Word of the Week: 付き合う

Word of the Week is back! I toyed with the idea of taking a longer break, but a few of you have commented that you really enjoy these posts (thank you!) so I thought I should continue as soon as possible. In the last post we looked at a Japanese word or phrase beginning with ‘chi’ (ち), and focussed on the expression ちくしょう (chikusho), which means something like ‘damn it’. This week I’m looking for a word or phrase beginning with ‘tsu’ (つ). A big thank you to everyone who joined in with their suggestions:

locksleyu suggested ‘tsuppashiru’ (突っ走る), ‘to run swiftly’; chanteru suggested ‘tsurai’ (つらい), ‘painful’, ‘bitter’, ‘heart-breaking’; Japan Australia suggested ‘tsumaranai’ (つまらない), ‘boring’; ‘tsukareta’ (疲れた), ‘tired’; and ‘tsukiau’ (付き合う), ‘to date’; and Rockin’ suggested ‘tsutsumashii’ (慎ましい), ‘modest’, ‘reserved’, ‘humble’.

There were some interesting ideas and, in the end, I decided to write about…

付き合う (つきあう)


The word ‘tsukiau’ means ‘to associate with’ or ‘to accompany’ (with no romantic connotations) but is also used to mean ‘to date’ or ‘to go steady’. I suspect things are rather less formal these days, but originally the idea of ‘tsukiau’ as ‘going steady’ would have been the stage of a relationship before engagement and marriage.

The phrase is still used today, but Japan is modernising along with the rest of the world and I think relationships and dating are becoming a bit more relaxed. That being said, Japan is a country where ‘omiai’ (おみあい), matchmaking with a view to an arranged marriage, still exists.

I’m not feeling romantic enough to write a whole post about vocabulary used in dating, but some of the common phrases you will come across are:

‘boifurendo’ (ボーイフレンド) / ‘ga-rufurendo’ (ガールフレンド) – boyfriend/girlfriend (NB. these terms are used a lot more casually in Japan, and might mean ‘close friends’ rather than ‘dating’)

‘kareshi’ (かれし) / ‘kanojyo’ (かのじょ) – boyfriend/girlfriend

‘koibito’ (こいびと) – lover/sweetheart

‘ai shiteru’ (愛してる) – I love you

And if you wanted to ask someone out in Japanese, you could say: ‘watashi to tsukiatte moraemasenka?’ (わたしとつきあってもらえませんか?) – ‘Will you go out with me?’ – or simply ‘tsukiatte kudasai’ (つきあってください) – ‘please go out with me’.

Dating in Japan is a massive topic, and something I would like to write more about in the future but don’t feel qualified to say much about at the moment. Of course, anything I did say would have to be from a bicultural standpoint. Bicultural relationships are full of challenges, but fascinating. Perhaps there will be more to come on this topic at some future date…


(Source: Google images)


Next week’s post will be about a word or phrase beginning with ‘te’ (て), so please leave your suggestions below. The word can be a verb, adjective or expression, but no nouns please! For example, ‘tetsudau’ (てつだう) meaning ‘to help’ would be acceptable, but ‘tegami’ (てがみ), ‘letter’, would not. I look forward to reading your ideas! (*^_^)v

Word of the Week 2014

10 thoughts on “Word of the Week: 付き合う

  1. Dating is definitely an interesting topic – both just generally in Japan and for bicultural couples!
    I tried to think of a word for て but it was hard! All I could think of was テンション上がる which I hear a lot.


  2. Great to see the series back and thanks for choosing my suggestion. A few ideas for next week are:

    Tennen no (天然の) Natural
    Tetsudatte kuremasuka? (手伝ってくれますか) Can you help me?


  3. おかえりなさい!
    glad to have you back


    「RCサクセション つ・き・あ・い・た・い 」

    「RCサクセション つ・き・あ・い・た・い 」


    てをぬく           手を抜く
    てきびしい          手厳しい
    てにおえない        手に終えない
    てごこころをくわえる   手心を加える



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