2009 roundup

Here's a roundup of the blog from the past year.
  • roundup
  1. 一斉{いっせい}逮捕{たいほ}[検挙{けんきょ}]、手入れ{ていれ}
  2. 〔ニュースの〕総まとめ◆【同】news roundup
  3. 駆り集め◆家畜の
According to Google, we've had 1,361 visitors since we started this blog in April.

We've posted to the blog 200 times in 2009. This is the 201st post.

Here are the posts that Google says are the most popular.

In number 3, I was talking about how "both of ok" is wrong:
The second-most-popular post was the beginning of my series about how to use "so":
Our most popular post is one Johnny wrote about the difference between "describe" and "explain":
One of the last things I did this year was devour chocolate cake in Ueno.
  • 食い荒す (くいあらす) (v5s,vt) (1) to devour; to wolf down; (2) to eat some of everything; (3) to work at various things;
I hope that your new year holiday is as sweet as this cake was. We're looking forward to sweetening your English in 2010.



It's late, isn't it? Here's my soundtrack for this late hour: Sigha doing a mix for Hot Flush Recordings. You can download it here; it's the second image from the right.
I've still got a little bit of work left this week. I'm doing some of it now while I listen to that mix. For some people, the holiday has already arrived. For others, there's a bit of the work week left.
× I hope you don't have to overwork this week.
○ I hope you don't have to work overtime this week.
  • 残業 (ざんぎょう) (n,vs) overtime (work); (P); (definition from Edict)
  • work overtime (definition from Eijiro on the Web) 残業する、時間外勤務をする、時間外労働をする、就業時間以上に働く、超過勤務をする、余分に働く
  • It may occasionally be necessary for employees to work overtime in order to finish a particular project. : 《就業規則》業務の都合で時間外に勤務しなければならない場合がある。
  • If necessary, I'm not reluctant to work overtime. : 必要であれば、残業も気になりません。
  • overworked【形】過重労働{かじゅう ろうどう}の (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
  • This caused the drivers to become overworked. このことで、乗務員は過労の状態になった。
If you have been overworked, I hope you get a chance to rest a lot. I also hope you can find a new boss!

If you have been working overtime, I hope your overtime pay is good!
  • 残業手当 (ざんぎょうてあて) (n) overtime pay;
In the meantime, listen to some good techno from that link above.



It was love at first sight. There she was swimming gracefully, and she was shiny and beautiful. We even got assurance from the fish shop oniisan that it was healthy and durable. I liked it. My son had no doubts it would be a nice addition to the fish tank. My daughter agreed. My wife also approved. Our journey home was smooth as the freeway was not crowded. We even stopped by for Chinese before heading home.

As soon as we got home we followed basic acclimation protocol. When we released her into the tank, she darted around before finding a good hiding place between the rocks. The next morning she was still too shy and hid behind the rocks. My daughter fed the fish in the tank and the newcomer partook in the feeding. "It looks like one of the colorful socks you have, dad." my daughter said. "Let's call her socks." "That's a perfect name." I replied. I observed the other two fish inhabitants and they all seemed fine. Soon after I went to work.

Later on the day I got a call from my daughter. "The shrimp (the other tank mate) is attacking Socks. It is on the verge of death." When I got home, Socks was on her last legs (or fins) Hardly able to move, she lay on one of the rocks. She died soon after. Socks was with us less than 24 hours.

Right before hitting the sack, my wife (sympathetically) said "Poor fish. We shouldn't have bought it. We should have just left it in the shop." Sigh... I agree. Fish keeping is tougher than I thought it would be. R.I.P. Socks.

Useful vocabulary
love at first sight~一目ぼれ
Do you believe in love at first sight?: 一目ぼれを信じますか.

erman officials have offered assurances that the incident will be pursued vigorously. :


head home~家に帰る
It's almost midnight. Shouldn't you be heading home? :


protocol~外交儀礼, 儀典、礼儀作法、慣習
hey are trying to shed some of its stifling protocol. :


on the verge of~今にも~しようとして
I was on the verge of agreeing with him when someone cried, "He's a liar!" :

hit the sack~床に就く
Last night, I hit the sack before midnight. : 昨夜は夜中の12時前に床に就いた。
Let's hit the sack. : さあ寝よう

R.I.P.~Rest In Peace 〔魂などが〕安らかに眠る、〔霊などが〕休まる


「shake hands」と「hold hands」の違いは何?

Sometimes people tell me something like this:
"When I met him for the first time, he told me his name, and then we, uh... なんて言う... held hands?"
× He told me his name and then we held hands.
○ He told me his name and then we shook hands.
  • hold hands(~と)手を握り合う[つなぐ]
  • 表現パターンhold hands (with) (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
  • shake hands 握手する、手を握る、合意{ごうい}に達する (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
  • How should I shake hands? : どのように握手すればよいですか?
  • Shake hands! : お手!◆犬に向かって言う表現
This evening I must have seen at least one hundred couples holding hands. There was a big Christmas tree, and an endless parade of couples, all holding hands, walked in front of the tree, took pictures, and then walked off hand-in-hand.
  • 手を携えて (てをたずさえて) (exp) hand in hand; (definition from Edict)
Another woman sat at a table behind me. She had a box of Christmas cake on the table, but she looked really upset. She was waiting for a long time, made a phone call, and then walked away with her cake in a plastic bag. I wondered if she had been stood up.
  • すっぽかす (v5s,vt) to stand (someone) up; to leave (something) undone; to neglect (a duty);
I suppose all that hand-holding was cute. It's still hard for me to think of Christmas as a romantic holiday, though. Where I grew up, that was saved for Valentine's Day.



