Japanese Language: The Above Text


Beyond the two uses of 以上 (ijou) mentioned in the previous post, there is an additional use very important to all aspirants to pass tests like the JLPT and so forth.

In the headline above, 文 (bun) means sentences. (When reading Japanese, it is always a good idea to assume that when neither singular nor plural is specified, it is plural. Skew plural unless otherwise noted.)

The の (no) particle simply joins the two. Here, 以上 (ijou) functions as an adjective. These words combine to form the phrase:

The Above Sentences

Since the 以 (i) part of 以上 (ijou) indicates relative comparison, this means, taken overly literally, “up, relative to the position of these words.”

In other words, relative to THIS SENTENCE, the bolded The Above Sentences is above THIS SENTENCE.

Without making a big deal about it, 以下 (ika) can be used similarly, but in the reverse:

以下の文 = The Below Sentences

Note for the record that when used with numbers, 3以下 can mean “up to 3” (therefore, lower than, or equal, to 3). This is unlike 3以上 which always means “more than 3, above 3, greater than 3.”



“Read the above sentences.”

A fuller version including the entire implication would read, with “above” shifted to a new role as a preposition, “Read the sentences above the position of this sentence, that is, the sentence you are reading right now.”

The ability to read this instruction, understand it, process it, and proceed to actually doing as you are asked in the absolute minimum time possible, is a valuable skill when taking a standardized Japanese language test.

J Sensei

About J Sensei

Blogger, writer, linguist, former Japanese> English translator, rusty in French, experienced in Japanese, fluent English native. Writing for Technorati.com and various blogs. Skype: jeremiah.bourque (messages always welcome). E-mail: [email protected]
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