Daily Japanese Phrase
この花は綺麗なだけではなく、いい匂いがします。- These flowers are not only pretty, they also smell nice.

この花は綺麗なだけではなく、いい匂いがします。(Kono hana wa kirei na dake de wa naku, ii nioi ga shimasu) - These flowers are not only pretty, they also smell nice.

この (Kono) - This, these

花 (Hana) - Flower

は (Wa) - Topic particle

綺麗 (Kirei) - Beautiful, clean (Na adjective)

な (Na) - Particle used with Na adjectives

だけ (Dake) - Just, only

ではなく (De wa naku) - Ku form of ではない, meaning “(it’s) not”

いい (Ii) - Good (i adjective)

匂い (Nioi) - Smell

が (Ga) - Subject marker

します (Shimasu) - Polite present tense of する (Suru, to do)

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I thought 体 by itself was karada? Is there a practical difference between that and 身体?

身体 and 体 both have the same meaning and reading, although you’ll see the latter, more simpler form a lot more often. I’m guessing the former is used for more formal situations.

身体に気をつけて良いクリスマスを過ごして下さい。- Take care and have a good Christmas.

身体に気をつけて良いクリスマスを過ごして下さい。(Karada ni ki o tsukete yoi kurisumasu o sugoshite kudasai) - Take care and have a good Christmas.

身体 (Karada) - Body

に (Ni) - Indirect object particle

気をつけて (Ki o tsukete) - Te form of 気をつける (KI o tsukeru), a phrase that means “to be careful/take care”)

良い (Yoi) - Good (more formal form of いい, ii)

クリスマス (Kurisumasu) - Christmas

を (O) - Direct object particle

過ごして (Sugoshite) - Te form of 過ごす (Sugosu, to pass/spend time)

下さい (Kudasai) - Attached to te forms to form polite commands, literally “please give me.”

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サンタクロースから何かいいプレゼントをもらいましたか? - Did you receive any nice presents from Santa Claus?

サンタクロースから何かいいプレゼントをもらいましたか? (Santa Kuroosu kara nani ka ii purezento o moraimashita ka?) - Did you receive any nice presents from Santa Claus?

サンタクロース (Santa Kuroosu) - Santa Claus

から (Kara) - Particle meaning “From” (both location and receiving)

何か (Nanika) - Something

いい (ii) - Good

プレゼント (Purezento) - Present

を (O) - Direct object marker

もらいました (Moraimashita) - Formal past-tense form of もらう (Morau, to receive)

か (Ka) - Question marker particle

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じゃあ、郵便局に電話しておきます。- Well then, I’ll call the post office.

じゃあ、郵便局に電話しておきます。 (Jaa, yuubinkyoku ni denwa shite okimasu) - Well then, I’ll call the post office.

じゃあ (Jyaa) - Exprssion for “well then” or similar statement after a discussion or decision

郵便局 (Yuubinkyoku) - Post Office

に (Ni) - Indirect object particle

電話 (Denwa) - Telephone

して (Shite) - Te form of する (suru, to do)

おきます (Okimasu) - Polite form of おく (oku), used after -te form to express certain intentions or plans in advance.

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12日以内に大学に帰らなくちゃいけません。 - I have less than 12 days before I have to go back to my university.

 12日以内に大学に帰らなくちゃいけません。 (Jyuu ni nichi inai ni daigaku ni kaeranakucha ikemasen) - I have less than 12 days before I have to go back to my university.

12日 (Jyuu ni nichi) - 12 days

以内 (Inai) - Within, inside of, here means “less than”

に (Ni) - Particle used with time phrases

大学 (Daigaku) - College/university

に (Ni) - Particle used for destinations

帰らなくちゃ (Kaeranakucha) - Negative te form of 帰る (Kaeru, to return) plus particle は; the final て and は are condensed to ちゃ (帰らなくては -> 帰らなくちゃ)

いけません (Ikemasen) - Polite negative form of いける, which always appears in the negative form as いけない or いけません to mean you “must not” do something, or that it’s “bad” to do something.

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is there anything I can do to improve my pronunciation in Japanese?

The earlier you start, the better. If you start learning any language as a teenager or later, you’re going to have a noticeable accent. Although getting rid of it completely might be impossible, you can definitely work to make your Japanese “prettier.” Here’s a couple of tips I have though:

  • Start with the smallest units, the sounds themselves. Find a hiragana audio chart (like this) and emulate the sounds, listening and them repeating them as best as you can. With Japanese, you’re lucky, as almost all the sounds (m, k, s, etc) are present in English as well, so making the sounds themselves shouldn’t be hard. Instead, focus on making the intonation and pronunciation sound authentic.
  • In particular, ら・り・る・れ・ろ shouldn’t have a strong English “r” sound, even though they’re usually written with “r”s. It’s difficult to explain, but I think the closest equivalent is the “l” in “supplies”; it’s a quick flick of the tongue off the roof of your mouth that’s weaker than the first sound either “ryes” or “lies.” Other people say it’s “halfway” between “r” and “l,” so maybe you can think of it that way.
  • If you’re a native English speaker, pay special attention to your pronunciation of カタカナ words. It’s very easy to slip into English pronunciation of the English words in particular. For example, remember that there is no “uh” sound in Japanese, so while you might say “Uh-me-ri-kuh” for “America” in US English, when you say アメリカ in Japanese, take care to make the アand カ have strong “ah” sounds, like “Ah-me-ri-kah.” Pay attention, maybe even record yourself speaking, and try to eliminate those weak “uh” sounds in all your words, as Japanese doesn’t have them!
  • Long vowels and small っ breaks are also easy to forget about when speaking. Try slightly exaggerating the length (or っ stop)to help yourself remember the words they’re in.
  • Keep in mind that Japanese has a pitch accent, and while it may not be as important as in, say, Chinese, it is still there. Rather than try to memorize the pitch pattern for every single word, if you consciously listen to and emulate the pitch of a Japanese conversation, you may find yourself subconsciously putting the pitch changes in your own speech. If you’re an advanced student, you can ask a native speaker to critique you; if you’re starting out, it’s honestly not that important.
  • Pay attention to the pitch of the larger phrases and sentences as well. Declarative sentences tend to slightly “fall” in pitch during the final verb, but if you’re asking a question, raise the pitch instead.
私は外国人なのでその冗談の意味が分かりませんでした。- I’m a foreigner, so I didn’t understand that joke.

私は外国人なのでその冗談の意味が分かりませんでした。(Watashi wa gaikokujin na node, sono joudan no imi ga wakarimasen deshita) - I’m a foreigner, so I didn’t get that joke.

私 (Watashi) - Polite first person pronoun “I”

は (Wa) - Topic marker

外国人 (Gaikokujin) - Foreigner, person from another country

な (Na) - Particle used between nouns (and na-adjectives) and の particles

ので (No de) - Because / so (cause and effect)

その (Sono) - That

冗談 (Joudan) - Joke

の (No) - Possessive particle

意味 (Imi) - Meaning

が (Ga) - Subject particle

分かりませんでした (Wakarimasen deshita) - Polite negative past form of “wakaru” (分かる, to understand)

Literally, “I’m a foreigner, so I didn’t understand that joke’s meaning. 

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