Be more careful …when writing your sign!

An apartment site (photo by Tim Young)

X An apartment site, please do not throw cigarette butts.

Tim says:

The parts of this sentence before and after the comma seem unrelated to each other. That’s because they didn’t include a preposition, such as “at”! Also, “an” apartment site could be anywhere. They mean “this” apartment site.

Also, “throw cigarette butts” means 「タバコの吸殻を投げる」! I’m sure that very few people throw cigarette butts! However, they might drop them.

O At this apartment site, please do not drop cigarette butts.

X Be careful enough to disposal of tobacco.

“Careful enough” sounds odd. Can you be careful without being “careful enough”? As the old expression says, you can’t be TOO careful! A better expression would be “be very careful” or “take extra care.”

“Disposal” is not a verb, so it can’t be preceded by “to”.  Also, writing only “tobacco” makes me imagine a box full of cut tobacco leaves, rather than cigarettes. In English, “tobacco” doesn’t mean “cigarettes”, it only means what’s inside cigarettes.

O Take extra care when disposing of cigarettes.


Keeping “track” of what’s dropped

Jump to the track (photo by Tim Young)

X When you drop something to the track please ask the clerk.

Tim says:

“When” I drop something? It sounds like you think there’s no doubt that I will drop something! And that I will do it on purpose! But if I drop it on purpose, what am I supposed to ask the clerk about? “Excuse me, Clerk, do you see that handkerchief I dropped on the track?” “Yes.” “OK, good.”

Most people don’t drop anything on (not “to”) the track. But if they do, they should tell the platform staff (they are not clerks) that you have dropped something and ask them to pick it up for you.

O If you drop something on the track, please ask the platform staff to pick it up for you.



And then get a broom

Drop (photo by Tim Young)

X Drop

Tim says:

OK, in a sense this is not wrong. We can call a place where something should be dropped off a “drop”.

But since this is a place to drop off trays of dishes, it felt to me like the sign was an order to suddenly let go of your tray, wherever you happen to be standing! That would result in a lot of broken dishes!

I think it’d be better to make this sign a request — one that will not result in a lot of cleanup work afterward.

O Leave your dishes here

Ayumi says:

“drop” には確かに名詞もあります。おそらく「返却口」を辞書で引き、dropとしたのでしょう。







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My cheek didn’t drop, but my jaw did!

Your cheek might drop (photo by Tim Young)

X Your cheek might drop

Tim says:

The English on this package is, of course, written with an intended audience of Japanese people. So this expression probably makes sense to you.

However, to a native-English-speaking audience, it’s complete nonsense. I had never heard the expression 「ほっぺたが落ちるほどうまい」, and I couldn’t understand what this package was trying to say. (It was so puzzling that my jaw dropped — meaning, I found it rather unbelievable!) When it occurred to me to translate it to Japanese and do a Web search, then I understood.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to translate Japanese idioms into English in this way. It could give Japanese the impression that they are common English expressions, leading them to use the expressions with native speakers — and then, not be understood!

O It’s delicious!


Ayumi says:

「ほっぺたが落ちるほど・・・」というのは、美味しいときによく使う表現ですが、このまま英語にしてしまうのは美味しくない (=まずい) でしょう。

Timは、”Your cheek might drop” という英訳を見て、「あごが落ちた」のだそうです。

drop one’s jawは、口をポカンと開けるイメージで驚いたときに使う表現。


だいぶ以前に “It’s just before breakfast.” なんて英語も見たことがあります。

「朝飯前」って日本人ならわかりますが・・・ 英語ならば、It’s a piece of cake. でしょうか。


田中亜由美は「TOEICテスト クロストレーニング PART 1・2」などの本は販売中!ブログはこちら.



X Caution, drop!

この意味は「注意、落とす」ですね。この小さい標識に色々な情報が載っていて、あまりスペースがないですが、「Caution, drop!」は簡単過ぎます!


O Caution! Baby may fall!