I am busy tonight. Because I am going to meet someone.How would you say this in Japanese?
konya wa isogashi. dareka to au kara.Hmm, this translation is strange. We Japanese would say it like this.
konya wa isogashi. hito to au kara.The word “dareka” is made from the question “dare des ka”, therefore dareka implies that I don’t know who that person is. You can’t identify that person.
In other words, “dareka to au” means that you will meet someone you don’t know. It sounds strange that you will meet a stranger, though you have an appointment. Even if he/she is a person you have never met like a blind date because you made an appointment with him/her, you have some information about this person and can identify him/her to some extent.
On the other hand, when you say, “hito to au”, the speaker knows this person, but the listener doesn’t. So, the speaker just doesn’t mention the name of this person. Of course, it is possible to be more specific, such as “tomodachi to au” (I am meeting my friend.), “imoto o au” (I am meeting my sister.) or “shokai shite moratta hito to au” (I am meeting a person to whom I was introduced.)
Here are the examples of dareka.
- dareka ga watashi no saifu o hirotte kureta. [Someone found my wallet.]
- (michi ni mayotta toki) dareka ni michi o kikou. [(When I am lost) I will ask someone for directions.]
Next, let’s think about nanika and something in the same way. For example, you would ask a host the following when you are invited to a house party.
nanika motteikimasho ka? [Should I bring something?]In this case, you don’t know yet what to bring and you cannot specify it. Therefore, you need to use “nanika” here.
What would you say when you give a friend a souvenir from your trip? In English you would say, "I brought you something." But, you can’t translate “something” as “nanika” here because the person who bought the souvenir knows what it is. You always know what you bought. Therefore, we say it like this in Japanese:
- omiyage o mottekita yo. [I brought you a souvenir.]
- (sore ga okashi nara) okashi o mottekita yo. [(If it is candy,) I brought you candy.]
- ii mono o mottekita yo. [I brought you something nice.]