I hear this mistake at least once a week, I think.
× Can you image?
○ Can you imagine?
"Image" is a noun. The most common meaning for "image" is something like "picture".

"Imagine" is a verb. It means to think of something in your head.

There's also "imagination", which is the noun form of "imagine".
  • 画像 (がぞう) (n) image; picture; portrait; (P);
  • 憶う (おもう) (v5u,vt) (1) to think; to consider; to believe; (2) to think (of doing); to plan (to do); (3) to judge; to assess; to regard; (4) to imagine; to suppose; to dream; (5) to expect; to look forward to; (6) to feel; to desire; to want; (7) to recall; to remember;
  • 思う (おもう) (v5u,vt) (1) to think; to consider; to believe; (2) to think (of doing); to plan (to do); (3) to judge; to assess; to regard; (4) to imagine; to suppose; to dream; (5) to expect; to look forward to; (6) to feel; to desire; to want; (7) to recall; to remember; (P);
  • 心に描く (こころにえがく) (exp) to imagine;
  • (definitions from Edict)
Look at this image. It's food that I made a couple of weeks ago. There's Pakistani chick pea curry, which I made using a spice mixture from Pakistan.

There's also spinach curry with potatoes. First I looked at a bunch of recipes on the net. Then I thought about all of the times I'd eaten this dish in Indian restaurants. From that, I used my imagination and tried to make it.

I ate the curry with tortillas and a cup of black tea.

Can you imagine what it tasted like?



The sign in the photo says:
× "Authentic" Lure Fishing Tackle & "Vintage" Outdoor Clothes
  • 好餌 (こうじ) (n) bait; decoy; lure;
  • 毛鈎 (けばり) (n) (fishing) fly; lure;
  • 釣り具 (つりぐ) (n) fishing gear; tackle;
  • (definitions from Edict)
Let's get the basic grammar mistakes out of the way first:
× "Authentic" Lures and Fishing Tackle & "Vintage" Outdoor Clothes
Fishing lures are countable, so you need an "s". If you don't put an "and" between "lure" and "fishing tackle", it seems like "lure" becomes an adverb describing "fishing", which makes no sense.
  • 意味をなす (いみをなす) (exp,v5s) to make sense; to be meaningful; (definition from Edict)
What I really want to talk about, though, is the quotation marks.
  • 引用符 (いんようふ) (n) quotation marks; quote marks; (definition from Edict)
Of course we usually use quotation marks to denote speech.
  • 示す (しめす) (v5s,vt) to denote; to show; to point out; to indicate; to exemplify; (P);
I used quotation marks in the explanation above to show that I'm talking about the words themselves. The maker of this sign doesn't intend to do that.

Maybe the only other use of quotation marks is to signify that we don't really believe what appears between them. It sounds like the shop owner doesn't really think the lures are authentic. He also doesn't think his clothes are really vintage. It sounds like he's running down his own products.
  • 糞みそに言う (くそみそにいう) (exp) to verbally attack (violently); to run down; to criticize severely; to criticise severely;
Maybe you've seen people do this gesture in an American TV drama:

It means that they don't really believe the word that they are emphasizing with this gesture.

You know, I really don't understand the American government. They say they want "peace", but in fact they are expanding the war in Afghanistan. They say there are "just" wars, as if killing could be just. It's hard to believe even a word they say.
正義 (せいぎ) (n) justice; right; righteousness; correct meaning; (P);
情義 (じょうぎ) (n) justice and humanity;
(definitions from Edict)


「get along」と「get alone」の違いは何?

Maybe everybody knows that I can't get along without my bicycle.
  • get along without ~なしでやっていく(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
On Sunday, I went to the Cycle Mode bicycle show at Makuhari Messe.
It was really great to see all of the bicycles and bicycle gear. Some people thought it was really great to see the booth babes, as well.
  • booth babe〔展示会{てんじかい}などの〕コンパニオンガール、キャンギャル 表現パターン booth girl [babe, chick] (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
There were a bunch of salivating men standing around taking pictures.
  • practically salivating
    《be ~》よだれが出そうだ、舌なめずりしている◆期待感・好条件・購入意欲など主に比喩的に。(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
Probably those guys would like to get her alone.
  • get someone alone
    (人)を独り占めする、(人)と二人きりになる (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
I just thought the way she was staring blankly into space was weird.
  • stare blankly into space ぼんやりと空間{くうかん}[空中{くうちゅう}]を見詰める
  • 気色悪い (きしょくわるい) (adj-i) (1) weird; disgusting; sickening; (int) (2) yuck! (with an exclamation mark); eww!; (definition from Edict)
  • weird 奇妙{きみょう}な、風変わり{ふうがわり}な、変な、変わった (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
Somehow I just don't think we would get along.
  • get along with (人)と仲良くする[付き合う・やっていく・暮らす]、(人)と良い関係{かんけい}にある、(人)と気[相性{あいしょう}・うま]が合う、(人)と歩調{ほちょう}を合わせる◆【直訳】人と平行状態になる (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
  • I don't get along (well) with her. : 彼女とは肌が合わない。(example from Eijiro on the Web)



First, I have to admit that the headline of this post might be really broken Japanese. I'm not quite sure how to say that. Someone please email me a better version!
  • broken English
    片言英語 (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
What I want to say is that "let's" expresses something that you want to do together with someone else. I've talked about that before on this blog:
I was eating at a nice vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok where I also saw this mistake. Now I know it's not a mistake which is only found in Japan. The sign reads:
× Let's wash your hands <- "let's" is wrong, and there's no period either.
○ Please wash your hands.
I wonder if it would be nice for someone to help me wash my hands. After all, at a salon, people wash your hair. When you get a foot massage, the masseur washes your feet.
  • マッサージ師 (マッサージし) (n) masseuse; masseur;
However, no one has ever helped me to wash my hands, at least not in the past 30 years, I think.

