73 - My Condition Is Bad, Part I

In yesterday's lesson, I briefly brought up the overwhelming array of Japanese words that get translated to "condition" in English:

present condition; existing state

situation; circumstances; conditions

current status; condition; situation

conditions; terms; requirements

condition; state of health; tune

To make life even worse, I'm going to add 6 more words:

now; present (time)

reality; actuality; actual conditions

circumstances, conditions

real condition; actual circumstances; actual state of affairs

physical condition

Too many words!

Too many conditions!


I'm sorry.

Take a deep breath.
Literally: "deep breath + do."

Let's just look at 2 of these words.

Well, for this lesson.

Maybe next lesson we'll deal with some other "conditions."

But today, just these two words:

condition; state of health; tune

physical condition

We can handle that, yeah?

If you hear a Japanese person say "My condition is bad," or "My health is bad condition," or something weird like that, then chances are they're thinking of one of these words.

The Meaning of 調子(ちょうし)

The original meaning of 調子(ちょうし)is something like "tune; pitch; rhythm."

In other words, it refers to the qualities, conditions, and moods of sounds.

From this, comes its second, more common meaning: the qualities, conditions, and moods of "active objects."

Uh... what's an "active object?"

It's a word I just made up (I'll get to that in a sec).

The most common way to use the word 調子(ちょうし)is in the phrase:

ちょうし が わるい
something is wrong with (something); (something) is acting strange
Literally: "tune + が + bad."
Note: Perhaps it's a bit like saying something is "out of tune" in English.

Consider the following conversation...

おなか いたい の?
Does your stomach hurt? // Do you have a stomachache?
Literally: "stomach + painful + の?"

うん、 さいきん ちょうし わるいんだ よ ね。
Yeah, my stomach's been bothering me (a lot) lately. // Yeah, my stomach has been acting up lately.
Literally: "yeah, + lately + tune + bad + んだよね."

In this case, we can just say 調子悪い(ちょうし わるい)without any subject, because we know from context [from A's question] that the subject is お腹(おなか / stomach).

Also, since it's a very casual conversation, が is getting dropped out.

What makes お腹(おなか)an "active object?"

The reason that I said "active object" earlier is that this phrase is used with something that is behaving poorly.

When you say something like お腹の調子が悪い(おなか の ちょうし が わるい)it might get translated (by a Japanese person) to something like "my stomach is in a bad condition," but I think the key here is that the stomach is acting strange.

It's doing something it shouldn't be doing and/or not doing something it should be doing.

If you Google the exact phrase 「の調子が悪い」, it will probably recommend searches such as these:

おなか の ちょうし が わるい
Something's wrong with my stomach.
Literally: "stomach + の + tune + が + bad."

い の ちょうし が わるい
Something's wrong with my stomach.
Literally: "stomach + の + tune + が + bad."

はら の ちょうし わるい
Something's wrong with my stomach.
Literally: "stomach + の + tune + が + bad."

✨ Super Note °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°
胃()is your actual stomach--as in, the organ called a "stomach."

お腹(おなか)and 腹(はら), which have the same kanji but different readings, refer to one's stomach area in general. 腹(はら)has a rougher sound to it. Kind of like saying "belly," I guess?

Add all of that to the list of things I learned way too late in my Japanese studies.

からだ の ちょうし が わるい
Something's wrong with my body.
Literally: "body + の + tune + が + bad."

wifi の調子が悪い
ワイファイ の ちょうし が わるい
Something's wrong with my WiFi.
Literally: "WiFi + の + tune + が + bad."
↑ Story of my life. ↑

line の調子悪い
ライン の ちょうし わるい
Something's wrong with Line.
Literally: "line + の + tune + が + bad."
Note: Line is a popular messaging app in Japan.

スマホ の ちょうし わるい
Something's wrong with my smartphone.
Literally: "smartphone + の + tune + が + bad."

かお の ちょうし わるい
Something's wrong with my face.
Literally: "face + の + tune + が + bad."
Note: I'm not sure what this English or Japanese even means, really.

My Body's All Out of Tune

So we just saw this sentence:

からだ の ちょうし が わるい
Something's wrong with my body.
Literally: "body + の + tune + が + bad."

But actually, 体(からだ)and 調子(ちょうし)are such good friends that they made up their own word together: 体調(たいちょう / physical condition).

So you could just say:

きょう たいちょう わるい。
I don't feel well today.
Literally: "today + body-tune + bad."

Misbehaving Machines

Maybe you've already noticed this by looking at that list above, but you'll find that 調子が悪い is mostly used for (1) the body (parts) and (2) machines.

That's why you might also say...

エアコン の ちょうし が わるい です。
There's something wrong with my AC.
Literally: "AC + の + tune + が + bad."

パソコン の ちょうし が わるい。
There's something wrong with my computer.
Literally: "PC + の + tune + が + bad."

Life's Not All Bad

Is this lesson depressing you?

Well, not all 調子(ちょうし)are "bad."

Some are just "not good." Or "strange." Or even "good!"

ちょうし が よく ない。
I don't feel well. // There's something wrong with it.
Literally: "tune + が + not good."
Note: We're just guessing the subject in the translation, because we're not aware of the context.

さいきん くるま の ちょうし が おかしい。
My car has been acting up lately. // My car has been acting strange lately.
Literally: "lately + car + の + tune + が + strange."

きょう ちょうし いい ね!
You're really on today.
Literally: "today + tune + good + ね"

Bonus Phrases

This lesson is already way longer than I was planning for it to be, but here are some bonus phrases, which show that 調子(ちょうし)and 体調(たいちょう)don't always get stuck to i-adjectives like 悪い、いい、おかしい. They're actually rather versatile...

ちょうし に のる な!
Don't get carried away.
Literally: "tune + に + ride + な."
Note: I love this phrase. Don't ride that tune! What an awesome way to keep someone from "getting caught up in the moment" and doing/saying something stupid. Personally, I have a bad habit of "tune-riding."

おなか の ちょうし を ととのえる こうか が あります!
Effective at calming an upset stomach!
Literally: "stomach + の + tune + を + put in order + effect + が + has!"
Note: This type of sentence shows up on products a lot. 調子を整える(ちょうしをととのえる)means something like "to put in tune."

たいちょう に き を つけて。
Take care of your health. // Watch your health.
Literally: "body-tune + に + spirit + を + append."
Note: Many of you will also know that 気をつけて means something like "take care (of)."

Anyways, see you next time.

Be sure to keep your body and mind in tune ^_^

Bonus Phrases

げんざい アメリカ に すんでいます。
Currently I'm living in the US.

じっさい に やって みよう。
Let's (actually) try it.
Note: For example, if you read about how to grow strawberries in a book, then decide to actually try growing them, then you could say this.

かてい の じじょう で だいがく を あきらめた。
I gave up on going to college for family reasons.

じけん の じつじょう を ちょうさ する。
I'm going to find out what really happened.
Literally: "incident + の + true conditions + を + investigate + do."
Note: For example, if people are saying that something was an accident, but a reporter thinks they're lying, she might say this.

Complete and Continue