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のです、んです、and のではない

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のです、んです、and のではない

Postby ThePacster » Fri 10.23.2009 11:28 am

Back again with another question a little sooner than I'd like, but if you don't ask questions you don't get answers right?

Anywho, was working along through my book when I stumbled across のです. As far as I am aware, のです and んです are essentially the same thing. Also, as far as I know, the predicate preceeding のです or んです is what gets conjugated and you normally don't use のです or んです in the past or negative tenses. Is this right so far?

Assuming the above is true, my main question regarding the two is are there any particular occasions where one would use のです rather than んです when speaking? In my studies it states that のです is primarily used for writing while んです is used for speaking.

Then there is のではない. My book only gives a very short blurb on its meaning, saying it's used to negate everything except the final part of the sentence and gives an example of how its used, and a second example that is incorrect.

〇 このレポートは一人で書いたのではありません
X  このレポートは一人で書きませんでした

I realize they are trying to show me this construction for "I didn't write this report by myself" but the second sentence appears grammatically correct to me. Why exactly is it wrong?

Also in regards to のではない, the general meaning and usage to me still isn't sinking in since my book only offers this one example, and another in a reading exercise. Reading the sentence I understand what it means, but I don't truly "understand" if that makes any sense. I tried searching online and I found another example:

A: マナさんは 元気が ありませんね。病気なのですか。
B: いいえ、病気なのでは ありません。テストが できなかったのです。

Looking at this example, it leads me to believe のではない is connected to, or even a conjugation of のです which is causing me confusion. If that were the case, I thought the conjugation of such an example would be like this using のです or んです:

A: マナさんは 元気が ありませんね。病気なのですか(病気なんですか)。
B: いいえ、病気じゃないのです(病気じゃないんです)。テストが できなかったのです(できなかったんです)。

I feel like there's some missing link between these three that I'm not seeing and I cannot seem to find the right explanation for it. I don't know if I explained my questions thoroughly enough, but if anyone can help I'd be very grateful.
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Re: のです、んです、and のではない

Postby wccrawford » Fri 10.23.2009 1:21 pm

Warning: I'm still very shaky at JP grammar.

The 'no' particle is being used to show that the sentence is an explanation. That -may- be why it's wrong at the top, because the second form isn't explaining any more, it's stating.

As for the rest, it's saying something like

A: She isn't well. Is it because she's sick?
B: No, it's not because she's sick. It's because she can't do the test.

As for のです and のではない, The first is 'It's because of' and the second is 'It's not because of'. If you change it to to the negative form of the verb instead, you've said they didn't do it, instead of saying it's not because of it. (They might have done it, it just isn't the cause.)

Edit: Sorry for the edits. Realized I made some reading mistakes and corrected my translations.
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Re: のです、んです、and のではない

Postby shin1ro » Sat 10.31.2009 8:44 am

Hi, it's interesting :D but it seems complicated to me, too....!! :cry:
But it should be a good question!

ThePacster wrote:〇 このレポートは一人で書いたのではありません
X  このレポートは一人で書きませんでした

I realize they are trying to show me this construction for "I didn't write this report by myself" but the second sentence appears grammatically correct to me. Why exactly is it wrong?


The first sentence のではありません part is in present tense because のです/のではありません is an expression for explanation, such like "I'll say that...".

I'd say the second sounds awkward but is grammatically correct, from what I think. And I don't know if it's acceptable Japanese or not...it seems it's on the border to me.

If you add a particle は(wa), it becomes perfect Japanese:
このレポートは一人では書きませんでした。

ThePacster wrote:A: マナさんは 元気が ありませんね。病気なのですか。
B: いいえ、病気なのでは ありません。テストが できなかったのです。


I think when a na-adjective (病気だ/な) comes before のではありません, it cannot be replaced with んではありません.
That is, 病気なんです is ok, but 病気なんではありません is not. I don't think it comes from logic but just custom or habit. The Japanese grammar is not always logical.

When an i-adjective comes before のではありません, it's ok to replace it with んではありません in informal situation.
おなかが痛いんではありません。 (i-adjective 痛い)
(the ではありません part doesn't sound "informal", though...)

In both i- and na-adjectives, じゃありません, a colloquial version of ではありません, can be used in colloquial conversation.
病気なんじゃありません。
おなかが痛いんじゃありません。

ThePacster wrote:A: マナさんは 元気が ありませんね。病気なのですか(病気なんですか)。
B: いいえ、病気じゃないのです(病気じゃないんです)。テストが できなかったのです(できなかったんです)。


Both のです/んです are good, perfectly.

のです is used not only in writing but also in formal speech. Also you may hear a teacher or a professor who speaks politely and gently, or who is authoritative to students use it.
But the difference of nuances between のです and んです are not distinct, many people would use んです in general, even in formal speech. But if you use んです in writing, the style of the writing becomes very casual and it looks like a transcription of conversation.

-shin1ro
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Re: のです、んです、and のではない

Postby magamo » Sat 10.31.2009 11:01 am

shin1ro wrote:
ThePacster wrote:〇 このレポートは一人で書いたのではありません
X  このレポートは一人で書きませんでした

I realize they are trying to show me this construction for "I didn't write this report by myself" but the second sentence appears grammatically correct to me. Why exactly is it wrong?


The first sentence のではありません part is in present tense because のです/のではありません is an expression for explanation, such like "I'll say that...".

I'd say the second sounds awkward but is grammatically correct, from what I think. And I don't know if it's acceptable Japanese or not...it seems it's on the border to me.

