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  5. "小学四年生です。"


Translation:I am a fourth grader.

June 6, 2017



FYI: 四年 is read よねんせい, not よんねんせい


You forgot the last character of the kanji: 四年生(よねんせい)


When we use せい isn't it negative form?


No, 「よねんせい」is a noun, in order to make it negative you would use じゃない for example「よねんせいじゃないです」 "I am not a fourth grader" (also, as far as I'm aware nothing ending in せい is negative, maybe you are thinking of ない?)


You could also use the negative form of です instead 「よねんせいではありません」 and perhaps @carlos792121 was thinking of せん


1: ではありません -- I don't like it, I won't stop other people from using it (I'm sure it has it's uses), but I personally forget about it constantly because I never use it. edit: see https://japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/12846/negation-with-%E3%81%A7%E3%81%AF%E3%81%82%E3%82%8A%E3%81%BE%E3%81%9B%E3%82%93-vs-%E3%81%98%E3%82%83%E3%81%AA%E3%81%84 2: Perhaps.


Agreed, ではありません is very formal, and not usually the right choice for a simple negation. I recommend じゃない for typically casual, plain speech and adding です for polite speech.


Yeah in the genki books they teach you to use janaidesu almost exclusively


Genki describes じゃないです as "very colloquial" and says ではありまえん is "more appropriate in the written language". じゃ is a contraction of では.

see Genki vol 1, page 66


じゃない/ではない IS the negative form of です - it's just the plain form and less polite.


I think he's thinking of せん coming from ません.


Carlos - ~年生(-ねんせい)- suffix counter for grade/year student. 年 meaning year and 生 from 学生 and 生徒 which both mean student.


Does this apply to all grades?


I think everyone would understand by context without adding " at an elementary school." Besides, what if they are a fourth grade civil engineer.


They say the level of school and year because when they reach middle school they become first years again and the same with highschool


And it continues with universities.


I thought the schools were grouped in threes, though. Wouldn't a fourth grade elementary school student be a first year middle school student? (Unless they were held back or something, I suppose.)


Japanese schooling is actually ordered like this: Required: Elementary School (小学校) 1-6th grade 少1年→小6年 Middle School (中学校)7-9th grade (中1年→中3年) Optional: High School (高校)10-12th grade (高1年→高3年) College / University n-years (大1年→大○年)

hope that answers your question


Thanks. Do the pupils do an exam after the 9th grade to get in the high school? Can they go to work after the 9th grade or do they have to study in another institution before ?


After 9th grade, students generally have to take entrance exams to get into high school, though I believe there are some schools that don't require it or some exceptional students may be exempt.

I'm not sure whether or not they can work, but from what I've seen, most students who don't want to go to high school are encouraged to learn a trade or get an apprenticeship.


They definitely can work, although with only a middle school diploma their employment opportunities are somewhat limited. If they don't look for work, they will join the category of those "Not in Employment, Education or Training" (NEET).


That's how it is where i grew up in PA USA too


In japanese it says "elementary school" so I don't think you'll encounter many fourth grade civil engineets there hehe


Also japanese lists things from macro to micro. So you would say 私は大学で日本語を勉強しますWatashi wa daigaku de nihongo o benkyō shimasu - student of japanese 私は東京の大学で日本語を勉強します Watashi wa Tōkyō no daigaku de nihongo o benkyō shimasu Tokyo -student- japanese The reverse of the english word order


Thats a good one. Not many know about this


Agreed, and apparently we have a similar "proper" order of listing things, particularly adjectives, in English too that I never knew we did (as a native speaker it's not something I learnt consciously) until I read about it thanks to this post.


Shouldn't this include the education level as well ("I am a in fourth grade at an elementary school.")?


Not necessarily. The reason it's specified in the Japanese is because they also specify year number (1, 2, etc.) for middle or high school, whereas in the US we'd just say "8th-grader", they'd say the equivalent of "middle school 2nd-year".


