Japanese Juku

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Year-end or End of the Year

I have had several usage problems and thought it might be nice to clarify some of the more common ones. Here is a fun one.

The kanji ‘末’ refers to an end. The most common on-reading (音読み) is matsu (マツ) and the most common kun-reading (訓読み) is sue (すえ). How these two readings are typically used is different.

My common error was to speak about what would happen at the end of the month as if I were directly translating English. I would put the possessive particle between the month name and matsu. (i.e., 3月の末, sangatsu no matsu, for “end of March”)

Matsu should be thought of like the suffix ‘-end’, as in ‘yearend’. Sue can be thought of like the word ‘end’, as in ‘end of the year’. Hence, I should not have said, “Sangatsu no matsu”; but either, “Sangatsu-matsu”, or, “Sangatsu no sue”. (note: the correct reading of 3月の末 is actually ‘sangatsu no sue‘)

An easy way to remember this is by thinking about a common word learned very early in any textbook: shuumatsu (週末), meaning ‘weekend’, does not use the particle no (の) anywhere. Note that being able to read kanji makes this a lot easier; just one more reason to put the effort into studying kanji.

My feeling is that simple ways to say things are more frequently used, so I generally would recommend 月末、今月末、年末  over  月の末、今月の末、年の末.

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July 4, 2007 Posted by | Usage | Leave a comment