20
votes
3answers
1k views

When is Vている the continuation of action and when is it the continuation of state?

Last night, when I asked my wife to send an email to me, she said もう送っている which I took to mean that she was "sending the message". (The message had a big attachment so I imagined that it could take a ...
20
votes
6answers
630 views

Pluralization in Japanese: usage of -たち and -ら

I know that -たち and -ら pluralize the nouns they come after (or indicate a group that the noun is part of), but most of the time the plural in Japanese is implicit. When is it appropriate or necessary ...
19
votes
3answers
4k views

Why was “一匹” used for Godzilla?

I've heard someone say that "一匹" was used at the end of the original Godzilla movie, with Dr. Yamane saying that Godzilla wasn't the last one of "them". Why did he use that, as opposed to "一頭"? Do ...
19
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
1k views

Are there words so bad that they aren't allowed on television?

Warning: We're all adults here, but just in case, this question may contain words, in both Japanese and English, that some may not like to read. A long time ago, when I was working with a translator, ...
19
votes
4answers
5k 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?
19
votes
4answers
953 views

Differences between 度 and 回 when counting occurrences

What are the differences between using 度 and 回 when used to count number of occurrences? For example: そんなことは一度もしたことがない そんなことは一回もしたことがない Are there any restrictions on what kind of actions referred ...
19
votes
2answers
480 views

Why is 二十歳 pronounced はたち?

二十歳 is a (to me) bizarre exception to the usual number+さい rule for discussing age. Is this rooted in 20 being the Japanese age of majority? Added: To be more specific: why isn't it pronounced にじゅうさい ...
19
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the meaning of all those “w”s in email and SNSs?

You see a lot of w and ww and even www in Twitter and casual chat. What does it mean? I've always thought it was わいわい but never found out. How is it pronounced? Here's an example from Twitter ...
19
votes
1answer
780 views

Do Japanese writers use underline for emphasis?

Do Japanese writers use underline to emphasize a point, or other techniques? Wikipedia mentions the use of katakana in its article on Emphasis and in its article on Katakana, but I'm not sure whether ...
19
votes
3answers
913 views

what is the difference between -さ and -み suffixes to make a noun out of an adjective?

Example 悲しさ is sadness, and 悲しみ is sadness too. What is the difference? According to Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, -み "is more emotive and concrete characterization of some state" and -さ ...
19
votes
2answers
610 views

What's the difference between “家” (ya), “屋” (ya), and “や” (ya) as used in the names of shops/stores/restaurants?

As a gyudon addict I have noticed that the names of the three major national restaurant chains all end in "ya" but they used two different characters: "吉野家" (Yoshinoya) "松屋" (Matsuya) "すき家" (Sukiya) ...
19
votes
3answers
457 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

How can I differentiate between feet and legs?

Feet are 足, and legs are also 足. Is there a word or method with which I can easily talk about one and not the other? And if not, why is there no word for feet in the Japanese language? Caveat: I ...
18
votes
7answers
1k views

Does anyone have advice on how to get over/through/around the intermediate language plateau? (Self-learner)

How do you get through this? Especially in regards to reading. How do you practice reading at beyond the beginner level (No little black sambo's or whatever other children's books like I found in the ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

Commonness of casual phrases like “あたし” and “ちっちゃい”

I came across a Japanese girl in Germany who talked using words like あたし instead of わたし, or ちっちゃい instead of ちいさい. When I asked her, she said that these words or usages of words are more common in ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

Will verbal irony and sarcasm be understood and/or appreciated?

It's a topic of debate to what extent Japanese has sarcasm and irony. In any case, Japanese speakers seem to use a whole lot less of it than English speakers. My question is: whether or not Japanese ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

Pronouncing が as 'nga'

I'm a beginner and am learning from CD (Pimsleur). There are two native speakers going through the dialogue. One, the man, pronounces が as I would expect - 'ga'. The other (female) pronounces it as ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

Why the “H” is pronounced Sh in some cases.

I came from Stack Overflow and new to Japanese language. Happy I found out about this great place. My first question is about the rules of pronunciation of the letter "H". Like "Hijutsu" or "Hiyori". ...
18
votes
4answers
8k views

What exactly is “なの” (nano)?

I asked a female Japanese friend to translate a sentence for me and it ends in "nano" which I took to be either an alternative question particle to -ne or -ka; or possibly two particles I don't know ...
18
votes
3answers
629 views

Stroke order for left and right

Why are the stroke orders for 右 and 左 different? 右 starts with the vertical stroke, and 左 starts with the horizontal one.
18
votes
4answers
1k views

Difference between にかんして and について?

What is the difference between にかんして and について? Example usage would be much appreciated!
18
votes
3answers
769 views

How do I express sentences like: He is dying?

For instance, "He is eating" is "Kare wa tabete iru". However, "He is dying" is not "Kare wa shinde iru". Another example is "He is going to Japan" is not "Kare wa nihon ni itte iru". So if I can't ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

What does -komu (ー込む) at the end of a word mean?

There are loads of word in Japanese which end in 込む, like 吸い込む, 読み込む, 入り込む, 打ち込む, 売り込む, 送り込む, 押し込む. How does adding ー込む change the meaning? What is the meaning that links all these words?
18
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is it 日本語がわかります instead of 日本語をわかります?

