2017年4月2日日曜日

日本語教師募集中

日本語教師を募集しています。経験者であればさらに歓迎。
興味のある方はぜひお問い合わせください。
We are recruiting experienced Japanese language teachers!

private.nihongo.lessons@gmail.com
recruit.privatejapaneselesson.com


arigato gozaimasu and arigato gozaimashita

It’s a question I sometimes get asked not only by beginners, but also by advanced students.
What’s the difference between “arigato gozaimasu” and “arigato gozaimashita”?
The answer is simple, but I’ll write it out to make sure you understand it.

“Arigato” expresses gratitude. You say it when someone has done something for you—for example, if your boss helped you with something at work.
“Tetsudatte kudasatte, arigato gozaimashita.” (1)
The past tense “gozaimashita” is used because your boss had already helped you before you said it. This makes sense, doesn't it? 
However, the present tense “arigato gozaimasu” can also be used in this case. That’s why these expressions cause confusion.

Consider this next example. Let’s say your client is going to prepare some documents for you by next week.
“Arigato gozaimasu. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.” (2)
The present tense is used because your client hasn’t prepared them yet. In this case, you can’t use the past tense. Remember: The past tense can’t be applied to incomplete events. This is a rule! 


Let’s have a look at other expressions: “Otsukaresama desu” and “otsukaresama deshita.”
The same rule applies here, too.

It’s 7 PM and all employees are going home after work. What would you say to your colleagues?
“Otsukaresama deshita.” (1)
Work for the day is finished (1), so the past tense “deshita” is used. Japanese people say this to each other to mutually acknowledge their hard work. Like “arigato”, you can say “otsukaresama desu” in the present tense. 

Actually, you always hear “otsukaresama” at Japanese companies during the day and not only at the end of the day or after long meetings. People say it whenever they pass by each other. You can consider this expression to be a greeting used in the same way as “ohayo” and “konnichiwa.”
And, in cases where work is not over yet (2), you should say it like this:
“Otsukaresama desu.” (2) 
Even in the middle of the day, it expresses something like “You’ve been working hard today. Are you tired? Are you okay?” 

Moving on, how about these expressions: “Osewa ni narimasu” and “osewa ni narimashita”? It’s not easy to translate them into English, but do you understand their meaning?
They are used when expressing gratitude to someone for taking care of you, helping you, or working with you.

For example, when you leave a company where you’ve worked for five years, you feel grateful to your colleagues.
"Ima made taihen osewa ni narimashita." (1)  (Thank you very much for all of your kind help.)
The act of receiving help from your colleagues has finished, so in this case, the present/future tense is not used. 

On the other hand, when you begin working at new office, you expect that your new colleagues will work with you and help you a lot. So, you say,
"Korekara osewa ni narimasu." (2)
This is about future, therefore “narimasu” is used and only this form is possible.

What would you say to clients you have been working with for a while?
Itsumo osewa ni natteimasu. (3)
Itsumo osewa ni natteorimasu. (polite version)
“Teimasu”, indicating a ongoing state, is used because these refer to a daily situation. When you want to be polite, convert “imasu” to its humble form, “orimasu.” 

These are very typical Japanese greetings and essential at Japanese offices. I hope you can use these expressions correctly in various situations.


2017年1月16日月曜日

Skype Japanese language lessons and Visitor Japanese language lessons

You don't live in Tokyo?
*SKYPE LESSONS: You can learn nihongo wherever you are!
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private.nihongo.lessons@gmail.com
 

2017年1月12日木曜日

Japanese announcements at the station part 2

Happy New Year 2017!

Yet another years has gone by. I haven’t posted anything for the last three months. However, “Nihongo Day By Day - English” surpassed 10,000 page views last November and December! Arigato gozaimashita!! I thank all of you — those who just had a quick look and also those who read the entire articles. I’m very happy.

To commemorate reaching 10,000 page views, I’ll write a follow-up to my Japanese station announcements article, which has been the most popular article on this blog.

In the first version, I introduced “door ga shimarimasu”, but I sometimes hear “door o shimemasu”. What is the difference between “ga” and “o” and also between “shimarimasu” and “shimemasu”?
door ga shimarimasu: The door will be closing on its own.
(watashi wa) door o shimemasu: I (the train crew) am closing the door.
“Shimemasu” is for someone’s action and “o” is an object marker.

Next, you hear something like this.
“muri na go-josha wa o-yame kudasai. 
 muri na: impossible, unreasonable
(go-)josha: boarding (“go” is an honorific prefix)
o-yame kudasai: to stop/quit (“o” is an honorific prefix)

What is impossible boarding? Is that something like the trains in India that have people crammed both inside and on top of trains?
No, that never happens in Japan. Rather, “muri na go-josha” refers to dashing to get on the train right before the door closes.

