TIL: Human Japanese 42 Kanji / 43 Adverbs

Alright, well, I’ve been trying to do a little bit here and there with kanji… but really, I barely know any of it. I can identify numbers 1 through 10, and Japan vs Japanese (People and Language!), but not a whole lot else has stuck as I never did make it a habit to start memorizing them.

The things that seem bananas to me are:
1. there’s a ton of symbols that need to be learned
2. each symbol has multiple pronunciations
3. names can be whatever the heck the parents wanted to use

Chapter 42: Kanji

There are two main readings: the on-yomi, and the kun-yomi

When a word becomes joined word such as hitotsu (ひとつ), we can use as the kanji (which represents the number 1). So it reads like: 一つ (and pronounces as ひとつ). In this case, we use the kun-yomi pronunciation. We know this because at the end of the kanji character, is the つ which acts as an okurigana. An Okurigana serves two purposes: to inflect adjectives and verbs, and to force a particular kanji to have a specific meaning and be read a certain way.

On the other hand, when the kanji reads all alone as it’s own word, it then uses the on-yomi. I this case, いちがつ (January), can be made of two separate kanji, 一月, and each uses it’s respective on-yomi pronunciation.

is a kanji that means “moon”. I actually discussed this kanji a little bit in January, but I hadn’t gone over on-yomi (げつ、がつ) or kun-yomi (つき) at that point. It’s interesting to note the link on that previous blog post which points to the old month names where ずき is also used instead of just つき

月 means moon all by itself, but is used in different ways which changes it’s pronunciation from げつ to がつ.

らいげつは一がつです。 「Next month is January」
In the first instance, it is the word “next month” and so is pronounced differently from “January” when it is a compound. These are both variations of the on-yomi.

来月、つきはきれいでしょう。 「Next month, the moon should be pretty.」
In this case, the second instance of the word is used to mean “moon”… it stands alone, and thus uses the kun-yomi.

means “to go” - On-yomi: こう - Kun-yomi: い
Unfortunately, verbs still require lots of okurigana:
来月、ほんきます。「Next month, I will go to Japan.」
行きます still has all of きます appended to it, and by itself takes more effort to write than い would have!

こうで行きました。 I went by plane.
ひこうき is the word for “airplane”. It’s a three-part compound where the second part means “go”. This is where the beauty of kanji comes in, since it can sometimes be possible to derive meanings of words based on the compounds. In this case 飛 fly 行 go 機 machine hints that it’s a machine for traveling through the air. This is similar to English how airplane is a compound of the noun air and the verb plane.

As for learning kanji… the author suggests that how he learned is the hard way. Buy a book with all the kanji, and learn them one at a time drawing them and repeating the readings to memorize them. Every day review the ones you had learned in the past.

In order to learn them, you can’t just memorize from a dictionary, you need to see them in context… but to read them… you will need to laboriously look each character up and hope you can make sense of the grammar. Hard to learn unless you can read, hard to read unless you know them.

The author’s goal with Human Japanese Intermediate is to teach kanji… so seems like a good way to continue studying.

Chapter 43: Adverbs

This is the FINAL grammar lesson in the app!

In English, adverbs often use “ly” at the end of them – “really, flatly, practically” There is something similar that happens in Japanese: any true adjective can have the い changed to a く to create an adverb. If たかい means “high” then かたく means “highly”. If すごい means “incredible” then すごく means “incredibly”. If わるい means “bad” then わるく means “badly”.

There is still an exception with いい.. use よい instead of いい to arrive at よく instead of いく.

Adverbs are standalone and so can go anywhere in the sentence.
ーひこきはとびました。 「The plane flew.」

In English, we would say “the plane flew high” (which of course has no ‘ly’ but is an adverb nonetheless). In Japanese, we can start with たかい but change the ending to く
ーひこきはたかくとびました。         「The plane flew high.」
ージョンさんはピアノをよくれんしゅうしました。「John practiced piano well.」
ーよくわかりません。             「I don’t understand well.」

よく is a special adverb which can also mean “often”. You’ll need to recognize the context to tell which it means.

ーアメリカによくいます。  「I go to America often.」
ーよくしんぶんをよみます。 「I often read the newspaper.」
ーテレビをよくみません。  「I don’t watch tv often.」

One hint, is that if the verb is habitual present tense, it likely means “often” instead of “well”

Another common adverb is すごく used with an adjective すごくおおきい – incredibly big or すごくおいしい – incredibly delicious.

ーこのうどんはすごくおいし。   「This udon is incredibly tasty!」
ーあのビルはすごくたかいですね。 「That building is incredibly tall, isn’t it?」
ージョンさんはすごくつよい。   「John is incredibly strong.」
ーおてんきはすごくいいですね。  「The weather is incredibly good, isn’t it?」

People will also often use すごい instead of すごく. This intentionally breaks the rules but people in English do the same thing if they say something is “real tasty” instead of “really tasty”. People do this on purpose to get a casual feeling.

Pseudo-adjectives, which don’t end with い take a different approach. Some common examples might be:
ーほんとう 「real」(extremely common)
ーたしか  「certain」
ーぜったい 「definite」(extremely common)
ーじつ   「true/actual」
ーじっさい 「actual」

Adding a に to the end can make these into adverbs. So ほんとう means “real”, but ほんとうに means “really”. に again acts as an “ly”

ーほんとうにそうですか。     「Is that really so?」
ーたしかにほんがすきです。    「I certainly like books.」
ーぜったいにいきたい。      「I definitely want to go.」
ーじつにすごいひとですね。    「He is a truly amazing person, isn’t he?」
ーじっさいにいぬをたべました。  「He actually ate a dog.」
ーほんとうにがっこうにいました。 「I really was at school.」
ーきみがほんとうにすきですよ。  「I really like you.」
ーせったいにそうじゃない。    「It is definitely not so.」
ーせったいにすしをたべません。  「I definitely will not eat sushi.」

Always keep an eye out to make sure to use the proper ending to turn an adjective into an adverb.

ーこのセーターはすごくきれいですね。      「This sweater is super pretty, isn’t it?」
ーそうですね。                 「Yes, it is!」
 ーかいますか。                「Are you going to buy it?」
ーほんとうにきたいけど、あかねがない。     「I really want to buy it, but I don’t have any money.」
ーわたしがかいましょうか。           「Should I buy it?」
ーほんとうに?                 「Really?」
 ーすごくうれしい。              「I’m super happy!」
 ーありがとう。                「Thanks.」
ーどういたしまして。              「You’re welcome.」
 ーきょうのひるごはんはどこでたべましょうか。 「Where should we eat lunch today?」
ーきょうぜったいにどんぶりをたべたいです。   「I definitely want to eat a rice bowl today.」
ーどんぶりをよくたべますね。          「You eat rice bowls often, don’t you?」
 ーわたしはてんぷらがたべたいですね。     「I think I’d like to eat tempura.」
ーじゃ、いきましょうか。            「Ok, shall we go?」