Duolingo must surely be aware that they have learners all over the world. They should not be relying on learners thinking like Americans do.


When I first saw this sentence, I thought the translation is put Japanese school grades into American Grade 1, Grade 2 ... to Grade 12.


WHY NO ONE ASKS FOR LITERAL TRANSLATIONS?, I understand that 学 has something to do with school, but I don't understand what it means, nor do I have the faintest idea of what 年生 means


小 small 学 school => elementary school 四 four 年 year => fourth year of elementary school 生 living => student in fourth year of elementary school


高校(Kōkō)-High school 中学(Chūgaku)-Middle school 小学(Shōgaku)-Elementary school 大学(Daigaku)-University 年生(Nensei)-Grade 学~doesn't really have a translation that I can find, but I assume its to signify school or studies of some sort.


The answer is based on the American system. A fourth grader can also apply to a university in the opinion of my masters degree qualified Japanese wife!


I'm not sure why your masters degree qualified Japanese wife has any more credibility when talking about how English speakers interpret the English phrase "fourth grader"... but just to clarify, 四年生 in Japanese can also refer to a fourth year university/college student, but 小学四年生 only refers to a fourth year primary/elementary school student (i.e "a fourth grader" to Americans).


The implication is that in the US, his Japanese wife gets to make it sound like she qualified for a master's degree as an elementary school student.




Can I suggest to Duolingo that they bring in an English option for English translation and not just American English. I'm English and I think I'm missing out on something. I don't know about the American grade system. I'm assuming that if the grade were above elementary school level the first Kanji would change accordingly?


Is this actually how their school system works? Because I do not understand this terminology


Yes, this is actually how it works in Japan.

Japanese kids enter school at about age 6 and they study for six years. That school is called 小学校 (しょうがっこう), whatever the equivalent is called in your country. The next three years are spent in 中学校 (ちゅうがっこう), and the three after that are in 高校 (こうこう).

Also, if you're talking about the word order, as @Sinfully_Yours mentioned in an earlier comment, Japanese people tend to arrange concepts from macro to micro. So, the larger institution, 小学校 (elementary school), goes first (and is shortened to 小学) followed by the smaller group, 四年生 (fourth year student). Dates and addresses also follow this principle.


Here's an overview of the Japanese school system: https://www.tokyo-icc.jp/guide_eng/educ/01.html


Anybody got any tips to remember which kind of school is which? Because I keep confusing elementary school and middle school and high school and college. I can't remember them all.


How about the kanji for elementary or primary school is made up of the kanji for small and the kanji for school. And the kanji for the middle of middle school is a box with a line through the middle.


I don't think kanji are the problem here, rather their reading. What I struggle with is remembering which one of these "shu", "shuu", "sho", "shou", "chu", "chuu", "cho" or "chou" corresponds to "small" and "middle" in combined words.

  1. If a kanji means small or little on its own then it's highly likely it will retain that meaning in a combined word.

  2. The only way to remember what means what is to invest in some good kanji books, download apps for handy studying both on your computer or on the go on a device. Writing them out also helps with memorisation and retention, and also using the written language in your every day life - ie. write notes to yourself using kana and kanji filling in the blanks with English where you haven't learnt the Japanese yet. Write shopping lists, appointment reminders, study notes for school, write in your journal - get yourself used to writing the language. Also seek out children's picture books, generally they won't have kanji but they'll help with getting used to reading kana.


Thanks but you missed my point. The meaning is for me pretty clear, at least for those that I already learnt, remembering the pronunciation is a challenge.


I suspect that the question was more like, "How do I remember that 'shōgaku' is the Japanese word for primary school?" independently of the writing system.

After all, if you are listening to a Japanese person speaking, you aren't going to stop them mid-sentence and say, "Hang on, can you please draw the kanji for that word you just said?"

Especially if they are speaking on the radio, or on television, or something. That would be even trickier.


