Is it just me? (心強い)

I am in level nine and just got to 心強い. I read it correctly as soon as I saw it, before I checked the reading. The problem I am having is with the definition. This seems to me like it should describe a person, probably someone who doesn’t cave in to problems or pressure. But WaniKani’s definitions, Heartening, Reassuring, seem to describe outside influences. And the context backs that up by saying that advice and support can be 心強い. Google Translate also defines it as “Reassuring.”

Maybe it’s because I’m thinking in English but I would never say, “That advice has a strong heart.”


You would never because it’s not an English phrase. But that’s a trap you shouldn’t try to fall into. There are word combinations, that would logically mean the opposite of what they actually mean, and that’s just how languages work.


No, but neither would you say “That advice is assuring again”, which when you look at the nitty-gritty, is what “reassuring” breaks down to. The phrase has become an expression. Don’t get bogged down in the etymology and miss the actual definition.

That said, it can refer to someone who is not moved by emotion, though that’s definition number 2 in the dictionaries I’ve checked. For example.


If it helps, I tend to sort of understand it as “heart-strengthening”. Not a phrase we use in English, but makes sense imo!


I would never describe a small space in English as a “cat’s forehead” but you can in Japanese.

It doesn’t have to line up.


This might very well be my new favourite expression

1 Like

Don’t think in English. Japanese is not English. You are going to encounter a lot of vocabulary where the meaning of a multi-kanji word is not exactly what the meanings of the two (or more) kanji on their own are (bearing in mind that the “meaning” of a kanji is an abstract thing, or most often, a set of things - often closely related, but not always). Usually (but not always) once you learn the specific vocab you will usually see some connection that makes sense even if it is not what you would have guessed (even on second or third try). If you always try to make everything a one-to-one translation you are in for a rough ride.

Just wait til you get to 人参. It will not be anything close to what you will want it to be :grinning:

And no, it is not just you. Welcome to the club.


Although we might say something “is a tight squeeze”, which to someone learning English presents the same problem. That is one that I was actually asked about by a confused co-worker recently.

1 Like

Oh no, I think I’m going to learn this word very soon :cold_sweat:

Cat’s forehead. That is a funny one. Japan has a lot of interesting cat-related idioms.

1 Like

I kind of knew right after I posted it that “thinking in English” was a bad choice of words. What I was feeling, but not expressing properly, applies in English or in Japanese. I was just trying to justify it in English and couldn’t.

What really bothers me about this phrase is this: Say we are using it to describe some advice. The heart belongs to the person; it doesn’t belong to the advice, so it seems like it should be 心強くなる助言です or 心強くさせてくれる助言です. But to say 心強い助言です seems like it is saying that the advice, itself, has a strong heart.

On a 1:1 grammatical level, yes. However, there are some gotchas regarding noun descriptors so I wouldn’t try to translate Japanese to English 1:1 in these cases.


Do you feel the same about 悲しいニュース ? There too it’s not the news that is 悲しい, but the person who receives it. But it’s a fairly natural development to allow the extension of meaning from “emotion a person feels” to “thing that causes people to feel that emotion”, I think.


The best part is you get 弁当 a level or two after as an encore. :smile:

1 Like

The funny thing about this one is that it translates directly into English - sad news. Except it’s not the news experiencing the sadness, but rather conveying the feeling as you wrote.


You are absolutely right. It’s the same thing and yet, while 悲しい seems perfectly natural to me, 心強い助言 just doesn’t feel right. まあ、慣れの問題ですね.

1 Like

This one was hard for me too until it came up enough in real life and gave me the opportunity to see how, yeah this situation would not be strong of heart, there’s only reassuring as a possible meaning.

Granted I do live in Japan and I heard it said in regards to helping a kid with practice. Like strong heart does not translate well when giving praise to someone.