家 でやろう!

What is America's national flower? Did you guess the rose? Guess again... Actually it is the "car"nation. Get it? If you live in the States, you have to have a car. I suppose you can get by without one but it is not convenient at all. I have been living in Tokyo for over a decade and I can't imagine having to drive to work every morning ever again. I don't mind taking the train. Actually I like taking the train. (One of the main reasons is that I usually don't have to take the train in the morning)

Commuting by train allows me to do all the things I had always wanted to do while commuting to work back in the States. Think reading, catching 40 winks, commuter-watching. But best of all, I get time to squeeze in some kanji-review and check out some interesting ads. Have you seen ads like the one above? Hilarious, aren't they? It seems that people's manners have gone south and it has become so bad that the Tokyo Metro has decided to run a series of ads to remind riders how to behave properly and keep the "和". This particular ad reminds people that it is polite or proper to give up their seats to the elderly, expecting mothers, and those others in need. We can also use the (V)~ing form, e.g. Giving up your seat to those in need is the proper thing to do.

Try making some (V)~ing sentences from the ones below.
It is impolite to eat on the train. Eating on....
It is dangerous to rush into the train.
It is inconsiderate to other riders to block the door.

If you are interested in seeing some of the older posters, check out this website

Now if you can help me think of a few ideas for a "クラス でやろう!" campaign, I would eternally grateful. Just remember, studying consistently is the key to English mastery.

Useful vocabulary
get it~理解{りかい}する、分かる、了解{りょうかい}する、納得{なっとく}する
・Why would she want to marry a guy like that? I don't get it! :
・I get it. : 分かりました。/なるほど。
・You don't get it. : 分かってませんね。

get by~うまく通り抜ける, 〔検閲{けんえつ}などを〕通る, なんとか生きてい
・I don't think I could get by without my cell-phone anymore. :
・How can you get by on three hours of sleep a night. :
・"How're you doing?" "Just getting by." : 「どないでっか?」「ぼちぼちでんなー」

catch 40 winks~昼寝{ひるね}[うたた寝]をする、昼寝{ひるね}のための時間{じかん}を取る
When I'm tired, I usually try to grab a 40 winks during the lunch break. :

go south~ To become unfavorable; to decrease; to take a turn for the worse.


Someone I see often looked at what I was wearing and told me:
× Renick, you like black color.
◯ Renick, you like the color black.
◯ Renick, you like black. <- most natural, 自然な英語
Usuall we don't use the word "color" when talking about a particular color; we just say the name of the color directly, like:
A: What color is your bicycle?
B: × It's red and black color.
◯ It's red and black.
It's true that I like black. After that, my favorites are grey and white. <- note that "grey" can also be spelled "gray"

These days, though, I'm becoming fond of pink, like the tshirt I'm wearing today. I suppose I'm pink on the inside, so why not be pink on the outside, too? Still, chances are if you see me, I'll be wearing black and gray.
  • Chances are
    たぶん~であろう (definition from Eijiro on the Web)


「need 」は 「 to 」を付けなければならないけど…

The red thing in the picture is a taillight.
  • taillight 尾灯 (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
I was writing about it a few days ago.
× I need put fresh batteries in it. <- "need" isn't a 助動詞, so you need to use "to"
◯ I need to put fresh batteries in it.
The white one is a headlight.
  • headlight 前灯 (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
× I needn't to put fresh batteries in it, though.
◯ I needn't put fresh batteries in it, though. <- UK style?
◯ I don't need to put fresh batteries in it, though. <- more commonly said by Americans
That's weird, isn't it? Even though we need "to" in the first example, don't use "to" with "needn't". I don't know why that is. Instead, I recommend that you use "don't need to" because it follows the rules nicely.

The reason I don't need to put fresh batteries in the white one is that I left it on my bicycle during heavy rain. Let me give you some advice: you need to take the lights off the bicycle in heavy rain. If you don't, the rain will ruin it. That's what happened to this one. However, I've already bought a new one, so I don't need to do anything about this one but throw it away.


賞味期限にご注意、「rot 」と「go bad」の違い

This dish that I just cooked looks pretty delicious, right? I thought so, too, until I took a bite. In fact, it was a failure.

