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gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

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gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

Postby kanatenshi » Fri 07.10.2009 4:06 pm

Hey everyone! During my studies, i reached a chapter on prepositions and hit a sentence i wanted to dig deeper into.
[sorry for the lack of kanji :( ]
わたしのこどもはがっこにいます.

います corresponds to there is, and so i see how "my children - in school - they are" makes sense. But what about です instead of います? As a state of being, "my children - in school - be" seems reasonable. If わたしのこどもはがっこにです doesn't make sense (which it probably doesn't) why is that so? And is there any way to use です to say the same thing?

Thanks so much guys, all help is greatly appreciated!
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Re: gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

Postby keatonatron » Fri 07.10.2009 4:44 pm

kanatenshi wrote:If わたしのこどもはがっこにです doesn't make sense (which it probably doesn't) why is that so?!


Because です is not "to be."

です is a special word that doesn't have a grammatical counterpart in English (and so, it is often explained as "to be" to beginners to make it easy to understand).

It is probably more accurate to think of です as an equals sign.

わたしはがくせいです can be thought of as わたし = がくせい; "I" and "student" are the same.

こどもはがっこうにです would mean こども = がっこう (に)

That still might seem okay, but "at school" is how the children are existing, not a direct description of the chilren themselves.

There is no way (I can think of) to use です to say the same thing, because です is only used for saying what things are (noun = noun) and how they are described (noun = adjective). Prepositional phrases only describe verbs (which です is not, technically) so they can't be used in this type of sentence.
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Re: gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

Postby kanatenshi » Fri 07.10.2009 4:53 pm

Thanks so much Keaton!

So basically a question like ながさきしはどこですか? is "Nagasaki = X?"
Which is in turn answered by きゅしゅです, to make it "Nagasaki = Where" -> "Where = Kyushu" correct?
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Re: gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 07.10.2009 5:20 pm

Things change a little bit when you are responding to a question; X です can often be used in response to a question no matter what; in that case it's almost like you're saying "[The answer equals] X."

So
A: こども は どこ に います か?
B: がっこう です。
is fine.

(And actually it is a little more complex than that because there are cases where you can use こども は がっこう です to mean "the kids are at school" but I think it's probably better to work on mastering the basic distinction between います/あります and です before you start dealing with the less common and more marginal cases.)

(Also note that こども は がっこう に です is grammatically incorrect because に has to connect to a predicate, and です by itself is not a predicate.)

です, unfortunately, is kind of a confusing word in a number of ways, but since it's very basic Japanese you have to deal with the difficulties early on.
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Re: gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

Postby furrykef » Sat 07.11.2009 5:16 am

I don't think it's a big mistake to think "'desu' means 'be'". However, it is a mistake to think that it works the other way around ("'Be' means 'desu'"). That sort of thinking can get you into all sorts of trouble. It's very often the case that a word in English simply doesn't have a single Japanese equivalent you can use in all the same contexts -- especially if that word is not a noun.

By the way, it's common for different languages to use different words to express different shades of the word "be". For example, in Italian, the verb "essere" matches pretty well with the English word "be" in most cases, but in Spanish, you have to choose between "ser" and "estar" -- the former tends to describe inherent and often permanent characteristics, whereas the latter tends to describe the current state or location of something. For example, you can say "Soy de México", which means "I am from Mexico" (using the verb "ser"), since being from Mexico is a part of who you are and you'll always be "from Mexico", but you would say "Estoy en México" (using "estar") to mean "I am in México [right now]", since that's just where you are at the moment and it could easily change.

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Re: gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 07.11.2009 9:38 am

furrykef wrote:I don't think it's a big mistake to think "'desu' means 'be'".


As one of its uses; unfortunately "desu" is also used as a meaningless politeness indicator in some cases. Basically, if you can replace a usage of "desu" with "da", then it means "be". If putting "da" in there would make it ungrammatical, it's just a politeness marker.
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Re: gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

Postby Harisenbon » Sat 07.11.2009 8:59 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:As one of its uses; unfortunately "desu" is also used as a meaningless politeness indicator in some cases.


Now I'm curious. When is this the case?
I can't think of any examples off the top of my head...
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Re: gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 07.11.2009 9:07 pm

Harisenbon wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:As one of its uses; unfortunately "desu" is also used as a meaningless politeness indicator in some cases.


Now I'm curious. When is this the case?
I can't think of any examples off the top of my head...


The main one is after -i adjectives.
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Re: gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

Postby two_heads_talking » Tue 07.14.2009 9:37 am

well, desu, da, de arimasu, and de aru are being verbs in that they are equivalent to is, am, are verbs..

as for after -i adjectives, isn't that the same as saying is, am, are adjective?

or for example akai desu = is red (or do you mean that even without desu the sentence akai alone is sufficient?)

In English one could answer the question, What color is it? with the reply of .. Red. So, I can see where you are coming from.
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Re: gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 07.14.2009 10:07 am

two_heads_talking wrote:or for example akai desu = is red (or do you mean that even without desu the sentence akai alone is sufficient?)


Yeah. "akai" means "is red" (not just "red"), so the "desu" doesn't supply any additional meaning other than politeness. I think the clearest way to see that is with から. 先生から means "from the teacher" (e.g. 先生からの手紙) whereas 先生ですから means "because [he?] is a teacher", so it's clear there that です is adding the meaning of "to be", and that there is a difference between 先生 and 先生です. But with 赤い, both 赤いから and 赤いですから means "because it is red", so the です is just adding politeness and nothing else. It's why you can't put だ after 赤い, but you can put it after 先生.
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Re: gakko ni imasu =/= gakko ni desu?

Postby clay » Tue 07.14.2009 2:06 pm

Since we have been discussing Wagawiki, I thought some of the points mentioned in this thread should be added to the Wagawiki "Desu" page. I hope that is alright. :D Feel free to add or remove.

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