Absolute time expressions indicate a relatively exact time frame and are often sensitive to tense. They are generally adverbial nouns. This means that they usually can either function as nouns or adverbs depending on context. So, pay attention to how this affects particle usage.
The following table shows many single word absolute time phrases in Japanese. Patterns to be discussed in this lesson help fill in the gaps. Take note of patterns. There are word notes after the chart. So, be sure to not overlook them.
Chart Note: Variants are listed from most to least polite. ▽ stands for rare.
|Morning|| 昨朝 |
| 今朝 |
| 昨週、先週 |
| 今週 |
1. 先日 means "the other day". 本月 (this month) and 本年 (this year) exist, but they are very formal and typically in written addresses. However, note that although 本朝 exists, it means "our nation" instead of "this morning".
2. Changing 一昨 to 一昨々 creates "3...ago". However, the Chinese readings are not used in the spoken language and should be reserved for the written language. For the native words おととい and おととし, you can さき to get さきおととい (three days ago) and さきおととし (three years ago) respectively. It is these native readings that should be used in actual practice.
3. "3 days from now" can be 明々後日or 明日の翌々日.
4. 今年 may be read as こんねん in certain contexts such as in the phrase 今年度 (this fiscal year).
5. It's funny to note that 明々後日 exists too, and its native counterpart is やのあさって. These words are not really used that often because 4日後 is much easier.
6. 昨 can sometimes be very formal. For instance, 去年 will be used most of the time when speaking. The words 昨春, 昨夏, 昨秋, and 昨冬 are all 書き言葉.
Making other Absolute Time Expressions
The following expressions are very important when you can't use a specific, one word time expression like the ones above. Some of these expressions are not really used and some may be more formal than others. All of these details are discussed in the word notes following the chart.
|1 after next||翌々（の）||Day||日||Morning||朝, 午前|
|Evening||夕方, 夕べ, 夕暮れ, 晩, 夕||Night||夜, 夜間||Week||週(間)|
|Month||月, 月間||Year||年, 年(間)|
1. 夜間, 週間, 月間, and 年間 are all formal and more likely to be used in the written language. 週間 and 年間 are common in the spoken language, but they are still more formal.
2. The differences between the words for "evening" are subtle. 夕べ is often poetic, but it may also refer to an event held at night. So, "music night" would be 音楽の夕べ. 夕 is essentially the same as 夕方, but it's often used in set phrases. 夕暮れ is very commonly used, and as the character 暮 suggests, it especially refers to the time when the sun is actually going down. Lastly, 晩 is the closest equivalent to the generic English word "evening" and is a commonly used word.
3. You may use 翌～ for "next" for expressions that use 来～. Frequency of use depends on the expression. The difference between 翌週 and 来週 would be the same as the difference between "the next week" and "next week" in English. This is the same for the other expressions.
4. 翌々 is usually used without a の. You can use it with days, months, and years. Something like 翌々2016年 would it equate to "2016, the year two years from now". The word is not quite that common, and you are more likely to see it in writing.
5. 一昨々 has the reading いっさくさく. It is not used in the spoken language, and neither are other Sino-Japanese phrases made with it such as 一昨々日 and 一昨々週. For 一昨々日 and 一昨々年, there are the native readings さきおととい and さきおととし respectively, and they're actually used. So, say you wanted to say Monday three days ago, you would need to say 一昨々日の月曜日.
6. 一昨 for "2...ago" is read as いっさく and is rare. This is mainly due to the fact that it is Sino-Japanese. When it is used, it is appended without the particle の to a time phrase. So, you get phrases like 一昨3日 meaning "the third, which was two days ago".
7. If you want to realistically go past two units of time either direction (past or future), it is more practical to say things 5年前 (five years ago) or 3日前 (three days ago). Of course, sometimes one of these cooler phrases like さきおととい (= 3日前). Nevertheless, ＃+ Time Phrase + 前(before)/後 (after) is more frequently used once you leave the sphere of the common words like きのう, きょう, あした, etc.
1. 昨夜、10時に寝た。（More common)
I went to sleep at 10 last night.
Anime club is from 7 to midnight.
I took a break from work yesterday.
漢字 Note: Words like きょう and きのう are frequently written in ひらがな.
She was born the year before last.
To prepare for the next day's lessons.
Classroom Note: You should always 予習 before your Japanese class to get more out of what your teacher says.
This morning was quite cold, wasn't it?
I saw an interesting movie last Tuesday!
Please wake me up at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning.
That person became a monkey in an instant.
“Will this winter be cold?” “I don't know whether or not it's going to be cold in the weather forecast"
Times （Frequency): The Counters ～度 VS ～回
Many Japanese speakers when asked what the difference between 一度 and 一回 are often said to be the same. However, natives unknowingly make distinctions. What might those distinctions be? First, consider the following sentence where they are completely interchangeable.
I read that book twice.
Despite the fact that they both count the number of times an action occurs, there are instances where you choose them liberally. One restriction is that ～度 can't be used with 第～ or 全～. ～度 is also not used with decimals.
13. ６回連続で参加している。(６回 → ６度 X)
I've been participated six times consecutively.
14. 今年は祭りが２度ある。（２度 → ２回 ?)
This year, the festival will come twice.
15. 第４回の関係閣僚協議 (第４度 X)
The fourth relations cabinet conference
An average of 3.7 times a week
All 20 seminars
18. ２度の体験をよい経験として生かす。(２回 ?)
To use the second experience as a good lesson.
When the number is more than 10, some of these restrictions go away. It's also interesting to note that ～度目 is used twice as much as ～回目. Remember that example with 6回連続? Something like 5年連続100度目 would be completely fine. For instances where they are interchangeable, 回 is more common. However, 度 is particularly common with the number 2. Also, as the number gets larger, 回 is less frequent. So, if a headline were to have "third non-payment" in it, odds are that it would have 3回. If a company somehow did this for the 15th time, we would expect to see 度.
When counting the frequency/repetition of an action in a particular time frame, use ～回. This is in terms of years, days, etc. and doesn't take on details such as minutes, etc. In such case, you'd expect 度. Something like 月に三度 is possible, but this doesn't show frequency.
We have festivals three times annually in this village.
～度 would count repetition that is uncertain and or irregular. Other expressions that deal with series or segmenting statistically prefer ～回. One last thing to consider is that ～度 is often used in regards to things that are hard to predict and ～回 is preferred overwhelmingly when the number of times of something can be known beforehand.
To aim for the tenth victory.
The third consecutive victory in three years
Frequency Note: Remember that ～度目 is generally twice as common as ～回.
A fourth restoration is difficult.
The third seminar
The sixth nuclear tests after restart