14
votes
1answer
359 views

Why is the topic marker often used in negative statements (ではない, ~とは思わない)?

What function does は provide in statements such as 本ではない or 本だとは思わない? I notice the は after と is often left out, at least if a Google search for 思わない is any indication, but there still seems to be a ...
14
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the difference between 「はず」 {hazu} and 「わけ」 {wake}?

I know the following two sentences give implication that "not expecting me to understand (it)" but I have a feeling that they give different nuances that I just can't put my finger on: ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the difference between 「いけない」 and 「いかない」?

I've just learned that ~わけにはいけない as in 断{ことわ}るわけにはいけない ("I can't refuse") apparently isn't valid but ~わけにはいかない is, even though I've been using the former frequently. But what is the difference ...
12
votes
2answers
360 views

Can we optionally include (or exclude) an を particle in between the noun of the する-verb and the する itself?

When we have a する verb (e.g. 支度する、案内する、心配する), is it true that we could optionally insert an を particle in between the noun and the する? Because in the example sentences here and here, we can see this ...
23
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the equivalent of “alphabetical order” in Japanese?

I know there's あいうえお, but what about at the consonant level? Also, are there any common mnemonics used by Japanese children to remember these?
11
votes
1answer
259 views

Is there a difference between に伴う and を伴う?

In a report I handed in earlier this week, my professor corrected my sentence to 日本において、金融政策の目的に関する考え方が時間を伴い、変わってきた。 from 「に伴い」. Is there a practical difference between the two? ALC shows a ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there an objective source of the origins of kanji?

Is there an authoritative source that explains where the different kanji come from and what the radicals mean? I think it's hard to tell from most of the textbooks/other sources whether a shown ...
14
votes
1answer
391 views

What does 窓という窓 mean?

What does 窓という窓 mean? I found it in this sentence in Harry Potter: 木の扉に寄りかかってホグワーツを見上げると、窓という窓が夕日に照らされて赤くキラキラ輝いている。
10
votes
1answer
479 views

How do 自他 triplets of related verbs work?

I thought this had been asked before (possibly by me), but I couldn't find it. I'm wondering why for certain verbs/words, instead of just a 自他 pair, there is a triplet (or possibly more) where two of ...
9
votes
7answers
2k views

Why are there 3 ways of writing in Japanese?

Why are there kanji, hiragana and katakana? Is there a logical reason behind this or just tradition?
23
votes
5answers
2k views

Does -ou / -you / -mashou conjugation have a negative form?

Does the -ou / -you / -mashou (the "let's X") form have a negative counterpart? For example, how do I say "let's not X" for the following?: 行こう 食べよう 寝ましょう As far as I can remember, the Japanese ...
17
votes
2answers
342 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" ...
15
votes
2answers
515 views

Plain verbs that end with ぬ other than 死ぬ

Are there any other verbs than 死ぬ whose plain forms end with ぬ? Why are they so rare? Is it because the verb 死ぬ itself has special etymology why it ended up having the ぬ ending?
14
votes
3answers
278 views

Why can some words be written with or without okurigana? How do the uses differ?

What is the difference for word compounds that can exist with 送り仮名 and without and still retain the same pronunciation? As an example: 巻き貝 と 巻貝 取り引き と 取引 If I'm correct, both of these are ...
14
votes
2answers
666 views

The verbs of learning: 勉強する, 習う and 学ぶ

How are the following verbs which are related to learning different to each other? 勉強する 習う 学ぶ
13
votes
1answer
686 views

What is the role of 空書 (writing kanji in the air) in modern Japanese?

What is the role of 空書{くうしょ} in modern Japanese? 空書 is tracing characters in the air with your finger (or on a flat surface), a phenomenon which apparently develops only in users of Chinese ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the meaning of ~んです?