Anyway, everywhere people are worried about the flu, and at least washing hands is a better defense than wearing a mask.

Let's help each other to learn new languages. I've written this post, so now somebody check my headline for me, please!



I took a Japanese test on Sunday at one of the Tokyo University campuses. It was a bit harder than I expected, but I think everything went OK.

It was interesting that there was a cute kid sitting in front of me. I could see his name card. His name was Clarence, he was eight years old, and he was from India.

His legs were too short to reach the floor, and my legs were too long for the narrow seating. Consequently, we kept accidentally kicking each other under the table. I said "sorry" and said "OK, OK" with a smile.

After the test, I asked him how long he had been studying Japanese.

"Two years," he said.

"Was the test hard?" I asked him.

"Kind of," he said.

Another interesting fact was the one English mistake I could find on my answer sheet. It said:
× Check up on your test vouchers.
〜 Check this up on your test voucher.
Check this against your test voucher. <- make sure that this matches the one on the test voucher
  • 証票 (しょうひょう) (n) certificate; voucher; chit;
There are two mistakes. First, I only have one test voucher, not multiple ones. Also, "check up" without an object has a different usage, I feel.
Please check up on the children in the other room. <- verb
How did your check-up at the doctor go? <- noun
  • 人間ドック (にんげんドック) (n) medical check-up; thorough physical examination; (P);
I was also a little frustrated that a test which lasts for only 140 minutes took from 9:30 to 14:35 to complete. Anyway, it was an interesting experience, and there were some beautiful trees on the university campus as well.


「in any case」の使い方

Some people have told me they aren't so crazy about Thai food.
  • not too crazy about ~についてあまり気乗りがしない (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
Some said it's too spicy. Some don't like coriander. Others said it's the fish sauce that turns them off.
  • turn someone off from(人)に~する気をなくさせる
In any case, I thought it was super!

Here's the definition of "in any case" from Eijiro on the Web:
  • in any case どんな場合{ばあい}でも、とにかく、ともかく
We usually use it at the beginning of a sentence, followed by a comma and a complete sentence.

In Bangkok, this plate of vegetables and rice was only about ¥100. Great, right?

That's about it for this series about "in" and "case". Just in case you missed the previous posts, here are links to all of the posts in the series:
in case: http://upgradeenglish.blogspot.com/2009/11/in-case.html
in case of: http://upgradeenglish.blogspot.com/2009/11/in-case-of.html
in the case of: http://upgradeenglish.blogspot.com/2009/12/in-case-of.html
in someone's case: http://upgradeenglish.blogspot.com/2009/12/in-someones-case.html


スターバックス コーヒーが「あなたのWISHをかなえます」キャンペーンをやっています ...

This month Starbucks is running the wish on a red cup campaign. Coincidentally, my lesson this week is about the grammatical usage of wish. Let's take a closer look at how to use wish in a sentence.
  1. I wish I (simple past verb) ~ I wish I had a big house.
  2. I wish I (past perfect verb)~ I wish I hadn't drunk so much.
  3. I wish (somebody) would/ wouldn't (verb) ~ I wish my husband would help me do the dishes.
Take a look at the Starbucks poster. The second ornament in the third column reads "I wish I had a puppy." We use wish + past verb to say we regret something, that something is not the way we would like it to be . The reality is that I don't have a puppy but in a perfect world I would have one. Here are some more examples:

Using can
(Reality) ~ I can't play the cello.
(I can't play the cello and I regret it) I wish I could play the cello.

Using be
(Reality) ~ I am not strong.
(I am not strong and I regret this) I wish I were strong.

Next, let's look at when to use wish + past perfect. We use this when we wish something had/hadn't happened. We are sorry that it didn't happen. For example, I went shopping and made an impulse purchase. I bought a 300,000 Yen coat on my credit card and now I can't afford to pay for it. I wish I hadn't bought the coat.

Here is another example: My friend who is a stockbroker tells me to buy XYZ stock but I don't listen to his advice. Six months later, the stock is 80 times the original price. At that moment you are thinking... Ooh, I wish I had bought XYZ stocks.

Last but not least is the I wish (somebody) would/ wouldn't (verb) form. We use this to complain about a situation or to complain about things that people do repeatedly. For example, your partner never helps around the house but of course you would like him/her to. ~~I wish my husband would help around the house.

My wife snores at night and I can't sleep.~~ I wish my wife would stop snoring.

So, what are your wishes this holiday season? I wish...

impulse purchase~ 衝動買い(したもの)

stockbroker~ 株式仲買人


「in someone's case」の使い方

At a very large weekend market in the suburbs of Bangkok, there were some women trying to raise money for a charity.
  • 金を調える (かねをととのえる) (exp) to raise money; (definition from Edict)
  • 慈善 (じぜん) (n,adj-no) charity; philanthropy; (P); (definition from Edict)
I was talking about "in the case of" yesterday.
Think about that while looking at the following sentences.

