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No Smoking / にて

Here’s a quick and easy chunk of Japanese for beginners/intermediate learners to digest. You’ll see no smoking signs everywhere in Japan, but the particular little morsel of grammar in this one stood out for me: にて. Heard of it?

Here it is written out, just in case you couldn’t quite read the handwriting:

2階では 禁煙 です。 喫煙される 方は 一階 ロビー にて お願いします。

(In hiragana: 2かいでは きんえん です。 きつえんされる かたは いっかい ロビー にて おねがいします。)


Let’s tackle the first sentence.

2階では禁煙です。

では here is indicating the place where an action (the action of not smoking) occurs (that’s the で part). The は is differentiating it from other places. You might like to think of it like this:

“As for the 2nd floor (and not other floors), it’s no smoking”.

I tend to think of は in this way when I’m having trouble visualising the effect it is having on the sentence. Just saying “The 2nd floor is no smoking” is fine and a much better translation, but while you are still learning, it’s sometimes helpful to break the sentence down logically and think about it.


Okay, onto the second sentence:

喫煙される方は一階ロビーにてお願いします。

A couple of tricky points here. 喫煙 is the opposite of 禁煙, so it means smoking. The される part here is the passive form of the verb する, to do. But it’s not quite that simple (oh no!) What is actually going on here is that される is modifying the noun afterwards. In this case it is 方, the polite word for a person, or people.

される heightens this polite effect. So while it may look like it reads ‘the smoking people’, it is actually just politely referring to people who do smoke. Perhaps a suitable English expression would just be ‘smokers’.

The final word お願いします simply means ‘please’ but carries an imploring tone. ‘We’d like you to do this…’ So what, then, is にて?

にて is a politer, more formal way to say で, that same particle denoting where an action occurs. So, 一階ロビーにて becomes 一階ロビーで お願いします. ‘Please (do it) in the 1st floor lobby’.

So roughly:

Please smoke in the 1st floor lobby.

Putting the whole thing together then:

The 2nd floor is no-smoking. Please use the 1st floor lobby.

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Can you guess where this sign was based on the language used?

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments :).

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8 Responses to Gakuu. Studying with Real Japanese

  1. Sabrina September 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    This is pretty cool! Right now I’m studying on Textfugu which is great! I belive Gakuu can be really helpul too. What I like most is that its for pre-intermediate to advanced level students. So you can’t say its the same thing over and over again… students can actually improve their knowledge here. Thank you very much for creating this site. Have a nice day :)
    -Sabrina

    • Gakuranman September 30, 2010 at 1:09 am #

      Hi Sabrina! Thank you for your comment :).

      That’s definitely our aim. I love Textfugu for beginners and really getting students a solid grounding in the language, but afterwards (and even while) studying the basics, it can really help to encounter raw Japanese material. You don’t have to understand everything at first, but feeling challenged and picking up little bits here and there that are extra to your learning the basics helps expand your mind. Let me know if you have any more questions! More demonstration material will be up soon! We are currently having a special launch sale price for early adopters, so check out the pricing page if interested :).

      • Sabrina September 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

        Thanks for your reply. :) Unfortunately I’m even still miles away from the intermediate level. But I’ll definetly return to Gakuu when I get to this point. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the extra demonstration material. :) Keep up the good work.

        • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 12:21 am #

          Sure thing :). Let me know if you have any other questions or suggestions for things you’d like to see on Gakuu!

  2. missingno15 October 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    When I looked at this, I first thought to myself, “aw hell no, gakuranman is doing the same thing as koichi…even the website layout is similar”. But then I realized “it’s aimed at pre-intermediate to advanced level students” which is perfect for my situation right now because I now really want to excel way past beginner. So basically, Gakuu really complements Textfugu. Can’t wait for more lessons to see how this is gonna be like so I can decide if its worth getting.

    • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

      Hey there! Thanks for dropping by :). No way – Koichi and I are buds. I’ve always loved teaching the more advanced stuff so it worked out perfectly. I’ll be adding more stuff in the coming days, so please stay tuned!

  3. DumbOtaku (percent20) October 3, 2010 at 12:58 am #

    This is really cool. I am glad to see more online content going beyond just teaching hirigana and katakana. That is what I try to do on my blog, but with to little consistency. Glad to see an expert do it, btw already a signed-up paid member now. :)

    • Gakuranman October 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

      Glad to have you man! Look forward to hearing any suggestions you have for the site and future lessons :)

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