I can try to remember that a "shōgaku" is a primary school by remembering that I was in a play when I was at primary school - you could say that I was in a shō - but was not in any plays at any other school.

Sadly, this is unlikely to help you if your personal history is different from mine!

But you could just try remembering the mental image of a show at a primary school, in any case, even if it doesn't relate to your own personal history.


What does 小 mean?


小 means "small"
So 小学 "small learning" - elementary or primary school


They should have put that in the English translation. I would have had no idea that this sentence was talking about a primary-school pupil if I hadn't hovered over the 小学 bit of the sentence or looked at this page of comments.


"I'm in the forth year of primary school" < shouldn't that be acceptable as well? Awkward English but it makes sense.


It should be "fourth" rather than "forth" (sorry if that was just a typo), but yes, that would be a clearer translation than the one Duolingo have used.


Okay, I'm super confused.

This is probably a case of Duolingo being a bit goofy, where mousing over a letter or character doesn't provide the same information as what's being said, where the sound is different and the definitions displayed aren't quite right...but the sentence structure seems really tangled to me.


I'm not sure what you mean about the sentence structure. What is confusing you? There's not really much sentence structure there to speak of - it's simply - I am....


I wish I was still on the page, now, so I could mouse over all over the different bits of the sentence...but doing so would produce sounds that hitting the 'read' button wouldn't, and doing so would produce definitions that didn't seem to match what the sentence was saying.

And those oddities seemed to warp the grammar in ways that have been, up to now, unprecedented.

None of this is uncommon; indeed, one might say it's chronic in these lessons. But it makes being introduced to them for the first time rather confusing and frustrating.

It's just not very clear which characters are representing different words/concepts; it'd be nice to have spaces in between 'em the way we do in English--at least at first; in later lessons, have it more like how Japanese is actually written--in order to know whatinheck's going on.

I mean, okay...we can forget about 'です' cuz everybody knows what that means. Easy-peasy.

Now, for the rest: '小学四年生' Up to now, '学生' has meant 'student', but now those two characters are separated by '四年'; the first of those means 'four', obviously, but I haven't a clue what the second means. Duolingo has asked me to identify the sound that makes, but hasn't yet told me its meaning (why they don't do that when you're matching it to a sound is mystifying). If '年' is the 'grader' part, then whatinheck does '小' mean? Or vice versa?

Mousing over these characters gives no clue; words show up, but they don't really tell you which means what, and the sounds they make when you do it do not match the sounds made when the sentence is spoken, as I said.

So parsing this is really difficult; I'm not learning anything from it because the information given doesn't make any sense.


小学四年生 (しょうがくよねんせい) is one word. It's pretty straight forward, you can pretty much translate it directly in the order that the kanji are in. 小 (しょう) small, 学 (がく) you'll probably be familiar with it from 学校 (がっこう) - school, on its own its core meaning is 'learning', 四 (し or よん) as you say means the number 4, 年 (ねん/とし) means year, you might have already seen this in 来年 (らいねん) - next year etc, and 生 (せい) means life and as you've mentioned you've already seen it used in 学生 (がくせい) meaning student - here it is pronounced せい and it means student. So altogether, literally, it means small school 4 year student or in other words a primary/elementary school 4th year or year 4 student or 4th grader.

Personally, I'm a book person - I like to read and write out kanji to learn it but I've also downloaded a kanji app to my phone (that I haven't actually used yet). Sounds like a good kanji book might be a good investment for you.

Kanji is generally learnt in a numbered list and 四 will be one of the very first that you learn. 小、学 and 年 will also be among the first. I can't remember where 生 is on the list but I don't think it's too far from the start.

It's fascinating learning and if all the intricacies like stroke order and radicals interest you then you'll soon find that not only do you have multiple ways of looking new/unfamiliar kanji up but you may well be able to guess the meaning of a word/kanji you don't know because you recognise a radical that makes up part of the kanji. Good luck to you. I'm sure others on here can recommend plenty of excellent kanji apps that can make up for Duo's lack of explanation - oft where kanji is involved.


