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Natsuko: 夏子です。
Sachiko: さちこです。
Peter: Peter here. Postcards #3. Natsuko san, Sachiko San, we are back again with very, very polite Japanese.
Natsuko: Oh with the postcards?
Peter: That’s right.
Sachiko: I love the subtlety of the content. It really brings out the Japanese nuance.
Peter: Yeah I think this is pretty close.
Natsuko: Yes definitely.
Peter: That is great to hear. Natsuko San, what do you think? You read a lot. So how about this story for our listeners?
Natsuko: Umm I think this is one of the best examples for very polite corresponding. So you can learn the way to write proper letters in Japanese, official letters.
Peter: And really impress a lot of people.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Somebody wrote in and they asked, what is the proper way like we are teaching this extremely polite Japanese but if they use this for their very close friends, is it going to create that distance?
Natsuko: Maybe.
Peter: So when could someone use a letter like this?
Sachiko: To their professor..
Peter: Excellent.
Sachiko: A host mother, host father.
Peter: Very nice.
Sachiko: Business associates.
Peter: Yeah so there is a wide range of people that you can use this with and also some of the standard greetings. If you just make them less polite, you can also use them too.
Sachiko: Right you can just change the expression and use the content.
Peter: Exactly okay so again more about this at japanesepod101.com. Stop by, check it out again inside the PDF. Lot’s going on there and today we have some really interesting stuff. Sachiko San, what is the grammar point for today we are going to discuss later?
Sachiko: 差し上げられない We are going to study 謙譲語 which means the humble form.
Peter: Yeah so we have a lot going on. So you don’t want to miss this lesson. Now with that said, here we go.
石原: やっと返事が来た。
葉書: 石原さん 春とは名ばかりでまだ厳しい寒さが続いています。しかし、石原さんの良いお知らせを読んだら、心があたたかくなりました。ご婚約おめでとうございます。石原さんは親切で立派な方ですから、きっと幸せな結婚生活が送れることでしょう。奥様がうらやましいですよ。さて、実は私は今後忙しくなりそうなので、石原さんにお手紙を差し上げられないと思います。このお葉書でおそらく最後です。どうかお元気で、佐々木
石原: やっと返事が来た。
葉書: 石原さん 春とは名ばかりでまだ厳しい寒さが続いています。しかし、石原さんの良いお知らせを読んだら、心があたたかくなりました。ご婚約おめでとうございます。石原さんは親切で立派な方ですから、きっと幸せな結婚生活が送れることでしょう。奥様がうらやましいですよ。さて、実は私は今後忙しくなりそうなので、石原さんにお手紙を差し上げられないと思います。このお葉書でおそらく最後です。どうかお元気で、佐々木
石原: やっと返事が来た。
ISHIHARA: She finally replied.
葉書: 石原さん 春とは名ばかりでまだ厳しい寒さが続いています。しかし、石原さんの良いお知らせを読んだら、心があたたかくなりました。
HAGAKI: Mr. Ishihara, It seems that spring is just a word as the harsh winter continues on. However, I was warmed upon reading your good news.
Congratulations on your engagement. Mr. Ishihara, you are a kind and splendid person, and I know you will have a wonderful married life. I am envious of your wife-to-be.
Well, if the truth must be told, it seems as if I will become busy, so I think that I will not be able to send you another letter. This postcard will probably be the last.
Please take care. Sasaki
Sachiko: Natsuko san, 今日のお話はどう思いましたか。
Natsuko: これで最後だなんて、ちょっと寂しいですね。
Sachiko: はい。悲しいですね、少し。
Natsuko: ねぇ。
Sachiko: So it’s a little bit sad that she says I won’t be able to send you another letter but what’s going to happen next. Is there another story for this series?
Peter: Natsuko san, you know the answer to that.
Natsuko: Oh I am expecting.
Peter: But let me ask you this Natsuko san, what do you think she means by I can’t write you any more, what do you think the reason is?
Natsuko: Well because she was in love with this man but he is going to marry. So she decided to leave him. I think it’s too painful for her to continue contacting this man because she is in love but he is marrying a different woman.
Peter: So what will happen?
Sachiko: Scandalous.
Peter: We will be back after this commercial now. We will be back in next week to find out more.
Sachiko: Stay tuned. Alright drama queens and drama kings, pipe down. I think it’s time to go back to our studies now.
Sachiko: Okay Natsuko san 単語を、お願いします。
Natsuko: お知らせ
Sachiko: Notification. お知らせのお is an honorific prefix. You can also say 知らせ. So you use お知らせ for the news about someone else. The news someone else gets right?
Peter: Ah.
Natsuko: But for the news you receive, you usually use 知らせ and no お added.
Peter: Now let me just point this out. With postcards and/or letters from kind of official documents, I am very used to getting bills in the mail and it says お知らせ。
