9
votes
2answers
530 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
415 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
2answers
525 views

Difference between sentence final ものだ and ことだ

My understanding is that ものだ is used to assert things which are mostly known to everyone. 誰かの家に招待されたときは、何か手土産をもっていくものだ 'When invited to somebody's home it's customary to bring presents'. On ...
9
votes
8answers
2k views

What are the advantages/disadvantages of writing in romaji instead of in kanji and kana?

Romaji is somewhat of a conversion from kanji and kana to the Roman alphabet. What are the disadvantages of learning only or mostly romaji aside from being unable to read/write in kanji? I don't ...
9
votes
3answers
583 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
208 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
341 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
541 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
194 views

Varying word order for stylistic effect

Sometimes, for stylistic or rhetorical effect, one wants to delay mentioning a word/concept until the end of a sentence. For example, it's often best to save the punchline for the very end: I was ...
7
votes
1answer
225 views

Difference between 「~のない~」 and 「~がない~」?

For example, plugging these into Google, I can find stuff like, 自信のない人 and 自信がない人. Or, 愛のない生活 and 愛がない生活. I found a movie called 顔のないスパイ. How is this any different from 顔がないスパイ? I've asked ...
7
votes
2answers
450 views

The various ways of saying “all”

While trying to write a plugin to (unofficially fan-)translate this website to Japanese, I've been noticing that "all" has multiple different translations. What exactly is the difference between ...
6
votes
2answers
735 views

Etymology of もん・もの

How do I make sense of the 終助詞 もん as in おいしいもん そうなんだもん Although I have only heard it in 時代劇 speak, I guess it comes from もの, which I think should be も + の. But what も can follow the 終止形 and ...
6
votes
4answers
624 views

When do you use するには as opposed to するため(には) to mean “in order to”?

I keep having するため(には) corrected to するには when writing sentences, but how interchangeable are they and when should each be used? Taking some Japanese sentences from Space ALC with my own English ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the difference between は and のは?

The following sentence means "seeing all the different foreign people was interesting." This, according to my Japanese friends is incorrect: 色々な外国人を見ているは面白かった。 ... and this is correct: ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Passive vs. active form of verb (past) What is the difference?

I was wondering what the difference is if I use passive form or active form of a verb. For example: ネズミは猫に食べられた。The mouse was eaten by the cat. 猫は、ネズミを食べた。The cat ate the mouse. What EXACTLY is ...
5
votes
2answers
347 views

What is the function of と when it's not quoting, or doing exhaustive listing?

Consider these two sentences:  (1) 母はついてくるようにアリスに合図した (Mother signaled to Alice to follow her)  (2) 父は手で私に部屋を出ていくようにと合図した。 (Father gestured to me to go out of the room) And another sentence ...
4
votes
3answers
543 views

What does "Xの一つにYがある” mean?

I have a sentence in my book like this: 日本が アメリカによく聞かれて困る質問の一つに、”How are you?" は 日本語で何と言うか、というのがある。 and found a similar example here: アメリカでは大学への申込の手続きの一つに「なぜX大学に行きたいのか」ということに関してエッセイを書くというのがあります。 The ...
4
votes
1answer
347 views

Origin of ~なければ ならない

The expression ~なければ ならない if I learned correctly means "must not not do ..." as in: 日本語を勉強しなければなりません。 You must not not learn Japanese. (i.e. you need to learn Japanese) However, taken on face value ...
4
votes
3answers
316 views

What makes に基づいて instead of に応じて the correct choice for this question?

I'm working on some example questions from my grammar textbook. One of them I listed below:  税金はこの表(  )計算されています。  ア)につれて イ)に応じて ウ)に比べて エ)に基づいて I'm unsure why 「に基づいて」is the only correct ...
4
votes
2answers
311 views

Stem classification 終止形 vs 連体形(しゅうしけい vs れんたいけい)

What is the difference between 終止形 and 連体形 and which one is the correct term for the dictionary form? The Japanese Grammar Wiki entry says... Terminal form (終止形 shūshikei) -u is used at the ...
2
votes
1answer
267 views

What is the etymology of 〜ません(でした)?

I have always been interested in the negative polite (〜ません) and negative past-polite (〜ませんでした) inflections of verbs. My understanding is that ます is an inflectable function word (助動詞), so I'm ...
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 ...
15
votes
7answers
1k views

おっす! An abbreviation for … what exactly?

Going hiking here in Japan, you can hardly pass anyone without either saying お疲れさまです, おはようございます (I go hiking in the morning) or こんにちは. Some people (young males in particular) greet you with either ...
13
votes
2answers
505 views

Splitting Kanji and okurigana at the end of the line

A question was asked on the Linguistics Stack Exchange about the oriental languages. The title was the following: How are line breaks handled in ideographic scripts? The answer made me think, and I ...
13
votes
2answers
465 views

Ups and downs: かみ・しも vs うえ・した

So, we have the kanji 上・下 which can be read as either かみ・しも or うえ・した, and as I understand it, those two are antonym pairs. But what are the differences between the two? The thesaurus isn't very ...
12
votes
2answers
344 views

Irregularity of あ-series in demonstratives

Why is the あ-series in demonstratives irregular like the following: ここ  そこ  あ そこ      どこ        (expected あこ) こう  そう  あ あ       どう        (expected あう) Is it related to the fact that こ, そ, ...
12
votes
2answers
441 views

“y”-sound insertion after intervocalic ん

The pronunciation of intervocalic ん is a topic by itself, with the surrounding vowels tending to become nasalized, and ん itself maybe being pronounced as a nasal vowel. But that's not what I'm asking ...
12
votes
3answers
359 views

The etymology of 関手【かんしゅ】

In Japanese mathematics, the word ‘functor’ is translated as 関手【かんしゅ】. What is the etymology of this word? I suspect that it is a pun on 関数 (function). This leads to two further questions: Why 関手 ...
12
votes
3answers
975 views

Historical differences between colors that are i-adjectives and those that are simply nouns

EDIT: Started a bounty with hope of getting more definitive and elaborate answers, e.g. timeline of when color names started being used in Japan. In Japanese language, there are colors that are ...
12
votes
3answers
422 views

Why is 一緒に correct and 一緒で incorrect?

