成句. Phrases with fixed words used as a single unit, such as idioms. For questions about a particular idiom, please use the tag "idioms".

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6
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2answers
331 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
221 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
187 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
133 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
384 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
422 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
257 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
517 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". ...
5
votes
3answers
366 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
566 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
587 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
207 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
155 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
509 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
263 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.
7
votes
1answer
388 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
190 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?
8
votes
3answers
417 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' ...
5
votes
1answer
157 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
825 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
603 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
8k views

What does よろしくおねがいします mean when departing?

When on business in Japan last year, a Japanese colleague said よろしくおねがいします to me as the group were leaving after dinner. I'm aware of its usage in initial greetings, as is usually taught in ...
4
votes
2answers
162 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
223 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
308 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
137 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?
6
votes
1answer
190 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
345 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?
6
votes
1answer
184 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
279 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
873 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
305 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
958 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
1answer
219 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
194 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
383 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
491 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
470 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
520 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
959 views

At work, when is it not ok to finish an email with どうぞよろしくお願いします?

Whenever I communicate with my Japanese coworkers, I always finish my emails with どうぞよろしくお願いします。I guess in the context of an email in English it could be akin to saying "Cheers" "Regards", so I unless ...
15
votes
3answers
9k views

What to say after someone dies

What is the proper response when someone tells you, for example, that their mother has died? Relatedly, what should you do to express your sympathy? Do you send a card? flowers? bake a casserole?
8
votes
2answers
780 views

What is the difference between 「はじめてのX」 {hajimete no X} and 「はじめのX」 {hajime no X}?

There is a song with title {hajimete no asa} and another song with title {hajime no hi}. There is also a manga title {hajimete no aku}, and not to forget the popular boxing manga {hajime no ippo}. So ...