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  5. "I read an interesting book."

"I read an interesting book."


July 5, 2017



I'm pointing out that "read" can be read as both present and past tense in English, making how to translate it into Japanese ambiguous.

Present tense in English is a little awkward, but the japanese translation of it isn't.


Indeed, but I think in English you would always use "I'm reading" instead of "I read", even though you're not doing it at the exact moment you're talking. Plus thanks to the words bank you would be able to deduct they expect the past tense.


True. The singular indefinite "an" here is the clue that it's past tense


More likely to be, yes. But you could be describing things you typically do on your days off, for example.


read is also a homograph for the noun and the verb



  • 1504

What are the first 2 kanji? Face and white?


MASK and white. Cover おも and しろ respectively.


面 is primarily FACE, though it can indeed also mean "mask", as well as "surface/plane" or "side", depending on context and attached kanji.

Not sure if this is etymologically sound, but I suspect "white face" came to mean "entertaining" thanks to actors/performers and geisha.


The following answer is from Japanese Stack Overflow by Teno

According to 語源由来辞典 ( http://gogen-allguide.com/o/omoshiroi.html ), 「面白い」 is originated from 「面白し」. 「面」 used to mean "a sight/view" (the source says the front of eyes) and 「白い」 used to mean "bright and clear." Then 「面白し」 later came to mean "a light/bright sight/view" and then later "a beautiful sight/view". It further came to mean "fun" or "comfortable", which represents a pleasant feeling.


Isn't おもしろい not for past tense?


Think of it as "I read a book that is interesting."

If you wanted to say "I read a book that used to be interesting", then you could use おもしろかった本を読みました.


You're misunderstanding the grammar pattern. おもしろい is the base adjective. The only times you would conjugate it for past tense are, yes, when making the descriptor itself past tense (implying that it used to be interesting), or when preceding です.

この本はおもしろかったです。 This book was interesting. It still is, but the tense suggests rather that it was an interesting read.

このおもしろかった本。This once-interesting book. An adjectival which precedes a nominal (noun), no matter what tense that adjectival is in, always describes that nominal.

この本はおもしろいでした。 NEVER do this. A past-tense い-adjectival immediately preceding the predicate (です) is always conjugated as ~かった(です).


おもしろい doesn't need a tense - it's modifying the noun 本. The verb, 読みました gives us the tense for the sentence.


Note the ambiguity in the English sentence.

The word "read" can be pronunciated as "reed" or "red", which signify the present tense and past tense respectively.


Can 面白い and楽しい be used interchangeably. Cause i kearned that Tanoshii was fun and omkshiroi is interesting.


The answer is both yes and no. There's s lot of overlap, especially because they're both subjective. But 楽しい translates more often as "fun," with a more active sense (楽しかったです could mean both "It is fun" & "I'm having fun." Too often Japanese people translate it as "enjoy/able," which doesn't work well as a translation, but adds to 楽しい's sense portfolio. Additionally, 楽(らく)に means "relax/ing." Meanwhile 面白い is "interesting/entertaining/funny." 面白かったです "It was interesting," "I found it to be interesting."


Isn't 面白い used to describe something that is funny rather than interesting? I used it once to describe someone's drawing and they got a bit ofdended...


I think of おもしろい as meaning "out of the ordinary"; it could be out of the ordinary interesting, out of the ordinary funny, out of the ordinary weird... Maybe that person thought you were calling their drawing weird :P


From the usage I hear in anime, 面白い really means "interesting". In French (and I think in English also) "interesting" could be heard as ironic, which is maybe also the case in Japanese?


"Ironic" would imply you really thought it wasn't interesting...in English it's often used as a polite euphemism for "not to my taste" or "a bit weird" usually pronounced in drawn-out fashion. But I wouldn't call it ironic/sarcastic the way other adjectives are often used (like "smart move, ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤"). Either way, I haven't seen any evidence of it being used that way in Japanese.


What's the difference between 読む and 読み?


読み [yomi]: (P, n) reading (noun)

読む [yomu]: (P, v5m, vt) to read, to count (now mostly used in idioms), to guess, to predict, to read (someone's thoughts), to see (e.g. into someone's heart), to divine


Omoshiroi hon wo yomi mashita.


Would "面白かった本を読んだ" actually be wrong? How would you specifically say "I read a book that was interesting"?, even though you may not think it's interesting now (or it may not exist any more!). A google search does suggest it's not that uncommon.


How can a book be interesting in the past and not today? Adjectives used before a noun aren't conjugated as far as I understood so I don't think your sentence is grammatically ok.


Haha, well, tastes change ... a lot of books I read while younger are no longer interesting to me now ... Your grammar point isn't wrong, but also...

昨日読み終わった本はどう? 面白かった本だ!

I think this makes sense ... ?

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