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Put some extra nuance into your verbs with ‘komu’

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writer

Kakekomi-jōsha-wa o-yame-kudasai. (Please do not run into the train.)

Situation 1: Words of caution are announced at the station.

駅のアナウンス: 三番線、発車します。危ないですから、駆け込 み乗車はおやめください。

Eki-no anaunsu: Sanbansen, hasshsa-shimasu. Abunai-desu- kara, kakekomi-jōsha-wa o-yame-kudasai.

Station announcement: The train on track No. 3 is departing. Since it is dangerous, please refrain from running onto the train.

Today we’ll introduce some meanings and usages of the verb 込(こ)む, which means to be crowded/to include, as in この電車(でんしゃ)は込んでいるから次(つぎ)のにしよう。(This train is crowded so we should wait for the next one.) 込む can be attached to an action verb (X) to create the compound verb X込む, which adds the idea of entering, going inside or putting something inside. For example, 駆(か)ける(to run or dash) becomes 駆け込む (to rush in). 電車に駆け込む expresses that mad dash you’re likely to attempt as you see a train departing, 駆け込み is its noun form. Other examples include プールに飛(と)び込む (to plunge into a pool), 庭(にわ)にごみを投(な)げ込む (to throw litter into a garden) and ネットに書き込む (to fill something out online). Yがずれ込む in the Bonus Dialogue below means that Y is delayed until the next possible time.

Situation 2: Mr. Mita and Mr. Sere are at their college reunion. They’re speaking about their professor who’s across the room.

三田: 山田先生、すっかり老け込んじゃったなあ。

セレ: 去年奥さんが亡くなってから、ずっと寂しいんだろうね。

Mita: Yamada-sensei, sukkari fuke-kon-jatta-nā.

Sere: Kyonen okusan-ga nakunatte-kara, zutto sabishii-n-darō-ne.

Mita: Professor Yamada really looks old.

Sere: He must be lonely since his wife died last year.

老け込む(ふけこむ) in Situation 2 is the compound verb that is made with老ける(to look old) and 込む. Therefore, the X込む combination can also express a state of verb X that is so deep it remains consistent for a long time. Other examples include: 考(かんが)え込む (to think deeply), 眠(ねむ)り込む (to sleep deeply) and 冷(ひ)え込む (to get terribly cold). Another interpretation of X込む has its subject do verb X thoroughly enough to achieve the purpose of that verb: 売(う)り込む (to push a product/to promote someone), 頼(たの)み込む(to beg/to ask for consistently), etc.

Bonus Dialogue: Work is over at the office.

グレイ: さて、そろそろ帰 (かえ) ろうかな。あれっ、田町 (たまち) さん、まだ仕事 (しごと)?

田町: うん。朝 (あさ) からの仕事がどんどんずれ込んできて、まだ終 (お) わらないのよ。急 (いそ) ぎのメールがたくさん来 (き) て、朝は仕事にならなかったものだから。

グレイ: 大変 (たいへん) ね。私 (わたし) が手伝 (てつだ) えること、ある?

田町: 私の仕事にグレイさんを巻 (ま) き込んだら申 (もう) し訳 (わけ) ないから…。

グレイ: 大変なときはおたがい様 (さま) だから、遠慮 (えんりょ) しないで!

三田: そうだよ、ぼくも手伝うよ。

田町: あれっ、三田 (みた) さん、さっきからずっと何 (なに)か考 (かんが)え込んでいるみたいだったけど、聞 (き) いていたの?

三田: うん。そのかわり、今日 (きょう) の仕事が全部 (ぜんぶ) 終わったら、二人 (ふたり) の知恵 (ちえ) を借 (か) りたいことがあるんだ。

グレイ: あ、彼女 (かのじょ) のことでしょ! 何 (なん) だか、そっちの話 (はなし) にはあんまり巻き込まれたくないなあ…。

Gray: Well, I guess I’m leaving now. Oh, Ms. Tamachi, are you still working?

Tamachi: Yeah. The work in the morning was postponed and I can’t finish yet. A lot of urgent emails came through and I didn’t manage to work this morning.

Gray: That’s rough. Is there something I can do to help?

Tamachi: I don’t want to bother you by getting you all wrapped up in my work.

Gray: When we’re in trouble, we shouldn’t hesitate to help each other.

Mita: That’s right, I can help too.

Tamachi: Oh, Mr. Mita, it looked like you were absorbed in thought, but were you listening?

Mita: Yeah. Instead, if we finish all our work today, I’d like to pick your brains about something.

Gray: That must be about your girlfriend! Somehow, I don’t want to get dragged into that kind of matter.