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Uki Uki NihonGO! Lesson 40 - Time Expressions

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Uki Uki NihonGO! Lesson 40 - Time Expressions
Today, we’ll focus on various time expressions in Japanese. There are 2 different groups of time words: specific time and relative time.

Specific time refers to words such as date, week, month, year, and hour. They usually involve some number (5/25/2016, 5:30). In English, each of these uses a preposition. (in May, on the 25th, in 2016, on Friday, at 5:30). All these prepositions are equivalent to this time particle に in Japanese. at/on/in = に. Simple, isn’t it?

土曜日に映画を見ます。(Doyoubi ni eiga o mimasu.) I’ll watch a movie on Saturday.
私達は2011年に会いました。(Watashi-tachi wa nisen juu ichi-nen ni aimashita.) We met in 2011.
3:00にミーティングをしましょう。(Sanji ni miitingu o shimashou.) Let's have a meeting at 3:00.
9月4日に会いませんか? (Kugatsu yokka ni aimasenka?) Why don’t we meet on September 4th?

If you want to combine multiple time words, remember to put a broader time expression first, and the optional particle の in between.

火曜日の8:00に吉田さんが来ます。(Kayoubi no hachiji ni Yoshida-san ga kimasu.) Mr. Yoshida will come on Tuesday at 8.
友達は1985年8月29日に生まれました。(Tomodachi wa sen kyuuhyaku hachijuu go-nen hachi-gatsu nijuu ku-nichi ni umaremashita.) My friend was born on August 29th, 1985.

Now, on to relative time expressions. They are words like today, next week, and last year. These are called relative because they mean different things depending on exactly when the present time is. For instance, if I said “today” right now, it means “July 21st, 2016.” But I used the word, let’s say a week from now, or a month from now, it’ll be a completely different date. That’s why we call them relative time expressions.

It’s important to identify this, because in Japanese, a relative time cannot use the particle に. For example, saying “今日に公園に行きます”(Kyou ni kouen ni ikimasu.) would sound just as wrong as saying “I’m going to the park on today.” So be sure not to use the particle に. Just use them by themselves, or if you want, you can use the topic particle は.

今日、公園に行きます。(Kyou, kouen ni ikimasu.) or 今日は、公園に行きます。 (Kyou wa, kouen ni ikimasu.) I’m going to the park today.

Here’s the list of commonly used relative time expressions:

昨日、今日、明日 (kinou, kyou, ashita) yesterday, today, tomorrow
先週、今週、来週 (senshuu, konshuu, raishuu) last week, this week, next week
先月、今月、来月 (sengetsu, kongetsu, raigetsu) last month, this month, next month
去年、今年、来年 (Kyonen, kotoshi, rainen) last year, this year, next year
最近 (saikin) lately

去年、夫と東京に行きました。(Kyonen, otto to Toukyou ni ikimashita.) I went to Tokyo with my husband last year.
来週、また電話します。(Raishuu, mata denwa shimasu.) I’ll call you again next week.
木下さんは来月、子供が生まれます。(Kinoshita-san wa raigetsu, kodomo ga umaremasu.) Kinoshita-san will have a baby next month.

Finally, there are some time expressions that optionally use the particle に. With these, you can use or not use the particle. These include週末 (shuumatsu) weekend, 朝 (asa) morning, 昼 (hiru) afternoon, and 夜 (yoru) night.

週末(or 週末に)、うちでゴロゴロするのが好きです。(Shuumatsu, or shuumatsu ni, uchi de gorogoro suru noga suki desu.) I like just lying around and relaxing on the weekend at home.
最近は、夜(or 夜に)あまり出かけません。(Saikin wa, yoru or yoru ni amari dekakemasen.) Lately, I don’t go out that much at night.

In case you’re wondering, you can combine a relative time and a specific time. In that case, whichever comes last will decide whether you need the particle に or not. It will most likely end with a specific time, so use に in that case.

来週の金曜日に、試写会に行くつもりです。(Raishuu no kin-youbi ni, shishakai ni iku tsumori desu.) I’m planning to go to a film screening next Friday.
飛行機は今日の6:00に発ちます。(Hikouki wa kyou no rokuji ni tachimasu.) The plane will depart at 6:00 today.
来週の水曜日の午前10:30に、面接があります。(Raishuu no suiyoubi no gozen juuji han ni, mensetsu ga arimasu.) I have an interview at 10:30am next Wednesday.

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