One of the phrases that I am required to know for Japanese class is “nanimo kakanaide kudasai”. It means “Please don’t write anything”.
I could have just memorized it, but I find that really difficult. So instead I broke it apart into its components.
First I saw “nai”, which I know is a negative. I looked up “naide” and found that is a command word meaning “don’t do whatever it is”. First thing I learned, stashed away for future use. I saw that it also has a similar word, “nasai”, which is a positive command word, “do this”. Stashed that away for further use. I already knew “nanimo” means “anything”, especially with a negative, and that “kudasai” means “please” in this context. So, I broke the sentence down into its components, and now I remember it. So far, so good.
In Japanese class last night, we went over “oyasumi nasai”, which means “good night”. But one of the classroom phrases we also had to remember was “yasumi masho”, which means “let’s take a break”. One of the other students asked what “yasumi” means, and sensei said “break”.
Soooo… I then asked, given what I’d discovered, whether “oyasumi nasai” means, literally, “take a break”.
Sensei looked a little taken aback, and then said “I’d never analyzed it, but I guess it does!”
If you can find a pattern, you should find the pattern. Then you don’t have to memorize words. Thankfully, Japanese has a few patterns that are really useful. This was one.