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hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
I need your help again.

Which would sound better?
1 (a) Speaking Japanese is easy for us.
(b) Speaking Japanese is easy to us.
2 (a) Speaking Japanese seems easy for us.
(b) Speaking Japanese seems easy to us.

Thanks in advance.

Hirashin
 

Shutainzu

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1. a) sounds more natural to me. Even though B is grammatically correct I just don't see it as natural.

2. B) seems more natural to me than A) but it could depend on the context of the sentence to which one would be more natural for us?
 

joadbres

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2 (a) and (b) both sound bad. You normally would not use "seem" when assessing your own ability, state of mind, etc. "Seem" is used to convey your impression or your guess about something. Generally, you have a good idea about things regarding yourself, so there is no need to use "seem". For example, it would be unnatural to say "I seem to be hungry."
 
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I think they all sound fine. 1 and 2 are different meanings, of course (2 is presumptive, 1 is purely descriptive), but I don't see a fundamental problem with any of them if used in the right context.

Speaking personally, I would choose 1a and 2b in most cases.

For example, it would be unnatural to say "I seem to be hungry."
I hear and use expressions like that all the time; you don't have to be certain about these thins. With that specific example, I could imagine it being useful if you feel like you want food, but aren't sure whether it's hunger or just a craving (something which it is legitimately quite difficult to distinguish).

Of course, context matters. You probably wouldn't say that "Japanese seems easy for me" if you're a native speaker (because it unambiguously talks about you specifically), while "Japanese seems easy to me" can also mean that you are presuming the language to be easy for everyone, so as a native Japanese speaker, you just might use it if that's what you believe.
 

hirashin

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Thank you for the help, Shutainzu, joadbres, and Julimaruchan. It seems that there is a little difference between joadbres and Julimaruchan. That's interesting.
 

Majestic

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Hmmm. I reckon Hirashin is more interested in the "for us" "to us" construction - something that Japanese speakers tend to struggle with. So my take on this is
1(a) is fine
1(b) is unusual in this case. Normally, an ability or a skill is easy/difficult "for" someone. I can think of cases where "to" is used, but in this current case the use of "for" is better, so 1(a) is preferred.

2(a) in this case, and in the case below, the construction is fundamentally different from 1(a) and 1(b), because the speaker is explaining the appearance of something (the speaker is explaining how it appears to him/her). Therefore, the the seems + adjective + to me construction is normal, even if the examples used are slightly strange for the reasons joadbres stated. For example;
That bridge seems long to me
That building seems high to me
That language seems difficult to me.
So seems + adjective + to me, or appears + adjective + to me is a normal construction and is much more natural than seems + adjective + for me. I guess there is something in the reflexive nature of a self-referencing sentence that makes to me the natural choice. If the speaker was referring to someone else, "for him/her" "for you" is fine, but when referring to one's self seems + adjective + to me feels most natural.
 

mdchachi

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2 (a) and (b) both sound bad. You normally would not use "seem" when assessing your own ability, state of mind, etc. "Seem" is used to convey your impression or your guess about something. Generally, you have a good idea about things regarding yourself, so there is no need to use "seem". For example, it would be unnatural to say "I seem to be hungry."
I get your point but this phasing can still work and sound natural too. You don't know something until you try.
So if you've never tried speaking Japanese and only have some impressions about it, it makes perfect sense to say "Speaking Japanese seems easy." Just like somebody might say "Speaking Japanese seems hard."
Even in the case where you know Japanese, it can still make sense because the implication is that it is easy for you relative to other people.
Let's say you and your friend learned to speak in 6 months. But you observed that it took all your classmates 2 years to reach the same level. Then you might say "Speaking Japanese seems easy for us."
 

joadbres

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For a typical query from hirashin, I don't think he is asking, "Can you imagine any possible context where this phrasing would sound natural?"

Rather, I think most of his questions are of the type, "I want to convey this simple idea for teaching to my students. Is it natural to say it like this?"
 

mdchachi

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From my observations he likes to know such details.
 

hirashin

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As an English teacher, I need to answer every English question my students ask me. That's why I wanted to know which would be normally used.
 

johnnyG

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Sometimes, changing things around a little can help:

1 (a) Speaking Japanese is easy for us.
> It's easy for us to speak Japanese.
(b) Speaking Japanese is easy to us.
> It's easy to us to speak Japanese.
2 (a) Speaking Japanese seems easy for us.
> It seems easy for us to speak Japanese.
(b) Speaking Japanese seems easy to us.
> It seems easy to us to speak Japanese.

Looked at this way, the (a) versions are fine, while the (b) versions appear wrong. Clearly, the red versions there should use the for-to construction:
> It's easy for us to speak Japanese.
> It seems easy for us to speak Japanese.


I wonder if the 2(b) original might seem almost, or at least partially correct, because it's so common to say "It seems to me...."? So someone could easily say "Speaking Japanese seems easy to me", but it's when you're speaking for (vouching for) a group that it gets uncomfortable. The speaker is making a conclusion--for a group, us--that is usually a personal insight, and not something that you can intuit for others.
 
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