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Fundamental grammar problem with invitations?

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Fundamental grammar problem with invitations?

Postby Shiroisan » Tue 05.03.2011 10:44 pm

So my textbook of course taught me about negative sentences, and it taught me about offering invitations. But it never told me how to distinguish the two. Let me create an example:

Near the end of lunch hour, I join up with a friend at the library for a study period at school. She tells me she's hungry. I say:

ひるごはんに行きませんか?

What did I just say???

A) You're not going for lunch?
B) Do you want to go for lunch? (with me)

Or other random interpretations:
c) You won't go for lunch? (or some other variant of "A")

I'd love to hear from a native speaker but I welcome everyone else's guess with open arms!
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Re: Fundamental grammar problem with invitations?

Postby Shiroisan » Thu 05.05.2011 12:27 am

70 views but no answer? :shock: Is it as complicated as I thought? :sweatdrop:

Well since I have another question for people if you can't answer the first, I may as well post it here instead of making a new thread topic for every single question I have.


It's about the proper use of "toki" (when, at the time of...). Genki listed it under the vocabulary I need to learn, but it never taught me how to use it in any of my lessons.

Is toki best used as a subject? Here's one attempt:

I was a good student as a kid.
Kodomo No toki wa ii gakusei deshita yo.

I THINK that was right but I'm not sure, a more complex sentence this time, and I'm not sure how to do it:

In high school Takeshi drank tea every day.
attempt 1: Takeshi-san wa mainichi koukou no toki de ocha wo nomimashita.
attempt 2: Koukou no toki, Takeshi-san wa mainichi ocha wo nomimashita.

In attempt number 2, I put in a comma because I don't think I got how to properly link it as a full sentence in attempt #1...

Need help with this one.
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Re: Fundamental grammar problem with invitations?

Postby phreadom » Thu 05.05.2011 1:02 am

I'd try to help, but I'm just a beginner myself, as are probably most of the people who read this. :)

So we're hoping that someone a little more advanced answers and helps all of us. :mrgreen:
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Re: Fundamental grammar problem with invitations?

Postby blutorange » Thu 05.05.2011 2:56 am

Shiroisan wrote:Near the end of lunch hour, I join up with a friend at the library for a study period at school. She tells me she's hungry. I say:
ひるごはんに行(い)きませんか?
What did I just say???

The answer consists of two words: context and intonation. Consider the situation in English:
Aren't you going to get get something to eat?

Fundamentally, this is a question asking whether someone is going to perform some verb action. Choosing the negative or the affirmative ("Are you going to get something to eat?") for a question usually has some implication on the speaker's opinion on the question. Thus, using the negative implies the speaker considers it unlikely or bad that the listener is not going to eat. To be short, it is a "rhetoric question".
However, you may just as well answer "Yes", which literally means "I am not going to eat." (Answering "no" also bears the same meaning in many languages.)
It is using context and intonation (eg raising or lowering your voice at the end of the sentence) in order to be able to tell whether a negative question is meant as a suggestion or real question.

That being said, there are ways to rephrase sentences in order to avoid ambiguity in any language, for example:
昼(ひる)ご飯(はん)を食(たべ)べたがりませんか? - You do not wish to eat lunch?
昼(ひる)ご飯(はん)を食(たべ)べにいきましょうか? - Shall we go for lunch?

This makes the intended meaning much more clearer.

So, if you're about to head off for lunch, nod or wink to your friend and are asking your question casually while raising you voice at the end of the question, your friend will understand you want her to come with you. Not to mention that there is also the context of your friend being hungry.
On the other hand, assume you know your friend is dieting and wishes to lose some weight. She tells you she is hungry. You can't believe she really wants to go that far just to lose some weight, enduring that feeling. So, astonished, you ask your question in a low voice. Given this context, the intended meaning is obviously different.

Is toki best used as a subject?

No. Think about it. Using 時(とき) as a subject does not make much sense. A subject is the part of a sentence (usually a noun) performing some verb action. The abstract concept of time cannot logically do anything, given some recent insights in physics, "time" may even just be an illusion. You should b using 時(とき) as the part of a sentence indication the time some action takes place, which can be done either implicitly or by using に or は.
That being said, language is not logic, so inanimate things and even time can be said to perform some verb action, eg "time passes" (時(とき)が流(なが)れる), but that is not what you want to do here.
If you mean using 時(とき) with a noun, you can use it just perfectly with a verb as well, eg:
死(し)ぬときに後悔(こうかい)すること. (http://dain.cocolog-nifty.com/myblog/2009/08/10-654e.html)
いらないモノを一掃(いっそう)したいときに役(やく)立(た)つ (http://www.lifehacker.jp/2011/04/110411rethinkyourstuff.html)
相手(あいて)と出会(であ)ったときに「結婚(けっこん)すると思(おも)った」、約(やく)4割(わり) (http://beauty-cdn.oricon.co.jp/news/45889/)


I was a good student as a kid.
子(こ)どもの時(とき)はいい学生(がくせい)でしたよ。
I THINK that was right but I'm not sure.

