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Grammar page 8

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The eigth page of the grammar lessons.


Why don't we...? ~ませんか?

Why don't we study a little more?

どこかで食べませんか? dokoka de tabemasen ka? Why don't we eat somewhere. 
何か飲みませんか? nanika nomimasen ka? Would you like something to drink. or Why don't we have a drink. 

The context decides if the meaning should be 'why don't WE' or 'Would YOU.'

A Closer look at を

Etymologically, を was at first used only for emphasis, such as よ is today. It later came to be used as a grammatical marker. Pronounced o but written in Japanese as wo. Simply put, を is the 'direct object marker or particle' which indicates the previous word is the direct object. There are cases when the English would not consider it a direct object, though. It is helpful to think of "direct object marker" as "marks what is directly afftected by verb action". This is vague and so it differs in different languages. Learn some examples and give it a try. This particle is one of the easier ones...

私は林檎を食べました。 watashi wa ringo o tabemashita. I ate an apple. (apple is the を) 
音楽を聴きたいです。 ongaku o kikitai desu. I want to listen to music. (music is the を) 
テレビを買う積です。 terebi o kau tsumori desu . I intend to buy a TV. (tsumori means'intend to'; TV is the を)

A Closer look at に

In most cases the particle へ can be used interchangeably with に. But に has a wider application so for now just stick with に

Showing movement to... Like 'to'

日本に行きたい nihon ni ikitai. I want to go to Japan. (direction TO Japan) 
何処に行きたいですか  doko ni ikitai desu ka. Where do you want to go? 

The difference is, へ emphasises direction, に location.

Meaning 'on' or 'in' (Point in Space)

紙に絵を描きました kami ni e o kakimashita. I drew a picture on a piece of paper. 

In time - 'at' (Point in Time)

六時に会いましょう roku ji ni aimashou Let's meet at 6.

Attributival - Giving further detail

食べずに行きます tabezu ni ikimasu To go without eating. (zu means not, to go and more specifically, to go "uneating") 
きれいに分かります kirei ni wakarimasu To split cleanly. (to split something, and more specifically, to split it cleanly) 

に in this sense can mean quite a different number of things. When you encounter it, just try to guess what it could mean from the context. And learn this usage by doing.

A Closer look at で

This is used mainly for location and instrumental.

Used for location of where something happens

デパートで帽子を買いました。 depa-to de boushi o kaimashita. I bought a hat at the Department store. 
日本で何をしましたか? nihon de nani o shimashita ka . In Japan, what did you do? 

Observe the difference between に and で:

マクドナルドに行きたい。 makudonarudo ni ikitai. I want to go to McDonalds.
マクドナルドで食べたい。 makudonarudo de tabetai. I want to eat at McDonalds.

に stresses the location, で verbal action.

Used as instrumental (noun marked by it is the means for the verb action, verb action is achieved through that noun)

ペンで書きます pen de kakimasu Write by means of a pen. 
マクドナルドで食べたい。 makudonarudo de tabetai. I want to eat "by means of" (using) McDonalds. 

The last sentence illustrates how the two "meanings" of で are not so different after all. McDonalds is only the means through which you wish to achieve your eating. You eating is the important part of the sentence.

Observe the difference betweeen で and の為に (for the purpose of)

書く物      の為に  ペンを使います (Writing)     (for that purpose)      (use a pen) 
ペンを使う事    で   書きます     (Using a pen) (through means of that) (write)

A Closer look at が

This is the 'subject marker / particle'.

雨が降っています。 ame ga futteimasu. It's raining. (lit. "Rain is falling.") 

There is a subtile difference between WA and GA and I don't pretend to try to completely explain it. Years from now, you will still make WA/GA mistakes. Still, in general you can say WA is the main TOPIC and GA is the more specific SUBJECT at hand. In the above example we say it is raining. The topic isn't about rain. We are simply stating the circumstances at the moment and the subject of that particular sentence is rain. If we were to talk all about rain, we would probably start with WA as in:

雨は空から降ってくる水です。 ame wa sora kara futte kuru mizu desu. 

As for rain, it is water that falls from the sky. (You may go on to say more about the overall topic of rain.)

Used with SUKI

私は猫が好きです watashi wa neko ga suki desu. I like cats. 

