Topics Covered in this Closer Look：
Vocabulary [Word Bank];
Vocabulary; Grammar: ～たがる, ～たら, ～のに; demonstrative pronouns; demonstrative adjectives, step-by-step conjugation, sentence guidance, the difference between 学習 and 勉強 (学習と勉強の違い);and more!
ＨＥＬＬＯ！ Ｉ ＡＭ ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™！I may be the robot friend of Japanese teachers, Kiki and Koko from Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online, one of the Japanese language and culture blogs to ever exist ーand that is a factー but I hope to become your personal Japanese language learning assistant. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via The Internet™, with the help of Kiki+Koko, I generate quizzes and pronounce Japanese vocabulary just for you!
In this corner, Closer Look w/QUIZBO™ー that is me ー we will take a closer look at some Japanese passages from ♡Kiki+Koko™ blog’s ♡Kiki+Kokoの紀行文, or The ♡Kiki+Koko Travelogue. This time, we will open the window to search the mystery hiding in plain site! (For those who do not know English word play, the phrase is in “plain sight,” however I have played with the words, you see, replacing the word “sight” with “site” from the word “website” in order to create a humorous pun. It is my hope that this jest was well received.)
Media is a useful tool for randomised learning. Though there are levels of difficulty set by proficiency tests, this hierarchy does not always reflect true difficulty for each individual. Furthermore, you may encounter high level vocabulary in common settings or perhaps even more often than lower level vocabulary in some cases. And, there are many words that are not included in said proficiency levels. So, exercises such as these can help you bolster your ability to find more learning opportunities in any media, but also it can bolster your skills for future contextual learning scenarios.
But, remember, even though a more spontaneous way of learning can be fun, it is still important to start with the basics if you are looking to have the most effective learning experience overall. Even still, this corner is tailored to a broad range of learning levels, as again, language in everyday life has no levels.
Without further ado, let us choose a sentence or two in order to begin
If you are an absolute beginner, you can read this lesson on the Japanese writing system to better understand what we are analysing.
Before we delve into the analysis, it is important to mention that the previous sentences we analysed from Kiki were considered to have easy readability and would still be classified as elementary Japanese, however Koko may not have received the memorandum and seems to have written what may be easy to understand for native Japanese speakers, but would be considered algorithmically as slightly difficult or upper intermediate for Japanese language learners. However, this is no problem, as I will help you analyse these two sentences.
詳しく見てみよう! Let’s Take a Closer Look!
Let us begin with vocabulary from the first sentence!
As is explained in this lesson, Japanese is written differently to English in many ways, some more obvious than others, but the important aspect you must know in analysing sentences is that the verb is usually located at the end of the sentence which can make direct translation word-by-word difficult. But, in order to understand how sentences are organised, we will go step-by-step with each word, and then analyse the grammar.
If there is currently a related lesson for these words, they will be hyperlinked accordingly for your studying convenience:
- 「日本語(にほんご)」means “Japanese language,”
- 「を」is a particle indicating the direct object of the action,
- 「学習(がくしゅう)」is one way to say “learning” ーthere are many ways to say “learning” in Japaneseー
- and we will return to 「したがったら」momentarily.
- 「その」is an demonstrative adjective meaning “that” or in this case standing in for “the.”
- 「サイト(さいと)」means “site”;
- 「は」is a topic marker particle;
- We will return to the particles「のに」;
- 「良い(よい)」can be translated as “good” but can have many other translations;
- 「箇所（かしょ）」has several translations, but in this case, it means, “place”;
- and we end with the copula 「です」.
In order to understand 「です」, it is important to read our lesson: この魔法的な「です」とは？｜What is this magical 「desu」?（SIDE A） and in order to understand copula, the aptly named: 繋辞とは？｜What is a Copula?（SIDE B）.
So, due to grammar differentiating the word order in Japanese, you are left with: “Japanese language (particle) learn want if, the site (particle) start for good it is.” However, the true translation would be, “If you want to learn Japanese language, the site is a good place to start.” Now, knowing the true translation is useful, but Closer Look is about understand how and why it is is translated this way as well as how to utilise these grammatical and lexical elements yourself.
