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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quantity & Quality I

I often hear problems with spend & 過ごす. You can say "楽しい時間を過ごした," but you can not say, "We spent a happy time."

Why? The problem is that "spend" refers to a quantity of time, not a quality of time. Think of it like this: time is a limited resource, and you use/spend that resource on your activities.

So "We spent an hour talking about our favorite movie," is OK; "We spent the whole week lying on the beach," is OK; "I spent my entire life in search of true love," is OK. But "I spent a fun time," is not OK.

If you want to talk about a quality of time (such as fun or happy), then you have to use "have." So "We had a good time," and "We had a fun trip," are fine.

Another common quality/quantity word choice problem is "efficient" and "effective," but I'll save that for a later blog post.

Please use English well!