This issue came up again the other day. "What's the difference between 'so' and 'very'?" I was asked. Here are the patterns you can use:
very/so __(adv)__
very/so __(adv)__ __(adj)__
○ very __(adv)__ __(adj)__ __(n)__
× so __(adv)__ __(adj)__ __(n)__
It's like this:
× One of my so deeply missed foods...
○ One of my very deeply missed foods is dried and pressed tofu, which is called dougan in Taiwan (豆乾).
(most natural) One food which I really miss a lot is...
And like this:
  • I was suffering from allergies last week, but this week I'm very much better. <- this is OK, but honestly, it's a little weird
  • This week I feel so much better. <- this sentence is also so much better...
Find this mistake in this description:

Last week, I made some very tasty curry. You can see it in this photo. It's chickpeas with lots of tumeric, cumin, and curry powder. It was also cooked with a tomato, and onion, and a lot of ginger. It was a so quickly made curry, but I made some a month ago that was so much better. I don't know why this one wasn't as good. I'd like to hear your recipes for delicious food that can be made very easily.


「not any」と「not just any」の違いは何?

Yesterday I went to a performance in the early evening. Here's a link to Japanese information about the event:
The performance was only electronic music and video (notice the difference between "not any" and "not just any").

× There wasn't just any rock music.
○ There wasn't any rock music. <- this means you couldn't hear rock music at the event.

This photo is of a Belgian musician named Yves De Mey.

× He's not any electronic musician.
○ He's not just any electronic musician. <- this means that I think his music is kind of special.
  • not just any ただ普通{ふつう}の~ではない (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
He's a muscian whose mixes I've been listening to lately. Here's one approximately one-hour DJ set he performed. If you are curious, listen to it.
Listening to live music was a nice way to spend my Sunday evening. I wish I could do it more often. I hope you all had a nice weekend. Study hard this week!



I went again to the vegetarian restaurant I mentioned back on Sept. 11:
In fact, I went last Thursday and this Thursday, too. It was much better the next two times. The soup was richer, and the dishes weren't as salty. My only complaint is that the portions are still a bit small. Still, that goes for a lot of restaurants in Japan, especially the "healthy" ones.
× I didn't want to give you URL of the restaurant because I wanted to sure it was worth recommending. <- "sure" is an adjective, not a verb
○ I didn't want to give you URL of the restaurant because I wanted to make sure it was worth recommending.
In the sentence above, notice the idiom "make sure".
  • make sure 確かめる、確認する (definition from Eijiro on the web)
Here's the URL to the restaurant.
× I can't make sure you'll like it.
○ I can't be sure you'll like it.
  • can't be sure 必ず~するという保証はない <- ??? is this right?
Still, the atmosphere is pleasant, the staff is friendly, and the food is vegetarian. Try it out if you are curious.



On the other side of those trees is the city. The traffic there creates a lot of noise.
  • 交通 (こうつう) (n,vs) communication; transportation; traffic;
However, thanks to the trees, the noise is reduced. No one would want to stay on the sidewalk next to the passing cars for very long.
  • 歩道 (ほどう) (n) footpath; walkway; sidewalk; (P);
However, you could easily spend all day among the flowers.
  • 中 (なか) (n) (1) inside; in; (2) among; within; (3) center (centre); middle; (4) during; while; (P);
Some people think that I'm being too picky when I complain about missing periods and letters that should be capitalized but aren't.
  • 粗捜し (あらさがし) (n,vs) finding fault; being picky;
Still, you should consider those small mistakes as noise. Once you add the word-choice mistake - "grass" instead of "flowers" - the noise increases. Look at the post from two days ago to see what I'm talking about:
The more noise there is in your sentences, the more your English becomes like the sidewalk next to the traffic.
  • the more ~, the more ~すればするほどますます…
If there's too much noise in your sentences, many people don't want to take the time to communicate.
  • take the time to ~するために時間{じかん}を割く、時間{じかん}を取って~する、~の時間{じかん}を取る◆【語法】toの直後には動詞の原形が来る
Try to make your English like this field of flowers so that people feel communicating with you is a pleasure. I just wanted to say a bit about that.
  • 一言する speak a word


Here's another picture from my visit to Hamarikyu Park. On the blog yesterday, I also talked about my visit:
This scene surprised me. The contrast between the beautiful flowers and the modern high-rises in the background is nice, I think.
  • 高層ビル - high-rise
  • 背景 (はいけい) (n) background; scenery; setting; circumstance; (P);
I imagine the people with offices that overlook the park really enjoy their view.
  • 見下ろす (みおろす) (v5s,vt) to overlook; to command a view of; to look down on something; (P);
Another thing that surprised me was how the trees on the edge of the park seem to block out the noise of the city.
  • blockout the noise of the city 街の喧騒{けんそう}[騒音{そうおん}]を遮る[遮断{しゃだん}する](definition from Eijiro on the Web)
Tomorrow I'll talk about noise some more, but now it's my bedtime. Sleep well!



