference. I hope others will find this useful as well. All definitions come from Kenkyusha's 5th Shinwaei Chuujiten and the Daijiten (研究者新和英中辞典・大辞典) as well.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"How long" in Japanese

The question phrase "how long" is usually expressed using by any of the following: どのくらい and どれくらい. This source says that, according to the 日本文法大辞典, どのくらい was commonly used in the Edo era, but どれくらい became more common in the Meiji era. Google Search shows that both are still commonly used today. くらい is loosely translated as "about" or "approximately".

Dono  kurai/dore kurai machimasu ka?
How long will we wait?

Anata wa Nihon ni dorekurai sunde imasu ka?
How long have you been living in Japan?

You can also be more specific by using 何日、何時間、何ヶ月, and so on.

Mainichi, nanjikan, shigoto wo shimasu ka?
How many hours do you work every day?

Nannichi gurai taizai shimasu ka?
About how many days will you stay?

Google search
Japanese for everyone


More commonly, we encounter position words such as となり, そば, まわり etc in the following grammatical construct:

____ の<となり、まわり, etc>

Interestingly, one of the things that is not taught is the construction

この・その・あの<となり、まわり, etc>

I've seen only そのとなり used (Japanese for Everyone by Nagara), and it means "the one beside it". However, I see no reason why it cannot be used for この・あの. Apparently, it's not very commonly used with そば, although it is commonly used with まわり based on Google Search.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

volitional + to omou ~おうと思う

"volitional + to omou" = "to intend to do such and such", "to think of doing such and such"

When talking about a third person, use "to omotte imasu."

ex. 今晩は薬を飲んで早く寝ようと思います。
Konban wa kusuri wo nonde hayaku neyou to omoimasu.
I think I will take some medicine and go to bed early tonight.

Ane wa arubaito wo sagasou to omotte imasu.
My older sister is thinking of looking for a part-time job.

Schaum's Outline: Japanese Grammar

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The word for "have": 持っている vs. には~がある/いる

Disclaimer: I didn't get this from any book, but this is something that I picked up by hearing these two expressions many times.

Consider the following sentences in English:

1. I have a car.
2. I have two brothers.
3. I have talent.

In English, the idea of possession of a "car", "brother", or "talent" are all handled by the same word, "have". However, in Japanese, there's another nuance that has to be taken care of.

What's the difference between having a car and a brother? One difference here is that you will always have a brother - it's something that's part of you - while you can buy or discard a car. Having a "brother" is inherent, and having a "car" is not. Note that this divide also holds for possession of animate/inanimate objects. Having a "cat" is inherent, but having a "house" is not.

In Japanese, these two nuances are covered by two different sentence patterns: ~を持っている (lit. to hold), and ~に~がいる/ある (lit. to exist in).

"while" - ながら

Note that when using ながら, the subject must be the same for the two actions that occur together! If not, use あいだ.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The word for convenient: べんり、つごうがいい

Elevators, escalators, bullet trains are べんり "benri" . They make life easier, and in that sense, are "convenient". Having to ride the train during crowded rush hour is ふべん ("fuben") "inconvenient"。

On the other hand, when something is convenient in the sense that it matches your schedule, the word to use in not べんり, but rather つごうがいい. When something is inconvenient for your schedule, then you use つごうがわるい。

Thursday, April 18, 2013

まだ + verb

Note that verbs that are used with まだ cannot be used in the past tense:

should be replaced by

The sentence means "I haven't done it yet", so since the state is ongoing, the progressive form has to be used.

まだ  can also be used with the present tense:

Mada samui desu.
It's still cold.

Mada atatakaku naranai.
It hasn't become warm yet.

How to say "popular" in Japanese: はやる and 人気

はやる "hayaru" and 人気 "ninki" are two different words that are both translated as "popular" in English. However, they are not exactly the same.

というか and ということ "to iu ka" and "to iu koto"

Much of this post was directly from Tae Kim's Guide to Japanese Grammar since I'm too lazy right now to write my own explanations.

