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20/09/2016 Things That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural ­ japanese learning article ­ italki

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Things That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural

Japanese  159  3 0

Sep 18, 2016

Have you ever heard a non-native English speaker using correct, yet strange
phrases that make them sound a bit unnatural? The same thing can happen
to your Japanese ( if you're not
too careful. In fact, I sometimes come across non-native Japanese speakers
who are fluent in Japanese, but who still tend to use some unnatural
expressions in their conversations. The truth is that Japanese and English
are very different languages, so direct translations often sound strange and a
bit “off.” This is made even worse by the fact that there might be certain
Japanese grammar points or ways of speaking that don't exist in your own
language.­That­Make­Your­Japanese­Sound­Unnatural 1/12
20/09/2016 Things That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural ­ japanese learning article ­ italki

So, here is a list of three common unnatural grammar structures that I have
observed in non-native speakers:

Structure #1
Issho ni ikitai desu ka?
Do you want to go together?
Some of my students from the community center had a cherry blossom
viewing party coming up, and one student wanted me to join them. However,
what she ended up asking was:
Sensei mo issho ni ikitai desu ka?
Teacher, do you want to go with us?
The problem with this is that we don’t really say “do you want to go?” in
Japanese. Instead, we express our desire for you to go in a different way. The
most common structure is:
Sensei mo issho ni ikimasen ka?
Teacher, won’t you go with us?
In general, Japanese people behave modestly and tend to hesitate before
directly sharing their true feelings with other people. Therefore if, for
instance, you wanted your Japanese friend to taste your ice cream and you
asked 食べたい? (tabetai?, do you want to eat some?) your friend would­That­Make­Your­Japanese­Sound­Unnatural 2/12
20/09/2016 Things That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural ­ japanese learning article ­ italki

probably respond with “no, I don’t” simply because they think you are asking
them about what they want to do. However, if you were to say 食べる?
(taberu?, Literally: “you eat?”) or 食べてみて!(tabete mite!, try some!)
instead, your friend would find it easier to say “yes, please.” This is because
they now feel as if it is you who want them to try it. So, whenever you’d like
your Japanese friend to do something, you should always remember to
recommend that they do it, instead of asking them.
The same is true with positive and negative suggestions. For example:
karaoke iku?
Literally: You going to karaoke?
This question sounds like an assertive proposal.
karaoke ikanai?
Literally: Won’t you go to karaoke?
This question sounds like a polite suggestion.

Structure #2
Here is another issue I have seen with students:­That­Make­Your­Japanese­Sound­Unnatural 3/12
20/09/2016 Things That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural ­ japanese learning article ­ italki

Pokemon o mita koto ga arun desu ka?
You’ve seen Pokemon? (When trying to ask the question “have you seen
For instance, I was talking about Japanese anime with my student, when he
Pokemon o mita koto ga arun desu ka?
You’ve seen Pokemon?
It sounded very unnatural. Then he added:
Nan no kyarakutaa ga sukinan desu ka?
Which Pokemon do you like? (unnatural without context)
Hoka ni donna anime o mirun desu ka?
What other anime do you watch? (also unnatural without context)
Wait! There’s too much んです (n desu) happening here. The reason for this
is that whenever you use んです (n desu) in Japanese, information must first
be exchanged between the speakers. For example:
Person A:­That­Make­Your­Japanese­Sound­Unnatural 4/12
20/09/2016 Things That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural ­ japanese learning article ­ italki

Pokemon o mita koto ga arimasu ka?
Have you seen Pokemon?
Person B:
Arimasu yo.
Yes, I have.
Person A:
Nan no kyarakutaa ga suki nan desu ka?
Which Pokemon do you like?
Person B:
Zenigame desu.
Person A:
Zenigame ga sukinan desu ka? Watashi mo desu!
You like Squirtle? Me too!­That­Make­Your­Japanese­Sound­Unnatural 5/12
20/09/2016 Things That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural ­ japanese learning article ­ italki

In fact, there are three usages of んです (n desu).

