Does this story move you?


X Stationary

Tim says:

“Stationary” means “not moving” “staying in the same place.” Hundreds of years ago, there were no shops like today. Merchants traveled around and sold things in one place for a short time. When permanent shops started in England in the 1300s, they were called “stationers” to show that they were always in the same location.

Over time, the meaning of “stationer” narrowed to mean only a shop that sold books and writing materials. The things a stationer sold were called “stationery”. We still use this word to refer to materials used for writing, especially for writing and sending letters through the mail.

O Stationery


Low fat, but lots of nouns

beauty Chinese

X Beauty Chinese steam  low fat variety   small portions colorful   vegetables

Tim says:

“Beauty” and “Chinese” are both nouns, so this combination is strange. The intended meaning is that it’s Chinese food that will help you stay beautiful, but you need more than two words to say that, I think.

Also, after that, we have a random group of words and phrases — all nouns, except for the adjective “colorful”. It seems like the writer of this sign wasn’t able to make English sentences about these things, so they simply wrote the words! I’ll try to write my own sentences.

O Chinese food that helps you stay beautiful! A variety of low-fat foods in small portions, cooked with steam, including colorful vegetables!


Tokyo’s not the *only* clean city…

the clean city

X No illegally parked bicycles To show hospitality in the clean city

Tim says:

The first problem with this sign is that these two phrases don’t really fit together very well. I think it would be better to fit them together into one sentence, as in my correction below.

Also “the clean city” implies that it’s the only clean city in the world! Instead, it’s better to use “a” — eliminating illegally parked bicycles will help us to have a clean city.

O Let’s remove illegally-parked bicycles, and show hospitality to the world in a clean city!


Let’s educate the school!



Tim says:

There are a couple of problems with how this school name has been translated into English.

“Metropolitan” is OK as a translation for 「都立」. Including “Tokyo” seems to me to add too many words, especially since I want to change the order of the words here.

The name of the school, “Tachikawa Kokusai” should be first in English, with “Metropolitan” after it.

Also, it feels unnecessary to use both “Education” and “School” together. Are there schools that aren’t related to education?? Of course not, so simply “secondary school” is enough.



In search of better English

in search of functionality

X The product is in search of functionality and high-quality with included in the feeling of A.L.I.

Tim says:

Here’s the second half of the tag we started reading last week!

  • “In search of functionality”? 「機能性を探し中」?? I hope this bag finds functionality someday…  I’m not sure how to correct this one, because I don’t understand why they used “in search of”!
  • As mentioned last week, again, “high-quality” is a hyphenated adjective without a noun following it. The hyphen isn’t needed.
  • “With” and “included in” mean much the same thing. We only need one of them!

O This product has high functionality and quality, with the feeling of A.L.I.


At least the design is sleek…

with sleekly designed

X High-quality with sleekly designed for business setting.

Tim says:

This tag on a bag for sale in a store had so many mistakes on it, we’re only going to discuss the first half of it this week. But that’s still a lot!

  • “High-quality”, with a hyphen, is an adjective. But there’s no noun immediately after it, so it shouldn’t have a hyphen. (or, you could say “A high-quality bag”)
  • There are several ways to fix “with sleekly designed.” Either “with (a) sleek design” or “sleekly designed” (no “with”) would be better.
  • “Business setting” should have “a” before it.

O High quality and sleekly designed for a business setting.


An office surprise


X Stationeries

Tim says:

“Stationery” is an uncountable noun, so seeing it here in a plural form is rather strange.

O Stationery


The butcher speaks!

Limited 5 meals / I can only take 60 g from one head

X Limited 5 meals / I can only take 60 g from one head

Tim says:

Who is “I” in this sentence? It’s very strange for a sign to be written in the first person (一人称). (Can you imagine a restaurant sign in Japanese that said 「私は60gしか撮れません」?) This sentence should be written in passive voice (受動態).

Just like 頭 in Japanese, we count cattle by using “head” in English. But as this sign as written, there’s no context, so it feels like it means meat is being removed from a human head! Well, it’s almost Halloween!

O Limited to 5 meals / Only 60g of meat can be taken from one cow


Don’t they sell anything on the first floor?

Contact passage to Building B is the first floor.

X Contact passage to Building B is the first floor.

Tim says:

“Contact passage” sounds rather strange. Simply “passage” or perhaps “connection” would be better.

But the bigger mistake on this sign is that it is telling us that the ENTIRE first floor is the passage to Building B! The entire floor couldn’t be a “passage” unless it’s a connection between two other buildings. They need to add the word “on” to this sentence.

O The passage to Building B is on the first floor.


Perhaps this sign is junk

junk and old

X Vintage and Junk & Old New arrival

Tim says:

This sentence is a bit awkward because it has two “and”s in it. Why not just say “Vintage, junk, and old”?

But really, in Japanese the terms “junk” and “old” are a bit different than they are in English. “Vintage” is just a nicer way to say “old”; basically, the words mean the same thing. Rather than “old”, it would be better to say “used.”

As for junk, in Japan it means that it’s broken but someone might buy it for spare parts. As far as I know, it’s only used this way informally in the U.S.

Also, this sign has no nouns, but three adjectives! (“Junk” could be a noun, but it’s not used that way on this sign.) So I added “goods” to the sign.

Also, did only one new item arrive? I would think that “arrival” should be plural…

O Vintage and used goods New arrivals