Lesson 2.3

Dialogue 3 Headphones

At an orientation for new employees

Staff: Anou, o-namae wa? Umm…(What is) your name?



Michael: Maikeru Sumisu desu. I’m Michael Smith.


Staff: Nihongo o-jouzu desu nee. Your Japanese is good!

に ほ んご  じょうず


Michake: Ie ie, mada mada desu. No, no. Still a long way to go.


Michael sees handouts on the table.

Michale: Sore, nan desu ka. What is that?



Staff: Kore desu ka. Kyou no sukejuuru desu. This? It’s today’s schedule.




Michael: Ano hito, donata desu ka. Who is that person?



Staff: Ano onna no kata desu ka. Do you mean that woman?

おんな かた

あの 女 の方ですか。

Tookyoo-daigaku no Satou-sensei desu. She is Prof. Sato from U. of Tokyo.



Vocabulary Headphones

namae なまえ名前 name

onamae おなまえお名前 name (polite)

nihongo にほんご日本語 Japanese (language)

jouzu じょうず上手 good (at something), skillful

ojouzu おじょうずお上手 good (polite)

mada mada まだまだ not there yet, still long way to go

nan なん何 what

sukejuuru すけじゅうるスケジュール  schedule

ano X あの X that X (2-3-2)

hito ひと人 person

donata どなた who (polite)

onna おんな女 female

kata かた方 person (polite)

toukyou-daigaku とうきょうだいがく東京大学 University of Tokyo

Satou さとう佐藤 Sato (family name)

otoko おとこ男 male

heta へた下手 bad, poor (at something)

keitai けいたいケータイ cellphone

sumaho すまほスマホ smartphone

pasokon ぱそこんパソコン computer, laptop

baggu ばっぐバッグ bag

kaban かばん鞄 brief case, bag (made of leather)

+kasa かさ傘 umbrella

Languages Headphones

(Add –go to the country name. A few exceptions)

nihongo にほんご日本語 Japanese

eigo えいご英語 English

chuugokugo ちゅうごくご中国語 Chinese

kankokugo かんこくご韓国語 Korean

furansugo ふらんすごフランス語 French

supeingo すぺいんごスペイン語 Spanish

rosiago ろしあごロシア語 Russian

itariago いたりあごイタリア語 Italian

doitsugo どいつごドイツ語 German

betonamugo べとなむごベトナム語 Vietnamese

arabiago あらびあごアラビア語 Arabic

nanigo なにご何語 what language

Grammar Notes

2-3-1 Echo Questions

As we have seen, it’s common for things that are clear from the context to be left unsaid in Japanese conversation. However, the context may not always be clear to everyone involved. In such cases, people use echo questions (echoing back all or part of what has just been said) for clarification. In the dialogue above, the staff member uses the echo question ‘Do you mean this?’ to check if Michael is referring to the handouts near her.

Michael: Sore, nan desu ka. What is that?

Staff: Kore desu ka. Kyou no sukejuuru desu. This? It’s today’s schedule.

While echo questions are not unique to Japanese, they occur a lot more frequently in Japanese conversations. This is because echo questions are not only used for clarification, but also to slow down the pace of conversation or soften the tone. Recall that hesitation noises are used to take time and avoid direct responses. Echo questions are often used for similar purposes. So, even when there is no need for clarification, Japanese speakers may ask echo questions. In such cases, an answer to the echo question is not necessarily expected.

The most common echo questions are those that repeat the topic nouns, which may have been left unsaid or which are typically marked by the particle wa in the other person’s speech.

Wakarimasu ka? Do [you] understand?

-Watashi desu ka. Iya, amari… Do you mean me? Not really.

Kore wa sumaho desu ka. Is this a smartphone?

Kore desu ka. Hai. Do you mean this? Yes.

Note here that ‘Sumaho desu ka.’ is impossible as an echo question. Watch out!

*-Sumaho desu ka? Hai. Do you mean a smartphone? Yes.

2-3-2 Ano XKo-so-a-do series #2

In Lesson 1, the first set of ko-so-a-do series (kore, sore, are, dore) was introduced. The second set of the series is kono, sono, ano, and dono. Both sets are based on the same ko-so-a-do distinction (near the speaker, close to the addressee, or away from both).

The difference between the two sets is that the first is a set of nouns and the second is a set of incomplete elements that require a following noun and cannot be used alone. So, while kore is an independent noun meaning ‘this’, kono is linked to a noun, meaning ‘this X’. Note that when translated into English, both kore and kono are translated as ‘this’.

kore this

kono kaisha this company

kono nihon no kaisya this Japanese company

Drills and Exercises


Cue: Furansugo, wakarimasu ka. Do you understand French?image

Response: Furansugo desu ka. Ie, wakarimasen. French? No, I don’t.

Cue: Chuugokugo, wakarimasu ka.Do you understand Chinese? Response: Chuugokugo desu ka. Ie, wakarimasen. Chinese? No I don’t.


Cue: Kore, dare no keitai desuka?Whose cellphone is this?image Response: Kono keitai desu ka. Wakarimasen nee. This cellphone? I don’t know

Cue: Are, doko no kaisha desu ka.Where is that company from? Response: Ano kaisya desu ka. Wakarimasen nee. That company? I don’t know.

C. Say it in Japanese.

Ms. Honda has asked you what is in the bag.

  1. Which bag is it?
  2. Do you mean this bag? It’s my smartphone.
  3. Do you mean that bag over there? Isn’t it Mr. Oda’s laptop?
  4. This is my friend’s umbrella.
  5. I don’t know. It’s not my bag.

D. Act in Japanese.

  1. You are at a reception. Approach another guest and ask his name.
  2. You caught a sight of Prof. Sato at the reception. Ask a staff member if that woman is in fact Prof. Sato.
  3. Ms. Honda is carrying a big bag. Ask what’s in it.
  4. You’ve just heard a name of someone. Check if that is a name for a man?
  5. Someone has mistaken your bag for hers. Point out her mistake and get your bag back.
  6. At the party you’ve been complimented on your Japanese skills. Be humble and respond.


Share This Book