To those who've attempted to acquire proficiency in Japanese


My name on Duolingo is Suomihhi Chang'e. And my mother tongue is Japanese, which you might have been concentrating upon learning.

This time, gazing absently on the Japanese discussions on Duolingo, I thought that I might be able to tutor the learners who fancy a Japanese teacher in grammar, expressions, and that kind of thing; consequently, I would like to answer all of your questions on the language.

Your questions can be asked on this board as well as on Discord, and I reckon that Twitter would also be lovely (my ID is written on my profile).

I hope that this will help you remedy linguistical proficiency in Japanese.


April 25, 2019


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I heard from a friend it’s rude to say “no” (いいえ if I remember correctly) in Japan, is this true, if so, why?

April 25, 2019

This query questions the individuality of mediocre Japanese people, which I don't quite comprehend; but I think that this phenomenon unique to them is surely attributable to the concept of Japanese educational system - "the cooperativeness". We can recognise the same consequences of it in daily life.

People in Japan are taught at a very young age to accommodate other people's feelings by saying "Yes" to the seniors, not to be outrageous by uttering "No". Have you ever wondered the reason why they seem to be able to suffer, without complaining, under the circumstance of some endurance festivals held on the Japanese trains, which, especially those in the urbanised cities, are bloody accurate to run on time, but sometimes delayed on account of those who attempt to commit railway suicide because they're in torment from the enslavement? These types of questions are, in general, attributable to the philosophy of Japanese society - the absence of "No". They can't change their jobs because they decided to sacrifice themselves to the companies, and the railway companies aren't allowed to be late because otherwise passengers who need to be on schedule not to lost their jobs would be late consequently.

They never utter "No" to other people, and this idiosyncratic customary practice constrains the entire society not to say so.


First of all, I find it awesome that you are helping people with their Japanese grammar!!

Mind if I ask you some translation issues I have?

I am trying to use the word “Seikyō” 盛況 in romaji for a name. To my understanding it means “success” or “prosperity”.

The problem is that I need it to be written without the chōonpu like “seikyo” and whenever I search for “seikyo translation” it is translated as death 清教. I am afraid that people searching for the translation find it means death instead of success or prosperity.

I have been thinking changing “seikyo” for “seikyou”. Searching for “seikyou translation” it is translated as 盛況.

To my knowledge the chōonpu is used to represent a long vowel sound, to me it make kind of a “ou” sound at the end when used in an “o”.

I just wanted to know your thoughts, and if you have any suggestions.

Think you can help me?

Best regards.

-Héctor T.

P.S.: I am a native Spanish speaker who’s been studying Japanese by myself intermittently for some time.

Hello Héctor,

I think that you can choose 2 options: a) to adopt "seikyou" which we, Japanese, usually use, in lieu of "seikyo (/ō)"; b) to search Japanese dictionaries for an alternative, e.g., 繁栄 (han'ei), 栄耀 (eiyou), distinguishable from some words that have the same sound as that of it.

I would like to recommend this brilliant web site ('盛の情景', the depictions of prosperity) for you, in which innumerable hyponyms are written; but to be fair, I think that those words are quite difficult for not only learners but also us to understand that I know few words amongst them - so I'll gladly translate them if you need.

I hope that this will help you solve the problem.


Thank you very much Suomihhi!!

You are really a life saver!!

After considering both options and reading each one of the depictions of prosperity in the site you provided, I decided to go with option a). I will go for “seikyou”. It is easy to read for Spanish speakers, it’s short and it has a nice ring.

Either way my main concern was for people literally taking the name and googling it. Now I have no worries.

You have no idea how much you have helped me.

You have rekindled my Japanese learning curiosity for both your language and culture.

-Héctor T.

You're welcome there.

Hi! Slightly random question. I recently learned about the practice of using different kanji for numbers in legal documents and such (壱, 弐, 参, 肆, 伍, and so on), but didn't think it was something I would ever come across. Then today I was browsing some comics and a character referred to a a file as 「参号のファイル」 or something like that. Is it normal to refer to documents like that in writing? My thought was that maybe it was just written like that to give a sense of the character.

Welcome! Those intricate numerical kanjis used in the formal documents are called 大字 (だいじ). As you can recognise the picure of Japanese note in the article, 大字 is used around me, omnipresently.

Your speculation is essentially right - the main purpose of using more complicated letters in the legal documents is to prevent people from some confusion; e.g., if an important document was written with the normal kanjis, one would be able to make the falsification in the document unbeknownst because of the simpleness of normal kanjis (e.g., adding a line in the middle of 二, I can convert it to 三); on the other hand, the complexity of 大字, in fact, makes the letters difficult to be altered easily. To be fair, 大字 used in mangas or something like that is surely based on the purpose which you just suspected, as I would imagine.

なるほど! That's interesting, I did not even consider the possibility of altering the simple characters but that makes a lot of sense. And thank you for confirming my suspicion!

