Tweet of the Week #159: Right Answer, Wrong Equation

By 2 min read

With school math problems, the text matters just as well as creating and solving a numerical equation. But understanding the logic behind wording can be challenging for students, and their parents, too!

Twitter user @nao_p_on shared a picture of her son’s elementary school test earlier this week, and a buzz ensued. Her son scored 95 out of 100, losing five points for one tiny mistake. He got the correct answer (32), but the proper formula was “8×4” and not “4×8.” Mom also joked she’d take it up with Japan’s highest authority if she had to.

Many shared their frustration at what appears to be vague instruction. However, some teachers said the instructor was just following their training, i.e., educating children to read problems and infer the proper order.

Mom vs math









In other words, you understand, are convinced or agree because it’s consistent with what you believe in.

“This morning, my son’s test popped out of his school bag. 95 points. He was so frustrated that it seemed he couldn’t take it out.


How many stickers do you need to distribute so that each of the four children gets eight stickers?


☓ (wrong) 4×8 = 32 stickers
○ (correct) 8×4 = 32 stickers

It’s okay. Mom doesn’t understand it either.
Good morning.
We’re going to the Supreme Court.”

Express ‘convinced’ in Japanese

A likely story!

The JLPT N3 verb and phrase “納得なっとくする” is convenient to express your agreement in a conversation. It conveys the acceptance of other people’s thoughts, views and actions, compared to your own. In other words, you understand, are convinced or agree because it’s consistent with what you believe in.

Here are some examples:

  • 納得なっとくのいかないはなし: An unconvincing story, a story that doesn’t add up
  • 説明せつめいいて納得なっとくする: “I’ll be convinced when I hear the explanation.”
  • きみ意見いけんには納得なっとくできない: “I’m not convinced by your opinion.”
  • このけんについては、理解りかいはできるが納得なっとくはできない: “I understand this case, but I’m not convinced.”
  • その説明せつめいかれ納得なっとくするかどうか教えおし 下さくだ い: “Let me know if that explanation makes sense to him.”

理解りかいする, which means ‘to understand.’

It’s important to note that 納得する is different than the verb 理解りかいする, which means “to understand.” The second one refers to correctly (or objectively) perceiving a situation regardless of your system of belief.

For example:

  • 数学すうがく公式こうしき理解りかいできた: “I was able to understand the math formulas.”
  • 現状げんじょう理解りかいするのにすこ時間じかんがかかった: “It took me a while to understand the current situation.”
  • わたしかれ心情しんじょう理解りかいした: “I understood his feelings.”


Japanese Romaji English
あさ asa Morning
息子むすこ musuko Son
ランドセル randoseru Schoolbag (for elementary students)
ぴらり pirari With a flutter
てん ten Point
納得なっとくがいかず nattoku ikazu Unable to accept
…らしい rashii It seems, it appears…
もん mon Problem
かい kai Solution, explanation
まい mai Counter for flat things
くば kubaru Distribute
必要ひつよう hitsuyou Necessary
最高裁さいこうさい saikousai Supreme Court



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