Nice flowers, aren't they? I saw these flowers at Hamarikyu Gardens (浜離宮恩賜庭園) near Shinbashi Station. I often ride by there on my bicycle, and the other day I went inside to take a look around.
  • take a look around ~を見物しに行く、見回す (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
It's a really relaxing place, and there are several fields of flowers. However, on the edge of the field, I found this sign:
× please keep off the grass
KEEP OFF THE GRASS 芝生立ち入り禁止 (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
The grammar is almost right. Here's how it should have been written:
○ Please keep off the grass.
Don't forget that you should always capitalize the first letter of the first word in a complete sentence.
  • capitalize ~を大文字{おおもじ}で書く (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
Also, don't forget periods at the end of your sentences.

Since I'm picky, what bothers me more is that this isn't grass. It's a field of flowers! It would have been OK if they said:
Please keep out of the flowers.
Please stay out of the flowerbed.
flowerbed - 花壇
Despite their English mistakes on their signage, they did have a well-done English brochure, with only one mistake in it. Nice job! I'm worried about the Japanese headline of this post, though. I had better study Japanese more. I'll post more pictures of the park another time.



I bought this hard drive about five years ago in Taiwan. Recently, I bought a new hard drive to back up a lot of my data.
  • back up data - コンピューターのデータをバックアップする
When I was doing my backups, I wanted to move the things on this drive to the new drive. However, when I plugged it in, the light on the front just flashed green and red. I tried everything, but no matter what, I couldn't access the data inside. It had died.

It had kicked the bucket.
  • くたばる (v5r,vi) (1) (col) to kick the bucket; to drop dead; to die; (2) to be pooped; to be exhausted; (P);
It had croaked.
  • croak - くたばる、死ぬ、落第する
It had bitten the dust.
  • bite the dust - 戦いで倒れて死ぬ、戦死する
All of these phrases are slang; don't use them in a really serious situation.

I can't remember what was on the drive. I hope it wasn't important. A friend of mine says that no high-tech gear can survive more than five years. Maybe he's right. Remember to back up your data!



This week I feel like talking about food.

One common mistake I hear is:
× I hate to eat pi~man. <- ピーマン is not English!
So I tell people that's not English, so they say:
× Oh! I mean I hate paprika.
"Paprika" is English, but it's a dried spice made from peppers, not the peppers themselves. Wikipedia says some European countries say "paprika" meaning the peppers, but as far as I know, English-speaking countries don't say that.
  • as far as I know 私の知る限りでは、私の知っている範囲では (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
So what should you say?
○ I hate peppers!
I don't hate peppers, though. I love them! These are slices of bell pepper. There are green bell peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers. There are lots of other kinds of peppers, like jalapeno peppers, chili peppers, and so on.

I read that Australians and New Zealanders call them "capisicum". I had never heard that until today, though.

After slicing these bell peppers, I diced them and stir-fried them with chili peppers, green onion, garlic, ginger, fake mince meat, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and a little salt. I put that mixture on top of a bowl of noodles. Yummy!



Here are the answers to yesterday's question:
These days I try to cook:
× a) as possible as I can
× b) as can as much
○ c) as much as possible
× d) possibly as much
○ e) as much as I can.
Even though I try to cook as much as possible, lunch is a meal I can rarely cook.

Today, I tried a relatively new vegetarian restaurant in Higashi-Nihonbashi. The interior was pleasant, and I particularly liked the natural lighting.

I had a mushroom pasta with a tiny salad and a cup of vegetable soup. The meal cost ¥1000. The flavor was not so bad, but to be honest, the pasta was a bit saltier than I like, and the soup was a bit more watery than what I make at home. The salad was also much too small.
  • コストパ、コスト・パフォーマンス cost performance // price vs performance (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
I'm not sure I've ever heard a native speaker use this in a conversation, especially about food. We're more likely to say something like:
  • It wasn't a very good value.
  • It wasn't worth it.
  • I didn't get my money's worth.
I'll try it again another time. If it's better, I'll give you the details on how to visit yourself.



In this photo, you can see the dinner I made last night. I talked about it in my post yesterday:
The bowl in front is the sesame sauce noodles. The small bowl on the right in the back is filled with cucumber pickles. The plate on the left is stir-fried Chinese cabbage, also known as bok choi, with fake duck meat.
  • 青梗菜 (ちんげんさい) (n) qinggengcai (spinach-like green vegetable originating in China); pak choi; bok choi; bok choy;
Cooking at home saves money, and the food is generally better for my health. It's also fun!

Which of these is right?
These days I try to cook:
a) as possible as I can, b) as can as much, c) as much as possible, d) possibly as much, e) as much as I can.
Check back for the answer!