As I wrote last time, Japan loves warnings. Other people will caution you even for things you have to take care of by yourself.
“kono saki yuremasu node, go-chui kudasai.”
kono saki: from now on/from this point on
yuremasu: shake
node: because/therefore
Everyone more or less expects that trains will shake, though... 

These next announcements are rather important. Trains stop at every station along Tokyo Metro, but JR lines and other train lines have different types of trains, such as express or super express. They are quite difficult to get your head around.
“kono densha wa shimbashi ni teisha itashimasen. Tsugi no densha o go-riyou kudasai.”
kono densha: this train
shimbashi: a name of the station in Tokyo
teisha shimasu: to stop
itashimasen: the humble form of shimasen
tsugi no densha: next train
(go-)riyou kudasai: please use 
“shuten made kaku eki ni tomarimasu”
shuten: final stop/station
made: to/until
kaku eki: each station
tomarimasu: to stop


If you miss these announcements, trains sometimes don’t stop at your station or else they stop at every station and take longer than expected to reach your destination.
When you’re unsure whether or not a train stops at your destination, try to ask someone this question: 
 “kono densha (pointing at the train) wa your destination ni tomarimasu ka?”
             (Is this train going to stop at your destination?)

It’s tough to get on and off trains or buses at unfamiliar places. Even if you carefully check your surroundings and the destination or number of train/bus, it’s easy to make mistakes. The other day I took the wrong bus in Kyoto - twice! 
Even when I go to an unfamiliar station in Tokyo, I have no idea which direction to go and even board trains going in the opposite direction from time to time. This is not a language issue, but just depends whether or not you understand the layout of the area.

Lastly, I’m going to post as many articles as I can this year, so I hope you will keep reading. Thank you!

akemashite omedeto!



2016年12月20日火曜日

Season's Greetings in Japanese

This is a quick reminder. How would you say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Japanese?

Merry Christmas: メリー クリスマス (meri kurisumasu)
Happy New Year before January 1st: よい おとしを (yoi otoshi o)
Happy New Year after January 1st: あけまして おめでとう (akemashite omedeto)



2016年9月8日木曜日

"kara" and "dakara"

Sumimasen! I had a long break. I need to think about a good topic and have some spare time to write in both Japanese and English. This is my excuse.

“Kara” and “dakara” have the same meaning when attached to reasons, but their usages are not always the same. I often hear people mixing them up. There is also “de”, which has a similar function to “kara” and “dakara”.

“kara” is used when the speaker connects a reason and its consequence. The sentence structure is reason + kara + consequence. Please remember the order of these three elements. It is different from English.

Example 1-A
Reason (clause): kyo wa ame desu. (It’s raining today.)
Consequence (clause): shiai wa chushi desu. (The game is cancelled.)
Reason (clause) + Consequence (clause): 1) kyo wa ame desu kara, shiai wa chushi desu.
2) kyo wa ame da kara, shiai wa chushi desu. *“desu” becomes “da”, which is the casual form.
(Because it’s raining today, the game is cancelled.) 
Example 1-B
Reason/cause (noun): ame
Consequence (clause): shiai wa chushi desu. (The game is cancelled.)
Reason/cause (noun) + Consequence (clause): 3) ame de kyo no shiai wa chushi desu. (Because of rain, today’s game is cancelled.) 
Sentences 1 and 2 mean the same thing as sentence 3.

Example 2
2) watashi wa byoki da kara, kyo no yoru asobi ni ikenai.
3) byoki de kyo no yoru asobi ni ikenai. (”byoki” is a noun.)
(Because I am sick, I can’t go out tonight.) 
Example 3-A
Reason (clause): kesa jishin ga atta. (There was an earthquake this morning.)
Consequence (clause): densha ga okureta. (Trains were delayed.)
Reason (clause) + Consequence (clause): 1) kesa jishin ga atta kara, densha ga okureta. (Because there was an earthquake this morning, trains were delayed.) 
As the previous examples show, “desu kara” becomes “da kara”. However, “Jishin ga atta” doesn’t include “desu”. Therefore, you can’t say “jishin ga atta da kara” and “jishin da kara”. Also, “jishin kara” is missing a verb and is thus incomplete and incorrect.
Other common mistakes include “jishin da kara” and “jishin kara”. Make sure to avoid these. 

Example 3-B
Reason/cause (noun): jishin
Consequence (clause): densha ga okureta. (Trains delayed.)
Reason/cause (noun) + Consequence (clause): jishin de densha ga okureta. (Because of the earthquake, trains were delayed.) 