The woman on the left looks really excited about what she is doing.
× In case of the woman in the middle though, it seems she is confused.
× In case the woman in the middle though, it seems she is confused.
In the case of the woman in the middle though, it seems she is confused.
In other words, there's a woman in the middle of the photo, too.
× In the case of her, it seems she is confused. <- don't use "in the case of" followed by a pronoun
In her case, it seems she is confused.
  • in someone's case (人)の場合
The sign she is holding isn't quite right. It says:
× Donate for helping illtreated children.
○ Donate to help ill-treated children.
  • ill-treated child 被虐待児 (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
However, in the case of philanthropists, we can forgive a few small mistakes, right?
  • 慈善家 (じぜんか) (n) charitable person; philanthropist;

「in the case of」の使い方

I've talked about "in case" and "in case of", so today I want to talk about "in the case of". Here's the definition from Eijiro on the Web:
  • in the case of ~の場合{ばあい}は、~について言えば、~ついては、~にしてみれば
"Of" is a preposition, so you have to follow it with a noun, like this:
  • in the case of __(n)__, (sentence).
You can also reverse the order, putting the "in the case of" phrase at the end. In that case, don't use a comma.

Someone gave me some nice vegetables on the weekend. Having recently tasted a lot of Southeast and South Asian dishes, I had those flavors on my mind. However, this is Japan, and my vegetables were Japanese ones.
× I have to be honest -- I love Asian food, but in case of Japanese food, I find the flavors are often a bit too weak for me. <- what's the emergency?
× I have to be honest -- I love Asian food, but in Japanese food's case, I find the flavors are often a bit too weak for me. <- Japanese food is not a person, so apostrophe "s" cannot be used
○ I have to be honest -- I love Asian food, but in the case of Japanese food, I find the flavors are often a bit too weak for me.
Maybe it's because I'm a vegetarian that a lot of Japanese food has a weak flavor for me.

Anyway, in order to make my noodles, I used a whole Japanese citron, a lot of Japanese powdered chili pepper, red scallions, and some fresh spinach. The soup also had seaweed bullion and sweet cooking rice wine.
  • 長葱 (ながねぎ) (n) scallion; shallot; green onion; spring onion;
  • 柚子 (ゆず) (n) (uk) Japanese citron (Citrus junos, Citrus ichangensis x Citrus reticulata var. austera); yuzu;
  • みりん sweet cooking rice wine
It didn't taste so much like Southeast Asian food, but it was pretty yummy.


「in case of」の使い方

When I was on the airplane, there was a message to the effect that:
  • In case of an emergency landing in water, use the seat cushion as a flotation device.
  • to the effect that ~という旨の The government made a statement to the effect that it's against the war. : 政府は、その戦争には反対であるという趣旨の声明を発表しました。(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
  • 降下 (こうか) (n,vs) fall; descent; (plane) landing; (atmos.) depression; (P); (definition from Edict)
  • flotation device 救命胴衣{きゅうめい どうい}、救命具{きゅうめいぐ}(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
It means "if there is an emergency landing in water, you should use the seat to avoid drowning."
  • 水死 (すいし) (n,vs) drowning; (P);
In the case of "in case of", use it like this:
  • In case of __(n)__, (imperative sentence).
Here's some really strange marketing copy. It says:
  • Breath Communication / Etiquette
Let me give you some advice, OK? In case of someone trying to communicate with you by means of their breath, run like hell.
  • like hell 死に物狂いで、必死に (definition from Eijiro on the Web)


コカコーラ ゼロ 飲んだことありますか?

I have been in good health and recently I have been in pretty bad health. I am still recovering from a cold. However I have never been in wild health. Will drinking Coke zero give me wild health? In that case I am not so sure it is a good idea to drink coke Zero.

Here are some common meanings of the word "wild"

  • not domesticated, cultivated, or tamed: wild geese; edible wild plants.
  • Lacking supervision or restraint: wild children living in the street.
  • Disorderly; unruly: a wild scene in the school cafeteria.
  • Full of, marked by, or suggestive of strong, uncontrolled emotion: wild with jealousy; a wild look in his eye; a wild rage.
  • Extravagant; fantastic: a wild idea.
  • Furiously disturbed or turbulent; stormy: wild weather.
  • Deviating greatly from an intended course; erratic: a wild bullet.
Here are some sample sentences:
  • Kaka scored a goal in the 90th minute and the crowd went wild.
  • I went to Madonna's last concert. It was wild! Some fans took off their clothes.
  • Where are your manners, you wild animal!
Can you make some sentences using wild?

「in case」の使い方

For a few days, I want to talk about how to use the word "case". Today is the phrase "in case". Here's the definition from Eijiro on the Web:
in case 念のため、万が一(~する場合{ばあい})の用心{ようじん}に、万が一[もしもの場合{ばあい}]に備えて、何かあるといけないので、~するといけないから、万一{まんいち}~の場合{ばあい}には◆ifよりも口語的
・(Just) in case you didn't know yet, his website is gone for good. : すでにご存じとは思いますが、一応念のために言うと、彼のウェブサイトは永久閉鎖されました。
"In case" is used like this:
in case __(a situation with a subject and verb)__, __(something you do, often beforehand, to prevent something bad from happening)__.
  • 事前 (じぜん) (n,adj-no) prior; beforehand; in advance; (P); (definition from Edict)
  • その後 (そのあと) (n-adv,n-t) after that; afterwards; thereafter; (definition from Edict)
× In case my headphones break, I have to buy a new pair. <- this is done afterwards, not before
× In case of I break my headphones, I have a backup pair. <- I'll talk about "in case of" another day.
× In the case of I break my headphones, I have a backup pair. <- I'll talk about this in another post, too.
In case I break my headphones, I have a backup pair. <- My headphones might break. If they do, I have a backup pair that I can use.
Read this post once more, just in case.
  • Just in case. 念のために。/万が一の場合に備えて。



