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Go drinking! Or not...

By Matthew, September 11 2015, 00:32
leigh wolf via Flickr
Don't let people think you are an alcoholic. Be careful how you talk about 飲み会 or "going drinking".

How do you say 「飲み会」 in English? Did you say "drinking party"? Wrong! That is how you say 「飲み会」 in English. But when you say "drinking party", what image do you think English speakers have in mind? They think you are like the guy in this video. Take a look, it is only 8 seconds long.

A "drinking party" sounds like you are in college. It sounds like you just had your Coming-of-Age Day, and you and your friends went to the local izaka-ya and drank so many chuhais and ume-shu sours that you can't walk home. Or it sounds like you are going to the Oktoberfest (that is a drinking party!). Even if you are going out with your friends just to drink, you don't want to say that.

Using the word "drinking" can make you look bad:

  1. If someone asks you about your hobby, and you say "drinking", they think you are an alcoholic.
  2. If you are in a business meeting and you say to your counterpart from the USA, "Let's go drinking!" (meaning 「飲みに行きましょうか?」), they might think you are a party animal, not a professional).
  3. If someone asks you, "What are you doing tonight?" and you say "I will go drinking with my friends", it sounds like you are going on a pub crawl.

So what should you say then?

  1. If someone asks you about your hobby, say "I love wine," or "I enjoy a glass of sake* after work."
  2. If you want to invite your associate or customer to an izaka-ya say, "Would you like to have a drink later?"
  3. If you are meeting your friends at a bar tonight, say, "I'm going out for a few drinks with my friends."

Notice that we say "a drink" or "a few drinks". It is quite different to "drinking". It is important to show moderation and control with the words you choose. That way you sound like an adult, not a beer-crazy yob, and you make a good impression.
* Remember that in English "sake" means 「日本酒」, and English speakers pronounce it 「サーキ」.

  • Matthew's picture
    About me
    I am from New Zealand. I lived in Japan and Brazil for a long time, but now I am back home in Auckland. I am the founder of Poligo. I like to play guitar and video games and surf when I get the chance. I have a wife and two boys.
    I specialize in teaching English to professionals and English teachers. I have taught English since 2001 in Japan, New Zealand and Brazil. I speak Japanese & Portuguese. I am the founder of Poligo and The English Farm (an online school for business English).

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