Category Archives: JAPANESE

7 Ways To Master The Art Of Polite Conversation In Japan

If you’re like me, a large part of the joy of conversation comes from the ruffle-and-tumble exchange of thoughts and the joint race to the next new idea or twist in the discussion. But Japanese conversation tends to be a more sedate affair, at least outside your core group of best buddies. As a woman, here you are also expected to be polite and sensitive toward others and be able to express this through communicating. And while back home, we are more likely to just start a conversation with “Hey, lady!,” in Japan, you need to pass through some stages before you get there (if you ever do.)

If you’re struggling with initiating and keeping polite conversations here in Japan, (as we all have at some stage in our stay in Japan), check out the following tips which will help you make the right moves in this slower groove.

1. Use “Aizuchi

You have surely noticed that an indispensable part of conversational Japanese is grunting – or to put that more accurately – giving verbal responses to the speaker during a conversation to show that you understand what they are saying. Called aizuchi (相槌) in Japanese, this practice is crucial for oiling the wheels of conversation, particularly on the phone. Women usually use a more melodious “hmm” or a long, soft “hai” (yes), or phrases such as “so desu ne,” literally “that is so,” or “taihen desu ne” (that’s tough), or “ii desu ne” (that’s good), with “ne” being added to show empathy. If you are in a formal conversation or being given instructions, the best aizuchi responses are “hai,” or “eee” (not, “eh?” though — just a prolonged, toned-down eeee) which you can slot in wherever necessary again and again, and a “wakarimashita” (I understand) to end with.

2. Be patient — …continue reading

    

Learning Negative Imperative Sentences in Japanese

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When you want to just tell someone, “Don’t talk so loud, please”, how would you say that in Japanese? As a mom, I feel like I use the negative imperative forms all the time with my kids. I know it’s not good to talk to them so negatively, but some days, I just can’t help it! So, in my blog post today, I would like to cover some of the examples of negative imperatives in Japanese.

photo from subtle_3106 on flickr.com

Don’t come here!

1) Kocchini konaide! こっちに来ないで!こっちに こないで!

2) Kocchini kuruna! こっちに来るな! こっちにくるな!

Just like the way I explained the imperative sentences the other day in my post (here), there are two ways of saying in negative imperative sentences as well.

The first one is pretty standard way of saying it. The second expression is much more manly and more authoritative. Most of the ladies will not use the second expression as they would be using the first expression.

Don’t be so loud!

1) Urusaku shinaide! うるさくしないで!

2) Urusaku suruna! うるさくするな!

Don’t run!

1) Hashiranai de! 走らないで!はしらないで!Hashiranai! はしらない!

2) Hashiruna!  走るな!

Moms will often tell children, “Don’t run!”, but this one will be translated as Hashiranai de! 走らないで!はしらないで! in Japanese. …continue reading

    

Personal Pronouns in Japanese Grammar

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I don’t believe that I covered this topic in the past. This is one of those basic grammar lesson, and it is very important to know. Today, let me cover the personal pronouns.

photo from Stevie Spiers (Photography) on flickr.com

The major personal pronouns we use in Japanese are:

Watashi (私、わたし) - I

Anata (あなた) – You

Kare (彼、かれ) – He

Kanojo (彼女、かのじょ) – She

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In Japanese, “I” is “Watashi”. However, during our conversation, we often omit the word “watashi”. This is true, especially in less formal conversation. I added the word, “watashi” below, but you can say it without the word

  • Kyo, watashi wa market e ikimashita. 今日、私は、マーケットへ 行きました。(きょう、わたしは マーケットへ いきました。) – I went to the market today.

Similar approach is applied to the word “You”, “Anata” in Japanese.

  • Anata no ie wa doko desuka? – あなたの、家は何処ですか? (あなたの いえは どこですか?) Where is your house (located) ?

This can be said ” Ie wa doko deuka?” without “Anata”

When using “He” , “She” or “Kare”, or “Kanojo”, we do add the pronouns in our sentences.

  • Kare wa John san no oto-to desu. 彼は、ジョンさんの 弟 です。(かれは、ジョンさんの おとうと です。)- He is John’s brother.
  • Kanojo wa watashi no imo-to desu. 彼女は、私の 妹 です。 (かのじょは わたしの いもうと です。)- She is my younger sister.

What if you want to make these pronouns plural. Let me show you how …continue reading