This sentence ending has started to creep up more and more in my current Japanese classes, and I'm still a bit unsure what all it can mean, how to use it, or even when I should think to use it. My ...
12
votes
4answers
252 views

History of 十干(じっかん)and modern uses

As I was studying vocabulary today, I happened to come across the titular 十干 which are as follows: 甲(こう)• 乙(おつ)• 丙(へい)• 丁(てい) •戊(ぼ)• 己(き)• 庚(こう)• 辛(しん)• 壬(じん)• 癸(き) There's a somewhat lengthy ...
12
votes
3answers
822 views

When and to whom should I use the expression ご苦労様 (gokurousama)?

In what context and relationship wise to who can I safely say ご苦労様 (gokurousama)? I often defer to using otsukaresama since I'm not sure if I'm talking down to someone by saying gokurousama. Please ...
11
votes
2answers
516 views

“Should” in Japanese

The word "should" in English has these uses when not used as a question: To express the expectation of the speaker (Probabilistic reasoning). The train should arrive in 10 minutes. To express a ...
11
votes
1answer
941 views

Where does the verbal form しとく come from?

In a manga I am currently reading, one of the character exclaims: 安心しな。秘密に しとく から。 The general meaning of the second part ("I'll keep it a secret") is quite obvious, and it seems that "しとく" ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the difference between なぜなら、だから、and なので?

I'm trying to get clarification on how to use these three pieces of grammar and whether or not they all hold some kind of "Because" meaning.
10
votes
4answers
577 views

Use of ~のか (~んですか) in questions not seeking a yes/no answer

I would like to know if there is a shift in nuance in questions such as these: 誰が参加したんですか。 vs. 誰が参加しましたか。 いつ着いたんですか。 vs. いつ着きましたか。 I wish to limit discussion to only non-yes/no questions ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

アニメと漫画で日本語を勉強することについて (On learning Japanese from anime/manga)

最近、漫画好きな外国人が増えたので、日本のアニメや漫画で日本語を勉強する外国人も多くなっています。アニメの日本語が日常の会話であまり使わないので、アニメで日本語を勉強することで日本語をちゃんと学べると思いますか。 (Many foreigners have been learning Japanese through manga and anime due to its popularity ...
8
votes
2answers
230 views

Why are the verb classes called ichidan and godan?

Is there a particular reason why verbs are classified as "class 1" verbs (一段動詞) and "class 5" verbs (五段動詞)? Where did class 2 to 4 go? Do or did they exist at all, and why (not)? Thanks!
8
votes
1answer
201 views

X is near or next to Y. Is my understanding of this correct?

So I know that a few words could be used interchangably. But I wasn't sure if I got the nuance(s) correct. So I have this sentence: 車はどこにありますか。 車庫のそばです。 And as far as I can see, I can change そば in ...
8
votes
3answers
594 views

Are there more irregular verbs like 行く?

I thought when you have a consonant-stem verb ending with -ku you replace it with -ita. For example kaku ("to write") becomes kaita. But this doesn't happen with iku, which becomes itta, so I guess ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Etymology of 出来る dekiru

An entry of Tae Kim's blog suggested that 出来る came from Chinese word 出来 that does have the nuance of potentiality, but the most recent visitor's comment claimed that the usage of 出来 in Chinese to show ...
5
votes
3answers
179 views

Explain how 向{む}く “to face” can take “上{うえ}” as a direct object using を?

There's a famous old song that's actually the only ever Japanese language song to reach #1 on the US pop charts: "上{うえ}を向{む}いて歩{ある}こう". This is both the title of the song and a frequently repeated ...
5
votes
2answers
924 views

Correct usage of [verb stem] + に + [another verb]

I'm a little unclear on the use a verb stem, followed by に and another verb. Take these two examples: 特別なビザをもらって行った 特別なビザをもらいに行った I think the first means "I went with a special visa", but ...
26
votes
3answers
579 views

Do 以上 and 以下 include the number preceding them?

