Absolute time expressions indicate a more exact time period and are often sensitive to tense. They are generally adverbial nouns. So, pay attention to how this affects particle usage.
漢字 to learn this week: 運、確、院、化、感、角、県、級、宮、業、軽、翌、重、次、授
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.
|Time Frame||2...ago||Last...||This...||Next...||2...from now|
|Morning|| 昨朝 |
| 今朝 |
| 先週 |
| 今週 |
Chart Note: Variants are listed from most to least polite. ▽ stands for rare.
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". 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.
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).
Making other Absolute Time Expressions
The following expressions are very important when you can't just use a specific time expression for a certain time. For example, three weeks ago can be 一昨々の週. But, as you will later on, something like 三週間前に is much more practical.
|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 more formal. 週間 and 年間 are common in the spoken language, but all of these words are still more frequently encountered in formal, written environments.
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 in set phrases. 夕暮れ is very common, and as the 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. So, there is actually a noticeable difference in meaning.
I went to sleep at midnight last night.
I took a break from work yesterday.
Production has gone down this year.
She was born the year before last.
Prepare for the next day's lessons.
We spent a social evening.
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.
To become (something) 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”.
As 前 is a noun, you need to use the particle の when it is after another noun phrase.
How long ago was that?
I bought traveler's checks before I went on my trip.
I go to church every Sunday.
To get a passport before going abroad.
I wash my hands before I eat.
Before I got home, my host family mother cooked.
This is a newspaper from 11 years ago.
I studied Japanese before going to Japan.
He died 4 years ago.
Reading Note: The reading ぜん for ～前に is used after Sino-Japanese words in formal settings.You only really see it in words like 食前 (before eating) and 使用前 (before using). The reading ぜん is common when 前 is the first character of a Sino-Japanese word like 前日.
V+た後（で） states that A happens after B. However, there are several other similar expressions in Japanese. So, pay close attention to the differences discussed here. First off, the verb before 後 must be in the past tense. Yet, ～ていた後 is ungrammatical because it needs to show the end of an action.
雑誌を読んでいた後で、アニメを見た。 X → 雑誌を読んだ後で、アニメを見た。〇
I watched anime after reading a magazine.
百貨店があった後で、駅ができた。X → 百貨店があった後に、駅ができた。〇
A train station was built where a department store had been.
I felt dizzy all of a sudden after school.
Yesterday I went to go see a movie instead of going home after class.
The last sentence is ungrammatical because ある is existential, and to clearly show the location in which the train station has now taken the place of the department store, you need to use the particle に. Even so, verbs of condition can be used with 後 as long as the "end" of the state is clearly instantiated correctly.
After being in Greece for a while, I crossed over to Turkey.
I wonder if there can be anything good after having been terrible.
The last example shows where confusion arises with this pattern. Many other particles can follow 後. You should not be surprised to a sentence where に, は, や, と, or から follow it. After all, it is a noun.
If B is an expression of duration or condition, you use 後は. Even if the predicate shows a change, in the case of showing the condition after a change, then 後は is perfect to use.
勉強をしたあとは、疲れて何もできない。? → (後で)
This is not plausible as being unable to do anything from studying isn't a state of change over any serious duration.
After having moving out of the prefecture, chances to meet friends have decreased.
I feel better after having listened to K-pop.
後は can also be used to show that something is done after another habitually. It's also very important to have this form when you want to conjoin multiple 後 expressions for topicalization/emphasis.
I go right to sleep after I brush my teeth.
Karaoke after working and or studying!
後に can be used in a sense of time, and in doing so it is more punctual. But, there are many more examples where it is used in the sense of location as well.
I brushed my teeth after I ate.
There was a lot of trash dropped after my friends went home.
After a flower blooms, a fruit forms, and inside that seeds form.
After graduating, I'll look for a job.
I watched a movie after my child went to bed.
Note: ～後に is more formal and means "later".
Prime Minister Hatoyama will arrive in Narita Airport in 3 hours.
I'll return in two weeks.
To take medicine after a meal.
As 後 is a noun, ～後だ can also be seen at the end of a sentence or clause. So, it could be that で in 後で is the て Form of だ, which will show in context and the translation. You can also see あとのN. As far as 後から is concerned, it uses the physical sense of the word. から means "from". So, imagine that there is something that comes about from the end of an action A.
We went sightseeing in the town after lunch.
That's after the investigation.
From after the children have gone home, the round, big moon!
There's also the reading のち of 後. This can also be after the past tense and it is more formal. It can also be used just like ～後（ご）に. のちに can also mean "henceforth".
After three months
After graduating, I entered the world of theatre.
Fine, cloudy later
Note: The last sentence is an example of common messages you might find watching a Japanese weather report.
～後で VS ～てから
Now, how is this all different from ～てから? ～てから has a more orderly, systematic nuance. There are many instances where using ～後で can be unnatural or even ungrammatical.
I watched a movie after shopping.
切符を買ってからポケットの中に入れた。 （の後で Unnaturaｌ）
After I bought the ticket, I put it inside my pocket.
ちょっと口をすすいでから歯を磨く。 (の後で Unnatural)
To brush one's teeth after rinsing one's mouth a little.
卒業した後で、彼には会っていない。X (You should never use ない as the latter condition)
秋が来てから、急に人通りが少なくなった。 (の後で Ungrammatical)
Street traffic suddenly got deserted since fall came.
As you can see, this pattern can also be used to mean "since".
Times （Frequency): The Counters ～度 VS ～回
Many Japanese speakers when asked what the difference between 一度 and 一回 is often say that they're the same or they've never thought about their differences before. 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.
６回連続で参加している。(６回 → ６度 ?)
I've been participated six times consecutively.
今年は祭りが２度やってくる。（２度 → ２回 ?)
The festival will come twice this year.
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 concerts
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 revival is difficult.
The third seminar
The sixth nuclear tests after restart