Dialogue for Presentation 9
Genki: An Integrated Approach, Vol. 1)
Click on the links below to listen to each individual sentence.
John invites Akiko for dinner at his place. Akiko is watching John cook.
あきこ：そうですか。(Akiko looks at him cutting vegetables and says the following.)
ジョン：いや、まだまだです。(Akiko is about to pick up and eat a vegetable.)
Akiko starts by asking John if he likes cooking. You have seen the pattern 「XはYがすきです」, which means “X likes Y.” Here, what comes in the Y-position is the clause 「りょうりするの」. If we break this down, we see that this is the noun りょうり meaning “cooking/food preparation” plus the verb する “to do” plus the particle の.
When の follows a verb, it basically turns that verb into a noun. In other words, りょうりする means “to cook,” but りょうりするの means “[the act of] cooking.” This の basically performs the same function as the suffix “–ing” in English, turning what is a verb into a noun. Some linguists call the の that comes after a verb a “nominalizing” particle. (The word “nominalize” means to turn some word into a noun.)
Do NOT confuse this particular usage of の with the other usage of the particle の that we have already seen. It is DIFFERENT than the use of の that comes between two nouns and connects them in a modifying or possessive relationship.
Here are a few sample sentences that use the “nominalizing” の. See if you can figure out the meaning by yourself. An English translation of each sentence is below.
Takashi likes reading.
Mary likes going to the university.
Robert likes speaking in Japanese.
Akiko does not like studying.
Back to the dialogue… John says that he does like it (cooking). He says that he makes dinner (ばんごはん) often.
Akiko says, “Oh, really?” After watching him skillfully chop vegetables for a few moments, she comments, “John, you are good at cutting vegetables (やさい), aren’t you?” Notice that her sentence uses the nominalizing の once again. Here, it follows the verb きる meaning “to cut / to slice.”
To say that X is good / skillful at Y, use the pattern 「XはYがじょうずです。」In Akiko’s utterance, what drops into the Y-position is the word きるの “cutting.” What do the following sentences mean? The answers are below.
Mary is good at writing in Japanese.
Takashi is good at speaking in English.
John is good at cooking.
Robert is not good at reading German.
John denies her statement (that he is good at cutting vegetables). The word いや is an alternative way of saying いいえ (no), but it sounds slightly more emphatic. It is often used when you are disagreeing with something that someone says. It contains a nuance that is more like “Not at all!” After the いや、John says, まだまだです。This is an expression that Japanese people often use when someone praises them. まだ literally means “not yet,” and this is reduplicated for emphasis. まだまだです means “I am not good yet,” but it implies that you have a sincere desire to become good someday.
Remember the expression まだまだです. It is very useful! Japanese people typically praise foreigners when they try to speak nihongo, even if they do not speak well at all. The culturally appropriate thing for the foreigner to do is to deny that they speak well. (A person who says, “Thank you!” in response to praise sounds horribly arrogant, and the Japanese listener will probably turn off on the spot.) If someone praises your Japanese saying 日本語がじょうずですね or something, the best thing to do – even if you have been studying Japanese for twenty years – is to deflect the praise by saying some humble expression like まだまだです。
Akiko is tempted to pick up a vegetable and eat it. When she starts to do so, John calls out to her and says, “Do not eat yet.” As we just mentioned a moment ago まだ means “(not) yet.” When it appears with a verb other that です, the verb is often negative.
To give a negative command (“do not” X), Japanese use the pattern ～ないでください, whereas ~ない is the short, negative form of the verb. (You have seen the word ください before. It means “please give me.” Literally, what you are saying is “please give me not eating.”) What do the following commands mean?
Please do not go!
Please do not go home!
Please do not come to school!
Please do not watch that video!
Please do not cut your hair!
Akiko apologizes for wanting to eat the vegetable that John has cut up, and she says “I’m sorry.” ごめんなさい is a slightly less formal version of すみません. It is an apology that is typically used to someone who is not significantly higher than you in the social structure (your family members, your friend, your student, etc.).
Updated April 2, 2008