Phrases with fixed words used as a single unit, many of which are idioms.

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5
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2answers
271 views

What does the phrase らしいと言えばらしい mean?

I am reading a book where one character describes another's reading habits, and the person she is talking to says 「らしいと言えばらしいな」. From context, he seems to be saying that her reading habits are ...
7
votes
2answers
187 views

Does バラの寝床 come directly from the English expression “bed of roses”?

I came across this phrase in a Haruki Murakami short story, and I was wondering if this is just a literal translation of the English phrase? I tried googling the Japanese phrase, but I could only ...
6
votes
1answer
168 views

What does 勝つべくして勝った mean?

I came across this phrase while looking at the meaning for べく: 勝つべくして勝った It seems to be a set phrase, but I'm not 100% on the meaning. To win in order to win? To try really hard to win? To be ...
0
votes
1answer
124 views

Different permutations of 気 [closed]

Lots of words/expressions/phrases use 気 in one way or another. For example 気をつけて, 気味, 気になる, 気がつく, 気がする, 天気 etc... Is there a reference somewhere for the seemingly more "interesting" phrases (like the ...
7
votes
0answers
4k views

What is the difference between お元気に、お元気で、気をつけて? [duplicate]

I want to say hello to a friend I haven't seen for a long time, and end my message with "take care". All of お元気{げんき}に, お元気{げんき}で and 気{き}をつけて mean "take care", so which one suits my case? How should I ...
12
votes
2answers
295 views

Rare/Obsolete verb forms

I have noticed that some verbs have this "rare" or old form that is no longer used much (if at all). Here are some examples. おそる: おそるべき者 → One who is feared ほむ: ほむべきお方【かた】 → Seen often in my ...
3
votes
2answers
822 views

Thank you for X: ~をありがとうございます

I've often heard this pattern, particularly in things like メッセージ/メール を ありがとうございます。 Since ありがとうございます is an adjective, why is it acceptable to use を in this situation? That seems about as ...
7
votes
1answer
217 views

Is it OK to keep saying ありがとう

I was asking a Japanese person for some help and noticed that I kept saying ありがとうございます over and over as they helped me more. Culturally, is it OK to keep saying it multiple times in Japanese? Would it ...
8
votes
2answers
323 views

“Grammatically-correct” particle-less phrases/sayings

I know that within an informal/familiar setting, people often leave out particles. Whether or not this is grammatically correct I'm not positive, but for the sake of this question, I'll say that it's ...
4
votes
1answer
228 views

Questions on the Japanese equivalent of “window of opportunity”

In English we have a saying "window of opportunity" which means that there is specific time period where a certain event can occur. Based on that expression we talk about a "launch window" when it ...
5
votes
3answers
324 views

How often is だが used in everyday conversation?

I hear often in anime and is translated as "but". And normally, it's at the beginning of the sentence. But I wonder if it used outside of the TV/movie world. For instance, きみ, I hear very often in ...
6
votes
2answers
385 views

When is it appropriate to use ごくろうさま?

I've seen お疲れさま and ご[苦労]{くろう}さま used to say "Thank you" after some had done work of some type. After reading the お疲れさま thread, I realize that the two are not interchangeable. So when do you use ...
2
votes
1answer
177 views

Explain what はめになる is and give some examples

I heard that it means something like "to get stuck with something." Can you explain what this means and give some examples?
3
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the Japanese for “I'll check it out, I will try and see”?

I found a form using 見て, and it seemed very useful, but I could never remember it. It means something like "I will try it out" or "I will try and see", and the Japanese form is something like 自転車見て... ...
7
votes
2answers
142 views

Dismissing an expectation

What can be said when I need to dismiss an expectation? Here are some examples of what I mean by "expectation": I ask someone what time it is, then I remembered that I'm actually wearing a watch. ...
5
votes
1answer
308 views

How to express “more than something”?

I was wondering if there is a form I can use to express "more than X". For example, "reading more than 200 pages a day is a challenge". Or maybe something like, "reading as much as 200 pages a day ...
9
votes
1answer
235 views

What's the difference between 電光石火【でんこうせっか】 and 疾風迅雷【しっぷうじんらい】

They both seem to mean "quick as lightning". What are the nuances between them? In what sort of context would they be used? Are they interchangeable? etc.
12
votes
1answer
4k views

Getting your haircut in Japan

I have been living in Japan now for the last 3 months and my hair is starting to look like it needs a cut. But I have never been to a Japanese barbers before so as you can imagine I am a little ...
5
votes
2answers
172 views

Is there a general way to express how you feel?