This is a mistake I habitually make, even though I know what the right form is. Earlier tonight, I wanted to tell my friend "Let's go together!", so I sent a mail saying: 一緒{いっしょ}で行{い}こう! My ...
11
votes
2answers
866 views

What is the difference between [plain form of verb]~そう and [root of verb]~そう?

I heard both forms of [plain form of verb]~そう and [root of verb]~そう in an anime I watched, reproduced below, so I'm wondering how are they different and how to choose to use one over the other? ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

About writing numbers using Japanese numerals vs using Arabic numerals

I noticed that even though Japanese language has kanji characters for numbers (e.g. 十、百、千、万 etc), there are many places where Arabic numerals are used instead, for example, prices for shop items are ...
10
votes
2answers
235 views

俺 and 僕 used as second person singular pronouns

I often see couples where the girl sometimes speaks to her boyfriend using 俺 as a 'you'. Where does it come from? Can other pronouns like 僕、私、あたし, etc. can be used the same way?
10
votes
1answer
287 views

Unifying concept for noun-adjectives of the pattern Xかな

Consider these: ~か: 静か 愚か 厳か ~やか: 穏やか 鮮やか 賑やか ~らか: 柔らか 滑らか 明らか There are many more that I've not listed. The か/やか/らか at the end of these words ...
10
votes
3answers
691 views

Difference between [行く末]{ゆくすえ}, 将来{しょうらい} and 未来{みらい}

I've been looking around and I got that the three words can mean "future". Is there a way to differentiate them? Can they be used the same way?
10
votes
2answers
353 views

Can a noun + suru have an adjective modify the noun as well?

”I did some difficult studying last night." Could I say, "昨夜、難しい勉強しました。”? Basically, my question is: can an adjective, relative clause, or adjectival phrase modify a noun that has する attached, for ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the difference between “〜がる” and “〜がっている”

I want to know the difference between 〜がる and 〜がっている, and in what situations I can use them. My friend said 〜がる is used for a regular activity that someone does every day or every week, and the ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

In what situation can I use ~かい (for interrogative question)?

One day, I asked my japanese friend how I could invite some friends to eat. He said "一緒に食べに行くかい?" I know that we could also say: 行きましょうか(行こうか)? 行きませんか(行かない)? 行きますか(行くの)? but I got interested ...
9
votes
3answers
465 views

Problems with は and が

Consider: [A] 猫が好きだ To me this means [A']"I like cats." Contrast this to: [B] 猫は好きだ To me this means [B']"I like cats (among other animals)" I based my understanding of [B] from Derek ...
9
votes
2answers
528 views

いAdjective. difference between くて and く

Is it 太陽光線は暖かいけどまぶしく、肌に刺すようです or 太陽光線は暖かいけどまぶしくて、肌に刺すようです What's the difference between くて and く?
9
votes
2answers
2k views

How to differentiate ~られる conjugation between passive form and potential form?

For verbs of group 2, whose ~ます form is formed by dropping the ending ~る from the plain form, both the passive and potential forms have the same conjugation: ~られる. Example: 食べられる 1. to be eaten ...
8
votes
1answer
253 views

後で vs. 前に- Why not the same particle?

Why don't 後で and 前に both use the same particle (I suppose I would think に would be more appropriate). They both seem to be the same kind of statement, just with different times (before/after), so I ...
8
votes
3answers
644 views

How can I come to terms with the animate/inanimate distinction in Japanese?

According to this answer, "This made me laugh" would translate literally into Japanese as: これが僕{ぼく}を笑{わら}わせた。 However, the same answer explains that this would be an odd thing to say in ...
8
votes
2answers
240 views

Confusion about 一千億 and 一千兆

I recently created a web app called Kazu which aims to help speakers of Japanese and English learn to read numbers in both languages. I found a web page which said that 'for numbers over 1万, "1000" ...
8
votes
1answer
563 views

What does こまけー mean?

Does anybody have a clue what こまけー might mean? Below are some sentences for context and the phrase as it's used: まじめでおカタい感じの女子大生は、やたらとわたしを目を敵にしてきた。わたしが何をやっても文句をつけてくる。「しょうゆの向きは、こうじゃなくてこう!」って こまけー ...
8
votes
3answers
500 views

に and で revisited

Consider the statement A: ホテル(に/で)泊まる. For both cases would translate to "I stay at a hotel" in English. However they are answers to different questions. Consider the questions 1.どこに泊まる and ...
7
votes
1answer
321 views

Present vs. past tense with certain verbs?

~ことにする vs ~ことにした  ~と思う vs ~と思った What sort of context would you use either of these? Does the past tense imply that you've changed your decisions or thoughts?
7
votes
3answers
423 views

AはB emphasizing B, rather than A

There are quite a few comments on another question discussing the sentence 彼が持っているのは二百円です, in which the emphasis apparently falls on 二百円. I posted a comment asking if this could be explained as the ...
7
votes
2answers
269 views

Do we use odd day pronunciations outside of calendar ranges?

After reading @jkerian's comment in this post, I started thinking about this. Here's the comment in full: On a side note, all days ending in '4' are also irregular, and use ~よっか. So the 14th is ...

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