Lost in Translation ~ trap of direct translation

lost in translation

Minasan Ohayoo gozaimasu!

Today’s YT Live lesson topic is “Lost in translation”.
Directly translated phrases may not work or even provoke others sometimes.

So you need to know the right phrases situation-by-situation basis.
Let’s check out the common mistakes caused by the direct translation and learn the right expressions!

*YouTube Japanese Live Lessons:  Every Mon & Wed 9am~ JST (as of July 2020) up to Vol.20.

Please help me. たすけてくださいTasukete kudasai.

If you look up “help” in a dictionary, you’ll find “tasukeru”
In English, “help” is used in many situations, like “Can you help me my learning Japanese?”
However, Japanese “tasukeru” たすける is used in rather serious occasions like life-threatening situations.

  • たすけて! Tasukete!  Help me!    is correctly used.


  • 日本語の勉強をたすけてくれませんか。Nihongo no benkyoo o tasukete kuremasen ka?  for “Can you help me my learning Japanese?”
    -> This doesn’t make sense. The Japanese will understand what you want to say, but it sounds very funny.
    In this situation, you may want to say:

日本語を おしえてくれませんか。Nihongo o oshiete kuremasen ka?  Could you teach me Japanese?

日本語の 勉強を てつだってくれませんか。Nihongo no benkyoo o tetsudatte kuremasen ka?  “Could you support my studying Japanese?”
(This English sentence may sound a bit strange but this is how we say it in Japanese”


Wanna come to my house?  うちにきたいですかUchi ni kitai desu ka? 

〜たいです “~ tai desu” means want to do ~,  and in English, “Do you want to do~” is part of invitation.

However, “~tai desu ka?” is not an invitation form in Japanese. Invitation form is “~ masen ka?”
Thus, if you want to invite someone, you need to say “~ masen ka?”

-> うちにきませんか。uchi ni kimasen ka?  Would you like to come to my house?

Same manner, 英語を勉強したいですか?Eego o benkyoo shitai desu ka? -doesn’t make sense if you’re trying to attract new students (as your customers).
I saw this phrase in a notice board. This sounds funny and arrogant for a flyer attracting students. 😅
It should be said 英語を勉強しませんか。Eego o benkyoo shimasen ka? 🤓


I’ll teach you.  おしえてあげます Oshiete agemasu. (to your boss)

〜てあげます ~te agemasu. (te-form verb + agemasu) means “kindly do~ for someone”. However, you cannot use this to your senior (either age or status) because it may sound a bit snobbish.

The best way to express your intention to teach something to someone (senior) is,  おつたえします。Otsuttae shimasu. To inform you.
e.g.  (Boss,) I’ll teach you how to get to the shop.  お店への行き方をおつたえします Omise e no ikikata o otsutae shimasu. 


Lost in Translation: vocabularies

In this topic, we have blog articles 🙂 Please check below link to find out more!


Please check the full explanation in the lesson video 🤗

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Yoi ichinichi o!
(Have a nice day!)