This mistake comes up all of the time.

✖  Someone asked to me a really good question.
◯ Someone asked me a really good question.

You should use an object directly after "ask".

It's different from "say":

I always say to everyone that "ask" doesn't need "to".

✖  You might ask to me why my finger is in the photo.
 You might ask me why my finger is in the photo.

That's because I'm not the greatest photographer. Maybe I was just too excited to see the flowers and know that this cold weather is now almost over. The forecast for next week says some days are going to get up to 20 degrees! 



I went into Tabio in Coredo the other day to get a pair of socks. It was during the clearance sale, and I was excited because I thought I might get a good deal on the socks that I wanted.
  • clearance sale 〔商品の〕クリアランスセール、在庫一掃[処分・整理]セール、見切り売り
Unfortunately, there was this sign on the rack which held the socks that I wanted to buy.

✖ These are not at sale.
◯ These are not on sale.

We never say "at sale". You can say "for sale", meaning "available for purchase". Actually, it would have been really funny if the sign had said:
  • These are not for sale. = We will not sell you these socks. You cannot buy them.
  • for sale 売るために (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
At least they didn't make that mistake. However, their English sign makes no sense.

They wanted to say that even though it was the clearance sale, some items did not have a discount. That included the socks that I wanted to buy.

Tabio had a documentary on TV the other day in which they were bragging about how international they had become. They were boasting that the quality of their socks was being recognized around the world. If their English were better, maybe they would get even more recognition. They should be as careful about their English as they are about their socks!



I didn't die! This blog is not dead either! I've just been too busy. One of my good students just reminded me that my last blog post was in October of 2013! It's too long ago!

See, look! The calendar says "March" already. Where did all of those months go?

I'm going to write a proper blog post in a few days. Thanks for your patience!



Someone asked me a great question today about an article that we studied. The title of the document was "Lingua Franca", and it started with a sentence from Wikipedia that read:
  • English as a lingua franca (ELF) is the use of the English language "as a common means of communication for speakers of different first languages”.
  • lingua franca〈イタリア語〉〔異なる言語を話す人同士の〕共通語、補助言語◆通例、通商を行うときに使われるもので、ピジン英語(pidgin English)などが含まれる。(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
The question was:
Why is there no article before Lingua Franca in the title? ... the first sentence has an article before "lingua franca".
  • article《文法》冠詞 (definition from Eijiro on the Web) 
If you pay attention to headlines, you will notice that articles are almost always dropped. Here are some examples from today's news:
I was taught that there is a historical reason for that. Newspapers wanted to make the headline as big as possible so that the newspaper would sell well. If they removed the articles, they could make the headline shorter and thus bigger. Since native speakers could guess the articles from the context (especially since it is written and not spoken), it was thought to be OK.

Here's a good article on the other grammar points in headlines:



We were talking about the consequences of the last typhoon the other day. Somebody told me about an event cancellation:

× It was cancelled by typhoon.
○ It was cancelled because of the typhoon.

The typhoon didn't cancel the event. The organizers cancelled it. The reason that they cancelled it was the typhoon.

There's a typhoon passing Japan right now, but I don't think that anything in Tokyo is going to be cancelled. It seems that we will luckily avoid this one.

During the last typhoon, I was scheduled to be in the recording studio, and I almost cancelled the recording because of the typhoon. As it turned out, there was hardly any rain in Tokyo, and we went ahead with the recording session.
  • go ahead with 〔計画・仕事などを〕進める、推進する、強行する (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
Of course, Kyoto wasn't so lucky. I hope there won't be much damage because of this typhoon. If you're in it's path, take care!
  • in the path of the typhoon《be ~》台風の進路に当たる (definition from Eijiro on the Web)



This is one mistake I often hear in class.

x "I often play snowboarding in winter."
o  I often go snowboarding in winter.