For example, while I am running I feel great. This makes me feel happy. When doing lots of work for low wages I feel tired. What are the common ways to express my physiological/psychological state?
4
votes
2answers
154 views

Emphasis instead of negation in 「そんなバカなことはありません」

In this quote by Akihiro Miwa, 「そんな~ことはありません」 isn't used the way I'd expect it to be: 努力{どりょく}をしない人も[平等]{びょうどう}になどと、そんなバカなことはありません。 It's (extremely?) foolish to treat people who don't make an ...
5
votes
1answer
539 views

What is な-particle doing in `ってなわけで`?

I noticed that ってなわけで is commonly used as a substitute for というわけで in colloquial speeches, but what exactly is the purpose of the な-particle in that phrase? Does it make the context that the phrase ...
7
votes
1answer
160 views

Usage and nuance of あまりに vs あまりにも

WWWJDIC lists both あまりに and あまりにも to mean "too much; excessively; too" but are they exactly the same in term of usage and nuance? あまりに 《余りに》 (adv) (uk) too much; excessively; too Ex: ...
7
votes
2answers
264 views

The role of と particle in 「二度としない」

What is the role of と particle in 「二度としない」? Is it quotative, adverbialisation, change of state or supposition? Also, what extra nuances does it contribute to the expression compared to if も is used ...
6
votes
2answers
131 views

Why is there 丼 {どんぶり} in 丼勘定 {どんぶりかんじょう}?

How does 丼勘定 {どんぶりかんじょう} (sloppy accounting) related to 丼 {どんぶり} (bowl of rice with toppings)? I mean, why どんぶり of all foods and things? Was there special history for the origin of this set phrase?
5
votes
1answer
134 views

ご無沙汰いたしました — OK for electronic communications?

In a recent comment exchange on ELU.SE, a Japanese man (my senior in years, and a "guest" in the forum whose questions I had answered regularly for some time, but not much lately as I have been ...
5
votes
1answer
165 views

Regarding は数あれど (or possibly just あれど )

The following sentence is from a newspaper article メレンゲ菓子は数あれど、これほど繊細なものは珍しい。 あれど = あるけど makes sense to me in the context, and this seems to be supported by my searches so far - is it simply a ...
11
votes
2answers
273 views

What exactly is 「だらし」?

WWWJDIC states that 「だらしない」 can be written with kanji as 「だらし無い」, which suggests that the phrase is a negative construction that uses 「無い」, unlike words like 「すくない」 and 「あぶない」. Furthermore, 「だらしが無い」 ...
8
votes
1answer
412 views

「かしこまる」と言う自動詞について / About the verb “kashikomaru”

皆さんこんにちは、 日本語で質問がお聞きしてみたいのですが、言葉や文法を間違えたらお許しください。 では、「かしこまりました」とは誰かに命令や注文を頼まれた場合などの返事とすることもよくありますが、「かしこまる」と言う自動詞がこの表現以外で使われる場合はありますか? "kashikomarimashita" is usually used as a response to somebody's ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

Must do : ~なければならない vs ~なくてはいけない

What are the differences when using ~なければならない and ~なくてはいけない, or their colloquial contracted forms ~なきゃ and ~なくちゃ when saying "must do"? For example, what is the difference in the nuance and usage of ...
3
votes
1answer
289 views

The phrase 乞うご期待

What does the phrase 乞うご期待 mean in English? Can you show some example sentences?
7
votes
1answer
365 views

How to parse the proverb [艱難]{かんなん}[汝]{なんじ}を[玉]{たま}にす?

I found this particular proverb on WWWJDIC when I looked up for なんじ : [艱難]{かんなん}[汝]{なんじ}を[玉]{たま}にす. It is translated into English as: Hardship makes the man. How do we parse the proverb? I know 艱難 ...
10
votes
1answer
238 views

Contraction of particle の to ん before nouns in colloquial Japanese

I am familiar with contraction of の to ん before です (and variants で, だ, でした etc) but I noticed that の is also contracted before 家 in spoken set-phrases like あたしんち and おれんち. Are there any other ...
9
votes
3answers
573 views

Is there a polite saying like “May I?”

Looking for a phrase that has the same meaning as "May I?" in English. One that would work in situations that would indicate I would like to try to solve a problem at hand, or receive control over ...
6
votes
2answers
223 views

What's the meaning of すます in 耳をすませば?