There’s one thing I definitely want you to understand: “da kara”, the casual form of “desu kara”, is different from the conjunction “dakara”. “dakara” is used between two sentences.
Kesa jishin ga atta. Dakara, densha ga okureta.
Sentence 1. (full stop) Dakara, sentence 2. In other words, the second sentence starts with “dakara”.

On the other hand, in the previous examples, the two clauses are linked and become one long sentence. In that case, “da kara” is in the middle of the sentence.
Kyo wa ame da kara, shiai wa chushi desu.
Can you see the difference? 


One last thing: How would you translate “kara” into English? Is it “because”? Or is it “so” or “therefore”?
It seems “so” or “therefore” works better when you look at the sentences above, but I think “because” is the English equivalent of “kara”.

When “kara” is used, it’s attached to a reason, not a consequence. Also, when asked the question “Why were the trains delayed?”, you respond “jishin ga atta kara”. If “kara” is “so” or “therefore”, this doesn’t make any sense.

However, when used in a conjunction, “dakara” can perhaps be translated as “so” or “therefore”.


2016年5月2日月曜日

"Nihongo wa hanashi nikui" is incorrect.

Happy golden week everyone in Japan! If you still like to study, please read my latest post.

Have you ever said, “Nihongo wa hanashi nikui” or “Nihongo wa yomi nikui”? Every time I hear those, they feel odd to me. I often come across incorrect usages of “nikui” in other situations too. The reason is simple: you just understand “nikui” as being the same as “difficult to do”.
But that alone isn’t enough. There is one more condition necessary for correct usage. Any ideas what that is?

For example, what is it like eating crab? Sure, it tastes good, but you have to break or remove their shells, so it’s an annoying food.
A: kani wa oishii kedo, tabe nikui.
Consider this next example: You can’t eat any more because you’re full but, despite this, food is still being served.
B: onaka ga ippai dakara, zenbu taberu no wa muzukashii.
Example A refers to crab being difficult to eat because of the shape and shell. It’s that feature of crab itself that causes problems.
For example B, the food itself doesn’t have any problem. You are simply full and can’t eat it. The only issue is your own ability or, in other words, capacity.

Here is another pair of examples.
Japanese people often say something like this after the first sip of wine or sake.
A. kono wine wa nomi yasui ne.
This means that you can drink the wine because it tastes good.

On the other hand, when you need two people to drink a bottle of wine because you can’t finish it off on your own, you might say,
B. futari nara wine o ippon nomu no wa kantan des.
It’s not the quality of the wine itself that matters here. It’s your own ability or capacity to drink it that does.

Therefore, ”… nikui” (A) is used when a characteristic of something makes your own actions difficult and “… yasui” (A) is used when it’s easy for you to do something with the item because of its inherent characteristics.
Meanwhile, “… no wa muzukashii/ kantan” indicates that you yourself have or don’t have the ability or skill to do something. Also, external factors can affect things sometimes too.


Let’s think about this from a different standpoint.
While you are drinking wine, let’s say you spill some on a table cloth.
AWine no shimi wa ochi nikui.
BWine no shimi o otosu no wa muzukashii. 
Example B means that the stain isn’t likely to come out because you don’t have the knowledge or know the technique to wash it away. “Otosu” (wash away) is your own action, so we can see that any verb used here must be a transitive verb (a tadoushi) or else an intransitive verb (a “jidoushi”) describing someone’s action, such as “iku”, “hashiru”, “hairu” and so on.

Lastly, I will write about “nihongo wa hanashi nikui” and “nihongo wa yomi nikui”. I wasn’t able to give a good explanation about why they are wrong, but now I think I’ve come to a conclusion. Here is my interpretation.
The Japanese language is very different from Western languages, and hiragana, katakana and kanji make it complicated. It’s true that non-Japanese people have difficulty speaking and reading Japanese and it seems to them that pattern A should be possible. However, try thinking about it this way:
For Japanese people, the nature and characteristics of Japanese are normal and not difficult. Also, they would never say “nihongo wa hanashi nikui”. Considering this, it seems Japanese people have a tendency to think that the difficulty of a language is more related to individual skill or ability than the characteristics of the language itself. It's a subtle but important difference, I think.

However, “hanashi nikui” could be used in the following situation:
“ano hito wa itsumo okotteite, kowasou dakara, hanashi nikui na”.
It’s hard to talk to that person because he is always angry and looks scary.
In my opinion, “hanashi nikui” is used like this and is not used to refer to the difficulty of a language.
What do you think? Are you convinced?