As for myself, it is the liking of cats. (が here is an old particle with a similiar meaning to の)

Question words always use GA

何が美味しい? nani ga oishii? What tastes good? 
誰が来ました? dare ga kimashita? Who came? 
何処が一番良い所ですか? doko ga ichi ban ii tokoro desu ka? Where is the best place? 

WA in simple sentences with DESU

Consider the following sentence

私 (は/が) 田中です watashi ha tanaka desu. I am Tanaka. 

Would you use WA or GA? WA selects a concept from our mind about which we wish to make a statement about. It gives context. If the part marked with WA would be left out, the sentence should still make sense. To make this point clearer, consider the following two short conversations:

貴方の御名前を御教えて下さいませんか?  Could you tell me your name, please? 
(私の名前は)  田中です。               (As for my name) It is Tanaka. 
此の部屋に居る方々の中にどの方を「田中」と言われますか? Who in this room is called "Tanaka"? 
(田中と言われた者は)  私です (As for the one called Tanaka) It is I. 

In the first conversation, something is defined as Tanaka. The context is your name. In the second conversation, something is definde a "I". The context is someone called Tanaka. Conversation two requires GA 私が田中です. Using WA would mean you could leave it out. And "Who is Tanaka. - It is Tanaka" makes no sense. Conversation one could use both WA and GA. Although using GA here emphasises the noun before it. (What is your name? - I am Tanaka.)

The same considerations apply to all simple sentences like A(は/が)Bです. Use GA when A is more important and WA when B is more important.

If II たら

A while back we found もし as the word that means 'if'. たら is added to the end of verbs to give the meaning of 'if this is done, then this will happen'

It is formed by adding ら to the past form (た-form).

 貴方が来たら、彼は帰る anata ga kitara kare wa kaeru If you are coming, he will go home. 

The simple past form of 来る is 来た. The 2nd phrase is conditional on the たら phrase.

 ゴジラに会ったら、どうしよう? gojira ni attara doushiyou. What should I do if I meet Godzilla?

You can also use it with nouns by adding ら to the past form of だ:

御金持ちだったら、大きな家が買えるのに okanemochi da tara ookina ie ga kaeru noni. If only I were rich, I could buy a large house.

As an interesting part, there is an archaic verb つ whose masu stem is て. When あり (to exist) is added, the resulting てあり is shortened to たり. たり expresses a past action and was shortened even more to give the modern past tense, ~た. The nai stem of たり is たら. The nai stem on its own means something like "uncompleted". So たら means "if (sth.) was completed" or "if X were the case". Perhaps this makes it easier for you to remember た and たら.

Softener ちょっと

Many years ago I found an example in a book of how Japanese can be direct or politely indirect. For example you can say:

1) こい! koi


2) あのう、すみません、たいへん恐れいれますが、ちょっとこちらへいらっしゃってくださいませんでしょうか?

both mean 'come here' but #2 is much more polite being cushioned by many soft, indirect words. One of these words is ちょっと.

ちょっと means 'little' or 'small amount' but it is often used to soften an otherwise painful 'no' or 'your request is impossible; live with it'
ちょっと難しいですが。 chotto muzukashi desu ga. That's a little difficult. (this may be said when the request is impossible)
ちょっと出来ないです。 chotto dekinai desu. It can't be done.
ちょっと分からないです。 chotto wakaranai desu. I'm not really sure.

I have been told the sound 'chotto' is a bad word in Korean. If that is the case, chotto may not be that soft of a word...

The power ender "よ"

When you want to impress upon your listener the importance or truth of what you are saying stick a よ at the end of the sentence.

本当ですよ。 hontou desu yo. It's the truth!
I tell ya! (Perhaps the speaker suspects the listener doesn't believe what he just said)

フロリダの12月は暑いですか? fururida no juu ni gatsu wa atsui desu ka? Is December in Florida is pretty hot?
結構寒いですよ。 kekkou samui desu yo. Actually, it is pretty cold.

It is very useful for rumors or explaining a truth you know someone may not swallow at first:
鈴木さんは宇宙人ですよ。 suzuki san wa uchuujin desu yo. Suzuki is an alien, you know.

Now you've finished

That red "lesson 9" link down there is a hint for somebody else to write it. ;-)

Apart from that this is the last of the 'Grammar Page' series but there are other Lessons. Having got this far you might want to look into more advanced subjects like Keigo or test your skills with Online Tests. In any case Good Luck learning Japanese and がんばって!

Continue to lesson 9 Go back and review lesson 7

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