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Japanese Words & Expressions

+ Sleepy +

According to a recent survey, the majority of Americans lack enough sleep, lowering their productivity at work. Japan has the same problem. Many Japanese people today appear tired and sleepy all the time. Japanese students' sleeping in class is one of the major concerns of Japanese society today.

Here's a Japanese word for sleepy:



be [feel] sleepy; be drowsy


This word has three syllables: "ne-mu-i." Its pronunciation is simple. Just remember this: "ne" as in never, "mu" as in moon, and "i" as in people. Don't overemphasize a particular syllable.


Here are some useful phrases:

nemui kougi
ねむい こうぎ
(dull lecture)

Aah, nemui!
(Oh, I'm so sleepy!)

Every time you see a Japanese word written in romaji, try to divide it into syllables. The last letter of a syllable is always one of the five vowels -- a, i, u, e, or o -- or the cosonant n, which constitutes one syllable.


Divide the word "nannantou" into syllables.


na-n-na-n-to-u (six syllables)

Thus, when you write this word in hiragana, you use six hiragana letters:


*You may see people write "nannanto," which constitutes five syllables. This is also correct if the letter "o" has a macron over it. On this Web site, I choose to include "u" at the end, instead of using a macron, so that you can tell the difference between "ou" and "oo."

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