Hello! I don't have any questions about Japanese (yet) but I do want to say that I like your profile picture :D

From long time ago I have been noticing more and more... homophones, that's how you call it?.. Like 結婚-血痕、普通-不通、対峙-胎児-退治、離婚-利根、備考-尾行、両親-良心、地球-恥丘、疾走-失踪、変体-変態、市立-私立(although I heard that they usually pronounced as しりつ and わたくしりつ)、生死-静止-精子、選挙-占拠、杭-悔い-喰い、婆-糞(ばば)、校門-肛門、講師-孔子-格子、制服-征服-正副、楽-落、父-乳、怒り-碇、生ける-埋ける-逝ける、痛い-居たい-遺体-異体、お前(おめー)- 汚名(おめい)、熊-隈、川-革、死-市 and there are a lot of other same examples. I know that there are different pitch accents and people have brains, so if you say, for example, 愛はチキュウを救う, it's obvious that it's 地球. But sometimes I'm reading some books and think like man, if I only heard it I wouldn't understand a thing. My question is do japanese people really comprehend such words pretty effortlessly, even though if it is a speech about some scientific matters, for example?

Yes, we can, but not absolutely - while conversing, I occasionally question the other person about what the word which I can't quite comprehend is supposed to mean.

The words that have a similar sound but different meanings are called "同音異義語" (どうおんいぎご, literally meaning "the-same-sound-different-meaning word") in Japanese. We are usually able to distinguish the proper word from others because of its isolation of nuances, and the context thereof. I think that you'll become able to comprehend them when your vocabulary has matured abundantly enough.

Do you think it's important to practice written Japanese? I've been practicing the stroke order of hiragana, katakana, and some basic kanji. I think this is helping me to memorise them, but other than that is it worth doing?

I guess it depends on people, but for me writing is very important. I remember better that way, and it’s also great to make sure I really know a kanji. If I can write it by heart, I’m happy. I also do it because I find it very relaxing, I love taking the time to write all the kanji I know, and admire their beauty.

I approve of Aki-Mugetsu's argument. To practise writing letters is quite effective for not only learners but us to memorise them, and it's also exciting to appreciate their aesthetical characteristics.

"書道" (しょどう, often translated into "Japanese calligraphy") is a customary practice from ancient times in Japan. Equilibrating our mind spiritually, we cherish the atmosphere of tranquillity thereof. I think that to practise writing is not only a mnemonic technique to memorise letters but also a brilliant way to open the door to enter the cultural aspect of the language.

I know that the writing system of Japanese is an arduous thing to acquire, but the miscellaneousness of it has actually cultivated Japanese writing culture, I reckon - I don't think that there would be mangas or animes, for example, having an absence of those 3 sorts of the Japanese character.

I hope that you'll find your own way to face writing.

While miscellaneousness is acceptable and truly conveys how much of the miscellany there is (with the length), miscellany is the official noun for the adjective miscellaneous.

I would like more info on this because im wondering the same thing for the benefit of long term. The only info i had found on this was people who did not practice the handwriting either felt limited due to not being able to recreate it, or sometimes became more difficult to remember a Kanji from never writing it atleast once before.

Hey, I'm not sure if you would know this or not but if you happen to know any other good places to learn Japanese cause I know duolingo isn't always the best way to learn a language. If not that's fine and thanks either way!!

The most obedient way to acquire a language is to be taught by native speakers of the language, don't you think - and I would like to welcome you on Discord where I have been teaching Japanese to several learners in direct messages. If you can study languages with me, my ID is on my Duolingo profile.

I can't seem to find any good sources on Japanese sentence structure. Can you tell me how Japanese sentences work? Sorry if this is a dumb question.

i don't speak Japanese so don't quote me on this, but i'm pretty sure that Japanese sentences are less based on order than they are on grammar, like Latin. in Latin, word order is completely meaningless, because each word is given a unique ending to indicate their role in the sentence

edit: i just want to emphasize again that i DO NOT SPEAK JAPANESE and i really don't know that much about it. this is just what i'm pretty sure is correct.

I'm completely unanimous with your argument - I think that Japanese is super ambiguous in its word order because of the absence of the conjugations; the language seems more likely to be analogous with Hungarian, Latin as Unholy_Cannoli said, and that kind of languages, especially when it's spoken.

But from my experience of learning those languages, i.e., Hungarian and Latin, I reckon that it will not be so long before you become able to speak when you learned the grammar diligently, read a lot of sentences, and listened to the colloquialisms.

Wishing you the best!

oh okay so i was right. nice.

I just want to add on: while word order is meaningless, you do want to place the part you want to emphasize most closest to the verb (which will always be at the end). You also do this with clauses of a multi-clause sentence: closest to the end is the most important part.

Check out this site for help with grammar. I found it incredibly helpful and the diagrams make things clear and simple.


I don't really have a question. Just want to bookmark this thread. Thank you for being willing to help.

I'm learning Japanese because I enjoy some anime and would like to be able to watch it without subtitles. And models, I build a lot of models from Japan. Oh, and karate (working my green belt). And music, I enjoy some J-pop.

Oh boy. I'm one of those guys...

Any suggestions for videos (youtube?) that are very basic Japanese, so that I can become more proficient at understanding?

Hello Kevin,

Although I don't watch videos on Youtube in Japanese so much because I use the web site for the sake of learning foreign languages, but I'd recommend stabilising your basic grammar and vocabulary rather than trying to listen to the audio itself.

