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For Life

Greetings! Among the things that define us as human beings are the tools we create and use. From alarm clocks to zippers, from the simplicity of a pocket mirror to the vast potential of the Internet - each one is a wonder.

This week we're going to take a closer look at five tools commonly used in the office. By Friday, besides knowing what they're called in English, perhaps you'll have a keener appreciation of the tools themselves and will begin to use each with newfound respect!

Today's Lesson


  • A mechanical pencil is a graphite (= a form of carbon) - not ink - writing tool that can be refilled.

    Be Careful! 'Sharp pencil' (シャープペンシル) and 'sharp pen' (シャーペン) are Japanese-English and are not used in English to mean mechanical pencil.
  • mechanical pencil は、芯が黒鉛(グラファイト)で作られた筆記具で、芯を取り替えることができるもの、つまり、シャープペンシルのことです。

    注意:シャープペンシル(略してシャーペン)は、和製英語です。sharp pencil、または sharp pen と言っても mechanical pencil の意味にはなりません。


  1. My teacher said I need a mechanical pencil for school. She doesn't want students getting up during class to sharpen their pencils.
  2. I've run out of lead (= sticks of graphite) for my mechanical pencil.
  3. This fine-point mechanical pencil uses 0.5mm lead.
  4. Have you seen those pens that have a blue ballpoint pen, a red ballpoint pen, and a mechanical pencil all in one?

Stay sharp!