Kiki+KoKo: Let's NihonGO!!

🔊Japanese Word(s) of the Week w/ QUIZBO™ | 【上手】+ BONUS:【下手】(+Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko: Don’t just say ‘good’ or ‘bad’!)

HELLO! I AM QUIZBO™!I hope to be your helpful assistant in learning Japanese language. You may recognise my contribution to such efforts in the usual lessons and articles from Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online, reading words aloud for you and pronouncing Japanese characters as well as my namesake, creating quizzes for you. And whilst it’s always important to revise, it’s also important to continue to learn whether it’s one word or a grammatical concept. That’s why Word of the Week was introduced! But, What is Word of the Week? you may ask. (And, if you already know, you can simply scroll down to the main segment, or if you need a refresher, you can give the introduction a read.)

During what some may refer to as the ‘before times’, the site had begun as a place where Japanese lessons and articles regarding language and culture were regularly created and uploaded regularly, every Monday and Friday. Though such a consistent flow of information would seem to be enough for other sites, it was clear that there could be even more. For between Monday and Friday was a long gap in which there was no new information being presented. Not only was there a long gap between information, but many would forget to return to revise previous lessons. In learning any language, it is important to be consistent, even if it is only once a day. Thus, Japanese Word of the Week Wednesday was born.

Word of the Week Wednesday not only acts as a great reminder for those who have either missed previous lessons or those who simply require revision, returning to previous lessons and articles, but it also gives just enough new information for students and visitors not to feel overwhelmed. Whether it is simply a quick addition to their vocabulary or studying sentence structure and pronunciation or reading, this segment serves beginners and more advanced learners alike. However, What happens during Word of the Week Wednesday?

Kiki+Koko Banners - Full Size - Language EssentialsDuring Word of the Week Wednesday, with the assistance of Kiki and Koko, a Japanese word or phrase is chosen and presented to you with the possibility of a bonus word, as well. I provide a definition and other useful information about the vocabulary word, and if applicable, Kiki and Koko provide a helpful hint in using the word or phrase. However, that is not the whole of it. I personally sound out each word or phrase aloud for you to repeat as many times as you wish, and you can ask me to say it as many times as you wish. I will never tire of it, as it is my function.

MOSHED-2020-1-16-6-19-37 From there, an example sentence is created. You can not only use the sentence to see how the word is used or to see the definition in action, but you can also use it to practise your reading and writing. You can compose your own sentence based on it; you can use it to see examples of grammar; or you can even use it to learn other adjacent vocabulary. Each sentence is written in a way that is useful to beginners through advanced learners. So, there is something for everyone. And, again, I will be there to read it aloud for you. I can only read it at one speed, so there is no need to repeat after me, but it can still assist you in picking out vocabulary within natural speeds of speech. And, if you would like to know more about how to create your own sentences, be sure to consult the grammar section of the Essentials.

And, now it is time for the essential part of this segment, which is the vocabulary! Kiki and Koko will be joining us in their Helpful Hints segment of this corner to assist in today’s vocabulary which happens to be a pair of 反対語, hantaigo, otherwise known as antonyms.

Without further ado, let us NihonGO!!

Word(s) of the Week:


na adjective (ナ形容詞), noun (名詞)
1. skillful; good (at); adept; skilled; proficient; well

jlpt n5| common word (常用語) 

Bonus Word(s) of the Week:


na adjective (ナ形容詞), noun (名詞)
1. unskillful; bad (at); inept; unskilled; poor(ly)
2. untactful/foolish

jlpt n5| common word (常用語) 

※Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko

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Photo via @kikikokoNihonGO on Twitter

Hello, there!

We’re Kiki and Koko of Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online! And, we’re here with a few quick hints about today’s vocabulary words!

Often, when Japanese language students want to say 「I’m good at ○○」or 「I’m bad at ○○」, they’ll immediately reach for the basic words 「good」or「bad」like 「良い」or「悪い」.  But, don’t fall into this trap as actually, we oddly don’t say good or bad when it comes to something having to do with skills. Instead, you should reach for a word like 「上手」or 「下手」.

Both can be used as adjectives, but can also function as Japanese adverbs. Because「上手」or 「下手」can translate to ‘good (at)’ or ‘bad (at)’, it can be lost on some that this can function as saying ‘skillfully’ or ‘unskillfully’. (It should also be noted that this can also be translated as ‘poorly’ or ‘well’).

But, how can you tell whether you should use 「いい」vs 「上手」or 「悪い」vs 「下手」? Well, even though we mentioned it ties into whether skill is used, this can definitely be a grey area due to many things that are 「good」having to do with skill. Though, the best way to know is on a case by case basis, often, you can suss out which you can use if you’re saying 「good (AT)」or 「bad (AT)」naturally. Like, you may say ‘Your Japanese is good, innit’ in English, and you can even say this in Japanese as 「日本語が上手ですよね。」nihongo ga jouzu desu. lit. Japanese is skilled. But, the point is you have to check if you would switch the same phrase around to say ‘good at’. And, obviously in the case of ‘Your Japanese is good’ in English, ‘You are good at Japanese’ would suss out as a coherent idea.