From my experience of learning several languages, I reckon that you'll become able to watch videos without subtitles if you studied diligently about the linguistical characteristics of Japanese. As for me, I make it a rule to search dictionaries for words that I find that I'm not familiar with, whilst reading books and watching movies with subtitles.

I hope that you will find a brilliant way to improve your faculty to listen.


Hi! I am just starting to learn Japanese. I guess my question is pretty basic, but still... Why two words that end with the same kanji don't end with the same sound? Example: 怪物 (pronounced "kaibutsu" I think) and 果物 (kudamono).

Hi Luis!

That's a very good question.

First of all, let me introduce a technicality "熟語" (じゅくご), given that you may not know. 熟語 is a word comprised of more than 2 漢字. Especially, we call 熟語 that consists of 2, 3, and 4 kanjis "二字熟語", "三字熟語", and "四字熟語", respectively.

Secondly, note that some of 漢字 have several 読み (the ways to read); e.g., "物" can be pronounced as モツ, モチ, ブツ and もの. And as you may have just noticed, they're classified into 2 categories: 音読み that is written with カタカナ, and 訓読み that is written with ひらがな. Historically, 音読み is derived from the influence of Ancient Chinese on Japanese; in contrast, 訓読み stems from 和語, the traditional words native to Japan.

And finally, we can now explain that there are 4 patterns for 二字熟語 to be read:

  1. 音-音: e.g., 漢語 (カンゴ, Chinese words), 食事 (ショクジ, meals), 運動 (ウンドウ, exercise);
  2. 訓-訓 (cf. 熟字訓): e.g., 明日 (あした, tomorrow), 煙草 (たばこ, cigarettes), 眼鏡 (めがね, glasses);
  3. 音-訓 (重箱読み): e.g., 重箱 (ジュウばこ, traditional Japanese wooden lunch boxes), 本屋 (ホンや, book stores);
  4. 訓-音 (湯桶読み): e.g., 湯桶 (ゆトウ, traditional Japanese wooden tails), 鶏肉 (とりニク, chicken).

Thanks for reading, I hope that this will help.


Wow! Thank you, Suomihhi! This opens a whole new world to study. I am just beginning to learn, as a said, so I had been focused on Hiragana. But someone suggested I tried to start studying the Kanji writing as soon as possible since it takes years to master. Good thing is that I like it, otherwise it'd be overwhelming. Thank you again! :D

Hey, if you want to study Kanji, you might want to check out the website wani kani. I've had fairly good results with it. It's a premium service after the first three levels tho, but it took me a few months just to finish the free ones, so you have plenty of time to test it out before making decisions.

Hi, ranuncudahlia. I hadn´t heard about this site, but it looks great. The interface is striking. I´m sure t'll help me a lot with the Kanji thing. Thank you!!!

i can't find you on discord when i type in ur name to send a request it tells me it is wrong...

I've already got several friend requests, so that the ID written in my profile should work - please make sure that you search Discord with not only my usename but also my #number.

I have used discord for 3 years soo ik how to use it but il try again btw my name on discord is Mr.Mc Duck

suomihhi chang'e#6444

i just added you on discord, my name is kenny on there :)


申し訳ないですが, 私の家庭には TV がないうえ, あったとしても (内容などからして) 観ることはないので私にはわかりません. 周りの友人も普段は観ないという人が多いです.

So, I'm not particularly immersed in the language itself, the most I know is from T.V., you know stuff like "大丈夫です". I was wondering, if there's a word that becomes popular but it's from another language, is it more commonly written in hiragana/katakana or do some words has their own kanji even though they're not inherently japanese?

There's a full list of Japanese 外来語 (がいらいご, loanwords). And as you can see, the majority of the words are written in カタカナ.

But the few are written in 漢字 - for example, "" is a kanji transcription of the English word "page", and actually is pronounced "ぺーじ". Also, during Meiji era (from the mid-19th century toward theearly 20th century), all the names of the countries were transliterated in 漢字, e.g., 仏蘭西 = フランス (France), 芬蘭土 = フィンランド (Finland).

The crux I want to emphasise the most here is that it's quite possible that the loanwords written in カタカナ have lost their original meaning(s). For instance, a colloquial modern Japanese verb "サボる" is derived from a French noun "sabotage", originally meaning the act of deteriorating a company or an enemy by wrecking equipment, machinery, or buildings - the Japanese verb, however, means "to do go-slow". This also is the reason why I don't write scientific nomenclature in カタカナ.

Hey I have a simple question, whenever I watch a tv show or youtube video in japanese I sometimes here people introducing themselves using the phrase 僕は(boku wa) followed by their name. Is this an informal way of introducing ones self in japanese? Would I be considered rude if I talked this way to certain people? Let me know your thoughts.

I don't think that you'd be considered rude by saying so because the phrase is completely normal; not only that, you can even curtail "僕は" and add "です" or "といいます" instead. I frequently hear learners say "と申します" but we barely use it because the phrase is too formal to use when we want to have a relationship - it's only used in a job interview or something rigorous.

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