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Travel, Teach, Live in Japan

Japanese You'll Have a Hard Time Believing!
By:Peter Galante

Being in doubt isn't fun, but it's a fact of life. You are ready to learn to express doubt in Japanese. And, there are some popular phrases that you'll only get from this article! Say things like, "He made a promise, but I only half believe him." When you are able to use this phrase, there is no doubt that you really know your Japanese! This Yojijukugo Japanese article provides all you need to know to express doubt in Japanese. Master hanshinhangi ("half believing") and other popular ways to share that you are feeling uncertain. As a bonus, learn to talk about jobs in Japan using nenkoo joretsu to describe the seniority system. This Japanese article gives in-depth instruction on two aspects of Japanese that you can't do without!

Vocabulary: In this article, you'll learn the following words and phrases:

nenkoo joretsu - "seniority-based system, promotion by seniority"

hanshinhangi - "to be half in doubt, only half believing"

Grammar: In this article, you'll learn the following words and phrases:

Today's Yojijukugo 1:

Roomaji / "Meaning"

nenkoo joretsu / "seniority-based system, promotion by seniority"


First Kanji / Second Kanji / Third Kanji / Fourth Kanji

Nen / Koo / Jo / Retsu

The meaning of the first Kanji is "year." The second Kanji means, "achievement." The third and fourth Kanji mean, "order," and "row," respectively.

History, Definition, Similar Expressions, etc.

Nenkoo means "seniority" or "long service."

Joretsu means "ranking," "grading" or "hierarchy."

Nenkoo joretsu means "rise in salary and job position in accordance with age and length of service for a company."


We can use it as an adverbial form of an -na ending adjective, as in nenkoo joretsu de shooshin shita, which means "someone got a promotion because of seniority."

We can also use it with no and as a pronominal modifier, as in nenkoo joretsu no kyuuyo shisutemu, which means "seniority-based salary system."

When you want to refer to the seniority system, you can use nenkoo joretsu sei with the word sei, which means "system."

Sample Sentences

Kare wa, nenkoo joretsu de buchoo ni natta. "He was promoted to general manager because he had seniority."
Watashi no kaisha wa, nenkoo joretsu no kyuuyo shisutemu o totte iru. "My company has a seniority-based salary system."
Saikin, nenkoo joretsu sei kara jitsuryoku shugi ni kaeru kaisha ga ooi. "Recently, many companies have been shifting from the seniority system to the merit system."

Today's Yojijukugo 2:

Roomaji / "Meaning"

hanshinhangi / "to be half in doubt, only half believing"


First Kanji / Second Kanji / Third Kanji / Fourth Kanji

Han / Shin / Han / Gi

The first and second Kanji mean, "half" and "trust," respectively. The third Kanji repeats the first, therefore meaning, "half." The fourth Kanji means, "doubt."

History, definition, similar expression,etc.

Hanshin means "half believing."

Hangi means "to be half in doubt."

Hanshinhangi means "unable to be completely certain that something is true."


We can use this phrase as an adverbial form of an -na ending adjective, as in [someone] wa hanshinhangi de kiku, which means "someone listens to __ only half believing it."

When you want to express that someone cannot be completely certain of something, you can say [someone] wa hanshinhangi da.

Sample Sentences

Watashi wa, kare no jiman hanashi o hanshinhangi de kiita. "I listened to his big talk only half believing it."
Otto wa zangyoo de osokunaru to itta ga, watashi wa hanshinhangi datta. "My husband told me that he would be home late because he had to work overtime. But, I only half believed it."
Kare wa, kanarazu o-kane o kaesu to watashi ni yakusoku shita ga, watashi wa hanshinhangi da. "He promised that he would pay the money back to me, but I'm half in doubt."

To instantly access the complete 10-15 minute audio lesson (a native Japanese teacher and additional hosts explain in detail the lesson dialogue, vocabulary, phrases, and grammar), PDF lesson notes (detailed explanation of dialogue, vocabulary, phrases, and grammar), and to interact with other Japanese language learners, visit the link below:


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