直す vs. 治す "naosu"

There are two kanji for "naosu": 直す and  治す. They have different uses:

 治す = cure (a disease, a person)
直す = repair (something broken)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Direct Passive vs. Indirect Passive

In English, the passive form is used to tell something that was done on an object. For example,

"The car was repaired by the mechanic."

Note that in English, only transitive verbs (verbs that require objects) can be converted into a passive form. Thus, there are no passive forms for verbs like "go", "sneeze", and "die".

There is an exact equivalent of the English passive form in Japanese, which is called the direct passive form. The passive form is constructed as follows:

1. Godan verbs:
nai-stem + reru

ex. 使う "tsukau" -- 使われる "tsukawareru"

2. Ichidan verbs (aka "iru" or "eru" verbs)
nai-stem + rareru

ex. 食べる "taberu" -- 食べられる "taberareru"

3. Irregular verbs

する "suru" -- される "sareru"
くる "kuru" -- こられる "korareru"

The following sentences can be translated into Japanese directly:

These tools are used in building a house.
Korera no dougu wa ie wo tateru no ni tsukawareru.

It is said by everyone that (I'm/it's) strange.
Minna ni hen da to iwaremasu.

There is also another "form" of the passive in Japanese, called the indirect passive. This can also accommodate intransitive verbs, and has no direct equivalent in English. It is used to denote an action that was done by someone on the subject that is out of the subject's control. Most textbooks on Japanese call this the suffering passive, as this form is mostly used to denote an event that is unfortunate. An interesting insight by Tae Kim is that there is no such thing as a "suffering" passive: what makes the passive indicate "suffering" is that the action is done on the object without the object's control. This may make it easier to understand for some learners of Japanese.

The agent responsible for the inconvenience is followed by に. Compare the following sentences:

Ano inu ga ashi wo kanda.
That dog bit (my) leg.

Ano inu ni ashi wo kamareta.
(I) was bitten in the leg by that dog.

In Japanese, the 2nd sentence (which uses the passive form) indicates that the event is something unfortunate or something outside the subject's control (i.e., you couldn't help it but you were bitten in the leg by the dog), whereas the 1st sentence is more neutral.

When an intransitive verb is used in the passive form, that is most definitely a case of the indirect passive.

ex. 夫に死なれた女性は未亡人と呼ばれる。
Otto ni shinareta josei wa miboujin to yobareru.
A woman whose husband has died is called a widow.

In the example above, there are two verbs in the passive form: 呼ばれる and 死なれる. 呼ばれる is used in the direct passive sense (i.e., there is no indication of something unfortunate). The use of the passive form "shinareta" 死なれた indicates that the action of the husband dying affected the woman in some way.  Contrast this with a sentence using the active form instead:

Otto ga shinda josei wa miboujin to yobareru.

This is a more neutral construction, and the tone conveys a matter of fact.

Ultimate Advanced Japanese, Random House.
Tae Kim's Guide to Japanese blog. (for example sentences)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

noun +「とする」、「となる」

We've already discussed

+ となる "to naru"

in a previous post. It means "to become ". Now let's discuss something which I have never seen discussed in any grammar book, the pattern   + とする.

+とする = To consider/define/describe noun A as noun B.

He considers this as his specialty jump.

Define the length of this side of the square as "x".


How to use まるで

まるで "marude" has two basic meanings:

1. "just like"

When used in this manner, まるで is often followed by よう or みたい.

Sumisu san wa Nihongo ga jouzu de, marude Nihonjin no you da.
Smith is good in Japanese that he speaks like a Japanese.

Ano roujin wa marude akanbou mitai da.
That old man is just like a baby.

2. "completely"

In negative sentences, まるで has the same function as まったく "mattaku" and ぜんぜん "zenzen". However, まるで implies the speaker's negative judgement.

Miura, Akira. Essential Japanese Vocabulary, Tuttle.

Southeast or east-south?

In Japanese, there are two ways to express southeast: 東南 "tounan" = "east-south" or 南東 "nantou" = "south-east". However, they have different uses. Use "east-south" if you're talking about a particular location, e.g., Southeast Asia = 東南アジア. When talking about a particular direction, use "south-east": southeasterly wind = 南東の風.

