Even More Japanese That Ain't in the Textbook:
Yet another installment of words and phrases "to help make your 言い回し more 日本人ぽい."
This time we've got three helpful phrases that Japanese people use ALL the time, and you can incorporate into your speech just as easily.
別に、however, is the best way to answer "Do you like" questions when you don't have any strong feelings on way or the other, but it has tons of other uses as well. Technically it should take something afterwards, like "別にない," to make "nothing special," or "別に構わない," for "It' doesn't particularly matter," but in conversation, people say 「別に」 as a standalone phrase all the time. It's so common that Brett and I debated introducing it here; we say it so often that it seemed too basic.
Did you do anything fun this weekend? 別に.
Do you like natto? 別に.
Do you want to read the first draft of my novel? 別に.
You can use 特別にない as well, to highlight your lack of specific preference, as 別に can often sound detached to the point of being very cold, so be careful with it.
When I was going to meet Yuri's family for the first time, we talked a lot about how to get him to take me seriously as a boyfriend. We also used to joke about things that I should NOT say if he asked why were seeing each other. Top of the list was 「ゆりの事は別にきらいではない。」 Translation: I don't really DIS-like your daughter. Winning words? 別に。
役 means 'role,' 'position,' or 'use.' An actor or actress's role is their "役," for example. But in this case, it gets used to mean to be of assistance, or to help someone out.
「役に立ちたい」 means "I want to help out."
「学校で習うことは将来に役に立つはずです」：The things you learn in school are supposed to help you out in the future.
You can use 役に立つ in all kinds of ways, and you'll hear it all the time. The Daily Yo-jiは皆の役に立てたらいいですね。