A friend showed me this T-shirt on Amazon.

enter image description here

It obviously shows the classic "eat, sleep, something, repeat" that you see in thousands of places. My first thought on reading it was that 睡眠 seemed like a weird choice amongst 食べる and 繰り返す. Isn't 睡眠 rather more formal? Why not use 寝る? My guess is that this was not designed by a Japanese speaker.

I then got to wondering if the dictionary form of the verb was actually the natural choice or not. What would be written on a natural Japanese designed version of this T-shirt?


So, @aguijonazo confirms that the design is inconsistent because it has a mixture of verbs and nouns. I'm pretty sure there is no verb for 'to watch anime' so if I wanted verbs I would end up with "アニメを見る" on the third line which I think would make for a pretty weird T-shirt.

That leaves me with making everything into a noun. Maybe 食事、睡眠、アニメ、??? I can't think of a noun form for repeat and if I could it would mean 'repetition' rather than 'repeat' and would make for another weird T-shirt. Maybe this T-shirt isn't possible in Japanese.

  • There is nothing natural about enumerating the things you do on a T-shirt...
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 13:43
  • @aguijonazo So are you saying that such a design would never exist in Japan or just that you think the design is a stupid idea? Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 13:44
  • I'm saying it's not natural. Is it?
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 13:49
  • 2
    @aguijonazo It's a very standard formula seen all over the place in the west, from T-shirts to restaurant names. The idea is that you are telling people that your life is devoted to the 'something'; anime in this case. In the sense that it is prevalent, I would say that it is natural. But what I'm interested in is what grammar would be used to do such a thing. Would they be all nouns or a particular conjugation of the verb. Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 13:52
  • I can't say what's natural for a T-shirt design, but the list is inconsistent in style. I would expect it to be either all verbs or all nouns.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


Looks like "Eat, sleep, X, repeat" is a common snowclone in English, but I have never seen anything exactly like this in Japanese. This alone may indicate that the T-shirt was designed by a non-Japanese speaker :) The meaning is perfectly understandable, of course, but Japanese people might not find this as interesting as those who are already familiar with this pattern do.

As for word choice, yes, it would be better to use kango/nouns or wago consistently whenever it's easily achievable. In this case, either 食事-睡眠-アニメ-繰り返 or 食べる-寝る-アニメ(を見る)-繰り返 would have been a little better. But note that:

  • 睡眠 is not really a stilted word, so the combination of 食べる and 睡眠 doesn't seem terribly unnatural or inconsistent to me.
  • A kango equivalent of 繰り返し is 反復, but this would look a bit too technical on a casual T-shirt.
  • You can safely use the dictionary form of a verb in a list like this. 食べて-寝て-アニメを見て-繰り返す would be also possible, but it would no longer look like a bullet list of steps.

EDIT: Mixture of nouns and verbs is not a taboo at all, and you can see similar patterns everywhere. As an example, see this command palette from Dragon Quest III, which is made of pure nouns (どうぐ/じゅもん), suru-verbs (こうげき/ぼうぎょ/そうび) and a wago verb (にげる).

DQ3 screenshot

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