Miura, Akira. Essential Japanese Vocabulary, Tuttle Publishing.

The word for "help":「助ける」と「手伝う」 tasukeru vs. tetsudau

Both words mean "help" in English. However, 手伝う "tetsudau" refers to helping someone with the same task. 助ける "tasukeru" can be used in place of 手伝う in some cases. However, unlike 手伝う, it can be used to refer to saving or rescuing someone (for this, 手伝う is NEVER used!) . From my encounters with the language, 助ける is more often used in this context of rescue than just helping someone complete a chore.

The word for "sun":「太陽」と「日」 taiyou vs. hi

Both 太陽 "taiyou" and 日"hi" mean "sun" in Japanese. However, 日 is a more anthropocentric term, meaning it refers to the sun as something in relation to human activities. If you're talking about the sun setting or rising, then 日 is the proper word to be used.

太陽, on the other hand, is used to refer to the sun as a body in the solar system. It is more scientific than 日. Thus, we have the words

taiyou no kokuten

taiyou no chokkei
diameter of the sun

I've also seen 太陽 used in songs:

恋してるチカラに魔法をかけて, 太陽がずっとしずまないように
koishiteru chikara ni mahou wo kakete, taiyou ga zutto shizumanai you ni
Put a spell on loving power so that the sun wouldn't set.

Hora taiyou ga, yasashii kaze ga, bokura wo mitsumete iru kara
Look, the sun and the gentle wind are gazing at us.

In these two examples, the sun seems to be considered as an animate object, almost like personification.

Akira Miura, Essential Japanese Vocabulary, Tuttle Publishing.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

「このごろ」と「このあいだ」 kono goro vs. kono aida

「このごろ」 "kono goro" means "these days", while 「このあいだ」"kono aida" means "the other day". That is, "kono goro" refers to something which has been going on for a while, while "kono aida" is used for a particular event that occurred recently.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


~ば, ~たら and ~と are all conditionals. They are not always interchangeable, as I have written here. But what does it mean when they follow the adjective いい "ii"?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The word for "world": "sekai" and "yononaka"「世界」と「世の中」の違い

The Japanese have many words for the word "world". However, they are not exactly interchangeable.

世界 "sekai" is commonly used for the physical world composed of the different countries and continents. In terms of nuance, it is related to 地球 "chikyuu", which literally means "the earth". Basically, 世界 can exist even without us human beings. Here are some real-life examples that come from some documentaries I've watched or from

sekai senshuken
World Championships

sekai no chouten
top of the world

Sekai niwa nanatairiku ga aru.
There are 7 continents in the world.

Ai no chikara wa sekai wo ugokasu.
Love makes the world go round.

世の中 "yononaka", on the other hand, is used to refer to society instead of the "physical" world that 世界 is often used for. It is related to words like 世間 "seken" and 社会 "shakai", which both mean "society". (More on those two words later."

Yononaka wa semai mono desu ne.
It's a small world, isn't it?

Kare wa yononaka wo shouki ni modoshita.
He brought the world back to its senses.

It seems though that there is some overlap, based on example sentences:

Boku wa shinsekai no kami to naru.
I will become a god of the new world. (from Death Note)

References:"Essential Japanese Vocabulary" by Akira Miura (for the example sentences)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The word for "improve": "joutatsu" and "koujou"「上達」と「向上」

Eijiro gives the following words for "improve": joutatsu suru 「上達する」and koujou suru 「向上する」. However, they are not identical and I've done some research on the difference.

Let's start with the sample sentences from (which uses the Tanaka corpus):

Kimi no Eigo wa joutatsu shite iru.
Your English is improving.

Kare no Eigoryoku wa ichijirushiku koujou shita.
His English abilities have remarkably improved.

Note that joutatsu was used with Eigo, while koujou was used with Eigoryoku. This gives us one difference between the two: for 上達, what is relevant is the thing which is being improved on (in this case, English), while for 向上, it refers to something that goes "up" -- in this case, it is the English ability, and not English the language per se. If we say

Eigo wa ichijirushiku koujou shita.
English (the language) has remarkably improved.

then we get a completely different meaning.

