Thursday, July 6, 2017

Genki II Complete!

It feels like it's taken ages to get to this point, but I've finally done it! I've completed Genki I and II, along with all the readings and accompanying exercises in the workbooks.

I must say, at times I questioned how much these books would help me in improving my grammar, but the improvement is already evident in my reading and general comprehension of the language. I no longer feel like I have massive gaps in my knowledge when it comes to basic verb conjugation, which is something critical for reading. Parsing longer sentences is easier now. Expressing written ideas is more doable. Overall, I'm happy with my progress.

So what's next? After all, I can't just stop now. The Genki series only covers roughly N4 level grammar, and I want to go well beyond that. I don't have a 100% concrete plan in place yet since I'm going on vacation soon (yay), but here's what I'd like to do next:

  1. Do daily reading practice
  2. Find more sources of slang/colloquial grammar
  3. Play a couple more games in Japanese
  4. Buy Tobira and begin going through its grammar
  5. Continue with listening and shadowing practice

I'm already on top of #1, doing daily NHK readings and trying to be more consistent with properly parsing any sentences I don't understand.

For #2, I recently bought the book Dirty Japanese, which contains a variety of slang and colloquial speech for all kinds of scenarios. Obviously this is only one reference, so I want to see if I can find more sources for learning Japanese slang and daily speech.

The aforementioned point will help towards #3, where I want to play more games in Japanese and ensure I'm understanding a good chunk of the content. One option I currently own is Stardew Valley, which is now available in Japanese. I also have a few other visual novels that I got for free on Steam that I can practice with.

Tobira is widely recommended as an N3 textbook, and often described as intense and non-hand-holding (unlike Genki). I welcome that though, and I think practicing the new grammar in Tobira's readings will really help me progress in the language.

Finally, since I have a bit more time to myself now with Genki done, I'd like to increase my listening and speaking skills. These are my two most neglected skills since they're difficult to practice. But Genki does have transcripts for all its passages in the answer booklet that I own, so that will be a good source of listening practice. And of course, my shadowing book is already helping me with regards to speech, so I'd like to continue using it.

That seems like a lot of stuff at first, since it would all be in addition to my current daily regimen of WaniKani for kanji and Anki + Memrise for vocab. But it's certainly doable if I have a reasonable daily study schedule, and I'm ready to put in the extra effort to take my language skills to the next level.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Causative-Passive Verbs

Now that I've reviewed conjugations for both passive and causative verbs, it's time to combine the two into a more complex grammatical hassle. This form is achieved by first conjugating to the causative form, and then conjugating that to the passive form.

Ichidan Verbs
  • Drop the る and add させる
  • 食べる   ->   食べさせる
  • Drop the る and add られる
  • 食べさせる   ->   食べさせられる
Godan Verbs
  • Change the final syllable to the あ equivalent and add せる
  • 走る   ->   走らせる
  • Drop the る and add られる
  • 走らせる   ->   走らせられる
Exceptions
  • する  ->   させられる
  • くる   ->   こさせられる

That's a bit of a mouthful. There are methods of shortening this conjugation, but they're more slangy and deserve their own post. For now, I'll stick with these.

The causative-passive form is used to express "Someone was made to do something." Genki gives the following example sentence structure:

(Puppet) は (puppet master) に (action)
The puppet was made by the puppet master to perform this action.

Note that in normal causative sentences, the director (or "puppet master" here) is generally the one marked with は or が, while the actor ("puppet" here) is marked with に. The reverse is true with causative-passive sentences.

私は友達に高い晩ご飯を払わせられた。
I was made by my friend to pay for his expensive dinner.

子どもはお姉さんに野菜をたくさん食べさせられた。
The kid was made to eat lots of vegetables by his sister.

たけしはジームに授業のあとに女の子を話させられた。
Takeshi was forced by Jim to talk to the girl after class.

リーさんは先生に毎日スペイン語を三時間勉強させられた。
Lee-san was made by his teacher to study Spanish for three hours every day.

トムはお母さんに家族にデザートを焼かせられた。
Tom was forced by his mom to bake desert for the family.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Expressing Decisions with ことにする

The short form present tense of a verb + ことにする means "decide to do..." The verb in the initial clause can be in either the affirmative or negative form.

卒業のあと、カナダで新しい家を買うことにした。
After graduation, we've decided to buy a new house in Canada.

お金を返すまで、リーさんに会わないことにした。
I've decided not to see Lee-san until he returns my money.

People often use the volitional form with this construct to suggest doing something, as opposed to directly conjugating the original verb to that form. This usage implies that some amount of deliberation occurred before a decision was made.

今年の秋、東京に行くことにしよう。
Let's visit Tokyo this fall.

九月に辞職するときに、家を売ってドイツに引っ越すことにしよう。
When I quit my job in September, let's sell the house and move to Germany.

Finally, if the する portion is instead conjugated to している form, it means that you've decided to do something as a regular practice. As Genki says, "You've made up your mind that you should do something and have stuck to that determination."

晩ご飯のあとで、お菓子をたくさん食べないことにしてる。
I make sure to not eat a lot of sweets after dinner.

毎日一時間に運動することにしてた。
I've made it a rule to exercise for an hour every day.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Expressing "Even if" with ても

Adding も to the て form of a word, whether it's a noun, adjective, or verb, will result in an "even if" meaning for that word. Examples will help demonstrate this.