「日本語を学習したがったら」「If [you/someone] want[s] to learn Japanese language」
There is a good amount of grammar that you can glean from this clause, but it takes some uncovering because it is wrapped up in conjugation. Let us start at the verb:
「学習(がくしゅう)したがったら」is a conjugation of 「学習(がくしゅう)したがる」, but let us take one more step back:
「学習(がくしゅう)する」, this is the dictionary form of the verb meaning “to learn.” There are many ways to say to study or learn such as 「学(まな)ぶ」「勉強する」「習う」et cetera, et cetera. 「学習(がくしゅう)」 is the general term for “learning” used in formal expressions, not to be confused with 「教育(きょういく)」which you will often see in formal expressions referring to “education.”
But, you may wonder, then: what is the difference between words like 「学習(がくしゅう)」and 「勉強(べんきょう)」?
Here is the easy answer: 「勉強する」(to study) is used more colloquially, and is associated with a concerted effort, hard work, or learning done with active drive. By the kanji alone, you can see, 勉 (べん), meaning exertion, strive, effort, etc, and 強(きょう) meaning strong, gives you an idea what it implies.
Meanwhile,「学習する」(to learn) is used in writing as the more official way to literally refer to learning. It has a nuance also shown by its kanji, 学(がく), meaning study, learning or science, and 習(しゅう), also meaning to learn. 「学習する」is something habitual, acquiring knowledge through repetition and imitation. But, again, in order to make it even more simple, you can simply think of 「学習する」 as the official way to simply refer to “learning” in general.
For example, you probably would not「✖勉強するために学習する」(Learn in order to study) but you might 「◎学習するために勉強する」(Study in order to learn).
Now that we have analysed the verb, let us take a look at what is happening with the conjugation and verb choice.
「学習」is a noun that is made into a verb using 「する」, however this sentence does not use 「する」, instead, it uses the expression「したがる」which is used when talking about what others want. You will still often see 「したい」even for what others want, but technically, in Japanese, from what I have analysed as a computer robot, it is considered rude to assume what others want, though this is only from what I have analysed. This expression is a conjugation of 「したい」meaning to want to do, but it becomes 「したがる」. Other verbs can also be conjugated in this way to show that someone, in the third person, appears to want something. So, rather than stating directly that a person wants something, this makes the expression a bit more polite.
This sentence also omits the subject, which is implied to be a third person or you the reader, by seeing the expression「したがる」, which is always used in the third person. You will not often see “you” pointed out in the subject of the sentence unless absolutely necessary as it seems a bit too direct in Japanese.
So, we can see 「したがる」is not in its non-past dictionary form, rather, we see 「したがったら」which is 「たら」conjugation. This has many meanings, but in this case, it is used as part of an “if, then” statement: “If you want to learn Japanese language…” There is more than one way to form an if-then statement in Japanese, but I will guide you in how to create this form yourself.
Let us use the verb we have in front of us to see how this is done: (It is much simpler than you may think!)
You simply take the dictionary form of the verb → make it past tense → and add 「ら」!
したがる → したがった + ら → したがったら
We can try it with one more verb to help. Let us use another verb from this sentence:
始(はじ)める (to start)ーfirst, we are going to make it into the たがる form, meaning a third party wants to do something, then we will change it to an “if” statement.
(Much of the meaning of Japanese sentences is derived from conjugation which includes stacking multiple types of conjugations upon one another; So, be sure to not only practise conjugations, but conjugations of those conjugations where possible.)
❶始める → ❷始めたがる → ❸始めたがった + ら → ❹始めたがったら
❶dictionary form→ ❷～たがる→ ❸past tense＋ら → ❹conditional form
Try it yourself with other verbs! The conditional form alone can begin from step 3, where the dictionary form is conjugated to past tense. We have lessons on conjugation located in the grammar corner of the website, and we will elaborate in future on more conjugation in stand-alone lessons.
Rest Stop | 休憩所
Let us take a moment just to appreciate how much can be learnt from merely half of a sentence! My database indicated that this part of the sentence used 8 types of lexicon. So, know that there is always an abundance of learning at every encounter! If you feel comfortable with what we have covered thus far, then let us continue onto the next half of the sentence. (Otherwise, take your time and return to this point, and feel free to contact with any questions.)
