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Honto-ni yoku nite-iru

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Honto-ni yoku nite-iru. (She is really like you!)

Situation 1: Takako is walking with her little sister, Mariko, when they happen to meet her teacher Ms. Hashimoto.

橋本: あら、妹さんね。ほんとによく似ている!そっくりね。

たか子: 自分ではよくわからないんですけど、よくそう言われます。

Hashimoto: Ara, imōto-san-ne. Honto-ni yoku nite-iru! Sokkuri-ne.

Takako: Jibun-dewa yoku wakaranai-n-desu-kedo, yoku sō iwaremasu.

Hashimoto: Oh, she’s your little sister, isn’t she? She’s really like you! You’re like two peas in a pod.

Takako: I don’t see it myself, but people often say that to us.

Today we will introduce various meanings and usages of adverb よく(well). よくis the adverbial form of adjective よい/いい (good) and is used as an adverb in various meanings. Ms. Hashimoto’s よくmodifies the verb にる (to be alike) and expresses that the degree of what is expressed by the verb is high. More examples: 彼(かれ)はとてもよく働(はたら)く (He works very hard); めがねを変 (か)えたら、よく見(み)えるようになった (I changed my glasses and now I can see well); 複雑(ふくざつ)な話(はなし)で、よくわからなかった (It was a complicated story and I couldn’t understand it well). よく in this meaning is often used to express the speaker’s appreciation or admiration for what someone did, sometimes with slight surprise when it is hard to do. Example: きょうまで、よくがんばったね (You really tried hard until today). It can also be used to express the speaker’s feeling of reproach as in: あんなひどいことをよく言(い)えるものだ (How could he say a terrible thing like that?). Takako’s よく言われる in Situation 1 belongs to another meaning group that is explained in Situation 2.

Situation 2: Mr. Tian and his client Mr. Suzuki are chatting after a business talk.

鈴木: お国には、よくお帰りになるんですか。

ティエン: いえ、それが、あまり帰っていないんです。母にも会いたいんですが、年に1度がやっとですよ。

Suzuki: O-kuni-niwa, yoku o-kaeri-ni naru-n-desu-ka.

Tian: Ie, sorega, amari kaette-inai-n-desu. Haha-nimo aitai-n-desu-ga, nen-ni ichido-ga yatto-desu-yo.

Suzuki: Do you often go back to your country?

Tian: Well, no, I don’t. I’d like to see my mother, but I can go back once a year at most.

よく also expresses high frequency, as in Mr. Suzuki’s よく帰(かえ)る( to go home frequently). In this usage, its negative expression is あまり帰らない (to go home not so often) as in Mr. Tian’s sentence, but not よく帰らない.

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. Shiba’s nephew Yuta visits the Shibas after taking the entrance exam for a university in Tokyo.

夫(おっと): いらっしゃい! よく来(き)てくれたね、悠太(ゆうた)くん。

妻(つま): さあ、寒(さむ)いから、はやくあがって。

悠太(ゆうた): はい、おじゃまします。あ、じゅんちゃん、寝(ね)ちゃったんですね。かわいいなあ。

夫: 悠太くんは、じゅんを見(み)るのは初(はじ)めてだったね。

妻: もうすぐ晩(ばん)御飯(ごはん)よ。インフルエンザがはやっているから、手(て)をよく洗(あら)ってね。

夫: それにしても、東京(とうきょう)の大学(だいがく)を受験(じゅけん)するなんて、おかあさんがよく承知(しょうち)したね。

悠太: ぼく、どうしても東京に出(で)て来たかったから…。卒業(そつぎょう)したら、かならず札幌(さっぽろ)に帰(かえ)るという約束(やくそく)なんです。

夫: そう。だけど、大学で彼女(かのじょ)ができて、そのまま東京で就職(しゅうしょく)、結婚(けっこん)なんていうケースもよくあるから…。

悠太: ぼくは、彼女を札幌につれて帰りますよ。

夫: いや、人生(じんせい)は、なかなか計画(けいかく)どおりにはいかないものだよ。実際(じっさい)ぼくの場合(ばあい)も…。

Mr. Shiba: Welcome! We’re glad to see you, Yuta.

Mrs. Shiba: It’s cold here. Please come in.

Yuta: Thank you, I will. Oh, baby Jun has gone to sleep. How cute!

Mr. Shiba: This is the first time you’ve seen Jun, right?

Mrs. Shiga: I’ll serve dinner soon. Please wash your hands, since the flu is going around.

Mr. Shiba: By the way, I’m surprised your mother allowed you to take an entrance exam for a university in Tokyo.

Yuta: I was eager to come to Tokyo. I promised her I’d go back to Sapporo after graduation.

Mr. Shiba: I see. But, lots of students get a girlfriend at university and continue to live and work in Tokyo and get married.

Yuta: In my case, I’ll go back to my hometown Sapporo with my future girlfriend.

Mr. Shiba: No, life doesn’t follow a plan, just as in my case ….