I just wish Duolingo wouldn't throw this stuff at you with exactly zero context. As I said, they'll give you a lesson with the sounds these kanji make, but without telling you the meaning. And mousing over 'em doesn't tell you squat, either, because it's usually way out of context.

I mean, I actually have not yet seen that '年' means 'year'; that hasn't come up at all. And I definitely haven't seen '来年' yet.

They usually give you hints on these--you click that lightbulb thingy on the lesson and there'll be a chart or something--but sometimes that info is curiously absent.


Consider Duo a handy supplement to your independent study of Japanese. Maybe investigate other apps that are more comprehensive or at least consistent? I'm sure people on here will have plenty of recommendations. Or at least use duo in conjunction with something else. When I was trying to get used to reading Japanese I sought out children's books - they are usually all in kana and you can just get yourself used to reading the different characters. Friends have also sent lots of children's books over the years which have been good reading practise for me. I used to read them to my boys when they were little. They loved them.


I do both. I wouldn't choose one over the other. I think they are both as important as each other and that the study of each only accentuates and strengthens the study of the other. It seems to you that I am focusing on reading and kanji but that is merely because that is what you have said you can't understand - it's not a matter of grammar at all. It's about how familiarity with their writing systems and how they work can help us better understand and learn the language as a whole. It's not about reading/writing is better than spoken or vice versa - it's about how learning can be enhanced through a study and understanding of the whole language.

Anyway, in answer to some of your more specific queries/problems - you can't rely on duo. This seems particularly apt for the Japanese lessons. The duo system seems to be problematic where homonyms are involved. It just can't handle it. The Duo system seems to get very easily confused. Also, duo frequently uses the incorrect reading for kanji causing more confusion - this is why you keep seeing or hearing different pronunciations to what the voice is speaking because the duo system either tells you a different reading to the one that's being used when you click on individual characters OR it confuses words and sometimes parts of words with like sounding words. One excellent example of this was where duo confused the suffix -たち with the start of the verb たちます (to stand). When people would click on the verb in the sentence duo told them that it was a suffix that made nouns plural. The solution - either rely on other users comments for explanations or resort to independent study.

I'm not sure how you think grammar is being warped?

As for the other issues I think they're all connected to Duo's errors that I've already mentioned - the duo system is really confused by Japanese homonyms and it consequently provides incorrect and often contradictory information. Also, it can't seem to handle kanji, the different readings and when they're used hence, again, it gives us incorrect and contradictory information. Duo also confuses same sounding words with unrelated parts of speech - result - more confusion.

Conclusion - don't rely on Duolingo as your sole source for learning Japanese : )


These "Grader" answers hurt my brain. So, 4th grader is actually Year 3/3rd Year?


Um no. 4th grader is the same as Year 4/4th year, but as far as I know, "grader" is reserved for elementary school students. (Americans, correct me if I'm wrong; as an Australian, it's not unheard of to use grader for high school students, but our high school students would be, for example, 10th graders.)


Another person has said that a child ordinarily starts the fourth year of a Japanese primary school at the age of nine, so that would correspond to Year 5 in the UK system, if that helps. But you haven't actually said what country you are from. That would help us to explain it to you.


from my understanding of kanji: fourth grader = small student four year (sort of) Correct? Why is the "small" kanji required here, and at what grade are you big enough to stop using it? Do students at higher grades use the "big" kanji? 大学十生生です?


