3 Japanese Common Grammar Errors in English

 In Learn English

Common English grammar mistakes that native Japanese speakers face when learning English as a second language are typically of several different kinds. Some of those errors arise from the learner’s unconscious attempt to transfer to English certain native Japanese structures. Another type of mistake made by Japanese English language learners is their oversimplification of grammar.

These grammatical errors can be rectified by  studying English grammar rules. It is the former type of mistakes that hinder comprehension and clear communication, and which often confuse a native English listener.

Grammar Mistakes Japanese LearnersExamples of common grammar mistakes

  1. Countable Noun Descriptor : Much vs. Many

One area of English grammar for which Japanese has no equivalent is the idea of uncountable vs. countable nouns, and in particular, the specific use of words such as much and many to describe the noun that is being quantified.  In Japanese the word “たくさん” (pronounced takusan) is a common word for both much and many.

In English we use the word ‘much’ before singular nouns.  i.e.  ‘There is so much unemployment in that town.’

We use another word,  ‘many’, to quantify a plural noun.  i.e. ‘Why did you buy so many eggs yesterday?’

A Japanese ESL learner will not distinguish between the types of nouns being quantified and might therefore say: ‘There is so many unemployment’  and ‘so much eggs.’

  1. Idioms

They say that what makes the English language especially difficult to learn is the many idioms and the ever-changing slang used in daily conversation.

The English language is said to have over 25,000 idioms! The Japanese language has many idioms as well, so Japanese are familiar with the type of figurative language.

Idioms often have a context which are culturally or historically specific which is why foreign language speakers of a new language take some time to ‘get’ them and use them correctly.  One way to understand idioms is with context clues.  How are they used in a sentence?  There are great learning tools online to test your understanding of common idioms.

  1. Verbs ending in -ed vs. –ing

Japanese ESL learners often get these two adjectives – ING and -ED, mixed up.  You might hear a Japanese speaker  say: “I am exciting!” or “The game was so excited!”

In order to use these to verb endings correctly, you need to understand  the differences between the –ED and –ING endings.

-ED adjectives are used to talk about a person’s feelings or opinions. (These are the receivers of feelings)

-ING adjectives are used to describe things, people, places, activities. (These are the sources of the feelings)

A tip:  -ED adjectives are also usually followed by small prepositions like in or b

Description:       Something (noun) is/are interest-ING.

Barak Obama
Lord of the Rings

Feeling/Opinion:             I am/I feel interest-ED in…

The President
The Lord of the Rings

Another way to understand this difference, -ed is typically used for people and animals, while –ing is used for objects and situations.

These and other differences in grammar of the two languages are challenges your learning English as a second language. Understanding the rules – and sometimes, in the case of idioms, that there aren’t any – is the key to mastering your new language.

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