- Jikan meaning from its components
- Difference to Toki
- Useful expressions
Jikan meaning from its componentsThere is a kanji expression for “jikan”. “時間” is it. When we meet new kanji expressions, checking their breakdowns will help us to understand them in detail. Let me check its breakdown as follows.
- 時 : a kanji character used to express time-related things. When it is put after a numeral, it means ‘hour’.
- 間 : a kanji character used to express a certain range or space between two things.
- jikan – 時間 (じかん) : a noun meaning ‘time’. Depending on context and other words used together, it can also mean ‘a point in time’ or ‘a period of time’.
I want to explain how native speakers use “jikan” through examples. Yet, before that, let me explain another noun, “toki”, which also means ‘time’ in Japanese.
Difference to TokiThe noun, “toki”, can be written in kanji as “時”. As you can see here, it is a part of the kanji expression of “jikan”. Below are its definition, meaning and explanations.
- toki – 時 (とき) : a noun meaning ‘time’. When it is used together with a verb, i-adjective or na-adjective, it works as a pronoun which corresponds well to the English one, “when”.
Example of toki
- ie – 家 (いえ) : a noun meaning ‘a house’, ‘houses’ or ‘home’. Learn more about Japanese singular and plural.
- wo – を : a case particle put after a noun to make its objective case. In the example, however, it is put after the noun, “ie”, to indicate a start of the act which is described by the verb, “deru”. This usage is also very common. It’s written as “wo”, but its actual pronunciation is “o”.
- deru – 出る (でる) : a plain form of this verb itself. It means ‘to go out’, ‘to leave’ or ‘to get out’.
- terebi – テレビ (てれび) : a noun meaning ‘television’. This is an imported word. It originally comes from a pronunciation of television.
- wo – を : the second one is used to make the objective case. Due to its help, the noun, “terebi”, becomes the object in the sentence and now it is a target of the act described by the verb, “keshite”.
- keshite – 消して (けして) : a te form of a verb, “kesu”, meaning ‘to turn off’, ‘to delete’, ‘to erase’ or some such.
- kudasai – 下さい (ください) : a command form of a verb, “kudasaru”, which corresponds well to “please”.
Basically, Japanese people use “toki” as a pronoun. So, it cannot be replaced with the other one, “jikan”. Japanese learners need to be careful with its use.
In the following examples, I will focus on how Japanese people use “jikan” in daily conversation.
Jikan ga aru
- kyo – 今日 (きょう) : a noun meaning ‘today’.
- wa – は : a binding particle working as a case maker or topic maker. In the example, it works as a topic maker to stress the noun, “kyo”.
- ga – が : a case particle working as a case maker. In the example, it helps the noun, “jikan”, to become the subject in the sentence.
- aru – ある : a plain form of this verb itself. It corresponds well to ‘to exist’, ‘to be’ or ‘to have’. Its translation varies depending on context and other words used together.
The Japanese phrase, “jikan ga aru”, itself could be “there is time” in English. So, the translation in the example does not really match with the original Japanese sentence. Sometimes, this kind of mismatch could happen. We need to be aware of the fact that simple and short sentences cannot be translated to other languages with keeping their original nuances.
The next one is an interrogative form of this expression.
Jikan ga arimasu ka
- ari – あり : a conjugation of the verb, “aru”, meaning ‘to exist’, ‘to be’ or ‘to have’.
- masu – ます : an auxiliary verb put after a verb to make its polite expression. Probably, it is well known for a part of masu form.
- ka – か : a sentence ending particle used to make simple interrogative expressions, namely, questions.
Jikan ga naiThe next one is a negative expression.
- nai – ない : an i-adjective used to deny existence of an object expressed by prior words. It is an adjective in Japanese, but often translated to ‘not to exist’. In the example, it corresponds to “not to have”. Learn more about “nai”.
Jikan wa aruThe last one is a bit difficult. It looks the same as the first useful expression, but their particles are not the same.
From the grammatical point of view, “wa” can work as a topic maker. So, it can be used to stress topics. In the example, it is put after the noun, “jikan”, to emphasize the part, “jikan wa aru”, meaning ‘to have time’.
Normally, Japanese native speakers try to be careful with this kind of emphasis by “wa” since it can be used to imply other things than what is mentioned explicitly. In the example, actually, the stressed part, “jikan wa aru”, meaning ‘to have time’ can imply “not to have other things than time”. This is why I added “(but…)” to the translated sentence above.
This fact would be very surprising to Japanese learners, but this is exactly how Japanese people use “wa”. It can be used to imply other things than what is actually mentioned. For this reason, even Japanese native speakers use it very carefully.
So, this expression is totally different from the first one. Particles can have a significant impact on meanings and nuances.
SummarySo far, I’ve explained “jikan” meaning from its components, the similar word, “toki”, and useful expressions related to “jikan”. Here, let me summarize “jikan” and “toki” as follows.
- jikan – 時間 (じかん) : a noun meaning ‘time’. It literally means ‘a period between two points in time’. Depending on context and other words used together, it can also mean ‘a point in time’.
- toki – 時 (とき) : a noun meaning ‘time’. When it is used together with a verb, i-adjective or na-adjective, it works as a pronoun which corresponds well to the English one, “when”. When it is used alone, it means ‘time’ in a very broad sense.
Japanese Particles Master
Masaki Mori is a Japanese particles master. Through teaching Japanese language, he is trying to spread the culture of Japan. His goal is to preserve it as much as possible.