Short Grammar Questions (Part 2)

The problem is I don’t have any exposure to it and encountering it in the sterile setting of a grammar lesson I was quite confused. But it gains a lot of sense if I just imagine it with something implicit that follows. Guess it’ll be hard to deal with when I’ll start encountering it in mangas, since as a beginner I either get a strong grasp of the context quickly, or I just get it completely wrong and get lost with wrong interpretations and stuck to those for some reason (don’t know if you get what I mean)

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I mentioned that because I was in a similar situation not too long ago. I was prepping for N2 last Summer and going through the SKM listening book and there was a set of exercises on double negations using that 1:1 short exchange question format where you’re supposed to pick an answer referring to one of the responses.

Back than the double negations didn’t make much sense to me either, but thanks to reading and listening a lot they started making sense intuitively :slight_smile:

Manga might actually be a good way to learn it, since it’s often used in casual speech.

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Unfortunately, I happen to read mangas where the speaking style of characters is quite straightforward and they don’t use sarcasm (only a lot of classical japanese, damn Nishikata :rofl:)

I don’t think these kinds of negatives are sarcasm though. It’s not like someone’s actually stating that something isn’t good while they mean it is - I don’t really think sarcasm works that way in Japanese in the first place. The way I see it, something like いいんじゃない (in the right context) is just the casual version of いいんじゃないですか - remember that some particles can and often will be omitted in casual speech. Not really sarcasm, just stating something emphatically by rhetorically asking for confirmation, in a way. I’m sure there’s a name for that, I just don’t know it.

I’d say slice of life manga are probably the most likely place you’ll find these kinds of things, precisely because people speak fairly straight-forwardly and casually.


If I understand correctly, converting a statement to a question via something like “isn’t it?” is called a tag question. I think sometimes it can be used to actually ask for confirmation and other times it can be used rhetorically. Additionally, when じゃない is used without ですか, intonation is what differentiates a tag question from a negation (among other options).

Here’s a Tofugu article going through many different ways to pronounce じゃない (i.e. its intonation) depending on the type of usage.

Obviously you can’t really “hear” the intonation in manga, so the characters might use じゃん (specifically for the last two uses in that article) or there might be a question mark to help clarify, or it might just be up to the reader to use context to figure it out. Watching anime (or whatever other listening source) helps since all the different versions will appear.

(cc @mariodesu)


No you’re right, I was about to go to sleep yesterday and wrote sarcasm instead of irony (which anyway it’s not exactly what happens as well)

How does sarcasm work in Japan - interesting conversation topic

My confusion originated from dropping the question part all of a sudden, because not only ですか was made implicit, but most confusingly for me, the question mark as well

I feel like this is true but at the same time I don’t know if you have experience with からかい上手の高木さん? I think either sarcasm, irony or rhetoric questions are not the style of Nishikata and Takagi (main characters).

That’s what I mean, I really can’t imagine a rising intonation if something ends with an exclamation mark :joy: but maye it’s just my cultural background?

Woah, I didn’t know CC was used in english countries too haha, in italian it stands for “copia conoscenza”

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Youglish is great to find extract of youtube video with some pattern and check the intonation/pronunciation:

For example here are some excited いいじゃない! found on youglish:


useful resource!

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Question. I need to ask some information to a Jap ryokan and would like to do it in Japanese.
I’d like to know the check-in and check-out dates:
Is this a normal way of presenting oneself and asking for that information or does it sound weird for any reason? Also is there any grammar error? I know it’s the most basic stuff ever but my language production is far behind recognitio (atm I’m fine with it)
Apologies if it’s the wrong topic but when it comes to such random questions I really don’t know where to post.

Edit. Also note that this isn’t a direct chat but simply the “ask a question to the structure” box to fill on Maybe just the question would be enough but I prefer to be friendlier and less straightforward - if this makes sense

There’s a few articles on the matter, like this one

Hard for me to say how accurate they all are though - but it’s clear that our sense of joking sarcasm doesn’t translate well, there have been several instances where for instance Japanese fan artists were under the impression their efforts were not appreciated because people used the same sarcasm they’d use with another in a joking manner.

The way I’ve seen it in anime and the like is usually mocking - like someone saying something incredibly stupid and being called a genius with a blank look, or something of the sort.

The best tip I can give you here is not to get hung up on punctuation. The conventions around it seem to be a fair bit looser in Japanese in several ways, with commas being placed wherever, sentence-end punctuation being completely omitted, and like here, questions just ending in an exclamation point because it’s more about indicating an enthusiastic tone than indicating intent.

That’s very well possible - every manga is going to have its own style and not every story is going to use every stylistic device. Likewise, not every slice of life manga is going to read like 高木さん - I think you’re in the Ruri Dragon book club as well? That’s also a slice of life, but the writing style is completely different.


I’ve read the first couple of chapters of Takagisan and I seem to remember a few rhetorical questions. I’ll have to have another look at some point, eh?


I don’t get any of those memes either, so I guess it’s more of a sub-culture thing than a translation problem :sweat_smile:.


Never use sarcasm with my japanese best friend :white_check_mark:

Hold on, I don’t get the sarcasm of 1 and 3 either :joy: I would take it as an insult as well (wouldn’t get offended as well nonetheless)

Oh this is so sweet, it sounds like such a simple way of experiencing sarcasm

No(t yet)

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If you want to experience some prime Japanese sassiness, Ruri Dragon is the manga for you

There’s a voiceover too

It’s brilliant

Absolutely a cultural thing, this is just one of those ways culture and language are very tightly linked.


Love that!

I just had a consideration but I don’t know if this makes any sense.
I think that, provided a minimum deductive-logic skill level, anyone should be able to comprehend sarcasm and irony, unless it’s heavily leveraging on some concepts that are widely known in a culture, and unknown in others, but the latter isn’t the case as often as it’s believed

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P.s. how to prove to yourself that you’re stupid :sweat_smile:


I think the key bit here is deducing what is sarcastic and what isn’t. That’s far from trivial even for native speakers and without crossing cultural barriers.

When cultural barriers are crossed, it becomes absolute chaos. That has nothing to do with concepts that are or aren’t widely known in either culture, and everything with how and when sarcasm is used. The “delete this” comment for instance is very common in English-speaking communities to mean something like “this is great but I’m pretending not to like it because it’s referencing something specific/it’s calling me out/…” but if that’s not the way sarcasm is used in whatever subculture or language you’re used to, that’s understandably going to be something you take at face value.

Understanding irony and sarcasm when you know it’s irony and sarcasm is easy enough. Knowing what’s ironic and what isn’t is the hard part.


Yes, this makes more sense than my theory.
But still I would say that, going back to your example of “delete this”, knowing that it’s sarcasm would imply a certain background knowledge that’s taken for granted. (And by cultural concept I also meant language barriers such as the use of “old” expressions)


If you include that though, the use of cultural concepts that may not cross these barriers well is almost always going to be the case.

Even in English, a language that is well-known and notorious for sometimes having sarcasm thrown in every other sentence - especially in the UK - there are certain expectations around how and when sarcasm is used, and you can’t just go around making every sentence a sarcastic one and expect people to pick up on that. You’re always going to have those cultural concepts involved, because it’s a form of humour and humour is inherently deeply cultural.


Can someone explain the pun here? It’s not clicking for me.

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