20
votes
3answers
8k views

The many ways to say “and” in Japanese

In English, we just have one word for the conjunction and which works just fine for many categories, but in Japanese, there are separate words: と joins nouns together in a closed list や joins nouns ...
22
votes
9answers
6k views

What to say after someone sneezes

It's happened several times: I'll be chattering away with a friend in Japanese, and they'll sneeze, and without even thinking about it I'll revert back to English to say "bless you." Is there a set ...
34
votes
5answers
3k views

Is it proper to thank waitstaff, cashiers, etc. for their service?

In my Japanese class we were taught that one does not need to thank a cashier when they check you out or a server when they bring you your meal, but I always feel awkward remaining silent. Was my ...
15
votes
5answers
574 views

Can I say なるほど when talking with customers?

I was told in class by a Japanese teacher that なるほど can not be used when talking with people above, but in the same lesson we listened to a CD (training material) where a student was saying なるほど to ...
10
votes
2answers
427 views

Why are furigana for number kanji almost always omitted?

Here's an example sentence from 北斗の拳 which uses a fair amount of furigana throughout. xxxに残された命は三日... Which includes furigana for のこ, いのち, and, bafflingly, even the か of 日, but none for 三. While ...
15
votes
5answers
503 views

What is the origin and usage of the word いい?

According to Denshi Jisho, いい and よい share the same kanji, and that both roughly mean "good". Why are there two different pronunciations despite the similarity, and what are some ways to figure out ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

「~たじゃない」 expression in spoken Japanese

I noticed in an anime I watched, one of the characters said something like below: さっき食べたじゃない。 And what I think the meaning is: Didn't you just eat a few while ago? From what I have learned in ...
17
votes
6answers
13k views

Can somebody explain the various words and combinations thereof used for thanking?

To my knowledge there are three words which can be used in thanking and they seem to be usable together in some combinations: どうも (d­ōmo) どうもありがとう (dōmo arigatō) ありがとう (arigatō) ありがとうございます (arigatō ...
24
votes
3answers
896 views

Is there a rule for when to use くらい vs ぐらい?

I see phrases like 200人ぐらい, 半々ぐらい, and 何分くらい, which seem to indicate that くらい and ぐらい are synonymous, if not interchangeable. Is there any kind of rule for deciding which to use, or is it a stylistic ...
14
votes
3answers
26k views

Using なるほど (naruhodo) and やっぱり (yappari) in the same situation

I know, since they are of different word classes, なるほど (naruhodo) and やっぱり (yappari) may not be used interchangeably within the same sentence, but can they be used within the same situation instead? ...
11
votes
4answers
348 views

Is the use of 先生 and similar titles context sensitive?

While it is generally safe to use -さん when taking to someone and the use of -先生 is appropriate for use in a school environment when talking to a teacher, would the use of -先生 carry over outside of the ...
18
votes
3answers
4k views

Usage of なんて and なんか as emphasis

When are なんて and なんか used as emphasis in casual speech? Are they used when you're surprised, angry or can it be both? What sort of feeling does it convey to the listener compared to a normal sentence ...
10
votes
2answers
449 views

What's the difference in usage and nuance between やはり and やっぱり?

I know that we say にっぽん instead of にほん when we want to inject a little national pride into the word, but I've never had a good understanding of the difference in meaning/nuance/usage between やはり and ...
22
votes
1answer
1k views

What are the differences between 〜ので and 〜から?

When I was studying this, my 先生 kind of brushed over the point, and then years later, I realize that they are different, but I don't know exactly how. The only thing I understand is that ので is more ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the difference between 「ほど」 (hodo) and 「ぐらい」 (gurai)?

As in the question title, what is the difference between the two sentences below? 一{いち}時{じ}間{かん}ほどかかります。 ichijikan hodo kakarimasu. 一時間ぐらいかかります。 ichijikan gurai kakarimasu. How do we ...
10
votes
2answers
317 views

Which verbs have 辞書形 (dictionary forms) that look like ~ます conjugations?

I recently confused 励{はげ}ます for the ~ます form of 禿{は}げる. Although this actually lead to a rather amusing conversation, I'm wondering if there are other examples of this to watch out for?
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Is it ok to use ~て下さりました instead of ~ていただきました?

