「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!



This is another photo I took the other day in Ebisu. It was on the screen of a machine in the Ebisu subway station. It says:
× Touch English for English expression
It should say:
○ Touch the button labeled "English" for text in English.
...or something like that. To be honest, I'm not even sure they need that sentence. Most people should understand what that button does without it.
  • label (v) 付票を付ける
First, notice that they forgot the period. Never forget punctuation at the end of your sentences!
  • 句読点 (くとうてん) (n) (ling) punctuation mark(s); (P);
After that, they are using the word "expression" incorrectly. There are several ways to use it, though, like these:
  • 顔付き (かおつき) (n) (outward) looks; features; face; countenance; expression; (P);
She had a surprised expression on her face.
  • 詞 (ことば) (n) (1) language; dialect; (2) word; words; phrase; term; expression; remark; (3) speech; (manner of) speaking;
"I couldn't be better" is a fixed expression.
  • fixed phrase 定型文{ていけい ぶん}、固定句{こてい く}(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
Here's more on fixed expressions:
I'm surprised that the Tokyo Metro doesn't take more care with their English. At least they used an imperative sentence and not "let's". I have another sign from the subway with mistakes to talk about another day.



After walking past the restaurant serving "meatfood", I passed this Italian restaurant. I talked about how "meatfood" is incorrect yesterday:
The first two dishes on this sign say:
× Calpaccio di Sanma
× Calpaccio di Aymaaji
I don't know if it's good or bad, but it was interesting to see that the "L" sound and the "R" sound are often confused by Japanese, even if it's in Italian and not English. This sign should say carpaccio, which means raw meat or fish. It's like sushi, but Wikipedia says this dish was invented in 1950.
I know it might be hard to hear the difference between an "L" and an "R". However, pronouncing them correctly isn't as hard.
  • 発音する (v) pronounce
For an "L", start with your tongue touching the bottom side of your top teeth, like the picture below. For an "R", curl your tongue.


I'm sorry for the blurry photo; this is the same sign I was talking about yesterday. This part of the sign says:
× Seafood&Meatfood
While I admire the creativity the sign-maker is showing, "meatfood" is not an English word.
  • 憧れる (あこがれる) (v1,vi) to long for; to yearn after; to admire; to be attracted by; (P);
  • 創造力 (そうぞうりょく) (n) creative power; (P); creativity
I wish I could give you a good reason why we say "seafood" but not "meatfood", but I just can't think of one.

The sign should read:
Seafood & Meat
× As a vegetarian, I don't eat any seafood, or any meal either.
○ As a vegetarian, I don't eat any seafood, or any meat either.
  • 食事 (しょくじ) (n) (1) meal;
  • 肉 (にく) (n) (2) meat;
For my meals, it's vegetables only. I hope you enjoy your next meal!



I don't know why it is that when going to Ebisu I can find lots of English mistakes. Take a look at this photo:
Here are the comments from your picky native English-speaking friend. The most common mistake here is "sarada". Neither "sarada" nor "salada" is English. It's supposed to be "salad". Notice that the English doesn't end with ダ, but ends with "d". Be careful when pronouncing this word!
  • サラダ (n) salad
Also, on the menu, if there are several kinds of salads, you should use a plural noun, not a singular one.

After that, if you're going to put English on a sign, at least use a spell-check! It's so easy! "Vegetabele" should be "vegetable".

Finally, there's the issue of spaces. If you are going to use "&", which is called an ampersand, you need a space on either side of it.
  • アンド (n) ampersand sign; and; (P);
Here's what the sign should have said:
Salads & Vegetables
You know, one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants has a lot of English mistakes on its menu. Still, I didn't try this restaurant; I went down the street to an Italian restaurant I usually eat at. I had olives, a salad, gorgonzola risotto, and tomato, basil, and mozarella gnocchi. It was delicious!

I hope you all had a nice weekend.



The other day I asked you to find this mistake in this description. Here's the answer:
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.

× It was a so quickly made curry. <- don't use "so" with a noun. ○ It was a very quickly-made curry.
You can review the post here:
× In Kanda I saw this so strangely-placed planter.
○ In Kanda I saw this very strangely-placed planter.
I thought the flower was nice, though, so I took a picture of it. What kind of flower is this?

Today I wanted to eat at that vegetarian restaurant again, but I ran out of time. Instead, I picked up some maki (rice and other stuff rolled and wrapped with seaweed) at a local supermarket. I didn't pay close attention, though, and grabbed a tuna salad roll instead of a fermented soy bean roll. When I bit into it about seven minutes later, I was so terribly disappointed! Fortunately, they were very cheaply priced, so I didn't feel too bad throwing it away. I also had another one with cucumber and plum, so I didn't starve.

The lesson for me is not to be so hasty!
  • せっかち (adj-na,n) hasty; impatient; (P);



I often hear some confusion about the difference between "neighborhood" and "neighbor".

(definitions from Eijiro on the Web)

  1. 近所{きんじょ}、近辺{きんぺん}、自宅周辺{じたく しゅうへん}、近郊{きんこう}、近傍{きんぼう}
  2. 近所{きんじょ}の人々{ひとびと}
    ・My neighborhood has a large number of Brazilian immigrants. : 私の近所にブラジル人移民がたくさんいる。
  1. 〔困ったときに助けてくれる〕隣人{りんじん}
    ・Good fences make good neighbors. : 《諺》良い塀は良い隣人を作る。/しっかりした垣根は隣近所を仲良く保つ。/親しき仲にも礼儀あり。
  2. 近所{きんじょ}の人、隣席{りんせき}の人
    ・My nearest neighbors are cows. : 近所には牛しかいないよ。
Usually "neighborhood" means a place, but one definition also means "people", so that confuses a lot of people. Look at some examples:
○ Some of my neighborhood likes to celebrate holidays with decorations. <- "neighborhood" means people here, but it's an uncountable noun

○ Some of my neighbors like to celebrate holidays with decorations. <- "neighbors" can be a plural noun
In this photo, you can see a wreath with a small sign on it. You can't read it in the photo, but it says "Happy Halloween!" So, we can say:
× One neighborhood is celebrating Halloween. <- remember, if you mean "people", "neighborhood" is uncountable
○ One neighbor is celebrating Halloween.
Another neighbor also has a wreath on her door. Maybe she's celebrating the coming of fall.

Still, most of my neighborhood is free of holiday decorations. <- "neighborhood" means a place, not people, in this sentence

Maybe they're too busy to hang decorations, like me. I love this season more than any other, but I'd rather things just be clean than see a lot of holiday stuff that will probably hang on doors too long.

Anyway, a happy autumn to you!