彼女を殺しても、又彼に会いたかったよ。
Even if he killed his girlfriend, I still wanted to meet him.

リーさんは話しすぎても、面白かったね。
Lee-san was interesting, even if he talked too much.

Now may be a good time to review the positive and negative て forms for everything, since I haven't done much practice with those lately.

Positive:
訪ねる  ->    訪ねて
忙しい   ->    忙しくて
好き      ->    好きで
靴下     ->    靴下で

Negative:
訪ねない          ->    訪ねなくて
忙しくない         ->    忙しくなくて
好きじゃない    ->    好きじゃなくて
靴下じゃない   ->    靴下じゃなくて

Words in this ても form don't have a tense, but the clause that follows it can be in either present or past tense.

彼はばかでも、合格できる。
Even if he's an idiot, he can pass the test.

車は利かなくても、ダンスのクラブに行くよ。
We'll go to dance club, even if the car's not working.

お前は忙しくても、宿題をしてほうがいいよね。
Even if you're busy, you should still do your homework.

好きじゃなくても、野菜をたくさん食べたい。
I want to eat lots of vegetables, even if I don't like them.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Using まで with Verbs

A verb + まで means "until [verb]." This results in the common sentence format: A まで B, which would mean "Until A, B." This usually results in A describing some kind of completion or change, since B will continue to occur until A has completed. The verb in A is always affirmative and in the present tense.

宿題をするまで、出ないよ。
I'm not leaving until I finish my homework.

この漢字は分かるまで、毎日三時間勉強する。
Until I understand this kanji, I will study for three hours every day.

If the subject of A differs from the subject of B, then A's subject is marked with the particle が instead of は.

トムがお金を返すまで、車を運転し続けている。
Until Tom returns my money, I'll continue driving his car.

学生がこの単語を覚えるまで、宿題を与える。
I will assign homework until my students memorize this vocabulary.

Remember that A will remain in the present tense even if the rest of the sentence is in the past tense.

就職するまで、お金がなかった。
I didn't have any money until I got a job.

作文を書くまで、あまり食べなかったよ。
I didn't eat much until I wrote that essay.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How to Use 方

Did you get that pun in the title? Huh?? It's because 方 is used as a suffix to describe "the way in which the action is performed" or "how to do X." Brilliant.

方 is attached to a verb stem to convey its "how to do" meaning.

歩き方 - the way someone walks

リーさんの歩き方はおかしいね。
The way Lee-san walks is funny.

かもしださんの教え方は難しい。
The way Kamoshida teaches is difficult.

Nouns that accompany verbs in this state are followed by the particle の, rather than something like を or が.

アヤトの猫の持ち方はかわいいでしょ。
The way Ayato holds his kitty is cute.

トムの岩の投げ方は幼い。
The way Tom throws rocks is childish.

する verbs take the form of: 勉強のし方.

ベニーの運転のし方は危ないよ。
The way Benny drives is dangerous.

その単語の綴り方を教えてください。
Could you tell me how to spell that word?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Causative Verbs

There's yet another verb conjugation that can be performed to achieve the "causative form" of a verb. Now, verbs in the causative form can mean one of two things: 1. To make someone do X, or 2. To let someone do X. Unfortunately, the only way to distinguish the two meanings is context.

Ichidan Verbs
  • Drop the る and add させる
  • 食べる   ->   食べさせる
  • 震える   ->    震えさせる
Godan Verbs
  • Change the final syllable to the あ equivalent and add せる
  • 走る   ->    走らせる
  • 買う    ->    買わせる
Exceptions
  • する   ->    させる
  • くる    ->    こさせる

The basic sentence structure used with this type of verb is: Director は / が Cast Action. The Director is the one who is making the others perform the action, marked with the usual topic particles. The Cast are the ones who are made (or allowed to) to perform the action, generally marked with に. And of course, the Action is in causative form.

お父さんは子どもに野菜を食べさせました。
The father made/let his child eat vegetables.

As you can see from this sentence, we have no way of knowing whether this father forced his kid to eat the vegetables, or if the kid actually wanted them and he allowed him to eat them. However, if the causative verb is in て form and followed by あげる, くれる, or もらう, then it almost always will take on the "let" meaning.

先生は私に英語を話させてくれませんでした。
The professor did not allow me to speak in English.

Those are two examples from Genki demonstrating what I've written thus far. Now, a causative verb in て form plus ください can also be used to say something like "Let me do X."

友達に会いに行かせてください。
Please let me go see my friend.

There is a slang form of causative verbs as well, but I think I'll do a separate post on that since this is already a bit of a brain dump. For now, here's a few more practice sentences.

母が弟に部屋を掃除させた。
My mom made my brother clean his room.

リーさんは犬にチートーズをたくさん食べさせた。
Lee-san let his dog eat a lot of Cheetos.

この美しい絵を取らせてください。
Please let me take this beautiful painting.

料理人は毎回ラムネを飲ませる。
The chef makes me drink ramune every time.

アヤトはユイにチョコレートをたくさん買わせた。
Ayato let Yui buy a lot of chocolates.

ジーナという魚を探させてください。
Please let me look for my fish, Gina.