JLPT, Vocab and Grammar

Book Review – Chukyuu Kara Manabu Nihongo

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I would put this book somewhere between n4 and n3 level. It has some interesting passages (25 to be exact) for reading comprehension practice – most passages are observations of human nature – how certain colors are associated with boys and certain others with girls, how young moms behave in trains and so on. There’s even one on how marketeers invade one’s privacy. All passages are followed by questions based on the passage and a practice section for grammar points covered in the passage. You can hope to pick up interesting vocab such as “ikigai”, “niramekko suru” :-). And no.. there is no English meanings/explanations provided for anything – which is good in a way. After all in the actual exam the passages are bound to have words that you don’t know..but you still ignore those and try to get the overall meaning the passage is trying to convey, right?

The best way to attack the “reading comprehension” section in my view is to enjoy reading in Japanese – begin by choosing books that are slightly above your current level and read them in your free time.  If you stick just to the book that you purchased for the JLPT exam, it would qualify as “studies” and might seem like a “chore” beyond a point. This is where books such as this one and this one come in handy.

JLPT, Vocab and Grammar

Book review – Pattern Betsu Tettei Drill for N3

The JLPT as we know doesn’t release “han i”(portions, syllabus) for any level. For precisely this reason, it helps to refer to two to three books while preparing for the exam. The “Soumatome” series by themselves are pretty comprehensive and should be enough to help you pass the exam. But, nothing like a solid “question bank” to give you the confidence to face an exam, right? Pattern betsu tettei drill for N3 is one of the best question banks available in the market for N3.  “Tettei”(徹底) means “thorough” and true to it’s name the book carries practice questions covering all types of exam questions across all four sections – script and vocab (moji, goi), listening (choukai), grammar(bunpou), reading comprehension (dokkai).

In the “moji-goi” section, after each exercise you will find that the Kanjis and vocab covered in the exercise have been neatly listed out with onyomi, kunyomi and example sentences. So, if you don’t know the answer to a question, you don’t have to refer to a dictionary or look it up in another book.

Similarly in the grammar section too, all the grammar points covered in the drill have been listed out with explanation in Japanese and example sentences.

Some of the questions in the listening and reading comp sections are really tough – much like Soumatome. This is again because there is no fixed “portions” or “syllabus” that JLPT has released. So the practice books try to play it safe by covering as much as possible. No need to worry. If you are thorough with Soumatome vocab, you should be able to attack most questions. Additional vocab has been provided at the end of each drill if you want to cram in more. As far as listening section is concerned, it helps to listen once with script, once or twice without script and repeat after a few days:-)

The book also goes on to give “kotsu” or “tips” for each section – not sure how useful these are though. In my view there is only one useful tip that will help you clear JLPT – work hard!

Vocab and Grammar

“Hello”/ “Hi” in Japanese

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“Hello”or “Hi” has no equivalent in Japanese. But there are words that can come close enough. Consider the basic Japanese greetings:

Ohayou gozaimasu – Good morning

Konnicha wa – Good day, good afternoon

Konban wa – Good evening

Oyasumi nasai – Good night

The usage of all the above is similar to their English equivalents.  “Oyasumi nasai” is used at the end of a conversation. The other three are used in the beginning of a conversation and can double as  a light “hello” too.

“Doumo” is another word that works like “hello”. It’s a little informal and is normally used with people you know quite well. “Doumo”with a slight bow roughly means “hello, how do you do”. The reply to this would be another “doumo”.

You would say “hajimemashite” if you are meeting someone for the the first time. It means “pleased to meet you”. If you are meeting someone after a long time, you would probably say “Ohisashiburi desu” which means “It’s been a while”.

Then there’s the super formal “Gokigenyo”, which means “hello, how do you” and “good bye, farewell”as well.

But, if you are a student in a Japanese university, you would probably just greet your friends with a cool “YO”!

Vocab and Grammar

Punctuation marks in Japanese

  • Full stop: 句点(くてん)“Kuten” in Japanese is represented by a small circle.

これはほんです。(“Kore wa hon desu” meaning “This is a book” with a Kuten at the end).

  • Question mark: There is no formal punctuation mark in Japanese for questions. Questions too are followed by the full stop mark.

これもほんですか。(“Kore mo hon desu ka” meaning “Is this also a book?” with a Kuten at the end).

  • Comma: 読点(とうてん)”Touten” in Japanese is represented by a small line slanting towards left.

ペン、鉛筆、消しゴムなどが要ります。(“Pen, empitsu, keshigomu nado ga irimasu” meaning “pen, pencil , eraser etc are required”).

  • Exclamatory mark: There is no formal  punctuation mark for this too. Although it is normal to find people using “!” in casual messages.
  • Quotation mark: かぎ括弧(かぎかっこ)“Kagikakko” in Japanese is represented by what look like square brackets.

先生は「明日テストがあるよ」と言いました。(Sensei wa “ashita testo ga aruyo” to iimashita meaning “Teacher said “There is a test tomorrow””)

  • Besides the above there is one more that is very commonly used called 波線 (はせん)”Hasen” represented by a small wavy line. This is used in the following ways:

~さん (~san) meaning Mr or Ms ABC

9時~(kuji~) meaning 9 o’clock onward.