Sachiko: 大切なお知らせ like that right?
Peter: Yeah that’s the one.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: A very important notification.
Natsuko: Yes usually not a good one.
Peter: Yes.
Sachiko: じゃあ、例文をお願いします。
Natsuko: 昨晩、悪い知らせがありました。
Sachiko: Last night, I received bad news. じゃ、次の単語をお願いします。
Natsuko: 婚約
Sachiko: Engagement. When this is turned into an honorific form, you say
Natsuko: ご婚約
Sachiko: Right. So sometimes you say お and other times, you add ご depending on the word.
Peter: Go is traditionally used with words with a Chinese origin with the prefix お being attached to words with Japanese origin.
Natsuko: Wow! I didn’t know that.
Sachiko: I had no idea. Makes sense, okay.
Peter: Yeah.
Sachiko: So a sample sentence, please. Actually one of our listeners wrote in and said, what should I say to someone who just got engaged? How would you say that Natsuko san?
Natsuko: Just as appeared in this letter ご婚約、おめでとうございます。
Sachiko: Which means congratulations for your engagement.
Peter: Now that’s for formal. Now is that in a formal situation or what about friends or it’s kind of the same. You always attach the prefix go or would it change depending on your relationship with the person?
Natsuko: If you want to be really casual, I think 婚約おめでとう will do.
Peter: And the next level up is
Natsuko: So it will jump up to ご婚約、おめでとうございます。
Sachiko: じゃ、次の単語をお願いします。
Natsuko: 親切
Sachiko: Kindness, gentleness. 例文をお願いします。
Natsuko: お年寄りには親切にすること。
Sachiko: Be kind to the elderly. ということですね。 In Japan, we have what we call silver seats and these are reserved for the elderly or for the physically challenged so that they will always have a place to sit on the train.
Natsuko: Yes it should have been reserved.
Sachiko: Yes lots of times you see young people sitting there.
Natsuko: Yeah but preferably it should be reserved.
Sachiko: Yes. Okay next word please. あ、次の単語をお願いします。So remember, if you come to Japan, don’t sit on the silver seat unless you think yourself as elderly or if you are pregnant. It is also reserved for pregnant women as well.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: And injured people.
Sachiko: Yes. 次の単語をお願いします。
Natsuko: 立派
Sachiko: Splendid, fine or elegant. 例文をお願いします。
Natsuko: 彼は立派な人物です。
Sachiko: He is a fine person. When would you use this word 立派 Who would you use it for?
Natsuko: I think it’s usually used with the nuance of highly social status.
Sachiko: I think so too if you are talking about let’s say a historical figure Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King Jr.
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: 立派な人でした。
Natsuko: Right.
Sachiko: It has to be of a certain social caliber. I wouldn’t use it for my friend.
Natsuko: Umm maybe there are some friends.
Sachiko: Maybe.
Natsuko: 立派な友達
Sachiko: It can also be used for things not...
Natsuko: Sure.
Sachiko: Something that looked gorgeous.
Natsuko: 立派なお着物ですね。
Sachiko: That’s a fine Kimono you are wearing. It would mean gorgeous and elegant.
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: Something really extravagant.
Peter: Sounds nice.
Sachiko: Okay. 次の単語をお願いします。
Natsuko: 奥様
Sachiko: Wife. This can mean your wife, his wife, or just a married woman in general. 例文をお願いします。
Natsuko: 奥様はお元気ですか?
Sachiko: How is your wife doing? Incidentally the US drama called Bewitched, that in Japanese was called 奥様は魔女。
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: Which is literally my wife is a witch.
Natsuko: Interesting.
Peter: Really interesting. Uh my wife is a witch. Were they married in that show?
Sachiko: Yeah they –
Natsuko: I think they were.
Sachiko: Yeah I think they were, I think so. It was very popular in Japan.
Natsuko: Right.
Sachiko: So that when the actress died, it was actually in the top news.
Natsuko: Really, in Japan?
Sachiko: Yeah. It was about 10 years ago Elizabeth Montgomery died and it was in the news.
Natsuko: Wow!
Peter: Wow!
Natsuko: Random facts right.
Sachiko: You look bewitched.
Natsuko: Good word.
Peter: Natsuko san….
Sachiko: That’s too hysterical.
Peter: Ah you had a home run with that one.
Natsuko: Thanks, sharp.
Peter: Alright, where are we at now, what’s going on here. Alright, that’s it for the vocab right?
Natsuko: Right.

