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Sentences

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Sentences

Postby Anomaly » Sun 05.27.2007 2:01 pm

I tried to compose some sentences in Japanese. I only know a few Kanji, so it's mostly Hiragana. Pardon all the sentences about people and books and trees; I have a limited vocabulary at the moment, hehe.

Please feel free to help me correct my sentences, and if you see any places where I should have inserted a Kanji character tell me so. (=

4人がいません。
きれいな本がない。
人がいる。
私はあかくない本がほしいです。
私は木がみたいです。
あなたは木がみたいですか。

I tried to say:
There aren't four people.
There isn't a pretty book. (casual)
There is a person. (casual)
I don't want a red book.
I want to see a tree.
Do you want to see the tree?

I also have a question. Why do we use が instead of は when saying "There is/are..."?
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RE: Sentences

Postby richvh » Sun 05.27.2007 2:11 pm

4人はいません (は is usually used instead of が in negative sentences. This is the contrastive use of は)
きれいな本はない (ditto)
私は赤い本は欲しくないです。 (Your sentence said "I want a book that isn't red", which is slightly different.)
The other sentences look OK to me. You could use the kanji in 見たい

が is usually used instead of は with ある/いる because you're presenting new information.
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RE: Sentences

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 05.27.2007 2:20 pm

"we" don't do that; that is the kind of rule of thumb that some people substitute for an actual understanding of the particles. A very important fundamental rule of が and は is that you cannot decide which one to use without a context. In any of those sentences you wrote, any of the は's could be replaced by が and vice versa, depending on the context (although some of the resulting sentences would be very rare and isolated to some very specific contexts.)

In the types of sentences you gave, は generally introduces a known topic and provides a new comment on it, whereas が goes after the new information and what follows the が is what is already known.

For instance:
田中さんは先生です。 Speaking of Tanaka-san (who you already are aware of), she is a teacher.
田中さんが先生です。 You know there is a teacher, and Tanaka-san is that teacher.

私は木がみたいです。 Speaking of myself, a tree is the thing I want to see.
私が木がみたいです。 You know there is someone who wants to see a tree, and I am that person. (This would be a rare sentence)

EDIT: richv's explanation is a lot more direct and simpler, I suggest you go with his instead. :)

が is less common with negative verbs; your first and second examples would be more natural (generally) with は。

4人がいません。
きれいな本がない。
人がいる。
私はあかくない本がほしいです。
私は木がみたいです。
あなたは木がみたいですか。


1: You need a noun with the counter. 人は4人いません is the most standard way to do that.
2: は would be more likely than が.
3: Fine.
4: Your sentence says "I want a non-red book." For the English you put, you have to make ほしい negative rather than the adjective on 本.
5&6: fine.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Sun 05.27.2007 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Sentences

Postby Anomaly » Sun 05.27.2007 3:19 pm

Thanks for the corrections! :)

I was just confused by one aspect, though:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:
1: You need a noun with the counter. 人は4人いません is the most standard way to do that.


I wasn't completely sure what you meant by that. If it's not too much trouble, could you explain that a little more for me?

Thanks! :)
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RE: Sentences

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 05.27.2007 3:37 pm

Well, I should have been a little more careful saying that. Having only the counter is fine if what you are counting is understood in the context.

It's like saying "We have four pounds" in English. Sometimes this is fine, other times you have to specify "of butter" or "of meat" or whatever.

4人 can apply to a lot of things -- people, men, women, children, teachers, students, doctors, etc. Sometimes you need to specify what it is you are counting:
4人います。 (There are four [people of some type].)
先生は4人います。 (There are four teachers.)
男の人は4人います。 (There are four males.)

But I think that if you just came out of nowhere with a statement like あの部屋(へや)に4人います (There are four in that room) you might get a puzzled look from a native speaker because it sounds like "there are four [of something that we've been talking about]."
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RE: Sentences

Postby katafei » Sun 05.27.2007 3:49 pm

Anomaly wrote:
Thanks for the corrections! :)

I was just confused by one aspect, though:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:
1: You need a noun with the counter. 人は4人いません is the most standard way to do that.


I wasn't completely sure what you meant by that. If it's not too much trouble, could you explain that a little more for me?

Thanks! :)


I'm going to be bold and answer this question. Mind you, I'm a beginner as well, so...

In Japanese you don't say 4 something, like in English.
You say:
... something (particle) 4 counter) verb....

There are 5 boys in the garden.
庭に男のこが5人います
にわに おとこ の こ が 5 にん います

And so: 人は4人いません
It just so happens the counter for 人 is 人, so it looks a bit odd.

Boy, it took me so long to answer this question, hitting wrong backspaces and so on, that Yudan beat me to it:D
and more thorough, I'm sure...
I'll read and learn :)
Last edited by katafei on Sun 05.27.2007 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Sentences

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 05.27.2007 4:09 pm

Your explanation is fine; actually I think you probably did a better job. I'm too long-winded. :)
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RE: Sentences

Postby Anomaly » Sun 05.27.2007 10:00 pm

Thanks, both of you! :)

I'm still struggling to grasp the idea of counters, but I think it's slowly coming to me.

In the sentence
人は4人いません
would the first 人 would be pronounced ひと and the second にん?

Or am I completely off base here?

Sorry for all my questions, but thanks to both of you for being so patient and answering. :)
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RE: Sentences

Postby richvh » Sun 05.27.2007 10:23 pm

In the sentence
人は4人いません
would the first 人 would be pronounced ひと and the second にん?

By George, I think he's got it!

(Note that 1人 and 2人 have special readings.)
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RE: Sentences

Postby AJBryant » Mon 05.28.2007 1:35 pm

(Note that 1人 and 2人 have special readings.)


YEah, I want to read the first as "one hito" and the second as "two hito". (Now, if you had written 一人 and 二人....)

Note: Yes, I'm aware that some Japanese do use Arabic numerals, and sometimes with counters as well.

Tony
Last edited by AJBryant on Mon 05.28.2007 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Sentences

Postby lalaith » Mon 05.28.2007 2:21 pm

AJBryant wrote:
(Note that 1人 and 2人 have special readings.)


YEah, I want to read the first as "one hito" and the second as "two hito". (Now, if you had written 一人 and 二人....)

Note: Yes, I'm aware that some Japanese do use Arabic numerals, and sometimes with counters as well.

Tony


Not "ichi hito" and "ni hito"?

That actually makes me feel better. I was wondering if I'd ever look at "1" and have word "ichi" be the first thing that leaps into my mind instead of going "one ---- ichi". Yet you with all your expertise still thought "one hito".
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RE: Sentences

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 05.28.2007 2:55 pm

If you see it in context, the Japanese readings spring to mind much more easily. Using arabic numerals is standard for horizontal writing.
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