JOUZU AND HETA (上手 / 下手)
JOUZU (上手) and HETA (下手) are used respectively to express one’s strengths and weaknesses in a certain field. 上手 means “skillful,” and makes it possible to say “to be good at/gifted at…”下手 means “clumsy” and is used to translate “ to be bad at…”
Those two adjectives are preceded by the particle GA (が), that is used to identify the subject. Therefore, the final structure is:
- SUBJECT + GA + JOUZU + DESU/DA
- SUBJECT + GA + HETA + DESU/DA
|Kanojo wa igo ga jouzu na n desu.|
|She is gifted at playing the game of Go.|
|Ani wa kendou ga jouzu da yo.|
|My brother is good at kendo.|
It’s also possible to good at doing something. We have two solutions to deal with verbs in that structure:
- We can nominalize a verb (transform a verb into a noun) by adding the particle こと or の after its plain form (dictionary form)
- Transform the adjective 上手 into an adverb by adding the particle に
|Mariko san wa eigo o hanasu no ga jouzu desu.|
|Mariko is gifted at speaking English.|
Literally: As far as Mariko is concerned, the fact of speaking the English language is skillful.
|Mariko san wa eigo o jouzu ni hanasu.|
|Mariko speaks English well.|
Literally: As far as Mariko is concerned, she speaks English skillfully.
The construction with a noun is done the same way as with 上手.
|Watashi wa roshiago ga heta na n da.|
|I am not good at Russian.|
|Chichi wa ryouri ga heta desu.|
|My father is not good at cooking.|
For verbs, they are turned into a noun by adding the particle こと or の after their plain form (dictionary form). But the form 下手に (adverb) is less natural.
|Hideki san wa uso o tsuku no ga heta da.|
|Hideki is not good at lying.|
Literally: As far as Hideki is concerned, the fact of lying is clumsy.