Category Archives: languages

Maybe いい加減 isn’t so different after all…

Phrases that use いい加減 (e.g. いい加減にしろ!) have often been a mystery to me. According to one dictionary, at least, there were so many possible meanings this phrase could have:

  1. irresponsible; perfunctory; careless;
  2. lukewarm; half-baked; halfhearted; vague;
  3. reasonable; moderate;
  4. considerably; quite; rather; pretty;

But which meaning makes the most sense in general usage?

It wasn’t until just recently that I’ve noticed that when 加減 is used in the phrase: 手加減をしない (when used as a way to explain the phrase: 容赦ない,) it appears to be used to indicate “not [going] easy on someone” or “not [being] reasonable“.

When used in this way, the phrase いい加減にしろ! seems to make more sense in that the particle に is helping to indicate that the speaker using the phrase wants the listener to “make [it] reasonable!”

In this way, narrowing down the context of how and when a phrase is used can begin to help with piecing together language puzzles such as いい加減.

The Long Term Use of V + 〜ている

In my studies, lately, I’ve been realizing how widely used the combination: verb (V) + 〜ている really is within the Japanese language. When I was younger, I mostly understood this combination to be a way to say phrases that end in “ing” (i.e. eat-ing, drink-ing… where the actual act is happening at that very moment… something short term,) without truly realizing that this combination is used for much more. These other meanings, however, are easily absorbed (indirectly) over time through common and set phrases… to the extent that it can be easy to gloss over the usefulness of this sort of grammatical combination.

Most recently, however, I’ve been amazed at just how common this V + 〜ている form is within Japanese. For example, if I want to say “I remember”, I would probably use something like 覚えている. Seeing and hearing the V + 〜ている combination is pretty common… but for some reason it has taken me many years to come to this realization: V + 〜ている can often be used for (relatively) long term purposes, as well as short term purposes…