Lesson focus

Sachiko: So let’s take a look at today’s postcard. Natsuko san what’s the first sentence?
Natsuko: 春とは名ばかりで、まだ厳しい寒さが続いています。
Sachiko: Wow that was a long sentence. What does it mean?
Natsuko: It’s just a set phrase to start a polite letter.
Sachiko: Okay. And which season are we talking about?
Natsuko: It’s a set phrase for February.
Sachiko: I see. Well that’s sort of like today. Literally we’re supposed to have entered spring but it’s still a bit chilly in Tokyo today.
Natsuko: Uhoo.
Sachiko: So in the traditional Japanese calendar, spring starts from February the 4th.
Peter: That’s right 節分。
Natsuko: Yes we covered that in JCC right? Maybe!
Peter: Natsuko, that was a long time ago.
Natsuko: You are right. So the season has changed but it’s still cold. So Japanese people love to mention about the weather.
Sachiko: Yeah. I heard that not only on paper but in regular conversation. People open a conversation just talking about the weather.
Natsuko: Right.
Sachiko: I guess that’s seen in a lot of cultures but in Japan, it’s particularly so and I remember when I started – fresh out of college when I started writing business letters, I had to memorize so many different patterns.
Natsuko: I see.
Sachiko: For each and every season.
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: Because I am very keen about subtle differences. So in Japanese, business letters also include these weather greetings.
Natsuko: That’s true, that’s true, little commentaries.
Peter: Set phrases for each season and each month actually.
Natsuko: Right yeah.
Peter: Now is there one that has stuck in your mind from your days of memorizing the letters.
Sachiko: Let’s see. I remember something about fresh green spring. 新緑が目にまぶしい季節になりました。 Which literally means the greens, the nature is so fresh and binding that it kind of binds your eyes. Beautiful isn’t it.
Peter: Sounds really nice.
Natsuko: I think it’s a write off passage for a lot of college graduates to memorize all these formal seasonal greetings.
Peter: Now do you have to use one of the ones or can you make your own?
Natsuko: You can make your own.
Peter: Really?
Natsuko: Yeah that will make you even more, like original and nice.
Peter: Natsuko san, I see. It looks like you’ve done this by that look in your eye.
Natsuko: Well…
Peter: Give us one – Give us a Natsuko san original.
Sachiko: Yeay! I would write about ice cream and how delicious it tastes in the summertime but that doesn’t sound too matured, does it?
Natsuko: アイスクリームの美味しい季節になりました。
Sachiko: Well that’s it.
Natsuko: A very good way to start a letter.
Sachiko: Yeah my kind of letter.
Peter: We’ve entered into ice cream season. By the way, you didn’t sign your $2 million proposal.
Natsuko: Maybe I did, maybe not.
Sachiko: Umm business. Okay ice cream fans, moving on. So let’s get back to our postcard communication. Natsuko san, can you repeat for us the sentence that has our grammar point.
Natsuko: 石原さんにお手紙を差し上げられないと思います。
Sachiko: And in this sentence, we have the negative, potential humble form of the verb to give あげる
Peter: So あげる becomes in the dialogue 差し上げられない。
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Natsuko san, what happened? What happened to you?
Natsuko: Well 差し上げる is the humble form for あげる. So it’s a very polite way to give something.
Peter: So for example, if I wanted to give a present to my teacher, someone I would use this humble form with, how would I say?
Natsuko: プレゼントを差し上げます。
Peter: I will give you this present and as you are speaking with the professor or the teacher, you add 差し上げる
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: In the front of あげる
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Making it into the humble form.
Natsuko: Uhoo like 先生にお誕生日のプレゼントを差し上げます。
Sachiko: I will give a birthday present to the teacher.
Peter: So now that we discussed the humble form, here we actually have the potential. Now あげる is a class II verb and the way we conjugate the potential for class II verbs is we attach
Natsuko: られる
Peter: After dropping the る from the dictionary form. So あげる drop the る, add
Natsuko: られる
Peter: And we have
Natsuko: あげられる
Peter: So what do we have?
Natsuko: 差し上げられる
Peter: 差し上げられる Can you just say it a little slower one more time?
Natsuko: さしあげられる
Peter: And that is the potential humble form of the verb あげる but here we have the negative.
Natsuko: The negative.
Peter: So actually it’s the negative, potential, humble form of あげる
Natsuko: Everyone with us
Peter: Natsuko, you are on fire today.
Natsuko: さしあげられない。