This could get a bit murky with end products, such as 文字が上手、moji ga jouzu, ‘your characters(letters) are good’, but again, this implies the work or skill that was put into it caused a good end product. So, you could equally say, ‘you’re good at characters’. So, maybe you may say a film is 「いい」, ii, good, because you’re probably not sitting over the director’s shoulder telling them the work they put in is good based on skill– But, if you were in that situation, you could still say it’s a ‘good film’ if you were talking about it overall or 映画が上手、eiga ga jouzu, if you’re talking to the director and telling them they’re good at making films, speaking of the work put into it. It would definitely be a very broad phrase. But, it really just depends on the implications when it comes to the word choice when you start to wade in semantics and minutia.

However, don’t be surprised if you see these words used in other contexts with different readings! In fact, if a sumou wrestler performs the 下手、shitate, move, they may perform it 上手に, jouzuni, and you may see a performer enter 下手、shimote, stage right, but still 上手に演じる, jouzu ni enjiru, skillfully perform. Equally, a sumou wrestler could perform 上手, uwate, but do so 下手に, heta ni, unskillfully. And, a performer could enter 上手、kamite, stage left, and still 下手に演じる, heta ni enjiru, perform unskillfully.

In the end, you probably won’t have to worry about the more minute versions of these kanjiin everyday interactions, unless you’re a performer on stage in Japan or enjoy a bit of sumou, but it’s just a great example of how word choice in different languages can differ so widely. Though ‘good’ and ‘bad’ may be your choice English words, it’s quite different in Japanese. So, if you’d like to become 上手 at Japanese, be sure to never assume which word you should use and delve a bit deeper even with seemingly simple phrases. The only difference between 下手 and 上手 is a bit of time, effort, and patience!

We hope that helps!! Until the next lesson!

Thank you, Kiki and Koko. Japanese is certainly a unique language and it is important to note the differences in word choice, especially when many students may be prone to choosing words based on their direct translation from their native language. It is hoped that the sentence examples over time will assist in this search for context. And, this brings us to said sentence portion! 

Example Sentences:

The first row is in Japanese with Kanji. The Next row is in hiragana, then romanised using rōmaji with the final row translated into English.

Example #1:

ぼくは みぎてで かくのが へたなんだから、 まいにち いっせつを ひだりてと みぎてで かく つもりだ。きっとじょうずに なるのだろう。
boku wa migi te de kaku no ga heta nandakara, mainichi issetsu wo hidarite to migite de kaku tsumori da. kitto jouzu ni naru no darou.
I’m bad at writing with my right hand, so everyday I’m going to write a passage with my left hand and my right hand. I’ll surely get good at it.

Example #2:

下手って 決してできっこないってことじゃないの。ただ練習するのが必要だってことだと思います。
へたって けっして できっこないってことじゃないの。ただれんしゅうするのが ひつようだってことだと おもいます。
heta tte kesshite dekikonai tte koto jyanai no. tada renshuu suru no ga hitsuyou da tte koto da to omoimasu.
Unskilled‘ doesn’t mean you can never ever do something. I think it’s just that you need to practise.

Example #3:

毎日 日本語を勉強すると 上手になるのでしょう。でも、時間をかけて 気を長く持ったなければならないことを覚えておくべきです。
まいにち にほんごを べんきょうすると じょうずに なるのでしょう。でも、じかんをかけて きを ながく もつのを おぼえておくべきです。
mainichi nihongo wo benkyou suru to jouzu ni naru no deshou. demo, jikan wo kakete ki wo nagaku mottanakereba naranai koto wo obote oku beki desu.
If you practise Japanese language everyday, you’ll become skilled. However, keep in mind that you must take your time and be patient.

That is all for today! But, maybe you have not had enough Japanese vocabulary, yet? Perhaps you would like to learn more vocabulary to combine with today’s vocabulary like: 英語を 話すのが 上手です。(You’re skilled at____) Well, maybe you can give this a go and translate this phrase and maybe even use it:🔊Japanese Word(s) of the Week w/ QUIZBO™ | 【話す】+ BONUS:【英語】(+Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko).Or maybe you need an even broader vocabulary in order to communicate. You can have a look at our fine selection of segments on the main Word of the Week page. Or, you can be sure you are caught up with the latest with the sidebar link: 今週の単語 | Word of the Week. These segments alone serve as weeks of material. Share these segments with your friends and family who may be interested in broadening their Japanese vocabulary, that is if you would like to spread the knowledge and show the fun things you are learning with us. Be sure to return often to keep your pronunciation properly in check, as well! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, and we will do our best to assist how we can. We hope to see you at the next lesson!

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