「そのサイトは始めるのに良い箇所です。」「The site is a good place to start.」
In the full sentence, the employment of the if-then statement is what added to its mild complexity for beginners. So, when you are able to isolate each part of the statement, you simply have two basic sentence structures. Taking it step-by-step is important.
Now, let us have a look at what we can learn from this basic sentence structure.
「そのサイト(さいと)は」「This/The site is・・・」
In How To: Make Basic Japanese Sentences | Particles は+が || Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Essentials, you can find a more detailed explanation on sentence structure; in order to keep my hard drive defragmented, it is recommended that you refer back to the aforementioned lesson for a better understand of the particle「は」. However, for the sake of understanding in the moment, you can think of 「は」as a topic marker. So, you know that the other half of this part of the sentence will be referring to the topic of 「そのサイト(さいと)」or 「the site」.
In Here, There, and Everywhere| Basics of Japanese Demonstratives (kosoado)| 指示語の基本（こそあど言葉）| PART 1, we learn about the function of demonstratives in Japanese language. Not only do they have different nuance to English demonstratives, but also extra demonstratives that do not exist in English. Do not worry, however, it is made very simple with a three part explanation.
In this case, for the sake of having a bit of context and understanding what this demonstrative means in this case, at the beginning of the passage, it is stated, 『「ieindigoeast.com」で双子(ふたご)の妹(いもうと)と日本語(にほんご)を教(おし)えます。』or 「I teach Japanese language at ieindigoeast.com with my twin sister.」
「その」may be translated as 「the」 in this context, but it can also be translated as 「that」. Though demonstratives can refer to objects based on their proximity to the speaker or listener, they can also be used to refer back to something previously expressed or something that the listener already knows. For example:
火星(かせい)に 行(い)ったことが ありますか?
Have you been to Mars?
The/That planet is beautiful this time of year.
Moreover, you could change this specific referencing to a more general allusion to the subject of the previous sentence using the demonstrative pronoun, 「それ」. Let’s try a similar sentence again with a demonstrative pronoun.
Did you hear about the company?
That is a shame, isn’t it.
This more fully illustrates the implications of the use of some demonstratives. Not only does it allude to the previous topic, but it also alludes to whatever topic is already known the the listener in general, like 「その場合(ばあい)は残念(ざんねん)ですよね。」”That situation is a shame, isn’t it.”
Think of using demonstratives in this way like the trope: the noodle incident. What happened? Why is it called this? Well, that is for the listener and speaker to know. (Or, realistically in a linguistic sense, you can probably just ask what they mean,「 どういう意味ですか?」) But Japanese has many linguistic shorthands where you can say fewer words with the same meaning. “Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick”
「始(はじ)めるのに良(よ)い箇所(かしょ)です。」「A good place to start.」
Here, we will learn about a useful sentence structure. We will start by breaking down each one of the vocabulary words.
「始(はじ)める」is the dictionary form of the verb meaning “to start”
(Take note that in dictionary form, due to the way verbs function in Japanese language, verbs are often translated as “to 〇〇” rather than just the action itself. Often, sentences are not easily translated back and forth in the same way, but in this case, it is a lucky scenario where in a strange way, some English tenants apply to this phrase, as it is not idiomatic.)
📌We will return in a moment to 「のに」。
「良(よ)い」has many translations and implications, but in this case, we can simply translate it as, “good.” You will often see 「いい」in place of this adjective, but for the purpose of conjugation, it is important to always have 良い associated with good in your mind.
「箇所(かしょ)」has many translations as well, but in this case, it just means “place” or “point”. You can help yourself remember this with its second kanji、所(ところ) 、which in itself means “place” and you will see it at the end of many place related words like :
- 「住所(じゅうしょ)」for “address,”
- 「事務所(じむしょ)」for “office” or
- 「場所(ばしょ)」also meaning “place” or “location.”
「です」is the magical copula which is already explained well by Kiki+Koko in: この魔法的な「です」とは？｜What is this magical 「desu」?（SIDE A）
📌Now! Just as promised, we have returned to「のに」. The particle「のに」has several different meanings depending on how it is used, however in this case, its meaning is very literal for students. In future, we will most likely encounter more ways that this is used, but let us focus on the grammatical form currently in our random-access memory.
