Language | wellsaid

Introducing the conjunction particle 'shikashi'

Shikashi, shin-seihin-no uriage-wa junchō-ni nobite-imasu. (But sales of our new product are increasing smoothly.)

Situation 1: Department head Yamani speaks to her workers.

ヤマニ: あいかわらず、日本経済は順調とはいえません。 しかし、新製品の売り上げは順調に伸びています。みなさん、この調子で、がんばってください。

Yamani: Aikawarazu, Nihon-keizai-wa junchō-towa iemasen. Shikashi, shin-seihin-no uriage-wa junchō-ni nobite-imasu. Mina-san, kono chōshi-de ganbatte-kudasai.

Yamani: As expected, Japan’s economy hasn’t been doing well. But sales of our new product are increasing steadily. Everybody, please keep up the good work.

Today we’ll introduce some usages of the conjunction particle しかし (but) and its synonyms. しかし is used at the beginning of a sentence to express an opinion or fact that contradicts the sentence before, as in Ms. Yamani’s speech above. The preceding sentence can be the speaker’s own or someone else’s. しかし is also usually used in formal speech or in written language. In more casual conversation, でも is used, and だけど sounds even more casual. But しかし can be used to start or restart a casual conversation or with real feelings (see bonus dialogue).

Situation 2: Mr. Shiba is explaining to his wife why he came home so late after visiting a laboratory in Asaka.

夫: 朝霞の研究所を訪問した後、おじさんの入っている施設が朝霞だったことを思い出して、急に寄って みようと思ったんだ。ところが、記憶が間違って いて、ずっと反対方向に歩いて行っちゃったんだよ。

妻: お疲れ様! それで、おじさん、お元気だった?

Otto: Asaka-no kenkyūjo-o hōmon-shita ato, ojisan-no haitte-iru shisetsu-ga Asaka-datta koto-o omoidashite, kyū-ni yotte-miyō-to omotta-n-da. Tokoroga, kioku-ga machigatte-ite, zutto hantai-hōkō-ni aruite-itchatta-n-da-yo.

Tsuma: O-tsukare-sama! Sore-de, ojisan, o-genki-datta?

Husband: After visiting the laboratory in Asaka, I remembered that my uncle’s care home is in Asaka and I had this sudden thought to pay him a visit. But my memory was off and I kept walking in the opposite direction.

Wife: You must be tired! But how was your uncle?

Another conjunction, ところが, also contradicts the preceding sentence and is used when the following sentence is quite different from what is inferred before it, as in Mr. Shiba’s usage above. It connotes a sense of surprise. A sentence with ところが, unlike しかし, shows something that actually happened. Like しかし, ところが can come after the speaker’s own sentence or someone else’s.

Bonus Dialogue: At the office, younger staff members Mr. Mita, Ms. Gray and Ms. Tamachi are chatting.

三田: しかし、あいかわらず暑(あつ)いなあ!

田町: でも、ずいぶん涼(すず)しくなったと思(おも)うけど。

グレイ: 三田(みた)さんは、昨日(きのう)まで、ご家族(かぞく)と軽井沢(かるいざわ)の別荘(べっそう)にいたからね。

田町: 軽井沢の別荘? いいなあ!

グレイ: だけど、親元(おやもと)でいい生活(せいかつ)をしていると自立(じりつ)できなくなっちゃうんじゃない?

三田: そんなことないよ。ぼくと結婚(けっこん)してくれる人(ひと)がいたら、いつでも家(いえ)を出(で)て、二人(ふたり)で暮(く)らすよ。このオフィスにも、素敵 (すてき)な女性(じょせい)が二人もいるのに、ぼくの魅力(みりょく)に気(き)づいていないようだし。

田町: そう思うでしょ? ところが…。

三田: えっ、グレイさん、ぼくの魅力に気がついた?

グレイ: 三田さんはとても素敵(すてき)な人よ。でも、毎日(まいにち)一緒(いっしょ)に働(はたら)く時間(じかん)が長(なが)いから、三田さんと結婚したらどんなに 大変(たいへん)か、わかっちゃったのよね。

Mita: Oh, it’s so hot!

Tamachi: But I think it’s getting a lot cooler.

Gray: Mr. Mita was at a villa in Karuizawa with his family until yesterday.

Tamachi: A villa in Karuizawa? I’m jealous!

Gray: But living too comfortably at your parents’ makes it hard to become independent, doesn’t it?

Mita: That’s where you’re wrong. If anyone was willing to marry me, I’d leave my parents’ house and live with her any time. There are two charming ladies in this office, but neither seem to notice my charm.

Gray: You think so, right? But …

Mita: What? Ms. Gray, you’ve noticed my charm?

Gray: You’re quite a charming person, Mr. Mita. But working together long hours every day, I know how hard married life with you would be!