In some cases (like English ability), 上達 and 向上 can both be used with a minor change in sentence construction. However, in some cases, only one of the verbs can be used. 上達 is used for things where you can improve with practice, like sports, language abilities, piano skills, etc. 向上 has a wider scope, and includes improvements in condition, living standards, production, etc.

Here's a thread (in Japanese) about the same question. One of the replies says that 上達 means to "get better at something", while 向上 is more like "to advance in a good direction".

Friday, March 8, 2013

Reading practice: children's newspapers

Fortunately, some Japanese newspapers do release children's versions, such as the Yomiuri Shimbun and NHK News. This is great for practicing your kanji and increasing your vocabulary.

1. NHK News Web Easy

This one has furigana all over. Some people don't like it, but I do. I can read the kanji that I know without looking at the furigana, and then I just check the furigana after I finish guessing the reading. Also, the articles here are more recent. Best of all, this has AUDIO, so you also get to practice your listening skills as well!

2. Yomiuri Shimbun
The nice thing about the Yomiuri kids' edition is that you can find articles by grade level. So if you're only confident about your kanji level being 3rd grade, then you can still read articles that don't require higher level kanji. Kanji that at are above your grade level are spelled out in furigana.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

朝、午後、午前中 asa, gogo, gozenchuu

午後 ("gogo") means both "afternoon" and "P.M":

Ashita no gogo kite kudasai.
Please come tomorrow afternoon.

Ima wa gogo niji desu.
It's now 2PM.

午前 ("gozen") means "A.M.":

Ima wa gozen niji desu.
It's now 2AM.

朝 ("asa") means "morning", but only until mid-morning (around 9 or 10AM). It is not used in the sense of "A.M."

Ashita no asa kite kudasai.
Please come tomorrow morning (before mid-morning!).

If you wish to tell someone that he can come before noon, you can use 午前中("gozenchuu ") :
Ashita no gozenchuu kite kudasai.
Please come tomorrow morning (anytime before noon).

Or you can also write
Please come tomorrow morning before noon.

Main reference: Essential Japanese Vocabulary by Akira Miura, Tuttle Publishing.

Friday, February 22, 2013

「ごろ」と「ぐらい」goro vs. gurai

ごろ (goro) is used to indicate specific points in time:

sanji goro
about 3:00

shichigatsu goro
around July

Nanji goro desu ka?
About what time is it?

ぐらい (gurai) is used for quantities:

sambyaku metoru gurai
about 300 meters

Thursday, February 14, 2013

「必ず」と「きっと」 kanarazu vs. kitto

必ず (kanarazu) means "without fail", while きっと means "with high probability". For sentences which mean that something is or should be at or near 100% probability, we use 必ず:

Ningen wa daredemo kanarazu (not "kitto") shinu.
All human beings will die without exception.

Ashita no asa made ni kanarazu shukudai wo dashite kudasai.
Make sure to give your homework by tomorrow.

きっと (kitto), on the other hand, refers to the speaker's personal beliefs or inference.

Tanaka-san wa kitto kuru yo.
I'm sure Tanaka-san will come.

For past events, one can use きっと when talking about a personal evaluation of what happened:

Tarou wa kinou kurasu wo yasundakara, kitto (not "kanarazu") byouki datta no darou.
Because Tarou was absent yesterday, I'm pretty sure he was sick.

But when one is talking about a past event that is verified to be accurate, one must use 必ず:

Tanaka-san wa, paatii ga aru to kanarazu (not "kitto") kita.

Note that the past sentence is not a personal evaluation.

Note also that 必ず is not normally used for negative sentences, but きっと may be so used.

Alternatives to がんばって

The common expression for "Good luck!" in Japanese is 「頑張ってください」 (ganbatte kudasai), or its more direct equivalent,「 頑張れ!」. I came across a forum thread today and found pretty good alternatives, which I copy word for word below:

For taking tests
Good luck and take it easy! Everything is going to be fine with you!
Rirakkusu shite ganbatte! Kitto umaku iku yo!

When someone's down
No worries. It was just not your day! Take it easy.
Sonna ni kangaesuginaide. Tada un ga warukattan da yo.

