N1 questions

I just started to read the study and today is the first time I heard 連用形, so considering this I might be wrong but I think the difference is the following:

First of all there are two 連用形’s. One is the テ形 and the other is the 中止形 (used in this sentence).
The テ形 is used when the connected parts are chronologically defined as A, then B while in the case of the 中止形 this chronological implication does not exist.

In my current understanding the meaning is 我が身が生涯に望む事は小さい and 我が身が生涯に知り得ることは小さい but grammatically there is no reason to translate it to ‘hope to know’ but ‘hope and know’.

If you would use the other 連用形、テ形:
If all that means, that this sentence would imply a chronological order of hoping and knowing is something I don’t know :sweat_smile:

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That’s all very interesting. I never considered for a moment that the sentence would mean a chronological 望む and 知り得る since that wouldn’t really make sense, but I also didn’t stop and think about how it was different from most usages of the 連用形 that I’ve seen. I did have a decent sense of the meaning of the sentence (after a few times reading it through), but I couldn’t really break it down or explain it. I’ll definitely have to take a look at the study later since I never stopped to think about these differences before.

I also agree that there’s no reason to translate this as “hope to know”. That doesn’t fit at all I think, based on the Japanese given. (Also, “wish for” or “desire” is probably a better translation for 望む here anyway.)

By the way, I’ve seen sentences before where there is [verb in plain form]、[verb in plain form] [noun], and I think that might be the non-連用形 version of this? So for this sentence that would be:


I’m not really sure how common that is, but I’ve seen it at least a handful of times and I’m pretty sure it has the same meaning.

One last thing, regarding the comma after the 連用形. It is incredibly common to structure sentences that way, I think for readability (as already mentioned), but this is more a convention than a rule. There’s one author I’ve read who doesn’t like to include the comma for some reason, and it occasionally makes me do a double take and throws me off. So personally I really appreciate the comma!

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Me neither :joy: This text is a bit metaphorical and in the end I was not so sure what it wants to tell me. Understanding the first sentence helped.

I managed to understand the first part, maybe, which goes like this:

我が身が生涯に望み、知り得ることは、世界中を旅行しようと、何をしようと、小さい。あきれるくらい小さいのだが、この小ささに耐えていかなければ、学問はただの大風呂敷 (注1)になる。言葉の風呂敷はいくらでも広げられるから、そうやっているうちに自分は世界的に考えている、そのなかに世界のすべてを包める、そんあ錯覚に捕らえられる。気で良い家を建てる大工とか、米や野菜を立派に育てる農夫とかは、そういうことにはならない。世界的に木を削ったり、世界標準の稲を育てたりはできないから、彼らはみな、自分の事において賢明である。我が身ひとつの能力でできることを知り抜いている。学問をすること、書物に学ぶことは、ほんとうはこれと少しも変わりはない。なぜなら、そうしたことはみな、わが身ひとつが天地の間でしっかりと生きることだからだ。


No idea what the last sentence means though.

Yeah, that’s all a bit much for me…

It explains why doing research or studying books isn’t that different from carpentry or farming. All of those things happen because we are actually alive (and doing things) in this world.
Sounds like the author is really trying to tell that to themself. Which I can understand. As a researcher myself, I’ve spent many nights laying in bed wondering what’s the point of what I am doing.


That’s an interesting way to put it. Back in the day there was the suffix つ, which as I understand it indicated that something had finished. The interesting part is this: つ followed the nidan conjugation pattern, so its 連用形 was… て. It gradually lost its original usage and became a connector, with meanings shifting around, eventually giving us the current て.

The important part is this: using the 連用形 as a way to connect clauses actually came first, and connector て more or less took over the role BECAUSE it is in fact using that very same conjugation.

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It means that and I can understand the sentiment.
But I am looking for an analysis of the sentence and an explanation of the words used.

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I’m not sure what you mean by that :sweat_smile:
That last sentence is pretty straightforward in terms of grammar, so all I could do would be to translate the words in order… Does that count as analysis?
For the explanation of the words used, are you looking for a discussion of the nuances of the words versus other words that could have been used? (I’m afraid I can’t help with that).

Edit: well, just in case, I’ll just do that
なぜなら、as to why/that’s because
そうしたことは such thing (being done)
みな、[are] all
[我が身ひとつが (brackets are used to show the subclause) oneself alone/just oneself
天地の間で in this world (I like the image of “the space between the sky and the ground” by the way)
しっかりと properly
生きること] living
だからだ。because of […]

→ “As to why [scholarship is the same as farming], that’s because having achieved any of those things is a proof that one, on their own, is truly alive in this universe”.

