Question about phrases from LingoMastery book

So I got this book recently, “Japanese Short Stories For Beginners” which, true to its name, is a collection of 20 short stories in Japanese - I’ve found it to be a really useful resource so far, it has the full japanese with some vocab bolded, the translation (paragraphs of Japanese with the English translation below), a list of the bolded vocab, and some questions for each story. Some of the translated bits aren’t very natural sounding in my opinion, but even that I’ve found could be useful, when talking to a Japanese person for conversation practice, I can use them as examples of what doesn’t sound natural, followed by what might be better - maybe. I haven’t really decided how effective that is. English is a funny, messy, complicated language after all!

Anyway, I didn’t start this topic for a book review, I wanted to ask about something.

I’m still only a few stories in, and some of the phrases I’ve come across have confused me a bit. In the first story, 電車, I came across these phrases:

話してみようかな?ー Maybe I want to talk to her?
次の駅で、アヤコは降りなかればいけません。ーShe needs to get off at the next station

In the second story, 登山家, this phrase got me:

キノコはとても危険なので、気を付けてください。ー You have to be careful since mushrooms can be very dangerous.

Obviously, it’s not difficulty in understanding the phrase that’s confusing me since I have the translations right there, but more figuring out how they mean what they mean. For that first phrase, I can’t for the life of me figure out how it turns into that translation, and google hasn’t helped me much.
For the second phrase - the latter part was the confusing bit, I was able to break it down and it seems to be なかれば=must, いけません=not good/must not do, and I guess here the confusion stems from what I can see as a repetition, like “going out out”?
That last phrase, the issue I have stems from not being able to see where “can” is in the Japanese. To me it just looks like “mushrooms are dangerous”, jisho be damned, I can’t see any can at all! :sweat_smile:

So I’d really appreciate it if someone could help explain these phrases to me so I can understand them better :slight_smile: Thanks!


話す to talk
~てみる to try
(I) will, (I) shall; let’s; (I) wonder (if), might it be (that), maybe, perhaps
かな I wonder; should I

Should I try talking to her, I wonder…

I think I see the issue.

なければ is treated as must because it’s usually the abbreviation of なければいけません. Since the full phrase is here, it’s not that.

It’s ば as “if”.
のめば if I drink
はたらければ if I work
降りなければ if I don’t get off

If she doesn’t get off, it’s not good.

Which turns into, she must get off.


This is because that’s correct. :stuck_out_tongue:

This sounds like a liberal translation based on the fact that we know #notallmushrooms are dangerous, so they add “can” to make it make more sense.


This is really detailed and helpful, thank you so much!

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Agreed on this, however I think the can is a pretty important addition to the English. The Japanese doesn’t imply that all mushrooms are dangerous but, at least to my ear, saying “mushrooms are dangerous” makes all mushrooms dangerous.

English and Japanese express a lot of things very differently, so when I translate personally (not that I do often, but I have on occasion) I prefer to preserve the original intent over word-for-word translation.

Of course, it’s important that it’s not in the original sentence at all. Like OP mentioned.

What I don’t get, though, is that you say it doesn’t imply all mushrooms are dangerous, but saying “mushrooms are dangerous” makes all mushrooms dangerous. Isn’t that implying? :sweat_smile:

Oh, or do you mean that the Japanese doesn’t but the English does?

Sorry, yes, this is what I meant. I should’ve been clearer.

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