I only know hiragana and katakana at this stage, so pardon the long sentence; I'm learning from the "Japanese From Zero!" books. In the book, the answer it gives for "I will be busy this Friday" is:

こんしゅうの きんようびは いそがしいです。

This is in response to someone asking to hang out on Friday. I used に instead of は when translating it. It seems to me that the literal English equivalents would be "This Friday is busy." vs. "On Friday, I will be busy." Are the sentences equal either way in Japanese, or is one more natural than the other?

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    Hiragana typing hint: you need to type kinnyoubi rather than kinyoubi otherwise it converts to the wrong word. Sep 10, 2018 at 21:46
  • There is an implied 'I' in both versions of the sentence. Remember that Japanese often omits pronouns when the context is obvious, so "This Friday is busy" wouldn't really be a natural translation. Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/54560/… Sep 10, 2018 at 21:57

2 Answers 2

  1. こんしゅうの きんようびは いそがしいです。
  2. こんしゅうの きんようびに いそがしいです。

Both are grammatical and translate to "I will be busy this Friday" in English, but they are used in different situations. Sentence 1 is used as a reply for "Hey, can we have a meeting this Friday?", whereas Sentence 2 is used as a reply for "Which day of this week are you busy?"

In Sentence 1, きんようび is marked with the topic-marker は. Japanese is a topic-prominent language and は is used to mark what you are talking about. Your literal translation will not help you understand the difference because English is a subject-prominent language. In essence, Sentence 1 is saying "Regarding this Friday, (I am) busy." If someone has already mentioned "this Friday" in the conversation and you need to say something about it, it's natural to mark it as the topic of the sentence.


What is the more natural way of saying: "I will be busy this Friday."

I'll throw this out there since the "more natural" way could be dependent on the context. If you are using "I will be busy this Friday" to decline/refuse an invitation from a Japanese person, it is a very direct way of doing so, and could even be considered rude. As you probably know, Japanese people are generally not direct or confrontational, so a "more natural" way would be something less direct, like

  • [今週]{こん・しゅう}の[金曜日]{きん・よう・び}はむずかしい... → This Friday would be difficult ("for me to go" or something similar implied).
  • 今週の金曜日はちょっと... → I'm not so sure about this Friday...

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