レンタルおにいちゃん - Week 3 Discussion (Absolute Beginners Book Club)

My favorite way for learning a language (read a lot of books without worrying too much about grammar) doesn’t seem to work for japanese! Or at least I should rely on audio books!
I’m kidding. But honestly, I wasn’t prepared to come upon so much grammar discussions here.

You can’t expect to get a complete understanding of Japanese grammar while reading your very first Japanese book. “One” is perhaps not enough for “a lot”. :wink:

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It definitely would sound unnatural, as Christopher already pointed out.
You’d be able to pick out the reading by looking at the whole element: 上手. Since it has that okurigana attached to the kanji stem, you should know it’d be using a kunyomi reading shouldn’t be using the onyomi jukugo reading of the kanji characters.

edit: read Belthazar’s reply, this is a case of jukujikun


How is うまく the kunyomi reading for 上手く?There is neither う as kunyomi for 上 nor ま as kunyomi for 手. At least not in https://jisho.org/search/上%20%23kanji and https://jisho.org/search/手%20%23kanji.

Yeah, that one’s more a jukujikun than a straight kun’yomi.


It’s nice to know there’s a specific word for all the readings I struggle with.


Ah that’s what it’s called. Thanks for clearing this up Belthazar.

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Having trouble with the context of: 昔のお兄ちゃんみたいで. I think that is meant to read something along the lines ” I want to see my former brother” as in how he use to be.
It is almost in a hopeful manner. Is this right? It seems odd. Am I mixing up her brother and her “rental” brother here?


In this case みたい isn’t really the 見る in its たい-form (“I want to see”). Instead, this refers to a grammar construction that means “similar to; resembling”.

昔のお兄ちゃん => My brother from older days / from before.
昔のお兄ちゃんみたい => “Resembling my brother from older days”

Basically, she’s saying that the rental oniichan’s kindness resembles how her brother used to be before.

Additional information regarding みたい: BunPro Link, Tae-Kim Link, Maggie-Sensei link


Thank you! I have not come across this grammar in my studies yet, so thank you for linking additional information on みたい。


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What is going on with this sentence? Specifically the (かえ)らなきゃ construction.

When I search for it on Jisho, it says that it is the “negative ba-conditional (contracted)” form of the verb (かえ)る (to return; to come home).

Looking for what the “-ba form” is all about, I got that “The -ba form of a verb establishes the action of that verb (or the sentence it completes) as a condition for what follows, like "If ~, [then ~ ].”, but I could not make sense of it for this sentence.

From the context alone, I translated as “Now I’ll go home.”, but I did not understand the grammar behind it.

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What is happening with this “furigana” above レンタル? Is this just to explain what レンタル means since it is a foreign borrowed word?

I get this feeling because (from my translation) お(かね)をもらう means “to get paid”, but it does not make a lot of sense to me to appear right here because (i) it is in the name of the manga, and (ii) it is at the very end of the chapter, after having appeared like 176 times so far.

Also, can it be called “furigana” in this case? Or does it have a special name for this, since it is not the “kana reading” for レンタル?

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How does 上手(うま)く (skillfully) and (わら)えている (to be smiling) work together in this sentence?

I translated this as something like: “I’m really good in the role of a big brother, don’t you think?”, but I think I’m missing something here…

What a great chapter this was, I’m very happy to have reached so far along with you all, definitely would not have been able to do so on my own, and looking forward to reading the rest of the volume :smiley: :bowing_man:


With なきゃ conditional form there’s something like an implied だめ as the result. The full form would say something like “If I don’t do X it will be bad” so the construct ends up being “Have to do X”

Some sauce:

Apparently this is a quite common way to give context on what a what a character is really thinking/saying. You can treat it like a parenthetical or a footnote. Seems like an abuse of furigana to me, but if it’s common I guess I better get used to it.


this is a contracted form of: かえらなくては(いけない・ならない・だめ)
if don’t go home, (implied not good) → should go home.

This sentence was discussed previously in the first couple responses to this topic.

As for quick breakdown:
  • おにいちゃんとして (as a big brother)
  • (おれ)は (I)
  • 上手(うま)(わら)えている (successfully/well smiling - a little odd to directly translate, but the idea is “smiling good”, “smiling like a good brother would”)
  • だろうか (-“I wonder (if)”, self-question-)

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For a comparison with English, imagine you’re somewhere with a friend, and they look at the time and say “If I don’t head home now…” From context, you can tell that something bad will happen if they don’t head home now. Maybe they’ll be caught in traffic. Maybe they’ll miss the last bus. Maybe they’ll miss their favorite game show on TV. Maybe they won’t be there when their kid gets home from school. The bad result isn’t spoken, but you can gather that when they say “If I don’t head home now…” what they mean is “I’d better head home now,” “I have to head home now”, “I must head home now.”

You will see this construct used commonly in Japanese. It took me a while to fully wrap my head around the grammar behind it.

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I’ve seen instances where the main word is what’s really said, and I’ve seen instances where the furigana is what’s really said. Sometimes I’m left trying to figure out which is really being said!

This is another reason I like this manga for ABBC. You get to see crazy furigana usage. (I think this only happens maybe twice in the volume.)

In other manga, I’ve seen where the word is a bunch of kanji, and the furigana has an English word in katakana as the reading. I’ve also seen where the word is hiragana or katakana, and the furigana is kanji (sometimes called furikanji).