The dish is Chinese-style braised tofu with green onions and green peppers. It looked great, and I was really excited about eating it. I tore into it, but I was quickly disappointed.
× The tofu had rotted.
◯ The tofu had already gone sour. <- it really was sour
◯ The tofu had already gone bad. <- "go bad" is the general way to say 腐る
  • tear into something ~に取り掛かる (definition from Eijiro on the Web) <- not sure about this... I'm saying that I started eating it quickly and enthusiastically...
  • go sour 酸っぱくなる、味が変わる
  • 腐る (くさる) (v5r) to rot; to go bad; (P); (definition from Edict)
In most cases, you should use "go bad". Use "rot" for when things have really changed a lot, close to decomposed. When you think of "rot", think of zombies.
decompose 【自動】
  1. 腐敗{ふは い}[腐食{ふしょく}]する
  2. 〔物質が〕分解{ぶんかい}する
  1. 腐 敗{ふはい}[腐食{ふしょく}]させる
  2. 〔物 質を〕分解{ぶんかい}する
You had better be careful about expiration dates. I thought I was, too, but it was too close. The package said it was good until the 22nd, but it was clearly past the expiration date.
  • expiration date 有効{ゆうこう}[使用{しよう}・消費{しょうひ}・賞味{しょうみ}]期限{きげん}(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
This day is also past its expiration date. Time to go to bed...



Chinese New Year is now over, and people in China have gone back to work.

Somehow, though, my neighbor is still in the New Year's mood.
  • in the mood
    気分{きぶん}が乗って、〔~しようという〕気[気持ち]になって (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
She put up her New Year's wreath a little bit after Christmas, and it's still there. She must really love the holidays.
  • wreath 花環 花冠 花輪 リース (definition from jmdict)
It's not really a big deal, I suppose. Maybe she's busy like me.
  • I suppose that ...
    ~じゃないかと思います。(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
Maybe she just likes the way it looks, like me and my blinking bracelet. In southern Taiwan, I found a Christmas tree still up in June. I don't remember well; maybe it was in the police station. I think they just thought it was really nice looking, and felt it would be a shame to take it down. She might be like those Taiwanese police officers.
  • What a shame it would be if we lost this game.
    この試合に負けたら悔しくてたまらない。(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
  • What a shame it would be to die now.
    今死ぬのは残念でならない[悔しくてたまらない]。(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
She might be procrastinating for some other reason.
  • procrastinate 延び延び (definition from jmdict)
Right now there are probably half a dozen things that I'm procrastinating with. I have had replacement parts for two computers sitting in boxes under my desk for almost seven months. I have fresh batteries for a tail light for my bicycle sitting on my desk. They've been there for about a month and a half, I guess.
  • fresh batteries 新品のバッテリー (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
Sometimes it's hard to get around to everything.
  • get around to ~するための時間{じかん}を見つける、~する時 間的余裕{じかん てき よゆう}ができる I couldn't get around to it. : そこまで手がまわりませんでした。(definition from Eijiro on the Web)



I've written a few posts about my recent visit to Koenji. It was lots of fun, and there was plenty of strange English there.

People often have trouble with "see" and "look", and that trouble is compounded when they are used in other expressions. That's why someone asked me recently about the difference between "overlook" and "oversee".

"Overlook" sometimes means "to look past something, missing it", while "oversee" means "to manage". Here are some definitions from Eijiro on the Web.

overlook 【他動】
  1. 見落{み お}とす
    ・You're overlooking something. : 何か見落としてるよ。
  2. 〔チャンス などを〕逃す
    ・You shouldn't overlook a chance. : チャンスを逃してはいけない。
oversee 【他動】
  1. ~を監督{か んとく}する、監視{かんし}する◆【同】watch over
    ・The 900 poll watchers are supposed to be sent to oversee the elections in El Salvador. : エルサルバドルの選挙に900人の選挙監視団が送られることになった。
  2. ~をこっそり見る、たまたま目撃{もくげき}する
The sign above has a funny spelling mistake. The writer appears to have overlooked it when painting the sign. Apparently, no one with English skill is overseeing the sign-maker's work, either. Maybe the sign-maker was enjoying cocktails while making the sign.

Make sure you don't overlook any spelling mistakes in your writing. Using a spell-checker is easy!



I saw lots of interesting things on my recent bicycle ride to Koenji. One was this sign in front of an outdoor multi-level parking lot.
  • 駐車場 (ちゅうしゃじょう) (n) parking lot; parking place; (P);
It says:
× SILENT PARK <- 黙黙な公園? 無声公園?

There aren't any silent parks in Tokyo, are there? Actually, the sound of birds is kind of nice. I'm not sure a silent park would be so nice.
"Silent" is an adjective, so that makes "park" a noun. What's more, do any Japanese understand what they mean? Why didn't they just use a Japanese sign? Mysterious...

