10 Minute Biographies - Chapter 1 (Absolute Beginner Book Club)

If I interpret this correctly 卵 here is the topic but 何も is the subject. Therefore my translation would be more like: Concerning the egg, nothing changes/happens …

Edison is not the subject but the direct object, that is modified by the part before it. My translation would be:

The teacher called/scolded Edison, who in school too asked questions all the time, an odd child.


another time he was covered in flour because he went to peep at the mill


Yes, I missed that one.

Page 12.
I see what you are saying and I think yours is a more literal translation. But in natural English I would translate it like 2000kanji.

I think the Japanese word needs a more negative translation than “called”, Jisho suggested “to scold” or “to take to task”.

While the Japanese technically says “the teacher scolded Edison”, it also emphasised Edison by placing him as the object before the teacher as the topic. So I think I would change it to passive form in my translation, and say “Edison was scolded by his teacher”.

I think we also need to include the も from the start of the sentence, perhaps:

Even in school (where you would expect his inquisitive nature to be praised by the teacher), the constantly questioning Edison was scolded by his teacher as an “odd child”.


Thanks a lot for your feedback!
I guess there are always many possible translations and it’s interesting to see what other people come up with. That’s why I’m glad kanji2000 shares his translations.
Personally, I’m not aiming for natural English but I‘d like my translation to be close to the original sentence structure to get a feeling for the way Japanese sentences are composed. Maybe once I‘m more comfortable and advanced I‘ll translate more freely.


I’ve tried jumping around the attached links and I’m sorry if I missed it, but is there a link for this book? I know I’m a bit late to jump in discussions, but I’d like to see if I can follow along on my own.

Are you looking for this? The message includes some links to where you can buy the book or e-book.


ah, yes, I feel like an airhead, I had scanned up and down that thread and completely bypassed the source links. Thank you!

For more information on たい and たがる, you could also look at this CureDolly video. (I’m a big fan of this account/series so I’ll likely often link to these videos if I recognize a grammar point.)


Page 12: あるときは、「木は、なぜ水に浮くんだろう」と、湖で実験をして水に落ちたり、「小麦粉は、どうやって作られるの」と、工場を覗きに行って、小麦粉にうまれたり……。

Is this [verb]~たり related to this? Although this sentence contains a list of actions, I’m not completely sure because the する is missing in the end.

Yes, that’s the grammar point. I guess they left out する to indicate that there are still lots of examples that did not get mentioned (even more than when they simply closed the sentence with する), and used the dots instead.


Hi everyone, thanks for the discussion so far, it has been really helpful!

I think I get the gist of p.11 but there are still three things I don’t understand:

  1. This is probably very trivial, but: Why is なかった used in the second sentence? I’m reading it as if it was ありませんでした (“At a time when telephones and electricity didn’t exist (…)”). I only knew なかった as an ending to adjective/verbs to negate them, but I didn’t know it could stand alone.

2.* How do you break up あたためるんだそう grammatically? In particular, what does ~そう add to it? I’m thinking as follows. あたためる=to warm (up), and ~んで is “asking for explanation” and ~そう turns a verb/adj into a supposition (thanks for teaching me this!). So I want to say that the sentence 鳥はなぜ、たまごをあたためるんだそう is something along the lines of “Why do birds warm up their eggs (I want an explanation)?”. I don’t understand what “~そう” adds (it seems he knows that the eggs are warm and he asks for an explanation of why).

*Edit: I guess I was just being silly. He knows the eggs are warm but only supposes that the bird warms them, hence the そう.

  1. Is the following an OK grammatical breakdown of やってみよう (next to last sentence on p.11)? We have やる≈to do and [て-form]+みる≈to try to [verb], and finally ~よう≈let’s. That’s why it’s (roughly) translated as
    "よし、ぼくもやってみよう”=“Let me also try do do it.”

(Related to 3.: Why is やる used here and not する? Would it be wrong to say “よし、僕もしてみよう。”?)

Hey, welcome! :grinning:

Let’s see if I can help you a bit:

For 1: You got it right that the meaning is ありませんでした, which is the past negated form of ある in polite form. If we look at ある in negated dictionary form (non-past), this is simply ない, which leads us to the negated past dictionary form of なかった。
So basically

positive negative
dictionary ある ない
polite あります ありません

Usually, polite form is only used at the very end of a sentence, therefore everything before that is in dictionary form.

For 2: This is not う but う: 温めるんだろう. This last bit is https://jisho.org/search/だろう which means “I wonder”. The other stuff is like you said.

For 3: Yep, your understanding is correct. やる is a colloquial form of する - see Jisho’s annotation at #1: https://jisho.org/search/やる He is basically talking to himself, I take it, so there is no need for him to be polite.


This is great, thanks a lot! Such a silly mistake on そ/ろ… :slight_smile:



on page 12 this sentence confuses me a little bit:
あるときは、「木は、なぜ 水に うくんだろう」 と、みずうみで じっけんを して 水に おちたり、「小麦粉は、どう やって 作れるの」 と、 工場を のぞきに いって、小麦粉に うもれたり……。

Since it’s a list of things he “once did”, does the と’s translate to “after”

“One time he asked why do trees float in the water after falling into the water while doing experiments by the river, and how is flour made after going to the mill”

for me と has meant “and” until I read this sentence but that doesn’t really make sense to me haha.

Or am I just overthinking it and it’s “Why does trees float in the water and he fell into the water while experimenting by the river”?

Thank you!

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As far as I know, と never means “after” and this wouldn’t make much sense here. He didn’t ask himself why wood floats after falling into the water but he fell into the water while investigating why wood floats, if I interpret this sentence correctly.
I think と here is either the quoting particle, which can be used without a verb, or と thats means “when”. Would be great if someone could explain this usage! :v:


Thank you @buburoi

Here is my translation for p.12 any help or corrections is most welcome

My main questions would be how exactly the と is used in the last sentence, still confused about that.

一時間、二時間、三時間……たまごは 何も 変わりませんが、エジソンは あきらめません。
1Hour, 2 hours, 3 hours… the egg didn’t change at all, but Edison did not give up.

すると、お父さんが やってきました。
Then, father came along.

What are you doing?

まったく、おまえの 『なぜ』 『どうして』 には、あきれた もんだ
I am so impresed at your “Why’s” and “How’s”。

あるときは、「木は、なぜ 水に うくんだろう」 と、みずうみで じっけんを して 水に おちたり、「小麦粉は、どう やって 作れるの」 と、 工場を のぞきに いって、小麦粉に うもれたり……。
One time he asked [why do trees float on water], when doing things like falling into the water while doing experiments by the river, and [how can you make flour] and went to the mill to see how flour was made.

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たまごは 何も 変わりませんが、エジソンは あきらめません

Watch out for the tense, the Japanese text here does not use past tense.

あるときは、「木は、なぜ 水に うくんだろう」 と、みずうみで じっけんを して 水に おちたり、「小麦粉は、どう やって 作れるの」 と、 工場を のぞきに いって、小麦粉に うもれたり……。

I think you mistook うもれたり for うまれたり.



Thank you! Much appreciated :slight_smile:

I’m learning a lot already looking forward to keeping on reading


I think from the context his father is amazed in a negative way, rather than a positive way. So rather than “impressed” I would say: “Good grief, I am exasperated by your “whys” and “hows”.

At certain times he did things like, thinking “why does wood float”, doing experiments in a lake and falling in the water, and thinking “how is flour made”, going to peek in the mill and being buried in flour.


On page 13, why is the verb いやなり not followed by some form of conjugation? This isn’t neither short nor long form.

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