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Not Necessarily – 訳ではない

Is that an Obama Bobble Head figurine I see? Why yes, it is! Some plucky employee has scrawled a message below it talking about black people. Do you know your grammar well enough to decipher it?

黒人が全員歌がウマイ訳ではないよ。

こくじんが ぜんいん うたが ウマイ わけでは ないよ。

First up then, ‘all black people’ – 黒人が全員. Following that: 歌がウマイ – good at singing (literally ‘good songs’). Note here that ウマイ is used in katakana, but it can also be written in hirgana and kanji as so: 美味い (for taste) and 上手い (for being good at something). Generally then, うまい can be loosely translated to ‘good’, in a casual sense.

Then the particular grammar for this post: 訳ではない. This usually translates to ‘not necessarily’, ‘is not the case’ or ‘is not true that’. It can help to think of it as leading onto something else much of the time. For example ‘it’s not necessarily the case that X, but…’ or ‘it’s not that, but…’.

So in the example above, we might translate it as:

Not all black people are good at singing.

‘(Some are actually not good at singing!)’ Is implied from the use of わけではない. Obviously the sales employee was joking around. They evidently associate black people with singing!


Some more examples:


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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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