This sentence is alright. (Please note that は does not indicate the subject, but the "topic".) Also note that 子(こ)ども refers to a child (certainly below 20; 20 is the age you officially become an adult in Japan, 子(こ)ども might just refer to "child of a parent, irrespective of age", but since the sentence suggests those time are over, that is unlikely) and 学生(がくせい) usually refers to a student at a university so I am not certain whether that is what you intend to say, but the sentence structure is alright.

A more complex sentence this time, and I'm not sure how to do it:
In high school Takeshi drank tea every day.
attempt 1: Takeshi-san wa mainichi koukou no toki de ocha wo nomimashita.
attempt 2: Koukou no toki, Takeshi-san wa mainichi ocha wo nomimashita.
In attempt number 2, I put in a comma because I don't think I got how to properly link it as a full sentence in attempt #1...

Just change で to に to the first sentence —たけしさんは毎日(まいにち)、高校(がっこう)の時(とき)にお茶(ちゃ)を飲(の)んでいました。The second sentence is just fine, the comma is mostly for stylistic reasons. Putting it before the main sentence without a particle is fine. The full version would be「高校(こうこう)の時(とき)に(,)たけしさんは…」. In general, comma rules are not as strict as in German (my native language where there are 100+pages official books containing §§ on when to use commas...). And you are quite free with word order in Japanese, as long as you get all your particles right.
Last edited by blutorange on Tue 05.10.2011 12:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fundamental grammar problem with invitations?

Postby Shiroisan » Thu 05.05.2011 11:04 pm

Very thorough post, I appreciate it alot! But, I forgot to mention in my first post, I need furigana to understand kanji :blush: , so I couldn't read those answers :(... I understand the toki one now though :D

As for using the sentence I had without changing the vocabulary/ grammer, would you really be able to tell which one it was by voice intonations/inclinations? I feel like, if I were to say those 2 sentences in english, I'd be saying them in the exact same vocal tone..
Last edited by Shiroisan on Mon 05.09.2011 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fundamental grammar problem with invitations?

Postby Shiroisan » Mon 05.09.2011 12:16 am

bump.... still wondering about this:

example:

Near the end of lunch hour, I join up with a friend at the library for a study period at school. She tells me she's hungry. I say:

ひるごはんに行きませんか?

What did I just say???


txtbook says that's how I'm to phrase invitations but....
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Re: Fundamental grammar problem with invitations?

Postby LordOfTheFlies » Mon 05.09.2011 2:05 pm

Shiroisan wrote:bump.... still wondering about this:

example:

Near the end of lunch hour, I join up with a friend at the library for a study period at school. She tells me she's hungry. I say:

ひるごはんに行きませんか?

What did I just say???


txtbook says that's how I'm to phrase invitations but....

That's not a grammatically correct way to put it. In Japanese 行く(いく) strictly means to go somewhere, eg the action of going somewhere. In English the verb "to go" is commonly used in an abstract way such as "Let's go out for lunch". What you're saying then is "let's go out for lunch (and eat the lunch of course)".

But in Japanese you have to specify what you're going to do after you've went somewhere if you want to convey a further meaning. Of course it's obvious what you want to say in this case, but it's not grammatically correct.

So what you do is you say 「ひるごはんを食べに行きませんか」.
However you can also say 「ひるごはんにしませんか」 which is the same in practicality but has a slightly different meaning.

I was going to offer a reference for the grammar but unfortunately I can't find one :(
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Re: Fundamental grammar problem with invitations?

Postby micahcowan » Fri 05.13.2011 7:48 pm

LordOfTheFlies wrote:
Shiroisan wrote:bump.... still wondering about this:

ひるごはんに行きませんか?


That's not a grammatically correct way to put it.

...

So what you do is you say 「ひるごはんを食べに行きませんか」.
However you can also say 「ひるごはんにしませんか」 which is the same in practicality but has a slightly different meaning.


I disagree. I don't see anything wrong whatever with ひるごはんに行きませんか. The first example you offered is slightly more specific, is all. The second example looks wrong; it should be を rather than に for this case (otherwise it means "won't you {make it/decide} on lunch?", but even with を it strikes me as unnatural. In real speaking situations, it'd probably drop the particle altogether, but in any case I like the textbook's version best.

To answer Shiroisan's question: it depends heavily on context. It is equally correct to translate that sentence as "Aren't you going to lunch?" (or, as you say, some equivalent variant), or "Won't you go to lunch [with me]?" (invitation). The context dictates which is more appropriate.

Your textbook _supplied_ context. Whether it's enough context to be sure of the meaning, I'm not entirely convinced, though I think they were aiming at the invitation. If it's "near the end of the lunch hour", as stated for this example, than neither an invitation nor a future-tense query seem entirely appropriate. Asking "didn't you have lunch/did you not have lunch?" seems a bit more appropriate there. But using 行きませんか? as an invitation strikes me as at least slightly odd for this situation; I usually see that form in invitations where you're offering something from yourself to the other person (won't you partake of X / join me in X that I'm already planning); 行きましょうか would seem a little more appropriate.
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