I was explaining an English mistake to someone, and her jaw dropped:
"How do you say that in English?"
× I am shock!
○ I am shocked!
jaw drops 《someone's ~》びっくりする (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
"Shocked" is an adjective, but "shock" is a noun.
  • It was a shock to hear the news!
  • It is no shock that the US is having economic trouble now. <- it isn't surprising
Nowadays, many people seem afraid of the flu. Not me, though. The symptoms seem relatively mild, and besides, diseases like TB (tuberculosis) seem much scarier.
  • 結核 (けっかく) (n) tuberculosis; tubercule; (P);
Don't be shocked when reading this article, either. It says that masks won't really protect you from the flu.
Wash you hands, stay healthy, and use "shock" and "shocked" correctly!


ゲイナー モデル 見た? 会った?

This is one mistake I hear from time to time. "I met a famous actor." when he/she actually means he/she saw a famous actor. When we meet (会う) someone we say exchange words and converse. When we see (見る)someone we only see them from a distance and don't say anything to each other.

Anyway, even though Tokyo is a huge city we get a chance to bump into celebrities quite often. Just last week, I saw (not met) the model in the picture above. Do you know him? I think he looks like my oldest nephew but my wife and daughter don't think so. I have seen him in the same cafe a few times now. Sorry, I can't divulge my juicy secret because I don't want to intrude on his privacy.

He must be quite a looker. Some young ladies couldn't take their eyes off him. Some even peered in thru the shop window. It reminds me of Rod Stewart's song "Some guys have all the luck." The man's got style!!!

See the sample conversation below for further review if you are still unclear.

X A: I met Kimutaku last Saturday.
B: Really? What did you say to him?
A: Nothing. I didn't get a chance to talk to him.

B: You didn't meet him. You only saw him!

O A: I saw Kimutaku last Saturday.

B: Really? Where did you see him?

A: He was in Yoyogi park. He was with a film crew.

They were shooting a scene for his new drama.

B: Did you get a chance to meet him (face to face)?

A: No, I couldn't get within 100 feet of him.

B: That's too bad.

bump into~ meet by chance.
I bumped into him in Shibuya. ~~渋谷で彼にばったり会った.

a juicy secret~ very interesting or colorful, esp. when slightly scandalous or improper: a juicy bit of gossip.

be a looker~ a very attractive person.
Cleopatra must have been quite a looker. Many men adored her.

can't take one's eyes off
You can't take your eyes off her. : 君は彼女から目が離せない。

I just couldn't take my eyes off the screen. :


「feel well」と「feel good」の違いは何?

Someone asked me about the difference between "feel well" and "feel good". We were talking about work.

"Feeling good" is often about your mental condition. "Feeling well" is about your health.
× When I don't feel well about work...
~ When I don't feel good about work...
○ When I don't feel good about what's going on at work...
Sure, sometimes you may be sick of work. You might even have "sick building syndrome" from your office.
  • 厭き厭き (あきあき) (n,vs) sick of; bored (with); (definition from Edict)
  • sick building syndrome シックハウス症候群◆省エネのために換気量を少なくした高気密性のビルにおいて、建材や内装材から有害物質が出て濃度を増すために、ビル内で働く人に生じる病気。◆【略】SBS (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
However, this person wanted to talk about her job performance or how smoothly work was going.

Someone else asked the difference between "feel well" and "be well". When my doctor gave me a prescription, he said that I need to be sure to take all of the antibiotics.
  • 薬方 (やくほう) (n) prescription; (definition from Edict)
  • 薬箋 (やくせん) (n) prescription; (definition from Edict)
  • 抗生物質 (こうせいぶっしつ) (n,adj-no) antibiotics; (P); (definition from Edict)
"You may feel well," he said, "but you might not be completely well. That's why it's necessary to take all of them."

When I saw these flowers, I felt really good! I hope you do, too!


「I am the flu」という文章は正しい英語じゃない。

When I was feeling under the weather, some people asked me:
× Are you swine flu?

feel under the weather
具合{ぐあい}が良くない (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
How can I be a disease? I'm a human being (at least most of the time)!
  • 病気 (びょうき) (n,adj-no) illness; disease; sickness; (P);
They mean to ask:
○ Do you have the swine flu?
○ No, I didn't have it.

a serious disease 重病{じゅうびょう}[重い病気{びょうき}]にかかっている (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
However, it is hard for me to wake up in the morning. Why?
× I am low blood pressure.
○ I have low blood pressure.

blood pressure《医》低血圧{ていけつあつ}
As a result, for the first 20 minutes of every day...
○ I am a zombie!
That lasts until I can drink some tea. I struggle to make it to this tea pot, brew some tea, and drink it. Slowly, I become a human being again.



I was in Akabane earlier this week. On the way to where I was going, I passed Itoyokado. They had this sign in the window.