Well, sort of. If you break down the kanji literally, you get "small learning four year life". It would actually be better to think of it as an abbreviation of 小学校の四年目の徒【しょうがっこうのよねんめのせいと】

Ignoring the のs for now, we have:

  • 小学校【しょうがっこう】= "small learning school" = "elementary/primary school"
  • 四年目【よねんめ】= "four year eye (but also, "ordinal suffix")" = "fourth year"
  • 生徒【せいと】= "life junior" = "student" (which kind of makes sense, when you consider that 先生 is "ahead life", or someone who has lived before you and has knowledge to pass down)

If we now string it back together with the のs, reading backwards, you can kind of think of them as "of", so we get "student of the fourth year of elementary school". So, as you can see, you stop using 小 as soon as you graduate from elementary school.

In Japan, after 6 years in "small learning school", you go to middle school (also known in other parts as junior high school). But that would be your first year there, so you become 中学一年生【ちゅうがくいちねんせい】Three years later, you move up to high school, becoming 高校一年生【こうこういちねんせい】and three years later again, assuming you go to college/university, you become 大学一年生【だいがくいちねんせい】If you decide to go on to postgraduate study, you would start as 大学院一年生【だいがくいんいちねんせい】and people stop counting after that. If you start working in a company, you're just 新人【しんじん】"new person", until your company gets some newer intakes.


Why do you put the school with the grade? In America we would just say "I'm a fourth grader"


Partly because each section of school has a separate number system in Japan, because 'that's just how it is'.
While in the US we may say "I am in 8th grade" which would imply that you are in middleschool/junior high, in Japan you would consider that "A second grade middle school student", where the grading system starts from 1 again with each new schooling level.


We don't use the grade system... can anyone explain it to me


小学生 is 'elementary' school and is 6 years long (grades 1 - 6, starting from age 6 to 12)
中学生 'middle school' (or junior high) is 3 years long (grades 1 - 3, ages 13 to 15)
高校生 'high school' is 3 years long (grades 1 - 3, ages 16 to 18) - high school is not mandatory but not completing it is very rare in Japan.

With each schooling section the grade counter restarts, so once you hit middle school you are not a 7th grade student, but a 1st grade middle school student.
Someone in their senior/final year of high school would be a 3rd grade high school student, rather than a 12th grade student, etc.


So a "shōgakuyonensei" is a child belonging to the school year ordinarily started at the age of 9. Is that right?


There's a lot of confusion due to the different terms in different schooling systems, so to clarify:

Japanese students go through: 6 years of 小学校, which is akin to Primary School or Elementary School; 3 years of 中学校, which is akin to Lower Secondary or Middle School; and 3 years of 高等学校(高校), which is akin to Upper Secondary or High School.

In Japanese, students are referred to by both their school division and their year, i.e. High School 3rd-year/Year 3/Senior/whatever a system calls it, because just saying your child is in year 3 of school doesn't indicate whether they're in Elementary or High School.

As of right now, there is no "Grade 1-12" system in Japan, and the Japanese Duolingo course won't understand if you type grade 12 for 高校三年生.

There's also kindergarten/nursery(幼稚園), university/college(大学) and others, but these are the more common ones you'll see in this course, and their rough equivalents to your country's school systems.

See the wiki for more in-depth guide: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Japan


"I am a fourth-year primary school pupil" SHOULD be accepted.


Why in translation 'I'm' instead of 'I am' is a mistake?


I am a 4th grader in elementary. :(


That is a 4th year student, wrong they are a 4th year student, wrong y this ;_;


Also shouldnt です be いる in this case since we're talking about a living thing? Or does that not apply when talking about titles?


Both of your suggested translations should be accepted, but perhaps they hadn't been added to the list of accepted answers yet.

We are talking about a living thing, but いる means "to exist", so the sentence would literally be "a 4th grader exists."

You can think of です as "is/am/are" or an equals sign for the subject and the object. In this case, the subject is omitted, but if we assumed it is "I", by using です you are saying "I = a 4th grader", not simply that one exists.


why is "fourth year of elementary school" not a valid answer? does sei make this about a person always? if so, how would you refer only to the academic year then?