☆☆ 励まし 言葉 ☆☆
Encouraging words
There's nowhere to go but forward.
Zenshin aru nomi.

Don't be afraid of making a mistake.
Machigaeru koto wo osorete wa ikenai.

Every failure is an opportunity to learn.
(直訳 : すべての失敗は学ぶ機会)
Shippai kara manabeba ii.

Continuity is power.
Keizoku wa chikara nari.

Monday, February 11, 2013

出る vs. 出かける deru vs. dekakeru

出かける means to go out of one's home.
出る means just to go out of any place.

Further, 出かける indicates an outing of some sort -- going to class, going to the mall, etc. If you're literally going just outside your house, 出る is more appropriate.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

「を出る」と「に出る」 wo deru vs. ni deru

Kurasu wo deru.
I will leave class.

Kurasu ni deru.
I will attend class.

Basically, the particle depends on the direction in which you're leaving. If you're leaving something, use を; if you're leaving for something, use に.

Words of the day

Been fansubbing a lot lately. Here are some words that I keep hearing in the vids.

演技 (えんぎ)


Sunday, January 27, 2013

「さがす」と「見つける」と「求める」 (sagasu vs. mitsukeru vs. motomeru)

さがす (sagasu) means "to search for", 見つける (mitsukeru) means to "find". In English, there is a difference between the two. However, in some cases, what we "look for" in English, we "find" in Japanese.

Shigoto wo mitsukeru (not sagasu) no wa muzukashii darou to omou.
I think looking for a job is difficult.
(Although, finding a job is actually more difficult!)

さがす (sagasu) is also for concrete things. For abstract things like happiness and peace, 求める (motomeru), which means "seek", should be used.

Ooku no hito ga koufuku wo motomete iru (not sagashite iru).
Many people are looking for happiness.

Friday, January 25, 2013

気分 vs. 気持ち (kibun vs. kimochi)

気持ち is more psychological, and is closer in meaning to 感情. On the other hand, 気分 is more physical, something you can't change at will. So when you feel physically sick, you say 気分が悪い. Using 「気持ちが悪い」 means you're in a bad mood.

Full details are found here. I'm copying it verbatim below just in case the site goes down. Note that there are some cases where both can be used interchangeably.

Kore, sore, are

When the referred object can be seen/sensed:

kore/kono = near the speaker
sore/sono = near the listener
are/ano = far from both the speaker and the listener

When the referred object is abstract, or something which cannot be seen/sensed, the nuances are different:

sore/sono = the speaker doesn't know about OR the speaker thinks that the listener doesn't know about it (at least one person is unfamiliar with the object)
are/ano = the speaker knows that the listener knows about it (both are familiar with the object)

A: きのう「るろうに剣心」という映画をみました。
Kinou "Rurouni Kenshin" to iu eiga wo mimashita.
I watched the movie "Rurouni Kenshin" yesterday.

B1: あれは面白い映画ですね。
Are wa omoshiroi eiga desu ne.

B2: その映画はどうでしたか。
Sono eiga wa dou deshita ka?

B1 has already watched the movie and so both A and B1 are familiar with it. That's why he uses あれ. On the other hand, B2 hasn't watched the movie yet, so その is used.

Reference: Essential Japanese Vocabulary by Akira Miura, Tuttle Publishing.

歩く vs. 歩いていく (aruku vs. aruite iku) + other forms

You use 歩く (aruku) when you are referring to any of the following: (1) act of walking, (2) your destination, or (3) where you are actually walking:

Ano hito wa aruku no ga hayai desu ne.
That person walks fast, doesn't he?

Gakkou made aruku.
I walk to school.

Asoko wo aruite iru hito wa dare deshou.
I wonder who walks over there.

Note the particles used for  歩く : まで and . If one wants to use or , then 歩いていく or  歩いてくる would be the proper forms used:

Gakkou ni aruite ikimasu.
I go to school on foot.

When one talks about walking up an incline, the appropriate verb is  歩いて登る (aruite noboru) or simply 登る ("climb"). The 歩いて before 登る can be thought of as an adverb meaning "on foot".