This question came up in class the other day: what's the difference between "lot" and "lots"?

The basic answer is that "lot" is a singular noun, while "lots" is a plural noun. That means you should use "a" in front of "lot", but don't do that with "lots".

The meaning is the same, though. Personally, I'm likely to use them like this:
  • a lot of __(uncountable noun)__
  • lots of __(countable noun)__
However, either way is OK.

This, though, is definitely wrong:
× a lots of __(n)__
I was missing Taiwanese food. In particular, I wanted to eat sesame sauce noodles. To feed my craving for sesame sauce noodles, I made some tonight for my late-night dinner.
  • craving for ~に対する欲求、~への[~に対する]憧{あこが}れ、~への渇望{かつぼう}
The pot is filled with a lot of sesame sauce soup which I can pour over noodles. On the side you can see there are lots of bean sprouts to put on top of the noodles.
  • 萌やし (もやし) (n) bean sprouts;
I think it turned out pretty well, but I will use a lot more sesame paste in the sauce next time. Next time I'll show you the finished noodles!



Family Mart needs help with their English. Maybe you know how to become their consultant.
  • 顧問 (こもん) (n,adj-no) adviser; advisor; consultant; (P);
If you do, you can give them this advice.
× Every Life, Every Fun
○ Fun for everyone! <- is this what they mean? I'm not sure...
I will admit that my version doesn't have the poetic repetition that theirs does. However, "every life, every fun" just doesn't make sense!
  • 詩的 (してき) (adj-na,n) poetic;
  • 折り返し (おりかえし) (adv) (4) repetition;
"Every" can only be used with singular countable nouns. "Fun" is an uncountable noun.
○ "We hope that the goods and services we provide will make your day a better and brighter one."
This one was correct. Good job!
× Let's go to Famima.
○ Come to Famima!
There are a few problems here. First, "let's" is wrong. It sounds like the Family Mart staff and I are going to go to another Family Mart together. That's just weird. This should be an imperative sentence.
  • 命令文 (めいれいぶん) (n) (ling) imperative sentence; imperative statement;
I talked about "let's" back in April in this post. Please review:
Next, why should I "go" to Family Mart. I'm already there! To welcome someone to your place, use "come", not "go".

If you know anyone in a marketing department who wants to use English in their marketing, please recommend that they study with me!



When I got home this evening, I was pretty hungry. I put my bag down and went straight to the kitchen to cook something to eat. I'm getting fast at cooking soup for noodles, so that's what I made. After chopping some vegetables and putting them in boiling water with seasonings, I started to stir-fry a topping for my bowl of noodles. That's what you can see in the picture.
× I was really enjoying.
"Enjoy" is a verb that needs to be used with an object.
  • 目的語 (もくてきご) (n) (ling) object;
That's why the sentence above is wrong. One common pattern is "enjoy oneself".
  • enjoy oneself 楽しむ、楽しく過ごす We could enjoy ourselves at the party. : パーティーを楽しみました。I enjoyed myself. : 本当に楽しかったです。/ああ楽しかった。(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
Otherwise, you can use an object to say what you enjoyed.
  • I enjoyed listening to crickets when I took a walk earlier. <- "listening" is a gerund, basically a noun
  • 蟋蟀 (こおろぎ) (n) (1) (uk) cricket (Gryllidae); (2) (arch) any insect that chirps in autumn;
I was really enjoying myself, and I decided to take a picture to share with you all. From all of my pictures of food, you must know that I enjoy cooking. I also enjoy teaching, which is lucky for me (and hopefully you, too)!

I hope you enjoy the weekend. Take care!


関係代名詞の使い方 wrap-up

It's time to wrap up this series on relative pronouns.
  • wrap up
  1. 〔仕事{しごと}などを〕完成{かんせい}させる、仕上げる
    ・It took a long time for us to wrap up the project. : そのプロジェクトを完成させるのに時間がかかった。
  2. 〔会議{かいぎ}・仕事{しごと}などを〕終える、終わりにする、切り上げる◆【同】finish
    ・"Let's wrap up this job and go home." "OK." : 「この仕事を終えて、帰ろう」「ああいいよ」
    ・Let's wrap it up. : 仕事をおしまいにしよう。
  3. ~に決着{けっちゃく}をつける
  4. 要約{ようやく}する、まとめる、まとめ上げる、仕上げる、締めくくる◆【類】tie up loose ends
    ・I'm hopeful I can wrap it up in a day or two.
(definitions from Eijiro on the Web)
There's a lot to review. Here's the whole list of posts about relative pronouns:
Right now, the streets, which have no people, look like this. I hope where you are is safe and quiet, and that people who care about you are thinking about you.

Of course, I'm waiting to hear any questions that you have about relative clauses.

But now, it's time for me to wrap up this day. More soon!