I think "fourth year of elementary school" should be valid, in fact, more so than "fourth grader" (since the "elementary school" bit is only implicit in that Americanism).

生 does make this phrase always about a person/people. As for "academic year", I think it depends a little on the sentence you want to use it in, but 学年 (がくねん) is probably the best translation.


-生 is a suffix meaning student so "4th year of elementary school" is not sufficient or an acceptable translation. Also です acts as the verb 'to be' here, which could be translated as I am, you are, s/he or it is etc but assuming that the speaker is talking about themselves then this should be translated as "I am". Saying I am a 4th grader still works as a valid translation at least for the US as it is different from saying I am a 4th year student which could arguably refer to any level of education - in the US 4th grader refers to an elementary school level student.


Isnt this same kanji also read みず for water? It looks like it's しょぅ now?


The kanji for みず (water) is 水 I believe the kanji you were looking at was 小 (しょう in this case)


Why not just 四年生です?


To make it clear that you are talking about a 4th year/year 4 Primary/Elementary school student.


Why do we need to use 小学? Can't wr just use 四年生?


Because they want you to specify that you are an elementary school fourth grade student, not a middle school fourth grade student, or a fourth year university student etc.


Doesn't 年 just mean year? Having to use 'grade' in my translations just confuses me as 年 would be used in something like 'three years ago'.


"Shōgakuyonensei" means "a pupil in the fourth year of primary school", and you spell "shōgakuyonensei" as 小学四年生.

You shouldn't use the word "grade" at all, in this context, unless you are American. You can just say that the pupil is in the fourth year of primary school.


Doesn't 年 just mean year? Having to use 'grade' in my translations instead is confusing me as 年 would also be used in something like 'three years ago'. If i used Duolingo without knowing anything beforehand then using 'grade' later on in 'three years ago' would confuse me even more.


why is it not "they are a fourth grader" or "it is a fourth grader"?


Both of those should be fine. They probably haven't been added to the list of acceptable answers yet, so you should report them for the course developers to fix.


So first you put the school you're in (elementary school, middle school...), then the grade (1st,2nd...), then the kanji for grade (rensei??) and last you put the verb to be (desu). Is this right? Please correct me if I'm wrong.


Why is "I am a fourth grader" notthe same as "I am in fourth grade"?


I'm a primary 4 student. Why can't this be acceptable?


Can we have "I am in primary four" (or "I am a primary four" I think some people say) added as an accepted translation.

That's how you would say you were in the fourth year at your first school in Scotland.

These courses have made me learn all the American school-related terminology in English haha which while sort of interesting shouldn't be a requirement for a japanese course.


A child ordinarily starts the fourth year of a Japanese primary school at the age of nine, so that would correspond to Year 5 in the UK system.

I have also read that their school year starts in April, so it's out of sync with ours by about half a year.


That's interesting to know that they start school over a year later than in the UK.

But also I know in England the first year of primary school is called Reception, and Years start counting from the second year (and go up to 13 but people call the final year upper sixth and sometimes the one below it is lower sixth). In Scotland, English Year 5 is thus more equivalent to Primary 6. People start P6 at the age of either 9 or 10, depending on whether they started school at age 4 or 5. People start primary five at either 8 or 9. (I'm pretty sure in England when you start school is determined by what age you are in August when school begins, meaning everyone in a Year group starts the year at the same age; while in Scotland it is determined by the year of your birth).


I typed forth instead of forth and it rendered it completely wrong instead of saying I had a typo


Inserted "4th grader elementary school student" but it's wrong


So 小年 means shounen?


So "I'm a forth grader' is wrong?


"forth" is the wrong word to use; it is an adverb that describes moving outward/onward from a point in space/time

"fourth" is the number four in a series/rank and what you should be using here.


Is it ok if I say "I am fourth grader" instead of "I am A fourth grader"


小学 mean elementary school right?


Ah why is it wrong to add elementary to "forth grade"?

"Im forth elementary grader"?

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