To be honest, I don't know exactly what they mean. Surely they meant "park" as a verb. Maybe they meant something like:
◯ Park quietly!
Keep the noise down!
  • Keep it down.
    声を低くしなさい。/静かにしなさい。(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
◯ Respect the neighborhood by not making noise.
They need to use an imperative sentence, like one of these above. Maybe I should just be glad that they didn't say:
× Let's park quietly! <- the grammar is fine, but I think native speakers would never say this... http://upgradeenglish.blogspot.com/2009/04/dont-use-lets-if-you-are-giving-someone.html
Do your acquaintances a favor by recommending that they have the English they put in public checked by a native speaker. If you find any mistakes in my Japanese, send me email and I'll correct it right away!
  • 知合い (しりあい) (n) acquaintance; (P);



Look at the words "notice" and "realize" (definitions from Eijiro on the Web).
  • notice 気が付く
  • realize 気が付く、理解する
It's confusing because both of them say 気が付く. Take a look at this story.

I went to Koenji last weekend. In one strange boutique on Naka St.,
× I realized a strange bracelet. <- I didn't understand anything. ◯ I noticed a strange bracelet. <- I saw it.
It looked like an accessory a punk rocker or metalhead might wear.
  • metalhead ヘビメタ狂◆ヘビーメタル音楽が大好きな人
However, it was made of plastic, not leather and metal, and there was something strange about the spikes.
  • spike 五寸釘 (definition from jmdict)
◯ Then I noticed that the spikes had something in them: lights! <- You could say I saw them...
◯ Then I realized that the spikes had something in them: lights! <- ...or you could say I understood the fact.

× That's when I noticed it would be perfect for my night-time bicycle rides. <- This doesn't involve my perception.
◯ That's when I realized it would be perfect for my night-time bicycle rides. <- It was a thought.
◯ That's when I knew it would be perfect for my night-time bicycle rides. <- maybe more natural
The bracelet was too hilarious for me, so I had to buy it.
  • hilarious とても愉快な[楽しい・面白い・おかしい]、大笑い{おおわらい}の、滑稽{こっけい}な、笑いを誘う、 浮かれ騒ぐ、陽気{ようき}な、爆笑{ばくしょう}さ せられる、笑わされる、おちゃらけた、おどけた、浮ついた
Did you notice the difference between these two words?

Use "notice" for something that involves your senses, not "realize". Use "realize" for something that involves your thinking. This is clear if you look at the first definition for each from dictionary.com:
  • notice: to pay attention to or take notice of, to perceive; become aware of
  • realize: to grasp or understand clearly
Have you realized how they have different meanings?

I hope that you have noticed your English getting better by reading this blog. I hope you realize that reading English every day makes a big difference.



When I am not on the train I walk. In fact, I walk a lot. There is no better way to see Tokyo than on foot. (Nick might argue with me on this point.)

I saw this sign on my way to work last Saturday. I don't like to criticize other people's work nor do I like to make fun of them. However this sign was too hilarious to ignore. I am not business genius but I think if you have a shop and are going to put out a sign you should have someone else proofread your work. Actually, let me rephrase that, you HAVE TO let someone check your work before showing it to the public especially if it is in a foreign language.

Case in point is this sign. A simple spelling mistake can sometimes lead to a great embarrassment. I am sure you can spot the misspelled word yourself. Second of all, for the sake of convenience the person who made this sign decided to use wasei-eigo. I can sort of guess what order shirt means but it would have been better to say custom-tailored shirt, custom-made shirt or simply custom shirt. Order shirt sounds like シャツを注文する.

Finally, I told you this was a sign 4U2C. It came str8 outta my mem card 2 dis blog. It is fun writing casual English on a blog or when we are 14 but for a business sign I think it is best to stick to proper English usage. Order Shirt x 2= 15,750? Hmm... This sign looks like a halfway job to me. I hope this shop's owner is not going to come knocking on my door for criticizing his effort.

Useful vocabulary
  • hilarious~~とても愉快な[楽しい・面白い・おかしい]、大笑い{おおわらい}の、滑稽{こっけい}な、笑いを誘う、浮かれ騒ぐ、陽気{ようき}な、爆笑{ばくしょう}させられる、笑わされる、おちゃらけた、おどけた、浮ついた
  • proofread~~校正する
  • rephrase~~〔発言{はつげん}・質問{しつもん}などをもっと分かりやすい言葉{ことば}で〕言い換える、書き換える ・Would you mind rephrasing the question?
  • case in point~~ぴったりした例、好適例{こうてき れい}、好例{こうれい}、適例{てきれい}、代表例{だいひょう れい}、典型
  • a halfway job~~中途半端な仕事 中途半端な仕事をするくらいなら、やめてしまった方がいいと思っている。 I'd rather drop it than do a poor job.
  • receive a knock on one's door from~~ ~が訪ねてくる
Here are the answers from my last blog
1. smoke detector
2. fire extinguisher
3. put out the fire
4. firefighter