16
votes
4answers
456 views

Appropriate ただいま-like greeting for a neighbor?

I frequently pass by an elderly neighbor who lives in the same apartment when coming home from a dog walk. He's kind of an in-house carpenter for the building and is frequently seen around the garage. ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Since Japanese already had several words for rice why was “ライス” (raisu) borrowed from English?

Last night I had dinner in a ramen restaurant in northern Japan and was surprised to read the katakana "ライス" (raisu) on the menu. This is obviously the English word "rice" borrowed. But what kind of ...
16
votes
4answers
5k views

Why was both katakana and hiragana created?

Nowadays, katakana tends to be used for gairaigo and onomatopoeia, while hiragana tends to be used for native Japanese words. This is a slight simplification - more information is available here. ...
16
votes
2answers
702 views

When and how did USA and UK come to be written as [米]{べい}[国]{こく} and [英]{えい}[国]{こく}?

I know of four countries with a specific kanji besides Japan: China, the Netherlands, the USA and UK. The last two must be quite recent (I presume 19th century) but I wonder on the details and context ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Does the particle “を” (wo) have a special use when at the end of a sentence?

I thought the character "を" (wo) was only used for the particle whose only job was to indicate the direct object of a verb. But today I saw it at the end of an exclamation on a sign I think on a ...
16
votes
4answers
453 views

Words made from strokes of a kanji like 女 toくノ一

According to Wikipedia, one theory for the etymology of くノ一 (female ninja) is that it's made up of the strokes of the kanji 女 (woman). Other theories include that it means nine and one, talking about ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the difference between その and あの?

Superficially, I get the sense that あの is for something far away from both speaker and listener, and その is for something closer to the listener than speaker. However, I seem to get in trouble when ...
16
votes
1answer
2k views

How do I politely ask my boss for a moment of his time?

My boss is a native Japanese speaker. In English, when I have a question or an issue to bring up, I can ask "Do you have a minute?" to see if it is an appropriate time to interrupt them. In ...
16
votes
1answer
369 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
405 views

what is the difference between ごとに and おきに?

Both ごとに and おきに appear to mean "repeatedly at intervals". What is the difference between these two expressions?
16
votes
4answers
975 views

Is there an easily accessible list of terms in the Japanese grammar written both in Japanese and English?

I am a native Japanese speaker with a casually interest in languages. I sometimes have trouble explaining the Japanese grammar in English because I do not know the established English translation of ...
16
votes
6answers
512 views

How can I differentiate agreement with the person and agreement with the idea?

A zillion years ago, before I came to Japan, I took a short introductory course on Japanese. In it, they showed a video of a business meeting where an American businessman is speaking to a Japanese ...
16
votes
1answer
616 views

Why doesn't 分かる have a potential form?

This question may be related to What does で分かる mean? (Cf. Tsuyoshi Ito and my comments to my answer). (Regular) verbs can be turned into the potential form by attaching -((ra)r)e-: tabe-ru vs. ...
15
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 ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

How to end a sentence in わけ

The is a certain way of talking where you can end just about anything you say in わけ. What is the sentence structure for this way of talking?
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Is Japanese really an agglutinative language?

In the linguistics topic of language typology, Japanese is often included in lists of agglutinative (or agglutinating) languages, but when learning or reading about Japanese grammar exclusively this ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Who decides what katakana will be used to form English loan words?

I love katakana, mostly because of how the characters look. But I am constantly baffled by why certain loan words from English are constructed using certain katakana sounds. For example, if someone ...
15
votes
3answers
470 views

Love in the air: 愛x恋 {あい vs こい}

From WWWJDIC: 愛 【あい】 (n,n-suf) (See 愛する) love; affection; 恋 【こい】 (n) love; tender passion; My understanding on affection, love and tender passion is like the following: affection < ...
15
votes
3answers
373 views

Can I end sentences with ん?

One friend of mine told me when she was living in Japan, she liked to end her sentences with ん (maybe instead of の). Examples: 明日学校にいくん? 明日学校に行かないと思う…風邪引いたん。 Actually I've never seen it! But my ...
15
votes
3answers
898 views

Does “敬語” (keigo) just mean “politeness” or is it a technical term specifically relating to Japanese grammar?

What is the difference between the Japanese term "敬語" (keigo) and the English term "politeness" (Specifically regarding language)? I assumed politeness is more general covering things like "please" ...
15
votes
7answers
950 views

the different usages of つもり?

Hi all I understand that つもり means "intention" like say 夏休みにはゆっくり休むつもりです。 = I intend to rest during the summer vacation. But what does 分かっているつもりだ。 means? Well if I translate directly, it seems to be ...
15
votes
4answers
647 views

“Seemingly cute” - かわいい + 〜そう

The 〜そう form means "seemingly 〜" and is usually conjecture made based on first-hand information. This usually means seeing something or hearing about something and making a conjecture, e.g., おいしそう ...
15
votes
2answers
526 views

Use of 厨 on the Internet

If you visit ニコニコ動画 or any Japanese message boards often you are bound to see comments like ニコ厨 or 東方厨. Does anyone have good idea how did this originate and what do they mean?
15
votes
2answers
470 views

When writing for general public, is there a general guideline for selecting kanji?

