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Tweet of the Week #28

Learn Japanese with what's going viral in the Twitterverse.

By 3 min read

When they start university, Japanese students have a choice between two paths; shunning all extra-curricular activities (= being lonely for 4 years) or fully committing to a club as if their life depended on it (= living the dream). Sound extreme? Maybe. But culturally, Japanese people are strongly group-oriented and from elementary school until retirement home, pursuing an activity with others is highly encouraged.

University Clubs vs Circles

Clubs are university-authorized groups, most often related to sports activities, often with strict rules and requirements for members. Club members will get together pretty much daily for training, competitions, and games. Of course, any encounter will usually be followed by a rewarding nomikai — this is college after all.

Circles, on the other hand, aren’t official groups. They are independently run by students and don’t receive any kind of financial help from their university. Since they’re free from official control, they cover quite the range of activities. Circles can be more, or less, serious than clubs, focusing more on cultivating friendships and networking rather than sporting achievements and competition.


One thing’s for sure, @OKD_OOPS definitely lives up to his username. A student at the prestigious University of Waseda in Tokyo, he was in charge of promoting his university circle with a paid advertisement in the metro station next to his campus.


= I intended to issue an ad for my circle at the train station, but I sent the wrong file and my ID picture got published instead.

The mistake is so monumental we’re wondering whether @OKD_OOPS really is that sloppy or might, in fact, be a marketing genius.

A brief review of the Japanese volitional form

Here’s another grammatical form you need to know in order to become a Japanese language master. In a nutshell, the volitional form turns verbs into suggestions, and stands for the English “Let’s” or “Shall we?”

The polite volitional form is ましょう (easy peasy!) but the casual form needs a little bit more attention:

  • Ru-verbs add よう to the verb stem:

べる becomes 食べ+よう which gives 食べよう = Let’s eat!

  • U-verbs — the u-vowel becomes o-vowel equivalent to which you add

む +も + う makes 飲もう = Let’s drink!

The verbs する and くる become respectively しよう and こよう.

Now let’s review the grammar patterns based on the volitional form. All of them imply the intention to do something, but with various nuances.

Making an attempt to do something:

In the tweet above, the volitional form appears combined with とする:

出そうとしたんです = I intended to issue (an ad)

This construction (verb [volitional form] + とする) marks the speaker’s attempt to do something and focuses more on the effort made.

Giving something a try:

Combined with a verb in te-form, the volitional form expresses trying to do something with relative uncertainty as to the result. Contrary to the previous expression, the speaker here implies that there’s little chance their effort will be rewarded.

上司じょうしはなしてみましょう= Let’s try speaking with the boss (and see what the boss thinks)

Thinking of doing something:

An easy construction to remember is the volitional form followed by the verb おも. In this case, you’re not saying “let’s do” but “I’m thinking of doing.”

上司に話そうと思う = I’m thinking of talking to the boss


English Romaji Japanese
サークル saakuru university circle (informal club, meet-up group)
広告こうこく koukoku advertisement
えき eki train/metro station
dasu publish, issue, put out
印刷いんさつデータ insatsu deeta files, print data
間違まちがえる machigaeru make a mistake
おく okuru send
ぼく boku I
証明写真しょうめいしゃしん shoumei shashin ID picture
掲載けいさいする keisai suru publish
べる taberu eat
nomu drink
上司じょうし joushi boss
はな hanasu speak

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