Japanese · SLAP (Speak Like A Person) Exercises

SLAP #2 “Let’s Get a Meal Sometime!” …whatご飯行こう actually means.

That one sentence we use to invite our friends to eat with us. Even if we don’t mean it 😉

Cynicism aside, if you’re like me, you’ll have wondered what is a perfectly natural way to ask your friends to a meal in Japanese. Here’s one phrasing I’ve heard A LOT:

今度ご飯行こう!
[こんど ごはん いこう]
Let’s get a meal sometime!

In fact, someone my friend met on Tinder just used this phrase to ask her on more dates:

20160907_173131
The gray: “Let’s get another meal sometime!”

Textbook Japanese

ご飯行く looks a bit weird at first, especially when we’re used to learning 「ご飯を食べに行く」in textbooks. You don’t need the 食べに at all though when inviting someone to a meal.

⭐  OK, but what does ご飯行く actually mean?

It’s ご飯行く with the particle omitted. This sounds weird to us, becauseご飯に行く literally means “go to food,” and we’re used to saying “go to get food.”

In Japanese, though, you can often get away with omitting the second verb (i.e. the verb that’s not “go”). So instead of saying “go to get a medical check-up,” they’d simply say “go to medical check-up”: 診察に行く. Instead of saying “go to do karaoke,” they’d say “go to karaoke”: カラオケに行く. And instead of saying “go to get a haircut,” they’d say “go to a haircut”: カットに行く. If you think about it, we don’t really need that second verb, so I can see why Japanese people omit it.

But what you do NOT always want to omit is the に particle. We all know that it’s more polite to include particles. Omitting the に also works with ご飯行く and カラオケ行く. But カット行く may sound questionable depending on who your friends are and 診察行く is definitely a no-no. I think this has to do with the frequency of use: ご飯に行く and カラオケに行く are said often enough that it makes sense to shorten them.

Hopefully this explanation makes sense. These expressions sound weird to me too, but we’ll need to wrap our heads around them to develop a better sense of the language!

Anyways, back toご飯行こう –

Don’t forget you can also add よ or ね to the sentence 今度ご飯行こう:

⭐  Whyよ and ね??

  • 今度ご飯行こう!Let’s get a meal sometime, k?
    –> ね implies that you are asking for confirmation and is equivalent to “right?” in English.
  • 今度ご飯行こうWe’ve gotta grab a meal sometime!
    –>よ implies that you’re reminding the listener of something they should know, which is why I translated it as “We’ve gotta…” If you hit it off really well with this person, then it’s almost implied that you’re gonna grab a meal, which is why よ would be totally appropriate.

So what are you waiting for? Time to invite your friends to get a meal with you. And sound super Japanese while doing it!


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