What's the meaning of すます in 耳をすませば? How would you translate this?
15
votes
4answers
679 views

The significance of 前 {まえ} in Japanese language and culture

I noticed that the 前 is a handy kanji character in Japanese language. It is used in many words including but not limited to: 名前 {なまえ} : Given name 手前, お前 : You 当たり前 {あたりまえ} : Natural, ...
6
votes
2answers
186 views

Anti-causal/Non-causal relationship

How do I form a sentence of these patterns "X does not arise from Y", "X not due to Y", "X not because of Y", "There are other reasons for X". Since obviously I cannot simply slap ない onto から or ので to ...
6
votes
1answer
200 views

Where's the missing い in ありがた迷惑【ありがた めいわく】?

One of the most useful turns of phrase in Japanese is ありがた迷惑【ありがた めいわく】, which is that of being helpful in a way that is not helpful. It can cover situations where one is being helpful to ...
13
votes
2answers
324 views

Usage of 「ごめんください」

In all the anime and j-drama I have watched all these years, as far as I can remember, the only scenario where the greeting 「ごめんください」 is used is when the characters are in front of an ajar or open ...
12
votes
1answer
359 views

What is that thing yelled in Japanese when starting something?

When starting some activity, I've heard something like 'Se..inou... ' (I'm not sure what are the specific words for this). The context for this word I'd think is pretty much the same as when saying ...
17
votes
4answers
948 views

How would one convey “get over it” in Japanese?

As a foreigner in Japan, one has to get used to the fact that some Japanese will compliment you on things that are too mundane to really deserve mention. Like the fact that you can use chopsticks, eat ...
2
votes
2answers
361 views

Share your list of stock phrases / phrase templates

Do you keep a list of set phrases that you use often, or phrases that you'd use someday? I do. Here's mine, a list of phrases I've collected from work emails since three years ago. Such a list, while ...
6
votes
1answer
167 views

Does もあれば have set phrases?

I came across a sentence using もあれば where there wasn't a conditional. あれば got translated as sometimes: 名詞から動詞が派生していることもあれば、その逆のこともある。 Sometimes a verb is derived from a noun and sometimes it is ...
5
votes
3answers
391 views

Significance of ところ in set phrases ところで and ところが

In two conjunctions 「ところで」 and 「ところが」 that mean "by the way / incidentally" and "however / nevertheless" respectively, what is the significance of the word 「ところ」? How does ところ + で give the nuance of ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

How do you ask for “the bill” at a restaurant?

This is probably a bit of a silly question, but what do you say in Japanese when you're asking for the bill in a restaurant? Or is it unusual to say anything at all? When I was in Japan I could never ...
8
votes
3answers
357 views

Why is it お[腹]{なか}が[空]{す}いた but [腹]{はら}[減]{へ}った?

Is there any particular reason why the noun おなか goes with verb すく while the noun はら goes with the verb へる? Would it be weird if I use おなかへった or はらすいた? While on the same topic, does the 'starving' ...
12
votes
3answers
26k views

When is it appropriate to use お疲れ様 (otsukaresama)?

I know the general meaning of using お疲れ様です/でした to express gratitude for some work, but I'm a bit fuzzy about appropriate times to use it. I know it is a common saying when leaving for the day, and ...
12
votes
1answer
572 views

Why “社会の窓” (shakai no mado)?

A few years ago I was told by a Japanese friend "社会の窓" (shakai no mado). It was explained after some giggling that this is what is said to a man who has inadvertently left his fly open, and that it ...
8
votes
3answers
411 views

What is the difference between {出来る限り} and {出来るだけ}?

EDICT gives almost similar translation for these two expressions: 出来る限り; できる限り 【できるかぎり】 (n) as ... as one can できるだけ 《出来るだけ》 (exp) (uk) as much as one can; as much as possible; if at all ...
7
votes
1answer
413 views

translation for “It serves as a good reminder for me”?

After I've say watched a film with some friends (or read a fable or something) and learned something from it, i want to say "It [the teachings of this fable/film] serves as a good reminder for me". ...
7
votes
2answers
486 views

Significance of the kanji 茶 in the set phrase 滅茶滅茶{めちゃめちゃ} / 目茶目茶{めちゃめちゃ}

While having fun looking up random words in my dictionary software, I found out that the phrase "めちゃめちゃ", which is often used in colloquial sentences like "めちゃめちゃかわいい" has two kanji variants: 滅茶滅茶 ...