In this case, I’d learn toward he’s saying レンタル, but the furigana is emphasizing the meaning of the word.

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When an い adjective modifies a verb, the い becomes く, and as a modifier, it limits the meaning of the verb. Rather than simply “smile”, it gives an indication of the type of smile. Is it a joyful smile? Is it a sorrowful smile? Big brother is thinking about how this moment (the end of the rental period) always feels, and he’s thinking of how he should probably skillfully smile. “Skillfully” in this case refers to how good he is at it. It would be bad for him to look sad that the rental is over, so he has to do a good job at smiling. He has to be skillful at smiling as he takes his payment.


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A couple of questions about this one:

In 拒絶されたら, されたら is a conditional with the た form of される, like in the passive form of する?
In ichi.moe gives the following indication for されたら: “makes a verb from a noun (honorific or passive)”, that I don’t understand very well, so I’m not sure if I’m missing something here.

As for the complete meaning of the sentence, I understand something on the line of “I wonder if after this, when she is rejected from her brother again, she will be here crying all alone again”, but both google translator and DeepL give a different meaning, “If my brother rejects me again, I’m not alone here again” and “And if my brother rejects me again, I won’t be here alone again.” respectively, that seem to agree in a negative sense for the second part… is that so?

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I read it as “If her brother rejects her again, will she cry by herself here again?”

される is the passive form of する, which in this case implies the potential rejection is a bad thing (which is pretty obvious anyhow). It’s got たら smacked on the end of it (される→された→されたら) which is a grammar point that means “if.” So, the first chunk of the sentence is something like “If her older brother rejects her again.”

Regarding those translations: a key thing to keep in mind is they lack the context of the dialogue. DeepL is actually pretty good these days in my experience, however it often assumes a sentence is talking about the speaker when that isn’t the actual intent. This is simply because information that is obvious due to context is typically left out in Japanese. So, without the context of of the manga, it assumes the speaker is talking about themselves, because no subject is mentioned. However, since we’re reading the manga, you and I know that おにいちゃん is talking about Kanami; it is her that will be alone, not おにいちゃん。


Translation seems to be mistaking なく, connective form of ない with 泣く, “to cry.” Try using the kanji to give it a hint?


Regarding the passive form of verbs in Japanese, there’s something I wish I knew about it a long time ago, as it was a very long running source of confusion for me.

This is a bit long and grammary, but I highly recommend it.

What does passive mean in grammar? According to “Grammar and Composition Handbook High School 1” (Glencoe, McGraw-Hill):

passive voice: An action verb is in the passive voice when its action is performed on the subject.

Here, the action is performed on the subject, whereas in Japanese, the action is always performed by the subject.

When is the passive voice used in English? From the same book:

Generally the active voice is stronger, but at times the passive voice is preferable or even necessary. If you don’t want to call attention to the performer of the action or don’t know who the performer is, use the passive voice.

The big takeaway here is “if you … don’t know who the performer is”. In Japanese, the subject is left unspoken all the time, and there’s really no distinguishing between a sentence where the subject is unspoken yet known from context, and a sentence where the subject is spoken and unknown even within context.

Here’s the main portion of the sentence from the manga (with the subject added and the conditional removed):


Passive voice: “Kanami-chan was rejected by her brother again.”

In this sentence, the brother is performing the action of rejecting. However, in Japanese, the が-marked subject is the one performing the action. We know the brother cannot be the subject, because he’s marked with に.

Active voice: “Kanami-chan received rejection from her brother again.”

Here, Kanami is the one performing the action. What is the action? “Receiving rejection.” This is consistent with Kanami being the subject of the sentence, and her brother not being the subject.

This form, which is explained on this page of a Japanese grammar site, is known in Japanese as ()().

What is うけみ? If you look it up in a Japanese to English dictionary, it’ll simply say “the passive voice”, but this isn’t an actual translation. This is “there’s no English grammar term for this concept, so here’s an English grammar term for a completely different concept that sounds a bit similar”.

If you break ()() apart, you get:

  • ()ける: to receive
  • (): body

That matches up with the active voice sentence I wrote above, where Kanami “received rejection”.

The Japanese grammar site goes on to define/explain うけみ (I’ve added English translations), starting with example sentences:

Example sentence: 「他人 笑われる。」

「笑われる」は、話し手(書き手)が他人の「笑う」という 動作を受ける という意味を表しています。

In the word 「笑われる」 (the うけみ form of わらう, to laugh), the speaker (writer) is is receiving the action from another person laughing.

Example sentence: 「観客 から 声援せいえんを かけられる。」

同じように、「かけられる」は、観客の「かける」という 動作を受ける という意味を表しています。

Likewise, the word 「かけられる」 (the うけみ form of かける, to address someone), the subject is receiving the action of being addressed by the audience.

どちらの例文も、 【―に】 または 【―から】 の形の文節が「笑う」「かける」という動作をする主体を表しています。

In both cases, the word or phrase marked by 【―に】 or 【―から】 marks the actor of the action “to laugh” or “to address”.

このように、 他からなんらかの動作を受ける ことを 受け身 といいます。

In this way, the concept of receiving an action from another is called うけみ.

Anyone who’s seen CureDolly’s grammar videos on this form know she prefers to call it the “receptive form”, a term I personally agree with, and use myself.


Was just about to mention this, that video really helped me to get it into my head


:heart: I’ve always struggled with passive form so I really appreciate this explanation!