18
votes
1answer
742 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?
18
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
820 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

寝る vs. 眠る, what's the real difference?

What's the real, definite difference between 寝【ね】る and 眠【ねむ】る? I know they both mean "sleep", but also that each carries some additional (sometimes, figurative) meanings. Where do the meanings ...
18
votes
4answers
2k 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.
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 ...
18
votes
1answer
846 views

What's the proper way to use 先 versus 前に or 以前?

I'm trying to understand why 先 is not the best choice to use in these sentences. Is it wrong to use it in this way? × 先、学校で何かが起こった。 ○ 以前、学校で何かが起こった。 × 先の書いた本から十年間が過ぎました。 ○ 前に書いた本から十年間が過ぎました。
18
votes
1answer
509 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 ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

Japanese Buts: でも, しかし, ただ, ただし, ところが, が, けど, けれど, けれども

I'm sure someone asked a similar question but I did a search and couldn't find any. Usually I just translate everything into but, but (no pun intended) I think it's about time I got into the nitty ...
17
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
17
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there a reason why numbers in Japanese are delimited into blocks of four?

As I understand, Japanese numbers are divided into blocks of four, so while we would think of the number 89123889 as 89,123,889, in Japan they would think of it as 8912,3889 (八千九百十二万三千八百八十九). So ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Is はおる a commonly used verb

...お出かけ用のワンピースを着て、コートをはおりながら... ...she put on a dress suitable for the trip and while putting on her coat... I've not seen the verb はおる before and it does not appear in any of my more basic ...
17
votes
2answers
523 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?
17
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
3k 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" ...
17
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

How to say 'X, let alone Y' in Japanese?

How to say X, let alone Y in Japanese? For example, how would one translate: I don't know hiragana, let alone kanji. He couldn't boil water, let alone prepare a dinner for eight. I ...
17
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
819 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
545 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 ...
17
votes
1answer
7k views

Getting your haircut in Japan

I have been living in Japan now for the last 3 months and my hair is starting to look like it needs a cut. But I have never been to a Japanese barbers before so as you can imagine I am a little ...
17
votes
1answer
1k 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{ご}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 ...
17
votes
2answers
346 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

How should I start an email when requesting something from someone I don't know well?

In English, there is a certain etiquette to follow when writing a business letter. From what I've seen so far, the same seems to be true in Japanese as well. If I was making a business-related ...
17
votes
1answer
682 views

What does this ad say? (Connotations of ガキ大将)

This is a frequent problem that I think many Japanese learners experience. You look at some Japanese sentences, and you understand the words, and most, if not all, the grammar, and yet still, it just ...
17
votes
2answers
2k 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? ...
17
votes
2answers
1k 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
17
votes
4answers
605 views

Questions with ~か or without: how to choose?

Studying Japanese on my own, I've learned that in order to make a question, you usually add the particle "~か", like this: 今何時ですか。 It's also true that a question can be asked without it, using ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

今までに vs. 今まで - what is the difference in meaning?

I recently used a following sentence in my homework: 今日までに 私は 二百まいしゃしんを とりました。 Now, in my homework I actually used 今日まで, without に, and I got it corrected. What's the difference between 今日まで and ...
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 ...
17
votes
1answer
408 views

Politeness in examination questions

1) Why do Japanese school examination questions get more rude as the year gets higher? In elementary school ...してください。 or ...しましょう。 ... です。 ...ですか。 In junior high school to high school ...
17
votes
1answer
684 views

Is it true that the meaning of あ可よろし is unknown?

One of the cards in a Hanafuda deck looks like this: The character that looks like の is actually , a hentaigana for ka derived from the kanji 可. The card says あかよろし, not あのよろし. According to ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the learning curve for learning Japanese writing?

What is the learning curve like for learning Japanese writing? Are you able to use what you've learnt as you're progressing, or are you only realistically able to start reading real text once you've ...
16
votes
6answers
25k views

What's the difference between “gohan” and “meshi”?

In answer to my question on the difference between "gyudon" and "gyumeshi" I learned that "meshi" just means cooked rice. But I thought "gohan" meant cooked rice, so please, what is the difference? I ...
16
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
15k views

What's the difference between “さけ” (sake) and “しゃけ” (shake)?

Today I saw onigiri claiming to contain "しゃけ" (shake). When I asked my friend what that was, she said it was the same as "さけ" (sake), "salmon". So are these two just different readings of a kanji, ...
16
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
3k views

Why are there two versions of the kanji for 冷?

The screenshot below is from Kotoba for iPhone. It shows the character for "cool", 冷 as used in the word 冷たい. However, the character in the stroke order diagram is slightly different to the main ...
16
votes
4answers
7k 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
3k views

When to use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい

When does one use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい? For example, in phrases like: 先生は野菜を食べて欲し​{いです・がっています}。 My incomplete understanding is that the がる form is more formal/polite, but it can only be ...
16
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
791 views

When is it okay to use あります with a living subject?

When learning Japanese everyone's taught いる is for a living thing and ある is for non-living things. However, I recently saw the following sentence ... あと、サッカー選手でもあります。 ... which ends in ある / あります ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

In modern usage how do Japanese natives regard the differences between 外人, 外国人 and 外人さん?

As a near native speaker of Japanese, I find it annoying to be called 外人 since it seems to imply that I "know nothing about Japan" (outsider). I much prefer 外国人. In modern usage, how do native ...
16
votes
4answers
702 views

What are the fundamental differences between the ~と一緒に and the ~とともに fragments?

I'm accustomed to saying together with using the ~ to issho ni fragment, but I've been noticing that some people I talk to phrase this using ~ totomo ni instead. i.e. 彼女と一緒に日本へ来た。 Kanojo to issho ni ...
16
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...

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