Honorific Speech in Japanese - Kenjougo (謙譲語)

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Welcome to this other page! This article is devoted to Japanese humble language, kenjougo 謙譲語. In English, there isn't a way to humbly express an action unless you say 'I humbly...'. You use this speech when referring to yourself or inner circle, like family and close friends. When using kenjougo you are belittling yourself in order to automatically raise the person with whom you are speaking. However, this is only true if you are speaking with someone in a higher position than you. When ...

Japanese Particles - The Secret to Using Them in Sentences

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Don't be daunted by Particles! They are essential to sentence construction. This article will give an overview of the series of Japanese particles, and provide some helpful links. This article is the second half of our Japanese Sentence Structure series. Click here for the first half. Particles What are particles?  They are absolutely essential to Japanese sentences. Particles tell you what something is, where it goes, what it does, how it does it, why it does it, etc. They are ...

Honorific Speech - Sonkeigo (2nd Article of 3)

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Welcome to the this page! This article is on the beastly sonkeigo 尊敬語, Japanese respectful language. Sonkeigo, or keigo, is used when you are speaking with or about someone who is well respected, has your respect, or has a respectful position, such as any member of a royal family, presidents, professors/teachers, or senpai (big brother or sister in a club or company). You will often be the recipient of sonkeigo when in a Japanese restaurant. However, you never ever speak about yourself in ...

Honorific Speech - Teineigo (First Article of Three)

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Japan has an amazing history and culture, and many of its customs, such as bowing to another person, are related to the concept of respect. In Japanese, there are 4 levels of speech that reflect this concept: casual/informal speech, polite language 丁寧語 (teineigo), respectful language 尊敬語 (sonkeigo), and humble language 謙譲語 (kenjougo). The first two are pretty simple. Casual form is used with people with whom you have an intimate relationship, such as friends, family, and significant ...

Counters in Japanese

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One of the most difficult grammar points of Japanese is counters. As opposed to English, in Japanese there are only a few plural nouns, like 私たち, so you have to add number words, or counters, for the different things you want to pluralize; you can't just attach a number to a thing (well, you can but you'll be grammatically incorrect). Basically, the rule is that the thing you're pluralizing goes before its corresponding counter. For example, if you want to say '2 apples,' you do not say ...

Japanese Onomatopoeia

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Ah, onomatopoeia, the spice of life! One of the pleasures of speaking Japanese is being able to use onomatopoeia. It's everywhere - in manga, anime, television adverts, books, music, newspapers, conversations - you name it and it's there! This article will open your eyes to this beautiful world of オノマトペ! オノマトペ and Rules Giseigo Giongo Gitaigo Extras!   オノマトペ and Rules Believe it or not, English is a hard language. You can have several words that can mean the same thing. ...

What is the difference between Miru and Mirareru? 日本語の文法

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A lot of students at Hills Learning that are learning Japanese have questions on grammar. I found this question in particular to be of significance, and felt that it had been repeated quite a few times. So I decided to write an article on it! What is the difference " miru" and "mirareru"? 「見る」 と 「見られる」 見る? 見られる? For Japanese learners,  it is sometime confusing to differentiate 「見る」and 「見られる」. Here is the tip; 「見る」 (人が主語-subject) ○ 見ます  × 見ません (物が主語)例: 見えます be ...

Japanese Sentence Structure 1

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Probably the first thing you have to learn when learning a language (other than your native one) is sentence structure. Even if you know grammar and vocab, without knowledge of sentence structure, you can’t build a sentence properly. But before I get into Japanese sentence structure, let me delve a little into linguistics. As linguistics is the science of (human) language, it’s good to know some of the mechanics behind the language(s) you want to study. Please bear with me as I explain ...

Learning Japanese Particles - "Wo"

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Welcome back! This is the fourth article in my series on Japanese language particles. Language learning is like most other pursuits – everything comes back to basics. Japanese is no different. Usually the particles are all off partying and doing their thing in language land and the language learner can sometimes struggle to keep up. Here, the goal is to take some time to have a good ‘ol one-on-one with the particles. Where usually you might get a very scientific, sterile and lengthy ...

Learning Japanese Particles - "Ga"

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Welcome to the third article in this series on basic Japanese particles! Japanese jyoshi 助詞 (particles) are functional grammatical postpositions which help make meaning clear in Japanese. At first we got a primer on particles, then an introduction on は wa (actually “ha” but pronounced “wa” when used as a particle). The core points brought up were that Japanese works as a topic-comment language. Wa は marks the topic of conversation, and then something is said about it. In this article we’ll ...

Learning Japanese Particles - Explanation of "Wa"

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Welcome to the second article in this series on basic Japanese particles. In the opening article, we looked at Japanese jyoshi 助詞 (particles), functional grammatical suffices, which help to make meaning clear in Japanese. We also looked at why learning particles is so important. For this article, we’ll go back to look at the examples given before to get a better look at the particle wa は. Let’s look at a sentence construction commonly learned when starting to study Japanese: “A wa B desu” = ...

Learn Japanese Grammar! Nuances of the Particles に and で

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One of the most difficult parts of learning Japanese is not learning colloquial phrases or expanding vocabulary, but perfecting the usage of small words. Although small words to non-native speakers might seem to be trivial, just look at how important the articles “a, an, and the” are in English. “A girlfriend” vs. “The Girlfriend” means something entirely different in English, although in Japanese there is no direct equivalent to describe this situation. Japanese speakers who are learning ...