After reading numerous publications, I've spotted a trend or custom on determining whether kanji is or is not used for certain words. The most obvious ones are: こと・事 …が実は犯人だったということがわかる。 ...
15
votes
2answers
573 views

What's the difference between the kanji forms for わかる?

The verb わかる can be written using either 分かる, 判る, or 解る - what's the semantic difference between these forms, if any?
15
votes
4answers
534 views

How to “shoo away” a sales clerk?

When I go window shopping, the sales clerk would usually come near me asking what I like. How should I politely shoo them away? Can I simply say いいえ、けっこうです or something like 自分で見る I know ...
15
votes
1answer
767 views

JLPT N1 question: Why isn't a large amount of money a good enough reason to kill someone?

In my JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) level N1 workbook, there is this example question: 適当{てきとう}な語{かたり}を選{えら}びなさい この殺人{さつじん}事件{じけん}の裏{うら}には(  )上{じょう}のトラブルがあるようだ。 A 金額{きんがく}  B ...
15
votes
2answers
890 views

Is Japanese particularly good for punning/spoonerisms? If so, why?

Today I was laughing my heads off reading puns at 言いまつがい, which is a collection of user-contributed accidental puns and other mistakes. It struck me that I never experienced this kind of ...
15
votes
2answers
293 views

Is the title ~[殿]{どの} used in modern day japanese?

Is the title ~[殿]{どの} used in modern day Japanese? If so, which people can you use it with? I've only really seen it come across in referring to [大]{だい}[名]{みょう} (feudal lords). Also it is applicable ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

How do you write someone's name if you don't know what kanji to use?

Since kanji can have multiple pronunciations, how would you know how to write someone's name if you've only heard it spoken? What's the convention? Would you just guess, or maybe write it out in ...
15
votes
1answer
430 views

Temperature abbreviations?

A certain dialog in my book has a man describing the symptoms of his cold to the doctor. It reads thus: 医者:熱はありますか。 ...
15
votes
4answers
862 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
917 views

What connotation does なんだ add?

Specifically, in the expression 好きなんだ (I love you) why not just say 好きだ or 好きです?
15
votes
2answers
2k views

What does the little っ (tsu) signify when at the end of a word?

The small っ (tsu) is usually used before a consonant to indicate gemination, less technically known as doubled consonants, which is how they are transliterated in romaji. I have seen it at the end of ...
15
votes
4answers
653 views

How would I respectfully disagree with a superior?

If my manager says something that I know to be factually incorrect, how can I point that out without sounding disrespectful? (Is ~違います appropriate in this context or is that too strong?) Is this a ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is 知りません the negative form of 知っています?

I'm reading Minna no Nihongo (Chapter 15) and it says what I wrote in the question. I would think the negative would be 知っていません。
15
votes
2answers
5k views

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

This comment can be seen very often on Japanese message boards.
15
votes
2answers
938 views

Usage of commas in Japanese sentences

This might sound like a strange question, but how does the usage of commas differ when used in Japanese compared to English? I believe りんご、オレンジとバナナ wouldn't work, but that it's OK to list like ...
15
votes
3answers
740 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
431 views

What are the rules for reading numbers before a foreign counter-word?

Is there a rule of thumb for knowing the reading of a number when it is written in western numerals, and is followed by a loaned counter-word? For example, how would you pronounce the "1" in 1セット? My ...
15
votes
1answer
340 views

is there a difference between さみしい and さびしい?

Both mean "lonely" and appear to be valid readings for 寂しい. Is there a difference in nuance? Is this difference due to dialect?
15
votes
2answers
743 views

The reason for using 何も+negative, but 何でも+positive

In one of the Japanese classes I attended, I've been taught that while we use 「何も出来ない」to say "He cannot do anything", to say "He can do anything" we use 「何でも出来る」 instead of 「何も出来る」. Why is there a ...
15
votes
4answers
581 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, ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

What does っつの mean?

I recently saw 冗談だっつの. What does it っつの mean, or how does it modify the meaning of a sentence?
15
votes
4answers
925 views

Why is the correct counter for rabbits 羽(わ)

Why is the correct counter for rabbits 羽(わ), the counter that is used for birds. I figured it is because they jump, cause fly and jump are the same verb in Japanese, but then frogs are 匹.
15
votes
1answer
1k views

~うございます - keigo い-adjectives

I'm not sure if this is actual keigo, or just a polite form of adjectives. Anyway, there are several that we're all familiar with that are still used today. はやい → おはようございます ありがたい → ...
15
votes
2answers
416 views

Why is it なさそう and not なそう

"It seems there is none" is なさそう, which escapes the usual rule for 形容詞 (イ-adjectives), which says "drop the い and add そう". Is there a historical explanation for this exception? And does it have ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

What are the guidelines of omitting particles?

I've recently discovered that certain particles could be omitted from a Japanese sentence (to help make it shorter), and still preserve the original meaning. Unfortunately, most resources about this ...
15
votes
3answers
332 views

What is the difference in meaning between “husband and wife” 夫婦【ふうふ】 and 夫妻【ふさい】?

I see that those two compounds mean husband and wife, as a married couple. But is there a difference in usage or context?
15
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...

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