2017年6月21日水曜日

wakaru

It’s been a long time! Many of you will take the JLPT soon. Are you studying every day?

Here’s a question for you: Do you consider “wakaru” to be an active verb like “taberu”, “nomu”, or “suru”?
The truth is that “wakaru” is not an active verb. Likewise, “aru”, “iru” or “tsukareru” are not active verbs either. Can you tell these verbs are all the same type of verb? If you can, it should be easier for you to understand Japanese grammar. If you can’t, please accept that’s just the way it is.
The following sentences are very basic examples with active verbs:
Watashi wa   soba o   taberu. (I eat soba.)
Watashi wa   ocha o   nomu. (I drink tea.)
Watashi wa   tennis o   suru. (I play tennis.)
However, unlike the verbs in those examples, “wakaru” is not an active verb, so we don’t say “watshi wa nihongo o wakaru.”
Nihongo ga   wakaru.
This is a grammatically orrect sentence. When you speak casually, you might say, “Nihongo wakaru?” “wakaru yo.” Or you may say, “kore wakatta?” “wakaranai.” The particles "o” and “ga” are not spoken so you can’t tell which one is omitted. It’s actually “ga” that is hidden there.

Mr. Jay Rubin, who has translated many of Haruki Murakami’s works, explains “wakaru” like this in his book Making Sense of Japanese:
People don't wakaru things; things themselves do wakaru: they "are clear" or they "are understandable." 
According to his explanation, “Nihongo ga wakaru” literally means “Japanese is clear/understandable.” When you think about it this way, it helps clarify why “nihongo o wakaru” is incorrect.

Based on that, you might ask, “How do you interpret the watashi wa in ‘watashi wa nihongo ga wakaru’?”
Watashi wa/niwa  nihongo ga  wakaru. As for me/To me, Japanese is understandable.
Mr. Rubin also explains it this way.

Also, “wakaru” has many usages. While writing up until this point, I almost used “wakaru” many times, but I deliberately chose other verbs each time. It’s possible to replace the verbs marked in pink above with “wakaru”. 

Let’s have a look at the definition of “wakaru” in a Japanese dictionary.
1) to understand    
example) Wake ga wakaranai. (It doesn't make sense.)  
example) Anata no iitai koto wa yoku wakaru. (What you mean is understandable.) 
2) to prove a fact 
example) Hannin no mimoto ga wakaru (find out the criminal's identity.)
example) Mondai no kotae ga wakaru (discover the answer to the question.)
It’s clear that “wakaru” doesn’t mean only “understandable” or “understand”. In addition to the examples above, it can also sometimes be “learn” or “realize”.

Lastly, since “wakaru” is not an active verb, it doesn’t have a potential form. "Wakareru” doesn’t exist. When you want to say “I can understand”, use “rikai dekiru” instead. “Rikai” means understanding.

Wakaru no tsukaikata ga wakarimashita ka? (Did you figure out how to use “wakaru”?)

Minasan, JLPT gambatte kudasai !!
 

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!
*VISITOR LESSONS: You can learn nihongo while you are in Tokyo!

If you are interested, just contact me!
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!