Just to avoid repeatedly saying いただきました too much, can I occasionally switch it with 下さりました or 下さいました?
11
votes
2answers
648 views

Do people actually look down on you if you use a regional dialect as a Gaijin?

My brother got on a scholarship to go to university in Japan, he was given a year an half language training and then had to apply to Japanese universities. I suggested he study in Osaka as I'd ...
13
votes
1answer
340 views

Difference between 重い and 重たい

In some situations everybody around me uses 重い, and when I went to the bicycle shop everyone was only using 重たい. Both mean heavy, but what is the difference in meaning or context between them?
61
votes
5answers
12k views

Differences among -たら、なら、-んだったら、-えば, etc

Japanese language has a lot of patterns for "if" clauses. What are the differences among the following patterns and how do we choose to use one over the others?: 行ったら 行くなら 行けば 行くんだったら 行くのなら 行くとしたら ...
8
votes
2answers
217 views

About cutting the sentences short

I've been told during my Japanese classes, and I've also observed in anime and Japanese dramas & movies, that sometimes when talking Japanese people tend to stop halfway and omit the end of ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Difference between 行ったから and 行ってから and 行くから

What is the difference in usage between 行ったから and 行ってから and 行くから? Is there a sense of sequence implied in one and not the other? In the following examples where would i be buying the book and where ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

ありがとうございます vs. ありがとうございました

When thanking someone, what is the rule for using ありがとうございます vs. ありがとうございました? My sensei taught us to use ありがとうございました when the action you're thanking someone for occurred in the past, but I've heard ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

About 「同{おな}じ」 and 「同{おな}じく」

As far as I know, 「[同じ]{おなじ}」 is not a 形容詞{けいようし} (-i adjective) so how does it become 「[同じく]{おなじく}」? Or does 「同じく」 not come from 「同じ」? Also, are there any other non i-adjectives that have -ku ...
31
votes
1answer
8k views

Why are the particles “は” (ha⇒wa), “へ” (he⇒e), and “を” (wo⇒o) not spelled phonetically?

As far as I know only three words (or particles) have irregular, non-phonetic spelling in Japanese: "は" - The topic particle is pronounced "wa" but the kana is otherwise pronounced "ha" "へ" - The ...
9
votes
1answer
662 views

In which dialects have the sounds “ゐ” (wi) and “ゑ” (we) been preserved, and are their kana still occasionally seen?

In Nate Glenn's answer to bdonlan's qestion "Why were ゐ and ゑ eliminated?" he states: "Wi" and "we" are still in some dialects, but standard Japanese does not have those sounds. My question is ...
9
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
20
votes
2answers
13k views

When Japanese say KY on the Internet, what does it mean exactly?

This comment can be seen very often on Japanese message boards.
21
votes
4answers
4k views

What are the main differences between 京都弁(Kyoto-ben) and 大阪弁(Osaka-ben)

These two dialects will sound very similar to an untrained ear. Can anyone highlight the main differences between these two dialects?
10
votes
3answers
16k views

What are the differences/characteristics between katakana, kanji and hiragana?

I know that romaji is the conversion from those to the roman alphabet, but what are the differences or characteristics between katakana, kanji, and hiragana? Are they used on a different context? Is ...
10
votes
8answers
2k views

What are the advantages/disadvantages of writing in romaji instead of in kanji and kana?

Romaji is somewhat of a conversion from kanji and kana to the Roman alphabet. What are the disadvantages of learning only or mostly romaji aside from being unable to read/write in kanji? I don't ...
23
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is は pronounced as わ when used as a topic particle?

The particle は is pronounced similarly to わ (unlike the rest of the ハ行 kana) when used as a particle; why is this? What historical shifts went on to cause this irregularity?
20
votes
4answers
747 views

What are the origins of ヶ?

The ヶ in e.g. 一ヶ月 is a bit of an odd character - it looks a lot like a small version of the katakana ケ, but is it derived from that katakana originally? Or is it a normal kanji? Or is it something ...
8
votes
1answer
444 views

What are the most prominent features of Yamagata-ben?

I'll be visiting Yamagata City soon and would like to ask: as an armchair linguist what features of the local dialect to look out for? what are some common words, phrases, pronunciation differences ...
14
votes
4answers
951 views

What's the difference between ね and な as tag questions?

