|私||わたし – I/me||僕||ぼく – I/me||君||きみ – you|
This is not a transcript of the dialog in the recording.
A man and a Canadian woman chat in an elevator until she arrives to her floor. It’s 3:00 p.m. and it’s raining outside.
1: man; 2: woman
2: Good afternoon.
Bad weather, right?
1: Good afternoon. Yes, that’s right!
The weather is bad.
Are you well?
2: Yes, I’m well.
1: You understand Japanese well.
However, I don’t understand it well yet.
1: I disagree.
You’re skilled with Japanese.
2: Thank you very much.
1: otoko; 2: onna
iya-na o-tenki desu ne?
1: kon-nichi-wa. hai, sou desu ne.
tenki wa iya desu.
o-genki desu ka?
2: hai, genki desu.
1: anata wa nihon-go ga yoku wakari-masu.
demo mada yoku wakari-masen.
anata wa nihon-go ga o-jouzu desu.
2: doumo arigatou gozai-masu.
1: おとこ; 2: おんな
いやな おてんき ですね。
1: こんにちは。はい、そう ですね。
てんきは いや です。
2: はい、げんき です。
1: あなたは にほんごが よく わかります。
でも まだ よく わかりません。
あなたは にほんごが おじょうず です。
2: どうも ありがとう ございます。
kanji (show me)
1: 男; 2: 女
now, the current
- Words ending in -i and -na are i-adjectives and na-adjectives, respectively.
- Kanjis in red are correct but usually the word is written in kana.
Bad weather, right?
That’s right… the weather is bad.
formal (show me)
iya-na o-tenki desu ne?
sou desu ne… o-tenki wa iya desu.
いやな おてんき ですね。
そう ですね。おてんきは いや です。
casual (show me)
iya-na tenki da na?
sou da na… tenki, iya da.
いやな てんき だな。
そう だ な。てんき いや だ。
We add the ‘-na’ particle to the na-adjective whenever we modify a noun, e.g., ‘iya-na tenki’ (nasty weather), but when it works alone we drop it, e.g., ‘iya desu’ (it is nasty). The ‘na-‘ adjectives cannot end a sentence because they don’t work as verbs; only i-adjectives play the role of verbs. Therefore, in the example, we need to use a verb, like ‘desu’, to finish the sentence, e.g., ‘iya desu’.
The following comments explain some of the grammar in more detail.
konnichiwa – こんにちは, 今日は
This word is a nice example of how kanjis change their sounds at the drop of a hat, to fit a particular situation. The kanji for kon-nichi-wa is 今日は, so let’s see how this came to be.
- The kanji 今 means ‘now’; when by itself, 今 uses it’s kun-yomi (Japanese-based) pronunciation ‘ima’, but when forming part of a compound word the kanji takes the on-yomi (Chinese-based) pronunciation ‘kon’.
- The kanji 日 means ‘day’; when by itself, 日 uses it’s kun-yomi (Japanese-based) pronunciation ‘hi’; the word ‘ni-hon’ (Japan) is 日本, and uses ‘hi’ in spite that ‘hi-hon’ is a compound word; however, most often in compound words 日 takes the on-yomi (Chinese-based) pronunciation ‘nichi’.
- The compound word 今日 means ‘today’; this makes sense because 今日 translates to ‘now-day’; however, 今日 is not pronounced ‘kon-nichi’ but pronounced ‘kyou’
- は is the topic marker particle ‘wa’, that we translate as a question mark ’?’. Thus, 今日は means ‘Today?’, or ‘How about today?’. And indeed, 今日は can be pronounced either as the two words ‘kyou wa?’, meaning ‘How about today?’ (as opposed to some other day), or as the single-word greeting ‘kon-nichi-wa’, meaning ‘How about today?’, which in English we would translate as ‘How are you doing today?’, ‘hello’, ‘or ‘good afternoon’.
We can write ‘kon-nichi-wa’ as 今日は, but we will frequently find it in hiragana:「こんにちは」(the 「」symbols that surround the word こんにちは are the way to write opening and closing quotes in Japanese).
yoku – よく
nicely; properly; well; skillfully
In the recording it’s not clear the difference between ‘yoku’ and ‘jouzu’ since both are translated as ‘well’. In general, the best translation of ‘yoku’ is ‘well’, while the best translation of ‘jouzu’ is ‘with skill’. Hence. ‘jouzu-ni hanashi-masu’ actually means ‘You speak with skill’.
‘jouzu’ is a na-adjective, so to use it alone we have to be follow it with either ‘desu/da’ or ‘[dewa/ja][ari-masen/nai (desu)]’:
You? You are skilled (good at it).
You? You are not skilled (good at it).
anata wa jouzu desu.
anata wa jouzu ja ari-masen.
‘yoku’ is an adverb so it modifies a verb, in this case, the verb ‘wakari-masu’ (to understand):
You? You understand well.
You? You don’t understand well.
anata wa yoku wakari-masu.
anata wa yoku wakari-masen.
‘yoku’ works like ‘sukoshi’, which is also an adverb:
You understand well.
You don’t understand well.
You understand a little.
You don’t understand a little.
doumo – どうも
It means ‘very’ or ‘quite’. ‘doumo’ emphasizes a feeling. The feeling can be
- explicit, i.e., ‘doumo arigatou’ (very grateful), or
- implicit, i.e., we just say ‘doumo’ (very) and the context says what it is that we are ‘doumo’ about
As usual, the longer the sentence, the more formal it is, so thanking someone using ‘doumo arigatou’ (thank you) is more formal than using ‘doumo’ (thanks) by itself.
Risa Sensei from JapanesePod101.com warns that ‘doumo’ is actually not very used outside TV shows, and advises to avoid it.
mada – まだ
‘mada’ (まだ) indicates that there hasn’t been any change in the state of something, for either positive or negative states, i.e., if something was good, it is still good, and if something was bad, it is still bad. Hence, ‘mada’ means ‘still’ for positive states, and ‘not yet’ for negative ones:
positive state – still:
mada jouzu desu
mada genki desu
I’m still skilled
I’m still healthy
I was skilled before, and still am
I was healthy before, and still am
negative state – not yet:
mada jouzu ja nai
mada genki ja nai
I’m not skilled yet
I’m not healthy yet
I wasn’t skilled before and am still not
I wasn’t healthy before and am still not
demo/shikashi – でも・しかし
We can only use ‘demo’ and ‘shikashi’ at the beginning of a sentence; they mean ‘But’ and ‘However’, so they are sort-of inter-changeable, although ‘shikashi’ is more formal. Since we use ‘But’ and ‘However’ to make contrasts, we usually follow them with ‘wa’s instead of ‘ga’s:
English? I understand it.
But… Japanese? I don’t understand it.
However… Japanese? I don’t understand it.
romaji (show me)
ei-go wa wakari-masu.
demo… nihon-go wa wakari-masen.
shikashi… nihon-go wa wakari-masen.