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Ano hito-wa, sekininkan-ga tsuyoi-kara-nā (I think that happened because that person has a strong sense of responsibility.)

Situation 1: Two colleagues are talking at work.

グレイ: 経理課の川崎さん、うつ病になって、休職しちゃったそうよ。

三田: そうか、気の毒に。川崎さんは、責任感が強いからなあ。

Gray: Keirika-no Kawasaki-san, utsubyō-ni natte, kyūshoku-shichatta-sō-yo.

Mita: Sōka, kinodoku-ni. Kawasaki-san-wa, sekininkan-ga tsuyoi-kara-nā.

Gray: I heard that Mr. Kawasaki from accounts became depressed and went on sick leave.

Mita: Really, that’s a shame. I think that happened because he has a strong sense of responsibility.

Today, we will introduce various meanings and usages of the adjective 強(つよ)い (strong) and its antonym 弱(よわ)い (weak). The pattern X(noun)はY(noun)が強い/弱い expresses that X(a person/thing/matter) has the characteristics that Y(something) is strong/weak, as in Mr. Mita’s sentence in Situation 1, or as in: このメガネは度(ど)が強い。(The eyeglasses are strong). More examples: 妹(いもうと)は、とても気(き)が強い/意志(いし)が強い。 (My sister is very strong-minded). あの高校(こうこう)は、サッカーが強いので有名(ゆうめい)だ。(That high school is famous for having a strong soccer team). 弱弱(よわよわ)しい is the adjective used to describe that something looks feeble, as in 弱弱しい声(こえ) (a feeble voice), whereas the adjective 強強 (つよつよ)しい does not exist.

Situation 2: Mr. Sere and his girlfriend Yuri are looking at the pamphlet for an apartment building.

ゆり: あれっ、このマンション、新築なのにずいぶん安いね。こんなにかっこいいのに、どうしてかな。

セレ: 安いマンションは、地震に弱いかもしれないよ。

Yuri: Are’, kono manshon, shinchiku-nanoni zuibun yasui-ne. Konna-ni kakkoii-noni, dōshite-kana?

Sere: Yasui manshon-wa, jishin-ni yowai-kamo shirenai-yo.

Yuri: Wow! This condominium is so cheap, even though it’s new! Why is it so cheap even though it looks nice?

Sere: A cheap condominium might be vulnerable to earthquakes.

XはYに強い/弱い expresses that X(a person/thing) is strong/weak against Y, as in Mr. Sere’s sentence in Situation 2, or as in: この植物(しょくぶつ)は寒(さむ)さに弱い。(This plant is vulnerable the cold). This pattern also expresses that someone is good/bad at something, as in 山田(やまだ)さんは歴史(れきし)に強い。 (Mr. Yamada knows a lot about history). The expression のりもの(a vehicle)/車(くるま, a car)/船(ふね, a boat)に弱い means that a person is easy to get carsick/seasick) .

Bonus Dialogue: Mrs. Okubo asks for help from her son Mituso.

母: ねえ、光男(みつお)、パソコンがおかしいんだけど、ちょっと見(み)てくれない? ネット検索(けんさく)していたら、とつぜん動(うご)かなくなったのよ。

光男: また? そういうときは、一度(いちど)電源(でんげん)を切(き)れって、いつも言(い)ってるんだけど。

母: あ、そう、そう。そうだったわね。わすれてた。…うん、ちゃんと動くようになった。パソコンに強(つよ)い息子(むすこ)がいて、たすかるな。

光男: まったく、母(かあ)さんはパソコンに弱(よわ)いんだから!おまけに数字(すうじ)にも弱いし。そのくせ、性格(せいかく)は強くて、声(こえ)もでかくて、自信(じしん)満々(まんまん)なんだから。パソコンもちゃんとできないのに、いったいどこからそんな自信が出(で)てくるんだろう。

母: 「母(はは)は強(つよ)し」って、ことわざもあるでしょ。子(こ)どもを三人(さんにん)も生(う)んで育(そだ)てれば、体(からだ)も心(こころ)も強くなるものよ。私(わたし)だって、昔(むかし)はやせていて、弱弱しい女(おんな)の子だったのよ。

光男: うーん、そんな姿(すがた)は、全然(ぜんぜん)想像(そうぞう)できないよ…。

Mother: Hey, Mitsuo, my computer is acting odd. Will you check it for me? While I was searching online, it suddenly froze.

Mitsuo: Again? When this happens I always tell you to switch off the computer once.

Mother: Oh, yeah, you do. I forgot about that. . . . Sure, it’s okay now and starting to work. I’m lucky that I have a son who’s good with computers.

Mitsuo: Mom, you’re so bad at using computers, as well as with numbers. But you have strong character, big voice and self-confidence. How can you get that kind of self-confidence, even though you’re so bad at computers.

Mother: An old proverb says “The mother is strong.” Anyone who can have three children and raise them would become physically and mentally strong. In my young days, I used to be a thin and feeble girl.

Mitsuo: Hmm, I can’t imagine you like that Mom.

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