Many people make mistakes when talking about dessert. Specifically, the word "sweets" throws people off.
  • throw off 【句動】(人)をうろたえさせる (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
The problem is the "s" at the end of the word.
× I had a sweets. <- if you use "a", you have to use a singular noun, but "sweets" is plural
○ I had something sweet.
○ I had a pastry/candy/etc.
Now, there's nothing wrong with how Itoyakado used "sweets", but I suspect that is an accident. The sign reads:
× sweets, gift
○ sweets, gifts
Since they used "gift" as a singular noun, I guess they thought of "sweets" as a singular noun, too. Another possibility is that they meant "dessert gifts".

However, "sweets" has an "s", so it's plural. I seldom hear it used in the singular: "a sweet". Usually we say what kind: a candy, a pastry, a cake, a cookie, or something like that.

Anyway, you had better hurry up if you are planning on buying a gift; it appears Itoyokado only has one left. If other stores are like this, this isn't going to be a very successful holiday season.


スターバックスコーヒー Bring My Cup??? 「マイカップを持っていこう。」 プロモーション

This Starbucks ad is telling us to bring my cup. 「マイカップ」 If you bring マイカップ, who will bring your cup? Do you think our cups are nicer than their cups? Is her cup bigger than his cup? (Are you confused yet? I am.)

The eco-friendly movement is gaining a foothold in Japan. That is a great thing because it is good for the environment. However it is another example of wasei~eigo. Other such examples include マイバッグ, マイカー, マイペース, マイホーム. Instead of マイ~, you should use my own/(one's) own. Look at the example below.

X A: John has マイカー
B: Why does John have your car? Did you lose your car gambling?
A: No, John has マイカー
B: Is he borrowing it for a while?
A: No, John has マイカー
B: I don't get it. Why would John be driving your car?

O A: John has his own car.
B: What kind of car does he drive?

So the next time you go to Starbucks be sure to bring your own cup, not マイカップ. Anyway, Starbucks extended their 50 yen discount (only if you bring your own cup or tumbler) until Christmas day. It's the season to be jolly, LA, LA, LA, LA, la-la-la-la.....

gain a foothold



Last night around 5:30, my nose starting running. When I got home, I took some medicine, but I was still having trouble this morning.

After my Japanese lesson, I went to the drug store and bought this Chinese medicine. Taking the medicine helped.

Sometimes I hear from people in a similar situation; they often use the word "release". However, it's not the right choice. Check these sentences:
× After taking the medicine, I was release. <- sounds similar, but this is wrong
× After taking the medicine, I was relief. <- "relief" is a noun
○ After taking the medicine, I was relieved. <- OK!
○ I started to feel better, which was a relief. <- here's how to use the noun
"Release" has several meanings, like (definitions from Edict):
  • 解放 (かいほう) (n,vs) (1) release; unleashing; liberation; emancipation; setting free;
  • 取り離す (とりはなす) (v5s,vt) to release; to let go (of);
Here are some more definitions from Edict:
  • 安神 (あんしん) (adj-na,n,vs) relief; peace of mind;
  • 緩和 (かんわ) (n,vs) relief; mitigation; alleviation; relaxation; softening; (P);
  • すうっと (vs,adv) (on-mim) refreshed; relieved;
  • 和らげる (やわらげる) (v1,vt) to soften; to moderate; to relieve; (P); <- in English, "relieve" is a verb
Soon I'll go home and make some ginger tea. That will probably give me some more relief. The weather has suddenly become cooler, so everyone please take care! Don't catch a cold!


「made by」「made from」「made of」「made with」の違いは何?

People seem to be confused about these phrases. Here's my advice.
  • made of - use this when the material hasn't been processed heavily
  • made from - use this when the material has been processed a lot
  • made with - use this when there are multiple ingredients or constituent parts
  • made by - use this to describe the method
× This curry was made of beans.
○ This curry was made with beans. <- there are a lot of ingredients in it!

× I made it from frying onions and ginger and then adding a masala paste that I bought at an import grocery store. <- onions are a processed ingredient, BUT...
○ I made it by frying onions and ginger and then adding a masala paste that I bought at an import grocery store. <- this is talking about the method

× The masala paste was made by spices, peppers, and garlic.
○ The masala paste was made from spices, peppers, and garlic. <- the ingredients in the paste have been processed a lot


「how come」はどういう意味ですか?

This guy I saw on the train the other day cracked me up.
  • crack up - 大笑いさせる、爆笑{ばくしょう}させる、ゲラゲラ笑いだす (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
His shirt says:
A landlord is a person who rents their property to others.
  • 大屋 (おおや) (n) landlord; landlady; (P); (definition from Edict)
In English-speaking countries, we often use "extreme" to describe something exciting or dangerous, like "extreme sports".
  • extreme sports - 極限スポーツ、アドレナリンを極端{きょくたん}に増加{ぞうか}させるような新種{しんしゅ}のスポーツ◆バンジー・ジャンプなど
What I want to know is how come somebody decided that there was anything extreme about being a landlord?

"How come" is a casual conversational way to say "why". Notice, though, that the usage is a bit different. In particular, notice the position of the subject and the verb.
  • how come どうして、なぜ◆【同】why
○ Why did you do that? (standard English)
× How come did you do that?
How come you did that? (casual spoken English)

○ Why are you standing there?
× How come are you standing there?
How come you are standing there?
Even more than the reason someone made such a sweatshirt, how come he decided to buy it? I'm warning you: don't wear anything with English writing unless you are sure about what it means.


If there are no fish in my fish tank, is it still a "fish" tank?