I was having a discussion with a colleague and we couldn't recall how they both worked. Does 一人以上 mean a) 1 or more persons or b) more than one person?
18
votes
4answers
529 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
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: ...
15
votes
1answer
877 views

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

In my JLPT 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 大金{たいきん}  C 金銭{きんせん}  D 基金{ききん} The answer ...
15
votes
4answers
790 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
356 views

Why does the narrator switch tenses here?

I'm currently reading The Tale of Peter Rabbit in Japanese, but the opening to the story is confusing me a bit. The actual text reads: ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the difference between に and で when speaking of time of an action?

What's the difference between に and で when speaking of the time of an action? I know に is very specific about time, but I'm not sure when, or how to use で. Can で only be used in certain instances? ...
13
votes
4answers
739 views

Am I coming or going? 戻ってくる vs 戻っていく

A little while ago I was in a shop, and about 5 minutes after I left, they phoned me to tell me I had left my USB stick there. I said I would head back and pick it up. I used 戻{もど}って行{い}く to mean ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

What exactly is a “taru adjective”

On the talk page of the Wikipedia article on "Japanese adjectives", user Dougalg suggested nearly two years ago: I know these are falling out of use, but still exist. If anyone can give an ...
12
votes
3answers
756 views

In what situations can you use "ぞ” as a sentence ender

When can one use the sentence ender ぞ? I've only ever heard it anime, so I'm unsure of it's actual usage in the real world. Is it not used that often or limited to specific age/gender groups?
11
votes
3answers
874 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
568 views

When is 「だ/である」required between a noun and the quotation particle と?

Note: Edits in response to comments have been added in italics The sentence prompting this question is: 時下ますますご清栄のことと、お喜び申し上げます Which I have always "loosely" taken to mean: I am glad to ...
9
votes
2answers
518 views

Differences between the many words for dinner

According to my dictionary, the following words all mean the same thing: "Dinner": [夜]{よる}ご[飯]{はん}, [晩]{ばん}ご[飯]{はん}, [晩飯]{ばんめし}, [晩食]{ばんしょく}, [夕]{ゆう}ご[飯]{はん}, [夕飯]{ゆうはん(ゆうめし)}, [夕食]{ゆうしょく} A similar ...
9
votes
1answer
410 views

aru vs iru : Why is aru in “Watakushi-wa untenshu-ga aru” (私は運転手がある) unacceptable?

There is a generally expressed rule in Japanese that, when declaring existence, いる is used for animate subjects, and ある is used for inanimate subjects. There are some interesting variations in what is ...
9
votes
8answers
1k views

What are the advantages/disadvantages of writing in romaji instead of kanji, hiragana, and so on?

Romaji is somewhat of a conversion from kanji, hiragana, and so on to the Roman alphabet. What are the disadvantages of learning only or mostly romaji aside from being unable to read/write in kanji? ...
9
votes
3answers
576 views

How rude is it to say 寝ぼけてるんじゃねぇよ!

I've heard this used (also as 寝ぼけんじゃねぇよ!) in informal situations with nothing but smiles all around. But when I tried to use it in an informal situation with a colleague, I got the distinct feeling ...
8
votes
1answer
206 views

Splicing である with a topic

I came across this sentence: [意気地]{いくじ}なし!そして全くその通りで私はあったのだ。 "Coward! And that was, in fact, exactly what I was." (From 苦の世界, my translation.) I found in pretty weird that 私は dropped in the ...
8
votes
2answers
335 views

How to express vague amounts of time?

I'm having trouble figuring out how to express vague amounts of time in Japanese, such as some number of months or some number of hours. I want to use this in a context where the specific number is ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Polite Way to Ask “How old are you?” : 何歳 , いくつ ,年齢 , ご年

I think the sentences: 何歳ですか? いくつですか? 年齢は? お年は? are all sentences that ask "How old are you?" How are they different? What form is most polite?
7
votes
2answers
506 views

Differences in usage between する and やる

On the surface, many Japanese-English dictionaries define both する and やる as "to do", with little extra context. Offhand, I know the following: やる and する are not interchangeable when it comes to する ...

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