Peter: So I won’t be able to give you any more something, something and in this case, letters but more about this inside the PDF. Oh you really better stop by today and get the PDF.
Natsuko: Yes, yes. That’s a good stuff.
Peter: Lots of good stuff. If there ever was a day for the PDF, today is the day.
Natsuko: I agree.
Peter: All right. That’s going to do for today.
Natsuko: この話はまだ続くみたいですから、来週もチェックしてくださいね。
Sachiko: See you again next week.


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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

JapanesePod101.com Verified
February 15th, 2007 at 06:30 PM
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Mina-san, Do you have any similar set phrases when writing postcards or letters in your country? Yoroshiku onegai shimasu!

JapanesePod101.com Verified
November 29th, 2018 at 01:51 AM
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Hi Wilfredo Aquino,

Welcome back to JapanesePod101.com! Thank you very much for subscribing again!

Yes! We are still making new lessons. Please use the Lesson Library function to search for lessons you haven't taken. You can narrow your search by choosing your level (upper right corner).


Miki H

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Wilfredo Aquino
November 27th, 2018 at 11:06 AM
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I had listened to this back in 2010 or 2011. I subscribed to pod again as reading books makes me sleepy. Just wanted to ask if you still make new lessons

February 24th, 2017 at 12:56 AM
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この手紙を聞いていると、泣きそうになったよ:sob: 二人は大丈夫かな。本当に心配ですよ。

June 20th, 2016 at 06:19 PM
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Andy さん、


Yuki 由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

June 20th, 2016 at 11:19 AM
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JapanesePod101.com Verified
June 20th, 2016 at 05:31 AM
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Andy san,



Yuki  由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

June 7th, 2016 at 02:48 PM
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There are no specially used phrases for letters.


American postcards and letters are very casual.

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 19th, 2015 at 03:53 PM
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Jim san,


どうか indicates emphasis so it means ‘please please.’

It is often put a request like どうか おねがいします.

Yuki 由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

October 15th, 2015 at 06:33 PM
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JapanesePod101.com Verified
August 11th, 2015 at 11:53 PM
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賴 聰榮james lai san,


Is your question “コンテクストのなかの「このお葉書でおそらく最後です」っていう部分の「で」って使うことにずっと困っています”?

The で indicates a limit or scope and is often followed by 最後です and 終わりです.

It can’t be replaced with anything.

Yuki 由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com