17
votes
2answers
3k views

Why does 今度【こんど】 mean “next time”?

The word 今度【こんど】, though its literal meaning is "this time" is in my experience used pretty heavily to refer to tbe next time or some unspecified point in the future. For example: ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

Can you say “half hour” or must you say “30 minutes”?

I know that to say an hour and a half you can say 一時間半, but is it possible to express simply half an hour even though the counter comes before 半? Or would you just have to say 三十分? If both ways are ...
17
votes
2answers
519 views

Are bookshelves in alphabetical (kana) order in Japanese bookshops and libraries?

How are fiction books such as novels sorted on the shelves at Japanese bookshops? Kana order seems to play a small part but not the whole part. (I'm not asking about nonfiction books since those are ...
17
votes
1answer
388 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?
17
votes
1answer
444 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

When did you last…?

I am searching for a way to ask a question like "When did you last see her?" or "When did you last do the laundry?, or also "When did we last meet?" Basically, how do you construct a question with ...
17
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 ...
17
votes
2answers
475 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
861 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
337 views

Reading (and usage) of 他: when is it 【た】, when is it 【ほか】?

他 is one of these common words that still to this day confuses me... My general assumption is that: used as a prefix, it should always be read 【た】, e.g.: 他人【たにん】 when treated as a "substantive" ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Why are some words written backwards on trucks

I was driving the other day and say a truck with 一般 written as 般一 on the drivers side door. My wife was telling me that this is often the case with trucks, where it is actually written from right to ...
16
votes
7answers
2k views

Does the Japanese language only have negative terms for flirting?

I am looking for terms in the Japanese language which can describe the act of flirting in a positive light. This probably requires inventing terms to close a lexical gap, because as far as I know, all ...
16
votes
6answers
1k views

How should I select what first-person pronoun to use?

I've always had trouble choosing which first person pronoun to use - 私 (watashi), 僕 (boku), or 俺 (おれ). What kind of factors should I keep in mind when choosing between these? Is it common to vary ...
16
votes
4answers
978 views

Are there cases when two or more particles will occur next to each other without intervening lexical words?

Most particles seem to be postpositions but I'm sure I've seen say a noun followed by a location particle followed by "wa" or "ga" or possibly "wo" but when I've tried to use it I've only confused my ...
16
votes
3answers
589 views

Kanji for native Japanese concepts: Kun'yomi spanning multiple morphemes

There are a few words, which are written with Kanji imported from China, but where the intended native Japanese meaning would prefer a different choice of Kanji. My favourite examples are 雷 vs. 神鳴り ...
16
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...
16
votes
3answers
1k 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" ...
16
votes
2answers
551 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。 ...
16
votes
3answers
623 views

Blue blistering barnacles, what is Captain Haddock saying?

For those who might not be familiar with the series Tintin (soon to be in a major motion picture, by the way), there is a character named Captain Haddock who is famous for shouting out colourful ...
16
votes
4answers
479 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
2k 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
6k 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
2k views

Is ending question sentences with の really feminine?

In What differences should I look out for between male vs female speech?, a lot of answers explicitly mention that ending question sentences with の is feminine. However, this makes very little sense ...
16
votes
4answers
595 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
809 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
2answers
2k views

When asking 'What is your name?' or 'What is your job?', why is it 'は' not 'か'?

As per the title, when asking 'What is your name?' or 'What is your job?', why is it 'は' not 'か'? For example, we are taught this: おしごとは。 'What is your job?' But I don't understand why it ...
16
votes
2answers
434 views

Where does the word ダイヤ come from that means “train schedule”?

For the longest time I've been hearing the word ダイヤ and just always assumed it meant "Diamond", but found recently it all means "train schedule". My question is, what word/language did this word ...
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
2answers
3k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
1k 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 casual 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
1answer
496 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
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 ...
16
votes
4answers
1k 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.
16
votes
6answers
558 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
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 ...
16
votes
2answers
861 views

What is the difference between ~げ and ~そう

How do these two differ, for example: 寂しそう vs 寂しげ 楽しそう vs 楽しげ 言いたそう vs 言いたげ 大人げ vs 大人っぽい(...? Not sure if this one works.)
16
votes
1answer
308 views

When to read “その後” as “そのご”, “そのあと” or “そののち”?

I've recently been seeing あと as well as ご as Furigana on top of 後 in その後, but is there a difference in usage or meaning between the different readings? Looking at the Yahoo thesaurus, it seems it can ...
16
votes
1answer
364 views

When is 行く pronounced as いく, and when is it ゆく?

Are there any rules or guidelines as to when to pronounce 行く as いく or ゆく? I looked it up on jisho.org, and the two pronunciations have the exact same definition. I tend to hear ゆく more often in ...
15
votes
6answers
6k 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
795 views

Linguistics and Japanese study

Firstly, I apologise if this has been asked before or if I have asked this in the wrong place (should I have asked on the meta site?). I've studied Japanese for (going on) 5 years, now. It's been ...
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
376 views

What is the difference between 完了 and 終了

Both 完了 and 終了 both seem to have the connotation of finished/complete, but what is the difference if any in usage?
15
votes
4answers
750 views

Where does なう on Twitter come from?

If you follow any Japanese speakers on Twitter, you'll almost certainly see them use なう at the end of a sentence, to say "I am in this place/doing this thing now". Where does this use come from? Who ...
15
votes
2answers
445 views

Why does 語 contain 五?

I'm aware the two kanji are often pronounced the same, but why does one contain the other in it?
15
votes
3answers
2k views

“You don't have to be so polite.” Really?

Sometimes a Japanese person will say to me: そんなに丁寧な言葉を使わなくてもいいんですよ。 This is an invitation to be less formal. But how much less formal? As I have experienced, sometimes unintentional gaffes can ...
15
votes
3answers
433 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 ...

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