Welcome back for another installment of words and phrases "to help make your 言い回し more 日本人ぽい." Like last time, I'm sure that there are some textbooks, somewhere, that contain these phrases but by and large, you're more likely to happen across them in conversation than to get them fed to you in an academic setting. Here you go:
... as ever; as always; the same
I first heard 相変わらず back in the day when I used to listen to Japanese pod 101 (pronounced イチ-ﾏﾙ-イチ), because the host used to use it in his 挨拶. Back then, basic lessons were available for free on I-tunes, and it looks like they still might be, albeit with some sort of registration. I recommend making use of the free materials. I don't necessarily endorse paying them anything, but then I mostly just used them for easy listening practice when I was still acclimating to Japan.
You'll hear it most commonly, just as I first did: 「相変わらず、元気です。」 "I'm doing well, as always."
Don't let this deter you from using it in any number of ways. Try it with 忙しい、頑張っている、美味しい、大変 (I got to use this last one a lot when comisserating about my old work situation), anything really. You can even attach it to people, or objects to make phrases like "You know him, same old Dad." or "Same old car."
め に あう
me ni au
to go through; to suffer; to experience something (unpleasant)
Courtesy of the Nirav, this one takes an adjective in the front (ひどい、痛い, 臭い, etc) to communicate the idea of having been through an ordeal.
When an American tries to get a Japanese driver's license, it's supposed to be a pretty brutal process.
In those days, we were going through some dangerous times.
I had SUCH a humiliating experience.
ねん の ため
nen no tame
For the sake of confirmation; just to confirm
This is simple, useful, and gets tossed out in professional situations quite a bit, so I'm embarassed that it's taken me so long to follow up on Tae Kim's (of Tae Kim's Guide to Japanese Grammar fame) suggestion to post it and other phrases like it, on The Yo-ji.
I tend to use the word 確認 (かくにん; kakunin) more than I use 念のため, but it's extremely handy to have this in your repertoire so you can recognize it when it gets used at you.
Also, make a note that the 念 kanji here is the same as in 記念 and 記念日, as in memorial or anniversary (day), and don't make the common mistake of assuming that 年 should go there.
This is one that we've made use of at least once on The Yo-ji in the past, but we've never formally introduced it. Here are some examples of natural usage:
あっと いう ま に
atto iu ma ni
in the blink of an eye; before you can say 'ah;'
(lit. in the time it takes to say "ah")
though it takes some people longer than others...
That movie's 3 hours long, but it's so interesting that it felt like it was over in no time!
The New Year is upon us so quickly!
Extra Bonus: Japanese that IS in the textbook!
「おかげで」 is one of the earliest 2級 Grammar points, and we glossed over it without breaking stride, because we had also studied it for 3級. It means "Thanks to," and it's really simple. On top of that, almost every introductory Japanese textbook I've ever seen, includes 「お蔭様で」 as the formal way to reply to the question 「お元気ですか。」 The reason it merits mention here is because that it's one of those phrases that native Japanese speakers consider to be "very high level." They consider it so because it's a very polite thing to say, and because younger generations of Japanese people have fallen out of the habit of saying it. So despite the fact that it's one of the most basic 決まり文句 taught in Japanese classes abroad, it will earn you major 偉いpoints and reflect well on your abilities.