Monday, January 25, 2010

Let's enjoy Japanese: Never, sometimes, or usually

Fairly early on in one's 日本語教育 (Nihongo Kyouiku, study of the Japanese language), one learns how to transform mundane statements like 寿司を食べます (Sushi o tabemasu, "I eat sushi") into slightly more detailed constructions like よく寿司を食べます (Yoku sushi o tabemasu, "I often eat sushi").

In my experience, there are six basic frequency words that are usually learned at this point:

ぜんぜん(全然) - zenzen, never (寿司を全然食べません - I never eat sushi.)
あまり - amari, not very often (寿司をあまり食べません - I rarely eat sushi.)
ときどき (時々)- tokidoki, sometimes (ときどき寿司を食べます - Sometimes I eat sushi.)
よく - yoku, often (よく寿司を食べます - I often eat sushi.)
たいてい - taitei, usually (たいてい寿司を食べます - I usually eat sushi.)
いつも - itsumo, always (いつも寿司を食べます - I always eat sushi.)

These cover a good amount of ground. There are, of course, other frequency words out there to be seized for your Word Hoard. Personally, one of the next ones to be thrown into my rotation of normal usage was 普通 (futsuu). ふつう, or sometimes ふつうは or ふつうに, depending on the usage, is a way of saying "usually" or "normally."

For example: 私は普通に車で仕事に行きます。 (わたしはふつうにくるまでしごとにいきます)
"I usually go to work by car."

You also may also recognize 普通 from the train station, as it's used to indicate a regular or local train.

Another way to say "normally" or "usually" that seems to be used more regularly than 普通 is 普段 (ふだん, fudan). ふだん is one that I just recently became aware of and have since recognized in a number of places (funny how that works). I believe it is used much the same as 普通.

Example: 昨夜、私は普段より飲めませんでした。 (さくや、わたしはふだんよりのめませんでした)
"Last night I wasn't able to drink as much as I normally do."

Lastly, let's have a look at a couple of words using the kanji 「常」. I don't have extensive experience with it, but I do know that it is used fairly frequently. If I read more, which I plan to do, I'm sure I'd be a lot more familiar with it. First, we have 常に (つねに), which means "always" or "constantly."

I'll use an example right from Denshi Jisho: 火は常に危険だ。(ひはつねにきけんだ)
"Fire is always dangerous."

Last, we have 日常 (にちじょう), which means "ordinary" or "everyday." You may recognize this from 日常漢字 (にちじょうかんじ) - everyday kanji. There are a number of useful compounds you can make from にちじょう, like 日常生活 (にちじょうせいかつ, daily life) or 日常会話 (にちじょうかいわ, ordinary/daily conversation).

I'm sure there are a number of fine vocabulary words relating to time and frequency that I've left out, but we'll just have to talk about them some other time. Or, uh, maybe 決して(けっして, never). We'll see which comes first.

1 comment:

  1. めっちゃ役に立つ!ありがとう