Kaidan wo aruite noboru / noboru.
I walk up / climb the stairs.

When one talks about taking a stroll, the correct verb is NOT 歩く, but rather, 散歩する (sanpo suru).

Monday, January 21, 2013

どんなに vs. いくら + ~ても (donna vs. ikura + temo)

Both どんなに and  いくら, when preceding a verb + + ~ても, mean "no matter how much ..." However, using どんなに requires an expression in the negative sense, while   いくら does not.

The following sentences come from the Japan Foundation Basic Japanese-English dictionary, Bonjinsha, 1986.

Donna ni isoidemo, kisha niwa ma ni aimasen.
No matter how much you hurry, you will not make it in time for the train.

Note that for nouns, どんな is used in the affirmative sense. It indicates something incompletely known to the speaker.
Ano hito ni kikeba, donna koto demo wakarimasu.
If you ask that person, he knows anything.

On the other hand, we can use いくら for both positive and negative verbs:

Ikura takakutemo kaimasu.
I'll buy it no matter how expensive it is.

There's no reply no matter how often you call.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

~きる and ~きれる (-kiru and -kireru)

Admittedly, this is a grammar point that I learned only recently (I kept hearing it in Japanese documentaries). ~きる and ~きれる are verb endings, attached to the i-stem of the verb. The kanji 切 is used for き in both words.

There are two main meanings:
1. to finish, to completely do something

Hitotsu no ryouri o tabekiranai uchi ni, mou tsugi no ryouri ga dete kimashita.
While I still haven't finished the first dish, the other dish was served.

Note that this construction is very similar to ~てしまう。However, ~きる doesn't have the implication of regret or unintentional action that ~てしまう does. When to use which? When there's a sense of intention, then ~きる seems to be the preferred form. When there's regret, ~てしまう is used. However, there are a lot of intermediate cases: for more details, please refer to Derek Schaab's reply.

2. to dare to do something

This is common for verbs like 思う and 言う. Literally, 思い切る and 言い切る mean to think or say something with finality. Personally, I treat these words as separate items in my vocabulary as they carry a certain nuance that other ~きる verbs don't.

Takai tokoro kara omoikitte tobiorimashita.
I made up my mind and jumped from a high place.

Iya na koto wa iya da to iikiru yuuki wo motenakereba naranai.
[You] need to have the courage to say that you don't want what you don't want.


This can be thought of as the potential form of  ~きる = "can finish, can complete".

Konna ni takusan no ryouri wa totemo tabekiremasen.
I can't finish eating this much food.

Hyougen shikiretenai, suberikiretenai jibun ga kuyashikatta.
I was frustrated with myself because I couldn't express well, I couldn't glide well.

I've also heard this used in the positive sense (in some news program, I think), although I still have to look for an actual example.

と+verb vs. に+verb (to vs. ni)

What's the difference between

Tanaka-san to hanasu.

Tanaka-san ni hanasu.

Both are grammatically correct. However, when we use the particle と, there is a sense of doing the action in the verb together. The first sentence can be translated to:

I speak with Mr. Tanaka.

On the other hand, when one uses に, the action is one-way:

I speak to Mr. Tanaka.

Other verbs where both  と and に can be used are 会う (au = meet) and 相談する (soudan suru=consult). The nuance in Japanese can be easily carried over to the English translation (ex. "I met her" vs. "I met with her".) However, some verbs like 結婚する(kekkon suru = marry) or けんかする (kenka suru = quarrel) require  と. In English, the words "marry" and "quarrel" can only be used in one way, although differently from their Japanese versions:

Correct: I married her.
Incorrect: I married with her.

Correct: I quarreled with my friend.
Incorrect: I quarreled my friend.

Reference: The Japan Foundation Basic Japanese-English Dictionary, Bonjinsha 1986. One of the best dictionaries ever printed.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Expressions involving 思い (omoi)

思いも設ける omoi mo ukeru -- to expect, to anticipate
思いもかけない omoi mo kakenai -- contrary to expectations, unforeseen
思いもよらない omoi mo yoranai -- unexpected, unforeseen

The root of "yoranai" is  寄る (yoru), which means "to visit, to drop in". So, 思いもよらない means that the thought of it hasn't even dawned on you.