From what I understand, は is the topic marker, が is the subject marker, and を is the object marker. One of the first sentences I learned doesn't seem to fit the rules I described above. The sentence ...
18
votes
2answers
533 views

Can the suffix -人 be used to express heritage?

In English, if I want to talk about my Irish heritage, I would say "I'm Irish". I have an American passport, and I've never set foot in Ireland, but I still consider myself Irish. Both sides of my ...
18
votes
3answers
938 views

Rules for slang of Japanese numbers

I often hear Japanese using a different method for saying a number like "248" as によんぱ — especially for highways and license plates. While this one is easy to understand, there are others that I ...
18
votes
1answer
713 views

What is the difference between いえ and うち?

I am trying to understand the difference between using いえ and うち. I originally drew the conclusion that うち is used for your own house and いえ for others' houses, but my Japanese teacher said that this ...
18
votes
3answers
478 views

Use of 自分【じぶん】as a personal pronoun in direct speech

Yay, yet another first-person-pronoun question! I know that 自分 is commonly used as a personal pronoun in indirect speech, e.g.: マイクは、自分はなんと不注意なのだろうと言った。→ Mike said that he was very careless. ...
18
votes
4answers
2k 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?
18
votes
2answers
1k views

The difference between が and を with the potential form of a verb.

When using the potential form of a verb, I was taught that the particle を becomes が. However, in real life this seems to not always be the case. I've even heard Japanese people use を instead of が ...
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 ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the difference between 大事 (daiji) and 大切 (taisetsu)?

These are two words that seem like they are basically interchangeable at most levels, as they generally are. The difference between them appears to be small, but what is the difference, if one exists? ...
17
votes
10answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

Which is correct: こんばんわ or こんばんは?

I've seen both こんばんわ and こんばんは used; which is correct here? If we interpret the は as the topic particle, は would seem correct, but it seems that わ is used quite frequently anyway...
17
votes
4answers
511 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
895 views

Is it ok for non-japanese to refer to themselves as 僕{ぼく} and if not why?

Grammatically speaking it shouldn't be an issue, but I have heard from some people that a non-japanese using 僕{ぼく} sounds really weird. Has anyone else heard this? And if so, is there a reason?
11
votes
3answers
831 views

When describing time span, are 間 {あいだ} and 内 {うち} interchangeable?

Both 間 {あいだ} and 内 {うち} can be used to describe time span relative to specific situations, similar to "while" in English. But are they interchangeable all the time? Are there any scenarios where one ...
11
votes
1answer
682 views

what nuance does calling oneself “ふつつかもの” have?

In the context of chatting with someone whom you have never met before, Japanese always give you the courtesy of complimenting your language skills. In a non-business context, my response is sometimes ...
6
votes
2answers
159 views

What is the difference between [友達]{とも・だち} and [友人]{ゆう・じん}?

From a quick google search, they both refer to friend. Are they completely identical or is there any difference between [友達]{とも・だち} and [友人]{ゆう・じん}?
6
votes
1answer
679 views

Is「うそおっしゃい」to be taken literally here?

In the video game Ripening Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love, the protagonist Tingle meets a fortune teller who demonstrates her powers to him. She asks him, "You come from a far away town, right?" If ...
6
votes
2answers
756 views

What is “Almost” in Japanese

I have never actually seen the words for almost used in Japanese. Below are the various translations for "Almost" that I came accross: 「大方」 「粗」 「九分」 「殆」 「もう少しで」 Could you ...
4
votes
1answer
67 views

break down ~いていいと思ってる

平民が、貴族にそんな口[利]{き}いていいと思ってるの. Above is the full sentence from a book I'm reading. I get いいとおもっている part = think its nice (roughly), and already looked up 貴族に, そんな口利き, but the sentence as a whole ...
4
votes
2answers
31 views

Can number + 部 mean the number of copies?

For an upcoming conference, I'm supposed to bring copies of my own materials. One sentence contains a phrase that I'm a little unsure how to understand. First the Japanese sentence in its entirety: ...
3
votes
2answers
98 views

omitting conjunction で for emphasis?

In an essay I'm reading called 料理, the author says the following (note: the full sentence is very long, so I've omitted a few of the clauses while keeping enough to get the general point across): ...
2
votes
1answer
16 views

What does this lyric mean?

I was listening to 悲しい色やね by Ueda Masaki. I was able to pick up the lyrics, but there are certain phrases that I cannot translate. In the main melody part, I was able to pick up ほーみーたい 大阪ベイブルース In ...
1
vote
2answers
95 views

Was the Japanese reading “raito” for moon, ever been used before Death Note came to existence?

The only time I have ever seen this reading for moon was with the Japanese pronunciation of the Death Note character, Light, who's first name is written with the word moon. I want to know if the ...
-2
votes
1answer
88 views

What is a Togi yoru

I'm trying to read manga in Japanese and I don't understand this: 伽夜. Can someone explain it to me please? A : でもこんな時代だからこそ A : 限り有る"生"をより豊かに享受する為にも趣味には正直でないと… A : ね 伽夜 B : なんでそこで私に振るのよ!? ...
-5
votes
1answer
95 views

What is the difference between 夕立 and 朝立ち? [on hold]

What is the difference between 夕立 and 朝立ち? They both refer to the kanji 立, and have contrastive words 夕 (evening) and 朝 (morning). Are they antonyms, or is there any difference between them? ...

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