Shark week on the Discovery channel is about to end. I hope the last shark program goes out with a bang. Some of the programs I have seen talked about great white sharks (ホオジロザメ). They are very mysterious and beautiful. I just hope I never see one while swimming in the sea.

Speaking of fish, a few weeks ago, we bought a fish tank. After seeing Finding Nemo one time too many, we couldn't resist not buying some clownfish (
カクレクマノミ). However because of my inexperience with fish keeping, the fish kicked the bucket. When it comes to salt water fish keeping, I feel like a fish out of water but I hope to get the hang of it.

Here are some more "fish" expressions and idioms. Can you think of any other ones?

idiom-- have bigger fish to fry/ have other fish to fry
meaning-- to have other things to do; to have more important things to do.
sample sentence-- I won't waste time on your question. I have bigger fish to fry.
From the ALC site-- have bigger fish to fry


idiom-- There are plenty of other fish in the sea.
meaning-- There are other choices (to talk about people)
sample sentence-- When Takeshi broke up with Keiko, I told her not to worry. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.
From ALC Space--Why do you think he is the only nice-looking man in the world? Look around, there are plenty of other fish in the sea.

idiom-- go out with a bang
meaning-- finish successfully, finish in an exciting way.
sample sentence-- The Sopranos finale went out with a bang.
From the ALC space site-- T
im won't retire quietly. I assure you he will go out with a bang.


「as to」と「as for」の違いは何?

There are two phrases with "as" that you might come across in a business email: "as to" and "as for".

Some sources, including the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, say they have the same meaning. I think they are often used differently, though.
  • "as to" <- to precede an answer to a question or reply to a comment.
  • "as for" <- to state the topic which the main sentence is related to
As to what I was up to over the weekend, I went to a performance at SuperDeluxe in Roppongi. <- "what I was up to" could be seen as a question
It's a good venue to see interesting music. I see a show there about once every two or three months.
  • 開催地 (かいさいち) (n) place where a meeting (conference, etc.) is held; venue; (definition from Edict)
The weather wasn't good, but as for the performance, it wasn't bad. It was improvised music on laptops by a trio called Fenn O'Berg. You can listen to some of their music here:
As for this post, that's it. There will be another post tomorrow!



This is my favorite season. None of the other seasons are as good as autumn.

There's a difference between "none" and "nothing" that you should be careful about. If you just look at the Japanese definitions, it seems they're the same:
  • none 誰も[何も・一つも・どれも・どれ一つとして]~ない
  • nothing 何も~ない、少しも~ない、何物{なにもの}も~ない (definitions from Eijiro on the Web)
"None" is used to talk about the lack of something in group.

"Nothing" is used to talk about a total lack of anything.
  • 欠 (けつ) (n) lack; deficiency; vacancy;
  • 缺 (けつ) (oK) (n) lack; deficiency; vacancy; (definitions from Edict)
Look at some examples:
How much did you pay?
× None
○ Nothing
○ How much of the water is in the cup? None of it.
○ What is in the cup? Nothing.

○ How much did you read this week? Nothing.
○ How much of this book did you read this week? None of it.

○ Which of your coworkers speaks Spanish? None of them.
○ How many countries have put astronauts on Mars? None.

○ How much did you pay? Nothing.
○ How much money did you spend? None.
There's nothing I like more in autumn than mandarin oranges. I hope none of you have anything but a great weekend!



The other day I read this:
× How fantastic party it is!!
How fantastic it was!!
What a fantastic party it was!!
There's a grammatical difference between "how" and "what" in exclamations. Here are the patterns you should use:
  • How __(adj)__!
  • What a __(adj)__ __(n)__!
Some friends of mine opened a flower shop in Aoyama.
When I visited it, I saw these flowers.
× How interesting flowers!
What interesting flowers!
To be honest, I usually don't use these patterns, though. I usually say something like:
  • Wow! Those flowers are really interesting!
There are lots of other beautiful flowers and arrangements there. You should check it out!



I have seen black cats. I have seen striped cats. I have seen scary stray cats but I had never seen cats on a street post before until very recently.

I went to Ginza with my family on a sunny Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago. Ginza is a great place to visit on the weekends. The streets are closed off and are car-free (歩行者天国) . It's unusual to have streets closed off just for pedestrians in my hometown, San Francisco.

When I got to the main street, we saw an ojiisan reach into his paper shopping bag, take out kittens one after another and put them on top of the street sign. A lot of people gathered around and started taking pictures of the cats so naturally I did the same. When in Tokyo, do as the Tokyoites do.

The cats were the stars of the afternoon. The next time you have a free afternoon on a Sunday, why don't you go to Ginza? You can walk on the street and make car noises.

Let's take a look at some common "cat" idioms.

a stray cat: 野良猫

When the cat's away, the mice will play: Without supervision, people will do as they please, especially in disregarding or breaking rules. For example, As soon as their parents left, the children invited all their friends over

From the ALC Space website:
When the cat's away, the mice will play.

let the cat out of the bag: to reveal a secret or a surprise (sometimes by accident).

From the ALC Space website:
I'm going to storm into the police station and let the cat out of the bag.



I saw this magazine on the newsstand the other day.
  • newsstand 【名】〈米〉ニューススタンド◆駅・路上などで本・新聞を売る露店(小さな売店)
The caption above the five portraits on the cover says:
It should say:
"Idea" is a countable noun. If you don't use the plural in this case, it sounds like you have only one idea. That's certainly not what this magazine means.