If that’s still not what you were looking for, sorry :sweat_smile:

There surely are some interesting word choices, by the way, like 我が身 rather than 自分 or 天地の間 rather than この世, but I don’t have much insights about those.


Thank you for your effort! That’s as far as I got in a way, but for me the question is, that in that line of argumentation everything would be as everything else because everything is alive in the universe, no? I mean it is not adding any meaning to declare “everything living is basically the same”. There must be a connotation that is lost here that is more specifically comparing mental effort to labor, which is, I think, what the author wants to say. Like there is the same physical limitation on mental work than on physical labor? But where in this sentence is that implied? Maybe I am also wrong…

I understood 我が身ひとつ more like each ‘individual’.

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It’s not about limitations, more about achieving things. I guess that, by the author’s standard, someone not doing anything (I don’t know, someone comatose for years in a hospital) would not have proof that they are living.

Is there more text? Maybe the author clarifies later.

I just checked and it has an entry in the dictionary, by the way.

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:joy: There is surely some room for interpretation in this text.

Thank you for the dictionary entry, I didn’t even check that…

I will post the rest of the text later, maybe we can figure it out together. It was the most difficult in the example N1 test and I thought it might be a way to learn some new things trying to understand it better.

Oh, okay, the author is pretty much literally comparing learning to farming.
The author is just saying that, no matter how much you learn, you’ll still know nothing. (Very much I know that I know nothing)
However that act of learning and the reflection that comes from it, like farming, yields a crop, which is your mind (精神), and that is the goal of learning, not becoming all knowing.

By the way, do you have the answers of the questions?
I would say
58 1
59 1
60 2
61 maaaaybe 4 but it sounds like a trap or 2 but the formulation is super weird. I would honestly say “none” here :stuck_out_tongue:


1, 1, 2, 4 (according to this website)

I thought the answer was 2 but apparently not…

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Yes, my problem was the 育まれた学問 which doesn’t make much sense to me (like, you are not raising scholarship, you, or more specifically your spirit, are being raised by scholarship. The 感想 part alone would have worked, though.

My problem with 4 is that 知識 is not the same as 精神, and the point of the text itself was that we don’t care about the absolute quantity of knowledge (it’s going to be an epsilon anyway). It’s the answer that fits the most, but it’s still not exactly what is being said, in my opinion. That feels like a purely artificial way to increase the number of people answering incorrectly. That kind of attitude is really the main problem I have with the JLPT.


Sorry, the answers are here:

from the test from 2012 here:
So its:



You are right with the answer 2 for question 61, the link seems to be for the test of 2011 and this text is from 2012. Sorry I didn’t post the answers before.

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Well, I disagree with it as well for the reason I mentioned :joy: (but it’s indeed less wrong than 4)
I feel they are being confusing on purpose.
I am just satisfied to know that 4 was a trap as expected.

Edit: ah, 学問 has also the meaning of 学んで得た知識, so it does not just mean the learning, but can also mean the things you learned. In that case, it does fit.


Yeah, starting to read with the idea of ‘hope to learn’ I also immediately thought about something like that, which is probably the Greek influence in our thinking, but it leads to a certain confusion later on.

At the moment I think the author wants to say that you can only be productive by doing things しっかり rather than by being pretentious. And at this point I arrived at where the Jlpt always wants me to arrive (understanding how modest and considerate Japanese culture is) so I think my understanding of the text is sufficient. :joy:

Thank you for your help!


So you are laying in bed and thinking something like maybe we humans are just like toasters? We all have some strange thoughts sometimes but I would never publish the crazy thoughts I have. :rofl:.
I think the people making those JLPT tests are either trolling or want to drive me crazy.

Anyone here knows where I can find texts like the ones used in the JLPT N1? Are they taken from newspapers, magazines, books? To pass the test one day, I want to read texts like that to get used to the difficulty.

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Yes, but they are chosen because there is a certain Japanese way of seeing things most of the times and something that makes them easy to use for this type of questions. So it would be difficult for you to find them to be honest. The best thing you can do is to do the previous tests as far as they are available and buy a textbook like Shinkanzen Master for 読解, that is the best option I think.