The root of "kakenai" 掛ける (kakeru), means to hang [a picture frame], to expend [time, money], etc. So, literally, it can mean "it hasn't even taken a thought".

ところ vs. ばかり (tokoro vs. bakari)

Grammar for verb + ところ:

plain non-past verb + ところ = just about to do...
~ている+ ところ = am currently doing
~た+ ところ = have just done

ex. 食べるところです。
Taberu tokoro desu.
I'm about to eat.

ex. 食べているところです。
Tabete iru tokoro desu.
I am still eating.

ex. 食べたところです。
Tabeta tokoro desu.
I have just eaten.

~た+ところ can be replaced by ~た+ ばかり to indicate what you have just done. However, ところ is more immediate and definite, while  ばかり means "recently" (instead of "just a while ago") and thus gives a more personal meaning as to what "recently" means.

This blog entry gives a nice example. Suppose you saw a woman who has a wedding ring, and you think she just got married.

Kekkon shita bakari mitai desu.
She looks like she just got married.

You can't use ところ here because it wasn't like the woman got married minutes ago.

On the other hand, you say:

Kuukou ni tsuita tokoro desu.
I've just arrived at the airport.

It means you have literally just arrived at the airport.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

となる ("to naru") vs. になる ("ni naru)

I think I first heard (or perhaps I remember it because it was one of the classic lines in anime) となる in Death Note:

Boku wa shinsekai no kami to naru.
I will become the god of the new world.

Although the translation "to become" is the same regardless of whether the particle used is と or に, there are nuances involved. I'm going to summarize here what I found on Maggie's site.

Using と with なる creates a more dramatic tone. It implies that the new state (which precedes となる) is a "final" stage, or something that takes a lot of effort to reach. In the case of Light Yagami in Death Note, becoming a "god of the new world" is an ultimate goal, and it will take a lot of effort to reach that goal.

On the other hand, using に with なる creates a more neutral, and hence less dramatic tone. It also has the connotation that the change in one's state is natural, or not extraordinary.

The use of the particle と with なる is not common in daily conversation mainly because of this dramatic nuance. For most cases, you use に with なる, as you have probably been taught in Japanese class.

Otona ni narimashita.
(I) have become an adult.

Raishuu, daigakusei ni naru.
Next week, I will become a university student.
(If one uses と instead of に in this sentence, this would imply that the person had a difficult time trying to get to university.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

花になれ (Hana ni nare) by Sashida Fumiya (指田郁也) -- lyrics and English translation

This is a song that I recommend to those studying the language. It is easy to translate and provides a lot of practice on verb conjugation. The pronunciation of some words are not standard (for some reason the singer pronounces "wa" as "fa", for example), but overall, the pace is slow enough to understand some words.

Japanese lyrics from this site. I provide the transliteration and translation after the Japanese text. Unfortunately, much of the lyricism in the original is lost in my translation. ごめんなさい。

By the way, Yuzuru Hanyu, 2012 Japanese Figure Skating Champion, skated to this music in his exhibition program for the 2012-2013 season.

EDIT: replaced translation for "sorezore" to "our own" instead of "each other's"
EDIT: finally understood the nuance of "makenai"; don't know why I didn't get it before....

あなたは今笑えてますか? Anata wa ima waraetemasu ka?/Can you smile now?
どんな息をしてますか? Donna iki wo shitemasu ka? / How do you breathe? (Lit. What kind of breath do you take?)
人混みに強がりながら Hitogomi ni tsuyogarinagara / While pretending to be strong in front of people
「負けないように」と Makenai you ni to
歩いているんだろうAruite irun darou / You must be walking, as though there were no problem (lit. som that you won't lose)
足許のその花でさえ Ashimoto no sono hana de sae / Even those flowers beneath your feet
生きる事を 迷いはしない / Ikirukoto wo mayoi wa shinai / don't hesitate to live