One is when you already have some information about the topic of your
question, but you want to obtain more information or learn the reason behind
it. For example, if you saw that your colleague was reading a Harry Potter
book, your conversation might go like this:
Person A:
Nani o yonde irun desu ka?
What are you reading?
Person B:
Harry Potter 2 desu. Eiga ga omoshirokatta node, hon o kattan desu.
Harry Potter 2. The movie was interesting, so I bought the book.
The second use is when you want to know why somebody said something.
For example:
Person A:
Maccha daisuki!
I love matcha tea!
Person B:­That­Make­Your­Japanese­Sound­Unnatural 6/12
20/09/2016 Things That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural ­ japanese learning article ­ italki

America nimo maccha arun desu ka?
Do you have matcha in America as well?
The final usage is when you want to explain something, especially when
someone has already asked you something using んです (n desu). For
Person A:
Person B:
A, konnichiwa! Kyou kara koko ni sumu David desu.
Oh, hello! I’m David. I’m going to live here from now on.
Person A:
E, Nihongo hanaserun desu ka?
Ah, you speak Japanese?
Person B:
Hai. Daigaku de yo-nen gurai benkyou shitan desu.­That­Make­Your­Japanese­Sound­Unnatural 7/12
20/09/2016 Things That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural ­ japanese learning article ­ italki

Yes, I studied it for about four years at college.

In all these situations, you already know some information based on what
the other person had said previously. Thus, you can use んです (n desu).

Structure #3: Male vs. Female Speech

Take a look at the conversation below:
Ashita ame date. Jogingu dekinai.
I heard that it’s going to rain tomorrow. We can’t go jogging.
Ame wa gogo kara desho? Asa issho ni shiyou yo!
It won’t rain until the afternoon though, right? Let’s jog in the morning!
And now this one:
Ashita ame date. Jogingu dekinai.
I heard it’s going to rain tomorrow. We can’t go jogging.
Ame wa gogo kara daro? Asa issho ni shiyou yo!
It won’t rain until the afternoon though, right? Let’s jog in the morning!­That­Make­Your­Japanese­Sound­Unnatural 8/12
20/09/2016 Things That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural ­ japanese learning article ­ italki

These two conversations have the same meaning, but use different styles.
The first one is “female speech,” while the second one is “male speech.” This
may be surprising, but Japanese utilizes different forms for male and female
speech. Thus, to sound more natural, you should avoid using the speech
patterns of the opposite gender. Be especially careful of sentence ending
particles. Females use でしょ (desho) and males use だろ (daro).
A good example of this comes from one of my students who had a
Japanese girlfriend. As you can imagine, he learned a lot of his Japanese
from her. After a while, I noticed that his Japanese skills were definitely
improving. However, his speech sounded a bit feminine. He used の (no) and
わ (wa) quite a bit.
Let’s look at another example:
Kyou petto shoppu ni itta no. Neko ga chou kawaikatta wa!
I went to the pet shop today. The cats were so cute!
Keep in mind that females frequently use の and sometimes even わ.
Therefore, if you are male, you should should say:
Kyou petto shoppu ni itta. Neko ga chou kawaikatta yo!
I went to the pet shop today. The cats were so cute!
One last point about this is that males use “rough” words more than females.
For example:
女:「お腹空いたー!」­That­Make­Your­Japanese­Sound­Unnatural 9/12
20/09/2016 Things That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural ­ japanese learning article ­ italki

Onaka suita!
I’m hungry!
Hara hetta!
I’m hungry!
So, if you are male, be manly and master these differences!

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e3DpzA-5Uu98V-79iQFw-EVsUpt-Kc3Rkq-BvWMG) by Edward Dalmulder
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yuri (/teacher/1043800)   
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I have been an online Japanese tutor for over two years now. Currently, I am studying to be a certified
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