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Casual Patterns and Slang (casual)
    Meaning: Casual Patterns and Slang
    JLPT Level: 3
    Category: lesson
    Author: TaeKim

  [ Edit This Grammar Entry ]
The author of this essay seems to confuse contractions with slang. Contractions make speaking easier and colloquial. Contractions are not particularly basic level, either. This entire entry should be deleted in favor of a clearer essay. 

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Casual Patterns and Slang

So far, for every grammar we have covered, we also went over all variations from formal to casual. However, even though we have already covered all the casual forms, truly mastering casual speech in Japanese requires far more than just learning the various casual versions of grammatical patterns. There are countless numbers of ways in which wordings and pronunciation change as well as subtle differences between male and female speech. Understanding slang also requires knowing all kinds of vocabulary that is also growing with every new generation. Many adults would be hard-pressed to understand the kind of slang being used by kids today.
While comprehensively covering slang and relevant vocabulary would require a book in and of itself, (a book that would soon become out of date), we'll instead cover some broad patterns and common phenomenon which will at least help you get started in understanding some of Japanese slang. There is no particular order in the material presented here and I expect this page to grow continuously as I find different things to cover.

Basic Principles of Slang

In the world of slang, anything goes and rules that apply to written Japanese are often broken. The most difficult part is that, of course, not everything is correct. When you break the rules, you have to break it the correct way. Taking what you learned from textbooks and class and applying it to the real world is not so easy because it is impossible to teach all the possible ways things can get jumbled up in the spoken language. Learning how to speak naturally with all the correct idiosyncracies and inconsistencies in a language is something that requires practice with real people in real-world situations. In this section, we'll look at some common patterns and themes that will at least help you get an idea of some of the slang that's out there in the wild.

One thing you'll soon realize when you first start talking to Japanese people in real life is how many sounds are slurred together. This is especially true for males, particularly of the older generation. The fact is, voices in instructional material such as language tapes often exaggerate the pronunciation of each letter in order to make aural comprehension easier. In reality, not all the sounds are pronounced as clearly as it should be and things end up sounding different from how it's written on paper.

There is one major driving factor behind a majority of the slang that you will see in Japanese. The primary goal of most slang is to make things easier to say. In other words, the goal is to reduce or simplify the movement of your mouth. There are two primary ways in which this is accomplished: 1) Make things shorter, 2) Slur the sounds together. We have already seen many examples of the first tactic such as shortening 「かもしれない」 to 「かも」 or preferring 「と」 over the longer conditional forms. The second method also usually involves the shortening of vowel sounds which makes it noticeably easier on the mouth.
The fundamental goal of slang is to reduce mouth movement

For instance, consider the words 「学生」. While the correct spellings is 「がくせい」, it often ends up sounding like "gaksei" instead of "gakusei". Just try pronouncing both versions slowly. You'll see that the second version requires slightly less movement of the mouth.

Let's see some more examples of words get shortened or slurred. Try saying both version to get a feel for how the slang saves space and some calories for your mouth.


(1A) ここはつまらないから私の家に行こう。
(1B) ここつまんないから、私んち行こう。

(2A) まったく、いつまでこんなところで、ぐずぐずするんだよ。
(2B) ったく、いつまでこんなとこで、ぐずぐずすんだよ。

You'll see that a great deal of slang in Japanese stems from this single principle of making things easier to say. It's very natural because it's guided by how your mouth moves. With a fair amount of practice with listening and speaking, you should be able to naturally pick up shorter, alternative pronunciations.

Sentence ordering and particles (or the lack thereof)

In addition to the idea of making things easier to say, there are some things that don't apply to spoken Japanese as compared to written Japanese. In this section, we are going to look at some examples of
You can use this grammar by attaching 「や」 or 「や否や」 to the dictionary form of the first verb that occurred. Since this grammar is used for events that already have occurred, the second verb is usually in the past tense. However, you can use the dictionary tense to indicate that the events happen regularly. Refer to this site to see more examples and details about this grammar.
Using 「や/や否や」 to describe what happened right after
  • Attach 「や」 or 「や否や」(やいなや) to the dictionary form of the first verb that occurred
    例) 見る → 見
    例) 見る → 見や否や
  • This grammar is almost always used for events that actually happened (past tense).
  • This grammar can be used with the present tense for regularly occurring events.
  • Refer to this site for more details.


(1) 私の顔を見るや、何か言おうとした。
- [He] tried to say something as soon as he saw my face.

(2) 搭乗のアナウンスが聞こえるや否や、みんながゲートの方へ走り出した。
- As soon as the announcement to board was audible, everybody started running toward the gate.

Using 「そばから」 to describe an event that repeatedly occurs soon after

「そばから」 is yet another grammar that describes an event that happens right after another. However, unlike the expressions we have covered so far, 「そばから」 implies that the events are a recurring pattern. For example, you would use this grammar to express the fact that you just clean and clean your room only for it to get dirty again soon after.
Besides this difference, the rules for using this expression is exactly the same as 「が早いか」 and 「や否や」. Just attach 「そばから」 to the dictionary form of the first verb that occurred. The past tense, though rare, also appears to be acceptable. However, the event that immediately follows is usually expressed with the non-past dictionary form because this grammar is used for repeated events and not a specific event in the past. You can take a look at this site for more details and examples.
Using 「そばから」 to describe an event that repeatedly occurs soon after
  • Attach 「そばから」 to the dictionary form of the first verb that occurred
    例) 読む → 読むそばから
    例) する → するそばから
  • This grammar implies that the events occur repeatedly.
  • Refer to this site for more details.


(1) 子供が掃除するそばから散らかすから、もうあきらめたくなった。
- The child messes up [the room] (repeatedly) as soon as I clean so I already became wanting to give up.

(2) 教科書を読んだそばから忘れてしまうので勉強ができない。
- Forget (repeatedly) right after I read the textbook so I can't study.

Copyright © 2003-2006 Tae Kim (
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  See Also:  
    [ Add a See Also ]
    TelevangelistWhere is the rest of this entry? 
    gazza_bWho knows...wouldn`t mind reading it! 
    SonicQixYeah. Where did the rest go? 
    nicemonIf you were to compare it on ones from tae kim's, this is really messed up. Actually the last parts are from other topics. 
    jgram_trevIsn't そばから and や否や 1kyu grammar?? 

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