Japanese At Shopping
How do you specify the item you want to see? You can point at it and say kore (koh-reh; this one), which works most of the time. But what if a yunomi (yoo-noh-mee; teacup) and a kyusu (kyooo-soo; teapot) are right next to each other? If you say kore, the clerk will ask dore (doh-reh; which one?). You'll have to say kore again, and the clerk will have to say dore again. To end this frustrating conversation, say kono yunomi (koh-noh yoo-noh-mee; this teacup) or kono kyusu (koh-noh kyooo-soo; this teapot). Yes, you can add a common noun to the Japanese word for this, but you must change kore to kono.
Asking for a Particular Item
If you have a particular item in mind, step into a store and say Wa arimasu ka . . . (wah ah-ree-mah-soo kah; Do you have ...?). If you really want something, don't give up - continue to sagasu (sah-gah-soo; look for) what you want. Conjugate the u-verb sagasu (sah-gah-soo; look for).
If you see a nice item in a store window, ask the clerk to show it to you. Express your request by using a verb in the te-form (see Chapter 2) and kudasai (koo-dah-sah-ee; please), as in Sore o misete kudasai. (soh-reh oh mee-seh-teh koo-dah-sah-ee; Please show me that.)
- Ano biru wa nan desu ka. (ah-noh bee-roo wah nahn deh-soo kah; What is that building?)
- Sono nekkuresu wa takai desu ka. (soh-noh nehk-koo-reh-soo wah tah-kah-ee deh-soo kah; Is that necklace expensive?)
Saying cheaper, more expensive, better, or Worse
When you say "Videotapes are cheaper than DVDs," "Old furniture is better than new furniture," or "My car is more expensive than your car," you're comparing two items. In Japanese, you don't need to add -er or "more" to make a comparison. You just need the Japanese equivalent of "than," which is the particle yori (yoh-ree). Place yori right after the second item in the comparison.
Using the first example in this paragraph, "than DVDs" has to be "DVDs than" in Japanese. It's a mirror-image situation. Take a look at a few examples to see this concept in action:
- Bideo tepu wa DVD yori yasui desu. (bee-deh-oh tehh-poo wah deee-beee-deee yoh-ree yah-soo-ee deh-soo; Videotapes are cheaper than DVDs.)
- Furui kagu wa atarashii kagu yori ii desu. (foo-roo-ee kah-goo wah ah-tah-rah-sheee kah-goo yoh-ree eee deh-soo; Old furniture is better than new furniture.)
- Watashi no kuruma wa anata no kuruma yori takai desu. (wah-tah-shee noh koo-roo-mah wah ah-nah-tah noh koo-roo-mah yoh-ree tah-kah-ee deh-soo; My car is more expensive than your car.)
Comparing two items
Life is full of comparison questions like
"Which one" in Japanese is dochira (doh-chee-rah). Just keep in mind that dochira is used only when the question is about two items. (To find out how to ask a question about three or more items, see the section "Comparing three or more items" later in this chapter.) Here are the steps for constructing an out-of-two comparison question:
- Which one is better, this one or that one?
- Who do you like better, Mary or me?
- Which is more important, money or reputation?
- List the two-items you're comparing at the beginning of the sentence.
- Add the particle to (toh; and) after each item to make it look like a list.
- Insert the question word dochira followed by the subject-marking particle ga (gah).
- Add the adjective with the question particle ka (kah).
Did you get lost? I hope not. If you did, these examples will help clear things up:
- Kore to, are to, dochira ga ii desu ka. (koh-reh toh, ah-reh toh, doh-chee-rah gah eee deh-soo kah; Which one is better, this one or that one?)
- Man to, watashi to, dochira ga suki desu ka. (mah-reee toh, wah-tah-shee toh, doh-chee-rah gah soo-kee deh-soo kah; Who do you like better, Mary or me?)
- O-kane to, meisei to, dochira ga daiji desu ka. (oh-kah-neh toh, mehh-sehh toh, doh-chee-rah gah dah-ee-jee deh-soo kah; Which one is more important, money or reputation?)
Comparing three or more items
To ask which item is best among three or more items, listed one by one, use the question words dare (dah-reh), doko (doh-koh), and dore (doh-reh). Use dare for people, doko for places, and dore for other items, including foods, cars, animals, plants, games, and academic subjects. All three words mean "which one."
To ask a question comparing three or more items, list the items with the particle to (toh) after each item. Form the question by using the question word dare, doko, or dore. Again, ichiban (ee-chee-bahn; the best/most) is the key, as shown in these examples:
- Besu to, Mari to, Jon to, dare ga ichiban yasashii desu ka. (beh-soo toh, mah-reee toh, John toh, dah-reh gah ee-chee-bahn yah-sah-sheee deh-soo kah; Among Beth, Mary, and John, who is the kindest?)
- Bosuton to, Tokyo to, Shikago to, doko ga ichiban samui desu ka. (boh-soo-tohn toh, tohh-kyohh toh, shee-kah-goh toh, doh-koh gah ee-chee-bahn sah-moo-ee deh-soo kah; Among Boston, Tokyo, and Chicago, which one is the coldest?)
- Hanbaga to, hotto doggu to, piza to, dore ga ichiban suki desu ka. (hahn-bahh-gahh toh, hoht-toh dohg-goo toh, pee-zah toh, doh-reh gah ee-chee-bahn soo-kee deh-soo kah; Among hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza, which one do you like the best?)
If you want to specify the category of the items you're comparing, like "of foods" or "among the cities in the country," specify the category at the beginning of the question and place two particles, de (den) and wa (wah), right after it. And remember that you must use nani (nah-nee; what) instead of dore (doh-reh; which one). So if you're specifying a category rather than giving a list, use dare (dah-reh; who) for people, doko (doh-koh; where) for locations, and nani (nah-nee; what) for other items. Below table can help you sort things out.
|Saying Which One in Japanese|
|Category||Of Two Items||Of Three or More Items||Of a Category|