What's the difference between ね and な as tag questions? For example: そうですね vs そうだな Is there any difference in level of politeness? Does one sound more masculine than the other? Edit: The examples ...
20
votes
4answers
18k views

What's the difference between ようこそ and いらっしゃいませ?

Both "ようこそ" (y­ōkoso) and "いらっしゃいませ" (irasshaimase) seem to mean "welcome" but what are the precise circumstances under which each should be used? "いらっしゃいませ" (irasshaimase) is uttered in unison by ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

Are there any old loanwords from Korean, especially any not written in katakana?

Given the close proximity and long history of interaction of various kinds within East Asia, the great influence of Chinese in both Japanese and Korean, and the similar structures of Japanese and ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Passive-transitive-verb vs. Intransitive-verb (他動詞の受け身 vs. 自動詞)

I think I know the answer to this, but it still creeps up in my mind all the time; something I'd like to research more. I want to know technical differences as well as common usage. When do you use ...
30
votes
4answers
15k views

How to choose between “よん” (yon) vs “し” (shi) for “四” (4) and “しち” (shichi) vs “なな” (nana) for “七” (7)?

Two numbers in Japanese have two pronunciation alternatives. 四 / 4 can be pronounced either "よん" (yon) or "し" (shi) 七 / 7 can be pronounced either "しち" (shichi) or "なな" (nana) I know that "し" ...
9
votes
2answers
557 views

Fun with synonyms - “to grab/catch/capture”

Here's a question for you experts. I've actually asked this to my Japanese friends, but I want to see how you guys answer too. Explain the differences in the following verbs and which one(s) appear ...
10
votes
1answer
331 views

What is the difference between these four forms of “to do”?

There are at least four verbs that mean "to do" in Japanese: する, なさる, いたす, and やる. What is the purpose of each, and when is it appropriate to use them?
37
votes
5answers
15k views

Usage of すみません (sumimasen) versus ごめんなさい (gomen'nasai)

There are several situations in which one of these words (phrases?) should be used but there's not usually a 1:1 mapping between any two languages. Get somebody's permission. English: "excuse me", ...
7
votes
2answers
377 views

Is the grammar of 心の冷たい人 idiomatic?

The phrase 心の冷たい人 (which is given by Japanese-English dictionary on OS X) looks wrong to me, but given that it's an example in a respected dictionary and confirmed by tens of thousands of Google hits, ...
6
votes
3answers
331 views

When learning new verbs, is it best to memorize both the transitive and intransitive versions up front?

How do you handle learning new verbs that have both transitive and intransitive forms? Is it best to immediately memorize both forms?
19
votes
6answers
2k views

Is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) a good measure of my Japanese language ability?

Given that there has been discussion by the Japanese government to use the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) as one of the measures by which permanent residences or citizenship might be ...
13
votes
2answers
406 views

What is the meaning and root of 意味くじピーマン?

Recently a friend of mine threw the term 意味くじピーマン (imi kuji pi-man) into a story she was telling, and it totally threw me off. At first I thought, because I wasn't sure how to parse the くじ part, it ...
20
votes
4answers
10k views

What is 「々」 and how does it affect meaning and pronunciation?

I've seen this symbol in various places, such as 「日々」, 「色々」, and 「人々」. What is it, and how does it affect the meaning and pronunciation of the word?
6
votes
3answers
24k views

How to write hiragana and katakana in Windows? [closed]

How to write hiragana and katakana in Windows (XP/Vista/7)? My current locale is Swedish and I have a hard time writing hiragana and katakana characters. Usually I have a txt-file open in notepad and ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the significance of の in 「鳥の詩」?

I've seen it used in many places, and sometimes it feels like a connection between words. For example in 「鳥の詩」 (tori no uta), it looks as if the の is connecting 鳥 (tori) and 詩 (uta), and I would like ...
13
votes
2answers
7k views

How to use へ (-e), に (-ni), まで (made) and の方 (no-hō) with destination and direction?

It is common to ask the difference between just "へ" (-e) and "に" (-ni) but it seems to get even more complicated when you also mix in "まで" (made) and even "の方" (no-hō). When Japanese people ask me ...

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