Now how about yoga?  Is it play yoga? Do yoga?  Or go yoga?
Here is an easy guide to help you remember and use them correctly:

Use play (play + ball sport noun) when:
  • you are talking about a ball or ball-like sport.  
  • (Ex.) I played soccer in my schooldays.  
  • you are talking about a competitive game.
  • (Ex.) Have you ever played poker online?
  • (Ex.) I like playing scrabble, which is a kind of word game.
Use do (do + noun) when:
  • you are talking about a sport which doesn't use a ball.
  • (Ex.) My son does kendo on the weekends.
  • (Ex.) I am interested in doing yoga.
  • you are talking about a recreational activity.
  • (Ex.) I do sudoku during my commute.
  • (Ex.) My daughter is good at doing crossword puzzles.
Use go (go + verb+ing):
  • with verb+ing
  • (Ex.) I used to go bowling with my friends on Saturday nights.
  • Another way to remember it is that you you have to go somewhere to do this activity.   
  • (Ex.) John wants to go surfing this summer.
See you if you can complete the sentences below correctly.
  1. Do you think ___________ poker online is dangerous? 
  2. Have you ever ______________ aerobics? 
  3. My friends are planning to __________ camping next summer. 
  4. Do you ever ____________ crossword puzzles? 
  5. In the summer I usually ____________ swimming in the morning. 
  6. I wish I could __________ basketball like Michael Jordan. 



There's an office building that I frequently visit. The maintenance people there stock the restrooms with plenty of toilet paper. It's nice in case the person before you has used all of the previous roll, requiring you to open a new roll. I suppose it's easier for them, too, since they don't have to check the amount of toilet paper in the bathrooms so regularly.

Anyway, I was in need of a fresh roll the other day when I noticed the packaging. It says:
× R.T.P Soft Pearl, Recycle Toilet Paper, Pro Use
R.T.P. Soft Pearl, Recycled Toilet Paper, Industrial 
There are several mistakes here, but one of them is pretty funny, I thought. That's the "pro use" part. It sounds like the toilet paper is only for people who are professionals at using toilet paper.

"Yes, sir, I am a butt-wiping professional with 37 years of experience!"
  • wipe someone's bottom with a piece of paper(人)のお尻を紙切れで拭く
  • butt〈米話〉けつ、しり◆【同】buttocks (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
It seems unnatural to me, and at least I took it wrong the first time I read it. I think the more common expression is "professional use", which often means "for professional use only". That makes it sound like this toilet paper is dangerous.

"No, wait! Don't wipe your butt with that toilet paper! It's for professionals only. You might hurt yourself!"

"Industrial" is often used for things that are used in industrial or commercial environments. On top of that, it's an adjective, so it's easier to use in front of a noun.

The other thing that was funny was their imperative statement: "Recycle Toilet Paper". It sounds like they want me to recycle my toilet paper! Don't you think that's gross?
  • imperative statement 命令ステートメント (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
  • gross 気持ち悪い、嫌な、ゾッとする、吐き気を催すような、いまいましい、ムカムカさせる、むかつく (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
They mean the toilet paper itself is made from recycled paper, which is nice.

Also be sure to catch the subtle mistake about periods. The extra period is necessary because it's an acronym for "something-starting-with-r", "Taiyo", and "Paper".
  • acronym 頭字語 (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
We teach English to professionals and non-professionals both, but we don't have industrial toilet paper in the restroom. It's just stuff from the drug store down the street. Still, I hope you will join us for a lesson soon!



I was at Haneda Airport the other day, where I saw this sign. It says:

× We are turning off some of lights and temperature.
○ We are turning off some (of the) lights and setting the temperature higher.

The original sentence on the sign seems to use a compound object, meaning an object that has multiple parts which are connected by a conjunction. In this case, that's "some lights and temperature".

The problem is that you can't turn off the temperature. For temperature, you say:
  • raise the temperature 温度を上げる
  • lower the temperature 温度を下げる
You can say that you turn off an air conditioner, but that's not quite the same meaning.

The other mistake is the usage of "of". After "of", we often use a determiner.
  • determiner《文法》限定詞 (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
That means you need a word like "the", "those", "our". If you don't mean to specify, then you shouldn't use "of".

If Haneda wants to be an international airport, they need to get their English right. Some of the visitors to the airport might get a negative impression from these English mistakes. Some mistakes don't cause us to misunderstand, but all mistakes look bad. At any rate, mistakes are like noise, which you should avoid if you can.

I'm looking forward to being able to turn off the air conditioner, but I think that's several weeks away at least. Until then, I'm trying to lower the temperature in the classroom to something comfortable. I hope you will join us in a class sometime soon!