A formal lesson on informal endings

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writers

Ā, ii tenki da nā. Oh, what nice weather!

Situation 1: On Sunday morning at the Shiba household, Mr. and Mrs. Shiba are chatting.

夫:  ああ、いい天気だなあ。どこかに行きたいなあ。

妻:  ほんとね。お弁当を作って近所の公園に行かない?

Otto: Aa, ii tenki-da-nā. Dokoka-ni ikitai-nā.

Tsuma: Honto-ne. O-bentō-o tsukutte kinjo-no kōen-ni ikanai?

Husband: Oh, what nice weather. I want to go somewhere.

Wife: You’re right! Why don’t we prepare a boxed lunch and go to the park?

Today we will introduce the proper uses of the sentence-ending particles な(あ) and ね(え), both of which are frequently used in informal spoken Japanese. な(あ) (with falling intonation) attaches to the plain form of a verb and conveys the speaker’s feeling for when they learn something, talk about a past event, makes a guess or show desire, etc. な(あ) is basically used in monologues, but can be used in dialogues, too. Examples: この歌手(かしゅ)は歌(うた)が本当(ほんとう)にうまいなあ。 (This singer is really good at singing.) 昔(むかし)はよかったなあ。 (Things were better in the old days.) 足音(あしおと)がする。だれかが来(き)たな。 (I hear footsteps. I wonder who has come.) 早(はや)く家(うち)へ帰(かえ)りたいなあ。 (I want to go home soon.) なあ is also used to soften the assertive tone of decided attitude. Examples: 私(わたし)はその意見(いけん)に反対(はんたい)だな。 (I’m against that opinion.) そういう言い方(いいかた)はよくないと思(おも)うなあ。 (I think the way you’re phrasing that is not good.)

Situation 2: Continued from Situation 1, the Shibas and their child, Jun, are walking in the park.

妻: いい天気ね。若葉がすごくきれいねえ。

夫: ほんとだね。じゅんもうれしそうだね。

Tsuma: Ii tenki-ne. Wakaba-ga sugoku kirei-nē.

Otto: Honto-da-ne. Jun-mo ureshisō-da-ne.

Wife: The weather is so nice. The new leaves are beautiful, aren’t they?

Husband: You’re right. Jun looks happy too.

The sentence-ending particle ね(え) is similar to な(あ) in usage. However, ね(え) is used when the speaker and the hearer look at or hear the same thing, and the speaker requires the hearer’s agreement. If the speaker is a woman, ね(え) often attaches to nouns and na-adjectives in plain form without だ as in the wife’s remark, while men tend to leave だ where it is.

Bonus Dialogue: Young employees chat with each other while finishing their work.

田町:  やっと終(お)わったね。ああ、疲(つか)れたなあ。

グレイ:  うん。でも、5時(ごじ)までに完成(かんせい)してよかったね。最初(さいしょ)は無理(むり)かと思(おも)ったよ。

三田:   みんなで協力(きょうりょく)したから、できたんだなあ。

田町:  それにしても、残業(ざんぎょう)はやりにくいし、その上に、仕事(しごと)を家(うち)に持(も)ち帰(かえ)るわけにもいかないよね。

三田:  うん。会社(かいしゃ)が残業にきびしくなって、ほんとに大変(たいへん)だ。

グレイ:  残業代(ざんぎょうだい)が減(へ)ったんだから、会社にはもっと給料(きゅうりょう)を上(あ)げてほしいな。

三田:  でも、それは無理(むり)だな。そう簡単(かんたん)には上げてくれないよ。

田町:  うーん、頭(あたま)にくるなあ。こうなったら休暇(きゅうか)をしっかりとらなくちゃ。

グレイ:  そうそう。でも、休(やす)んでもあまりお金(かね)は使(つか)えないし。

全員:  やっぱり給料を上げてほしいね!

Tamachi: We’re finally finished. Oh, I’m tired.

Gray: Yeah. But, I’m glad we could finish the work by 5 p.m. At first, I thought it was going to be impossible.

Mita: We worked together, so we did it.

Tamachi: Even so, it’s hard to do overtime, and on top of that it’s not like we can take our work home, eh?

Mita: Yeah, you’re right. The company has become strict about working overtime.

Gray: Since overtime payments have decreased, I’d like the company to raise our salaries.

Mita: But that’s impossible. They won’t give us raises that easily.

Tamachi: Yeah, It makes me crazy. If that’s the case, we’ve got to take enough vacation (for ourselves).

Gray: Yes, yes. However, even if I were to take a holiday I couldn’t use that much money.

Everyone: In any event, raise our pay!