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What on earth???

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What on earth???

Postby tanuki » Sun 10.15.2006 10:08 pm

Hello, people!

Today I learned this fine word: 一体 and one of its meanings, "what/how/... on earth?" and so. I have tried to write some sentences to see if I understood how it's used. Could you please correct them?

昨夜、一体どこへ行ったのか?
え?どこへも行かなかったよ。
一体それは本当だろうか。
一体なんで信じない?

Sorry about the lame dialogue, please try to focus on the grammar. :)
If you can also suggest other ways of using 一体 with this meaning, I'd be very grateful.

Thanks in advance for your corrections. Bye!

(EDIT: Oh, I posted this in the wrong forum. Can an admin please move this to Practice Japanese? Thanks.)
Last edited by tanuki on Sun 10.15.2006 10:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: What on earth???

Postby Oyaji » Sun 10.15.2006 10:41 pm

The first sentence is correct, though you need to drop the か. The third one doesn't look right to me, and the fourth is very iffy, though I suppose in the right context it would be okay.

「一体どうしたの」
「一体何を考えているだろう」
「一体何があったの」
「一体なんでそんなことをするの」
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RE: What on earth???

Postby adam » Mon 10.16.2006 1:17 pm

I don't see anything wrong with there being a か in the first sentence. Just adds a little extra emphasis to the question.
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RE: What on earth???

Postby tanuki » Mon 10.16.2006 2:05 pm

1 correct out of 3. :(

Can you give me tips on how to use it properly?
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RE: What on earth???

Postby clay » Mon 10.16.2006 2:08 pm

You hear 一体a lot to add dramatic flair just before a TV show cuts to a CM (commercial)

例: Several famous people after seeing something shocking on a private monitor gasp with horrific faces while a male announcer with a deep voice says, 「一体何があったのか?!」

The next 瞬間 is an ad for ocha.
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RE: What on earth???

Postby richvh » Mon 10.16.2006 2:15 pm

(EDIT: Oh, I posted this in the wrong forum. Can an admin please move this to Practice Japanese? Thanks.)

Done.
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RE: What on earth???

Postby AJBryant » Mon 10.16.2006 2:21 pm

Usually (as I think of it), 一体 pops up *right before* a "question word" (one of the ど in the こ・そ・あ・ど series).

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RE: What on earth???

Postby Oyaji » Mon 10.16.2006 9:34 pm

tanuki wrote:
1 correct out of 3. :(


Actually 2 correct out of 3. The last one doesn't quite fit in that context, but as I said, there are situations when it would be okay.

I sometimes think of 一体 as "just". (Not in its literal meaning of course.)

"Just where did you go last night." ○
"Just is that really true?" ×
"Just why won't you believe me?" ○

Thinking of it like that seems to work in most cases.


I don't see anything wrong with there being a か in the first sentence. Just adds a little extra emphasis to the question.


のか is generally not used for simple, straight forward questions like this, even as emphasis. If it were followed by 「教えなさい」or something similar, even unspoken but implied, the か would be fine. In this case, however, it seems like a simple, direct question.
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RE: What on earth???

Postby tanuki » Mon 10.16.2006 9:58 pm

Thanks everyone for the feedback, I'll use it right before a question word as you suggested.

-----

By the way, is this word impolite? It's just that I can't imagine saying something like "Just where did you go last night?" in English to a person I should respect.
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RE: What on earth???

Postby Oyaji » Tue 10.17.2006 4:47 am

tanuki wrote:
By the way, is this word impolite? It's just that I can't imagine saying something like "Just where did you go last night?" in English to a person I should respect.


I wouldn't say *impolite* necessarily, but it does show incredulity, so you wouldn't use it to ask your boss a question, unless it was about someone else, or a situation neither of you is responsible for. For example, the following would probably be alright, depending on the nature of your relationship:

「あの会社に一体何があったんだろう」
"Just what do you supposed happened to that company?"

Of course, if your boss embezzled billions of yen from the company, causing it to go bankrupt, and you lose your job, you might say to him, as he's led away in handcuffs:

「一体何を考えていたんですか」
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