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Sound smart in Japanese for beginners / 「どこでフェリーを乗(の)りますか?」

Illustration by Kanae Asai

By Yohei Arakawa 「どこでフェリーを乗(の)りますか?」

Tim is visiting a travel agency(旅(りょ)行(こう)代(だい)理(り)店(てん))to get the Japan Rail Pass. He is planning to travel around the Shikoku region(四(し)国(こく)地(ち)方(ほう)), because both his cousin George and his friend Miwako (美(み)和(わ)子(こ))told him the scenery(景(け)色(しき))is really beautiful there. Now he is talking with a travel agent, a woman in her mid-40s.

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Today's conversation

代理店社(しゃ)員(いん)(travel agent):高(たか)松(まつ)空(くう)港(こう)からはバスで30(さんじゅっ)分(ぷん)くらいで高松駅(えき)に着(つ)きます。(From Takamatsu Airport, you can get to Takamatsu Station in 30 minutes by bus.) そこからフェリーで小(しょう)豆(ど)島(しま)に行けます。(From there, you can go to Shodoshima island by ferry.)

ティム:あぁ…①どこでフェリーを乗りますか?(Well ... where can I board the ferry?)

代理店社員:フェリーは港(みなと)(port)から出(で)ています。(The ferry casts off from Takamatsu Port.) 高松駅から港までは、歩(ある)いてすぐですよ。(It only takes a few minutes to walk from the station to the port.) これ、島の観(かん)光(こう)案(あん)内(ない)のブルーレイディスクですが、よかったらどうぞ。(You can take this Blu-Ray disk as a guide for the island.)

ティム:残(ざん)念(ねん)です。(I’m sorry.) ②私のPCではブルーレイが見(み)えません。(I cannot watch Blu-Ray disks on my PC.)

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①どこでフェリーを乗りますか? → どこでフェリーに乗りますか?

When you travel around Japan, various methods of transport await you. Their forms, speed and fees vary, but they have one thing in common. When, before or after you enter a vehicle or a place, make sure to put “に” after the vehicle or place. In the case of leaving, always put “を” after the same noun.

A. 地(ち)下(か)鉄(てつ)に乗って、5(ご)分(ふん)ですぐ電(でん)車(しゃ)を降(お)りました。(I got on a subway for only 5 minutes and soon got off the train.)

This easy principle can be applied to everything that you are entering or exiting from.

B. 10(じゅう)時(じ)にその美(び)術(じゅつ)館(かん)に入って、12(じゅうに)時にそこを出ました。(I went into the museum at 10 and left there at noon.)

C. 美和子:いつ大(だい)学(がく)に入(はい)ったの? (When did you enter the university?)

ティム:20(にせん)12(じゅうに)年(ねん)にデューク大学に入(にゅう)学(がく)して、2016年に大学を出ました。(I entered Duke University in 2012 and graduated in 2016.)

②私のPCではブルーレイが見えません。→ 私のPCではブルーレイが見られません。

If you are a passionate learner of Japanese, you can find two forms equivalent to “can watch”: “見える” and “見られる”. When you open your eyes, you can see what is in front of you. This scenario is described as “見える,” which pertains to the functioning of your eyesight, regardless of your intention to see something.

D. 猫(ねこ)は夜(よる)でも目(め)が見(み)える。(A cat can see things even at night.)

In contrast, “見られる” indicates the condition of intending to see something.

E. ニューヨークへ行(い)けば、自(じ)由(ゆう)の女(め)神(がみ)が見られます。(If you go to New York, you can see the Statue of Liberty.)

So here comes the final question. Can you tell which one is correct to complete the following sentence, “見える” or “見られる”?

F. 左(ひだり)から4(よん)番(ばん)目(め)の字(じ)が___?(Can you see the fourth letter from your left?)

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Arakawa is a professor of modern Japanese at the Institute of Japan Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. He is also a language supervisor for “Japan-easy” on NHK World TV.

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