To those of you who are currently studying Japanese, how did you do on your last JLPT? Whether you were able to pass, were close to passing, or didn't make it at all, congratulations on all your hard work! The JLPT is held twice a year in July and December. I am sure you are still studying hard for the next test. The most important thing to do after the test is to review. What did you do well and what did you not do well on the test? Where are the areas that need to be improved? Try to reflect on those points to make the most of your studies next time. In this article, I will introduce Japanese sentence patterns that can be used when talking about "tests" and "examinations," including the JLPT. Let's learn expressions while reflecting on your own test results. The grammar used in this section are from the JLPT N2 level or higher, so please refer to this section if you plan on taking the N2 or N1 exam.
~Talking about what happened before the test~
It means "AけれどもB (A but B)." This sentence pattern is used when something different or unexpected happens from what is expected based on the facts stated in "A." The verb in "A" is the plain form.
【Meaning】Although I signed up for the JLPT, I haven't started studying for it yet.
【Meaning】I've been studying hard, but I am self-doubting if I'll be able to pass the exam.
1+助数詞(counter words) ＋たりとも〜ない
In this sentence pattern, the number "1" is used to indicate a small quantity, and a negative expression such as "~ない" or "~ません" is always added at the end of the sentence. It means "1という最小の単位でも、絶対に〜ない (Even the smallest unit such as 1 can never be …...)." The particle after "1" varies depending on the object being counted. For example, 本 for pencils, 匹 for cats, and so on.
【Meaning】I can't waste even a second because I have a test coming up next month.
In this example sentence, it is used with the time particle "秒 (seconds)" to mean that even 1 second, which is a very short time, cannot be wasted. This is especially true when your test is approaching, isn't it?
~Talking about your test results~
You can insert a verb or adjective that expresses your feeling or emotion in "A," such as "joy," "disappointment," or "troubled." In "B," you can state the fact that caused that feeling. This sentence pattern emphasizes emotions, so it can be used when you want to express your joy upon passing the test or your frustration upon failing.
【Meaning】To my delight, I was able to get a perfect score on this test.
【Meaning】Unfortunately, I failed the entrance exam.
This sentence pattern means, "If I could, I would like to (although it is unlikely/difficult to achieve)." Both "A" and "B" contain the same verb, but "A" should be in the potential form, while "B" should be in the "want to (~たい)" form.
【Meaning】I made a careless mistake on today's test. If I could redo it, I would.
You only live once, so you can't start over even if you fail. The same goes for tests. However, this expression conveys that the feeling of regret is so strong that you want to redo it even if you know you can't.
~Offering advice for a test~
You can insert the plain form of a verb or adjective in "A," while "B" should have a negative word such as "ダメだ," "無理だ," or "~ない." This sentence pattern means "if the situation is A, the result will be B, which is not good." It is used when you want to give someone a stern advice, such as" things are not going to work out the way you want them to if you stay the same."
【Meaning】If you can't even solve this question, you won't be able to pass N2.
The "そんな問題" in this example sentence refers to "an easy question (on the test)," so if you can't solve such an easy question, then of course you won't be able to solve more advanced questions, hence it is unlikely that you will pass the test. This expression sounds a bit harsh, so please be careful when using it.
"A" has a noun in it, which means "don't think about A now/don't make A an issue now." For example, you could say something like the following to a friend who failed a test:
【Meaning】Regardless of the results of your exam, it is important that you put in the effort.
While the exam results are of course important in order to obtain a certification, a failure does not mean that the work you put into that exam were in vain. What you have studied will appear in the form of abilities and skills in the future. What is important is the process.
Once you reach the N2 and N1 levels of the JLPT, you will be introduced to many sentence patterns that are not used much in everyday conversations with friends, which can make it difficult to memorize. The best way to learn difficult sentence patterns is to memorize each example sentence. You can decide on a topic to talk about like we did here, and try to memorize it using example sentences that you might be able to use in your daily life.
I wish you all the best on your upcoming JLPT!