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
  • 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.

I was made by my friend to pay for his expensive dinner.

The kid was made to eat lots of vegetables by his sister.

Takeshi was forced by Jim to talk to the girl after class.

Lee-san was made by his teacher to study Spanish for three hours every day.

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.

After graduation, we've decided to buy a new house in Canada.

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.

Let's visit Tokyo this fall.

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."

I make sure to not eat a lot of sweets after dinner.

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.

Even if he killed his girlfriend, I still wanted to meet him.

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.

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

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.

Even if he's an idiot, he can pass the test.

We'll go to dance club, even if the car's not working.

Even if you're busy, you should still do your homework.

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.

I'm not leaving until I finish my homework.

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.

Until Tom returns my money, I'll continue driving his car.

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.

I didn't have any money until I got a job.

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

The way Lee-san walks is funny.

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.

The way Ayato holds his kitty is cute.

The way Tom throws rocks is childish.

する verbs take the form of: 勉強のし方.

The way Benny drives is dangerous.

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
  • 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.

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.

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."

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.

My mom made my brother clean his room.

Lee-san let his dog eat a lot of Cheetos.

Please let me take this beautiful painting.

The chef makes me drink ramune every time.

Ayato let Yui buy a lot of chocolates.

Please let me look for my fish, Gina.