Should you ask What a J-J Sentence Means in English? — 17 Comments

  1. I dont believe I’ve ever asked for a translation from someone. I believe you when you say it will work itself out. However, a few times in the past I have caved in due to frustration and Google translated. The good thing is, most of those translations I didn’t even remember. Also, Google translate can suck sometimes.

    I have noticed some words clicking lately that I felt never would.

    • I have strived to do this as well but also failed a number of times so far and looked at Google. Mostly though not for the sentence but for the definition part only. The definitions are just so hard to decipher sometimes. I’ve been doing it less and less as I go through intermediate and understand the structure better.

      I am going to try to make it super limited in the back half with the goal of never doing it again by the end of intermediate.

      • And just remember that struggling through the definition is you learning how Japanese definitions work (and not just the Japanese found within them)

    • I think Google Translate is fine, as long as it is kept to a bare minimum. Think of it as a panic button that you can use when desperate.

  2. “The other variant to someone giving their best guess is “I think it means A or B.” If one of them is correct, great. You allowed them to internalize the possibilities and merely just push them in the right direction.”

    When you said this, I couldn’t help but think you wrote that with the emails I’ve sent you in mind! That happens a lot to me: being on the fence with two possibilities, not knowing which one might be the correct one.

    • Hahaha, yes your emails perfectly fall into this category, and were a bit of inspiration for this post. So you are doing things right :)

    • Hahaha no, I’m happy to answer emails and have done so without a second thought for years. I’m just saying that you might just get a translation from me if you catch me at an off time, when it would be better for me to just give you assurance of your own interpretation.

  3. What are your thoughts on this situation: doing J-J and a new word is introduced but I don’t understand the definition at all. Using the RTK keyword though, the sentence makes perfect sense (however I still don’t understand the definition so I feel like I’m going to miss out on the nuance of the Japanese word).
    So far what I’ve been doing is just pushing on provided I understand the sentence even if I don’t understand the definition.

    • Using the RTK keyword (or Kanji Kingdom keyword for those using that) is fine. However, you should still spend the time to try to work through the definition. You don’t have to understand the definition 100% but work for a general grasp where possible. And if it is completely beyond your reach right now for some reason, try coming back to the definition later when the card returns to reviews.

  4. Adam, it has been so helpful when you’ve asked me what I think a sentence means. When I guess correctly, I feel great, and when I’m close to correct, I still feel great.

    It reminds me of how I practice psychotherapy. I always ask the client, “What do you think you should do?” They either know the answer and they feel great. Or if they don’t know, I ask them to give several possible solutions to their problem, and they finally figure out the correct one for themselves.

    • Glad to be of assistance :)

      It definitely feels better to know you were correct/near correct all along, rather than someone just giving you the answer.

  5. I know this is an old post, but I’ve been trying to understand the way these definitions work and I’m not sure how much sense they are supposed to make at my level. I don’t want to look up translations, but I’m having to memorize the translation that I’m not able to understand in order to clear the card. For instance:


    which roughly speaking is you don’t know if it’s real or not


    uses the same form as the previous word but replaces a word with it and builds on the definition recursively.

    i cant help but think, you dont 怪しい if it’s real or not, but that makes no sense to me.

    Another example would be


    The one thing I think I’ve really learned about these definitions is that I can’t substitute the definition for the word in a sentence, but at the same time i haven’t confidently clicked the green button in a while since my lack of understanding forces me to base that success it on whether I memorized the definition as opposed to understood it. I’m a bit behind on the kanji cards, so hopefully catching up on those will shed light on some of the harder to grasp concepts.

    I’m hoping that these cards become more clear as I go on, as well as the way some of these words are defined, but at the moment, it just feels like I’m piling on cards that I don’t understand and memorizing the sounds of the sentence as opposed to their meaning.

    • In the beginning of Jalup intermediate, it’s more about getting a feel for the card, rather than memorizing it, or being able to replace English words with their equivalents.

      Over time, as you see them more and more in different situations, you’ll get a feel for the nuanced differences.

      But try not to let a “perfect understanding” keep you from pressing the green button if you generally get the card.

      • That makes sense, and right after I posted this I hit a string of cards that I realized were all synonyms and it struck me how if asked to tell the difference between certain synonyms in english, I would only be able to do so by giving a situation in which one would be used over the other and what implications would follow. Ill save the greens for “generally get it” over definitions for now, and then try to evolve it’s usage as I get to the end of intermediate

  6. As an English speaker, I’ve shifted into the mindset that I shouldn’t use English at all when I’m attempting Japanese. However, this confuses me greatly, because when I’m shown images and their Japanese name, I recognize them as their English name.

    I’ve been looking for a way to study Japanese like a native, born into the language, but I can’t find the resources. I’m surrounded by English everywhere, but I want to understand Japanese. The English words for Japanese run through my head constantly when I’m introduced to Japanese.

    This is an example of my thought process:

    taberu = to eat

    nomimasu = to drink

    Of course, this expands, since my English vocabulary is broadly widened. I don’t know how I was taught English, besides with images and sounds. When I see images with Japanese sounds, I immediately translate them to English, because it’s drilled into my brain all the time.

    This confuses me and is the main reason why I’m struggling so much with Japanese. I’m paranoid about the process. I wonder if the English will slowly fade away the more Japanese I’m introduced to.

  7. “I wonder if the English will slowly fade away the more Japanese I’m introduced to.”

    It takes time, a long time at least for me to stop translating everything in your head. That is normal that your brain tries to translate. Firstly find a good Japanese to Japanese resource like jalup where you can learn how to read a Japanese dictionary, learn more Japanese through Japanese definitions. If you are looking for a tool you are at the right place, buy the flashcards on this site.

    Keep doing it for years. In my case finally after 3 years of continuous study and immersion your brain gets so used to Japanese it doesn’t try to translate everything.

    Find a way to enjoy the process and the study so you stick with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>