If you add a particle は(wa), it becomes perfect Japanese:
このレポートは一人では書きませんでした。

I'm no expert when it comes to grammar and stuff, but it seems to me it's は that makes it confusing.

It doesn't seem that のではない is a negated version of のである. Rather it's a negative form of のではある, i.e., 一人で書いたのではない is the negative sentence version of 一人で書いたのではある, and is not a negative version of 一人で書いたのである.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with the は particle, but if you put it in 一人で書いたのである (translation: I wrote it by myself) so it reads 一人で書いたのではある, then it sounds like "I did write it by myself, but..." So if you negate it and say 一人で書いたのではない, then it sounds like "It's not that I wrote it by myself, (but...)"

I'm not an advocate of the so-called contrastive usage of は, but some say this kind of は is for contrast. Maybe it's easier to understand this kind of sentence if you accept the contrastive usage.

Anyway, if you negate the は-less version 一人で書いたのである in the usual way, it should be 一人で書かなかったのである. And it means "I didn't write it by myself," and sounds natural. But if you try to negate the original sentence as a whole, it would become something like 一人で書いたのでない, and also it should mean something like "It's not that I wrote it by myself." Since you negated 一人で書いたのである as a whole, there should be kind of a "but" nuance (or a contrastive sense if you will). Otherwise, you just negated 一人で書いた part only, and your negation didn't include the のである part.

As you can see in the translation, English can automatically add the contrastive sense by only negating it as a whole with "It's not that..." But in Japanese, swapping ある with ない alone can't add the contrastive sense to the negated sentence, so 一人で書いたのでない sounds a little awkward. It should mean "It's not that I wrote it by myself, (but...)." So you need は to put this nuance, i.e., the natural way to negate the sentence as a whole is 一人で書いたのではない.

I think the exact same thing is happening to このレポートは一人で書きませんでした. I mean, in order to turn 一人で書きました into the "It's not that I wrote it by myself" type sentence, you need は because there has to be a grammatical portion that gives the contrastive sense.

So I guess the reason why このレポートは一人で書きませんでした looks grammatical in some way but sounds a little awkward is that it's clear that the sentence is the sentence-wise negation of このレポートは一人で書きました while there is no word expressing the contrastive sense, which is necessary if it's a sentence-wise negation.

Am I making sense?
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Re: のです、んです、and のではない

Postby furrykef » Sat 10.31.2009 11:20 am

magamo wrote:I'm not an advocate of the so-called contrastive usage of は


Why not? What model would you propose instead?
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Re: のです、んです、and のではない

Postby magamo » Sat 10.31.2009 12:00 pm

furrykef wrote:
magamo wrote:I'm not an advocate of the so-called contrastive usage of は


Why not? What model would you propose instead?

I prefer the idea that it's context that evokes the contrastive sense. You can find an excerpt from a book and some illustrative sentences about the "contrast は" Prof. Kuno proposed and why some linguists think it can be wrong here:

http://www.geocities.jp/niwasaburoo/09wahosetu.html#9.14

I don't consciously use grammar when speaking a language, regardless of whether it's Japanese or English, so it doesn't matter much to me; most of the time I only believe my intuition. I think it's nice to have a fancy grammar rule for each troublesome grammar point, but I've yet to see a satisfactory grammatical explanation for は (and が too for that matter).
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Re: のです、んです、and のではない

Postby shin1ro » Tue 11.03.2009 4:58 am

magamo wrote:Am I making sense?

Yes. ...if I understand your long English sentences correctly! 8)

I only know the basics about Japanese grammar, but your consideration is interesting and probably right. I agree 一人で書きませんでした seems to have slight ambiguity which word or a whole sentence to be negate because of the adverb 一人で. Probably because of this ambiguity, Japanese people start thinking to add は to (try to) make it clear. But actually, whether you choose 一人では~ません or のではありません, the meanings of the both cases sound exactly the same to me. Another example may be different, though.

It depends on who teaches Japanese language but I think many Japanese language teachers will try to teach them more natural Japanese language than more technically correct Japanese language (except linguists). I think there's ambiguity even among linguists we can't decide what is right or what is wrong... Probably Japanese grammar depends a lot on majority rules, not on logical rules. :roll:

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Re: のです、んです、and のではない

Postby magamo » Tue 11.03.2009 5:28 am

Oh, I never imagined I'd get a reply to the post, let alone an "I agree" comment. I wonder how many non-native Japanese speakers understand what I was trying to say by the verbose post. If it doesn't help learners, it means nothing...

shin1ro wrote:grammar depends a lot on majority rules, not on logical rules.

That's what we call descriptive grammar, shin1ro. The word "grammar" doesn't always mean "prescriptive grammar."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descriptive_linguistics
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Re: のです、んです、and のではない

Postby OversizedSpoon » Wed 11.04.2009 9:34 pm

I believe shin1o's explanation of the politeness levels and writing style of のですis correct. My professor explained that
んです is the result of years of slurring のですinto whatever preceded it until it became the shorter and easier nndes.
ではない is simply the honorific form of です. As for meaning, two of my professors translate のです/んです to "that fact is . . .".
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Re: のです、んです、and のではない

Postby furrykef » Thu 11.05.2009 9:08 am

OversizedSpoon wrote:ではない is simply the honorific form of です.


Huh? It's the plain negative form of です. Honorifics don't even enter into it. In any case, the question was about のではない, not just ではない.
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