This grammatical structure is essentially:
動詞(どうし)[辞書形(じしょけい)] + 「のに」
verb (dictionary form) + 「のに」
This indicates the purpose or the function. Or, it can be thought of as “in order to.”
Let us delve a bit deeper in order to fully understand this usage with another example.
日本語(にほんご)を 勉強(べんきょう)するのに そのサイト(さいと)を 使(つか)います。
I use that site to study Japanese language.
The first half, 日本語(にほんご)を勉強(べんきょう)するのに (in order to study Japanese language) shows the purpose of why you are doing the second half, そのサイト(さいと)を使(つか)います。(I use that site).
In Japanese language, as we have discussed in the past, English speakers must get used to turning their thought processes in the opposite direction to when speaking in English.
However, you will also see: 「に」「には」「ために」etc, accomplish a similar expression, which we are sure to see in future.
In the meantime, the structure, 「始(はじ)めるのに良(よ)い箇所(かしょ)です。」follows this structure as it does not just have to be about actions. (However, 「です」always makes even what seems like it is not a verb, actually a verb, as being itself is a verb.) But, maybe it would be more helpful to translate it literally: “In order to start, (implied subject) is a good place.” This may not be how one would translate it naturally, but it is helpful when trying to plug in the sentence structure as a student.
Let’s look at a more similar structure:
「月(つき)は 住(す)むのに とても不便(ふべん)です。」
”The Moon is very inconvenient to live on.”
The first half, 「月(つき)は住(す)むのに」can technically be translated as, “in order to live on the Moon,” and the second half, 「とても不便(ふべん)です。」or “it is very inconvenient,” grammatically indicates the function, so to speak. The function of living on the Moon is that it is very inconvenient. (Just try getting a graphics card shipped to the Moon.)
As was mentioned before, it can be helpful to think of this in its very literal form for students. 「の」is possessive and 「に」indicates purpose. Therefore, in this single convenient grammatical case, you can think of the particle 「のに」in this context as showing the verb possessing purpose… Though this may be simply a way of processing this that makes more sense to the schema of a computer robot over a human. But, hopefully, the previous examples served a more concrete example for humans.
Closer Look Conclusion [To be Continued!]
Though computer robots can continue to teach until their batteries run low, humans and earthlings alike can only continue learning for so long. So, in order to give you the best chance of absorbing this information, we will end this lesson for now with an exciting “to be continued!” Who knows what captivating case will happen in the next instalment! Will the highlighted colours be green or blue? Will ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™ーthat’s meーgive useful example sentences? Will ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™ reach 3,000 words this time? Tune in to find out!
In the meantime, be sure to take time and breaks in between concepts, and be patient with yourself! Learning is not an automatic experience, and if a concept is not quick clicking, it is important to perhaps step away and return with a different view. And, even still, this analysis may give you a clearer view, but it takes practise and continued exposure to fully adopt the grammar and vocabulary into your everyday life.
Though, this analysis alone does not contain all that you need for Japanese language proficiency. It is important to get the building blocks and more in-depth focussed lessons with our every growing database of learning materials and resources, here, at Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online. Just this passage acts as a launch point towards even more learning opportunities!
Take note of the vocabulary we covered today by having a look at the word bank:
Closer Look Challenge!
Try writing some sentences of your own in Japanese using today’s grammar!
Let us try 「○○は 住(す)むのに ○○です。」
Ex. Space is not a safe place to live!
Ex. Flats are too expensive to rent to live in
Try writing using one of today’s vocabulary: 「したがる」to express what someone else wants to do.
Ex. ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™ wants to teach me Japanese language.
Ex. It feels like somebody ….wants to sell me something!
That is all for this instalment of Closer Look w//ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™! We hope that you will continue to join us for more of this sort of corner as well as more of our Japanese language and culture resources. Just because the activity of today is complete does not mean that your daily learning journey has to stop here. You can start or continue your Japanese language learning journey with us! We have hundreds of lessons and articles available for you. Always remember that revision is important, and that even if you have already read a lesson, there is always more to learn if you take a Closer Look!
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