However, if you use "idea" as a singular noun, since it is countable, you must use something like "a" or "the" in front of it.

If a restaurant makes a mistake with their English usage, that's one thing.
  • That's one thing. あれは許せるけど、... <- not so sure about this translation, but...
A magazine, on the other hand, has a close relationship to language. How could they not ask a native speaker to check their English usage, especially on the cover?
  • かと言って (かといって) (exp) (uk) having said that; on the other hand; (definition from Edict)
  • その反面 (そのはんめん) (n) on the other hand; (definition from Edict)
If I were the editor, I'd be really embarrassed.



Do you know the discovery channel? Have you ever seen one of their programs? If you have and are like me then you would agree that one of the most exciting programs are about sharks. And guess what? Shark week is coming to the discovery channel! To celebrate the coming of shark week, I thought it would be a good idea to do some posts about animals. It would be hard to find someone who isn't fond of animals. First up this week, let's take a look at some "animal" idioms. Here are some common dog idioms.

Last week, typhoon Melor passed through the Kanto region. It was raining cats and dogs. In fact, it rained so hard some of my classes were cancelled.
Meaning: Use it's raining cats and dogs to describe heavy rain.

I broke my wife's favorite vase and have been in the dog house since.
Meaning: You have done something which has made someone angry.

When your boss is in a bad mood it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.
Meaning: Leave something/someone alone if it might cause trouble.

The proverb "Barking dogs seldom bite" suggests that people who say they are going to do something bad to us usually do nothing.

Last but not least, are you a dog person or a cat person? Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Use last but not least to emphasize that while it is listed last on the list, it is just as important as the other things mentioned (earlier) on that list.

Some samples from ALC space website:

As far as symphony is concerned, he is said to be fond of Gustav Mahler.

Father has been in the dog house since he lost his wedding ring.

Last but not least
Last but not least, allow me to add some suggestions to further improve the magazine which will be facing the 21st century very soon.

You know what they say. Let sleeping dogs lie.

Let sleeping dogs lie.


This was a successful dish. I made it a little more than a week ago. Since I've been busy showing you signs with mistakes, I didn't post it on the blog.

I was talking with someone last week. She told me about Thai curry in Thailand and the same dish at a Thai restaurant in Japan. She told me:
× It was good but not the one we ate in Thailand.
○ It was good, but not as good as the one we ate in Thailand.
○ It was good, but it wasn't as good as the one we ate in Thailand.
I feel the first sentence has a mistake because the two things connected by the conjunction aren't the same type of thing: "good" is an adjective, but "the one" is a pronoun.

In the second sentence, we just connect "good" with "not as good", both of which are adjectives. In the third sentence, we connect one sentence with another sentence.

This dish in my photo has slices of fried tofu, green pepper (remember this post?), and bean sprouts. <- noun, noun, and noun

I stir-fried everything and added a spicy Chinese sauce. <- verb and verb

Using grammar well is sometimes hard. What do you think about cooking delicious dishes: hard or easy? <- adjective and adjective


I think people are confused about punctuation.
  • 句読点 (くとうてん) (n) (ling) punctuation mark(s); (P);
Sometimes it seems people don't care about it. However, it has meaning!

For example, using a period (.) in a word. The reason to use a period in a word is for an abbreviation. The period is used at the end of the abbreviation.
  • 省略 (しょうりゃく) (n,vs) omission; abbreviation; abridgment; abridgement; (P);
For example, "mister" becomes "Mr." in a title. "Et cetera" becomes "etc.".

This photo has some English which reads:
× Track. 2
That period after "Track" is really strange. I think what they meant was:
○ Track Number 2
○ Track No. 2
○ No. 2
That's a funny abbreviation, though, isn't it? If "number" doesn't have an "o", why do we write "no."? The answer is here:
In short, it comes from Latin-based languages, like French and Spanish, in which "numero" means "number". It's interesting to note that in Middle English, "number" was spelled "nombre", also with an "o".

I don't want to abbreviate my sleep, so it's time for me to end this post. Good night!



On Friday, someone kindly brought something to my attention.
  • There is something I'd like to bring to your attention. あなたにお伝えして[お話して]おきたいことがあります。(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
At the bottom of our posts, there's a place for a label. It's supposed to be a convenient way for people to find posts on similar topics. I don't always remember to use it, but I try to do it most of the time.

Unfortunately, over the past two months, I've been making a big mistake: choosing the wrong Japanese label for some posts! I wanted to say "vocabulary", but instead I was saying "vulgar expression". That's embarrassing!
  • 卑語 (ひご) (n) vulgar expression; vulgarism;
  • 単語 (たんご) (n,adj-no) (ling) word; vocabulary; (usually) single-character word; (P);
There are a few reasons. One is just carelessness on my part. Another is my poor Japanese. Look at this photo; last year, and even today, I have trouble telling the difference between ツ and シ, and also ン and ソ. I also make mistakes when writing kanji. Look at how I wrote 術. Here's my best excuse, though.
  • 言い訳 (いいわけ) (n,vs) (1) excuse; (2) explanation; (P);
Look at this screen shot. When I write, I'm given a list of labels I've used before. For me, 卑語 and 単語 look almost the same. It's just like how "quiet" and "quite" look almost the same for many non-native English speakers. We've all got to be careful! I think I've fixed all of the 卑語 mistakes, but if you ever find a mistake in my Japanese, please let me know! I'd really appreciate it!