Language | WELL SAID

Try using the 'miru' verb stem when attempting something improbable

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing writers

Kono sūpu nonde-mite.

(Try a sip of this soup.)

Situation 1: Mrs. Okubo is cooking at home with her daughter, Takako.

母:うーん、ちょっと薄いかなあ? たか子、ちょっとこのスープ飲んでみて。

たか子:はい。[飲む] … ちょっと薄いけど、私はこのくらいが好き。

Haha: Ūn, chotto usui kanā? Takako, chotto kono sūpu nonde-mite.

Takako: Hai. [Nomu] … Chotto usui kedo, watashi wa kono kurai ga suki.

Mother: Hmm, it’s a little thin? Takako, try a wee sip of this soup.

Takako: Sure. [Drinks] … It is a bit thin, but I like it this way.


The pattern Xてみる, in which “X” is an intentional verb in its te-form, is used to express trying something to see a result:


(I can’t tell whether it suits me or not without trying it on.)


(A new ramen shop has opened, do you not want to try going there?)


Situation 2: Eric Sere is in his apartment with his girlfriend, Yuri.



Erikku: Mokusei ni itte-mitai nā. Jyūryoku, sugoi-n darō nā.

Yuri: E? Dō iu koto? Sonna koto, kangaetaku mo nai.

Eric: I want to try going to Jupiter. I bet the gravity there is incredible.

Yuri: What? What do you mean? That kind of thing, I don’t even want to think about it.


The Xてみる pattern as it is used in Situation 2 has the nuance of wanting to try something that’s unlikely to be realized. If Eric wanted to go somewhere possible, like Tokyo DisneySea, then he would simply use the Xたい structure: 東京(とうきょう)ディズニーシーに行きたい (Tōkyō Dizunīshī ni ikitai, I want to go to Tokyo DisneySea).


(I wish I could try such a life of luxury just once.)


(What bad-mannered children. I’d like to try seeing their parents’ faces.)


Bonus Dialogue: Continuing on from Situation 2, Eric and Yuri are making decorations for Tanabata, or the Star Festival, which celebrates the annual meeting of the lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi.

ゆり:あ、この紙(かみ)、きれい。これで七夕(たなばた)飾(かざ)りを作(つく)ってみよう。… できた。どう?

エリック:すごいよ、ゆり! まるで本物(ほんもの)の網(あみ)みたいだ。一本(いっぽん)のはさみだけでこんなデリケートな飾りができるんだね。


エリック:うん。… 切り終(お)わって開(ひら)くと…わあ、ほんとだ、すごい! あと、短冊(たんざく)に願(ねが)いごとを書(か)いて、笹(ささ)につるして、… 笹はベランダに置(お)こう。よいしょっと。






Yuri: Oh, this paper is beautiful. I’d like to try making Tanabata decorations with it. … Done! What do you think?

Eric: That’s great, Yuri! It looks completely like authentic netting. You can make such delicate decorations with just one pair of scissors.

Yuri: It’s easy. You alternate cutting right and left, like this. Do you want to try doing it?

Eric: Yeah. I finish cutting it and then open it and … wow, you’re right, it’s great! I’ll write my wish on a strip of paper and hang it on the bamboo cane, then … I’ll put the bamboo on the balcony. Here goes.

Yuri: Oh, I can read the strip you wrote, Eric.

Eric: I can read yours, too, Yuri. Oh, our messages are the same.

Yuri: Shall we try praying together so that our wishes might come true?

Eric: Sure. But if we get married, I wouldn’t like being able to only see you once a year like Orihime and Hikoboshi.

Yuri: [Prays] God, please let us stay together forever.

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