「生きてゆけ」/  Ikite yuke / Keep on living
僕らは今、風の中で / Bokura wa ima, kaze no naka de/ Now, in the wind
それぞれの空を見上げてる / Sorezore no sora wo miageteru / We look up at our own skies
ぶつかっていいんだ / Butsukatte iin da / It's okay to bump into each other
泣いたっていいんだ / Naitatte iin da / It's okay to cry
どこかに答えはあるから / Dokoka ni kotae wa aru kara / Because somewhere out there, there is an answer
「あきらめないで」/ Akiramenaide / Don't give up
どんな明日も苦しいほど / Donna ashita mo kurushii hodo / No matter how painful the future will be
その命は強く輝く / Sono inochi wa tsuyoku kagayaku / Your (lit. that) life will shine brightly (lit. strongly)
風に立つ一輪 / Kaze ni tatsu ichirin / One flower stands in the wind
僕たちも花になれる / Bokutachi mo hana ni nareru / We can become flowers, too

あなたは今気づいていますか? / Anata wa ima kizuitemasu ka / Have you realized?
大きな力はその手にあること / Ookina chikara wa sono te ni aru koto / That you have power in your hands (lit. That there is big power in your hands)
勇気は今、光になる / Yuuki wa ima hikari ni naru / Courage will become light
未完成でいい / Mikansei de ii / It's all right even if you're not ready (lit. it's incomplete)
立ち向かえる/ Tachimukaeru / You can still fight (lit. oppose, face)
その胸に抱いてる種は / Sono mune ni itaiteru tane wa / The seed that you hold in your chest
いつかきっと 夢を咲かすよ / Itsuka kitto yume wo sakasu yo / will someday bloom dreams, for sure

「負けないで」/ Makenaide / Don't lose
誰もが今、時の中で / Daremo ga ima, toki no naka de / Now, in time,
それぞれの明日を探してる / Sorezore no asu wo sagashiteru / everyone looks for the future
傷ついていいんだ / Kizutsuite iin da / It's all right to be wounded
間違っていいんだ / Machigatte iin da / It's all right to make mistakes
何度も立ち上がればいい / Nandomo tachiagareba ii / Stand up no matter how many times you fall (lit. It would be good if you can stand up many times -- has the suggestive tone)
ただひとつだけ / Tada hitotsu dake / Just one thing
その未来へ手を伸ばして / Sono mirai e te wo nobashite / Reach out your hand to the future
真っすぐに咲く花のように / Massugu ni saku hana no you ni / Like the flower that blooms upright
人は誰も強くなれる / Hito wa daremo tsuyoku nareru / Everyone can be strong
あなたもきっとなれる / Anata mo kitto nareru / So can you

答えのない毎日に立ち止まっても / Kotae no nai mainichi ni tachidomatte mo / Even if we stop at each day without an answer
その涙は始まりのサイン / Sono namida wa hajimari no sain / Those tears are a sign of a beginning
ほら太陽が / Hora taiyou ga / Look, the sun
優しい風が / Yasashii kaze ga / and the gentle wind
僕らを見つめているから / Bokura wo mitsumeteiru kara / are gazing at us

「生きてゆけ」/  Ikite yuke / Keep on living
僕らは今、風の中で / Bokura wa ima, kaze no naka de/  Now, in the wind
それぞれの空を見上げてる / Sorezore no sora wo miageteru / We look up at our own skies
ぶつかっていいんだ / Butsukatte iin da / It's okay to bump into each other
泣いたっていいんだ / Naitatte iin da / It's okay to cry
かならず答えはあるから / Kanarazu kotae wa aru kara / Because for sure, there is an answer

「あきらめないで」/ Akiramenaide / Don't give up
どんな明日も苦しいほど / Donna ashita mo kurushii hodo / No matter how painful the future will be
その命は強く輝く / Sono inochi wa tsuyoku kagayaku / Your (lit. that) life will shine brightly (lit. strongly)
風に立つ一輪 / Kaze ni tatsu ichirin / One flower stands in the wind
僕たちも花になれる / Bokutachi mo hana ni nareru / We can become flowers, too

風に咲く一輪 / Kaze ni saku ichirin / One flower blooms in the wind
僕たちも花になれる / Bokutachi mo hana ni nareru / We can become flowers, too