Japanese Grammar FAQ

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('''Concerning ??? (Saseru)''')
(What is ~んだ (-nda) / What is ~のだ (-noda))
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Under Construction... *
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I began writing this FAQ when I was still at a relatively early stage of learning Japanese. A fair few years must have past... so now I intend to write this thing up from start to finish.
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Although this is technically a FAQ, most of the contents are not actually frequently asked questions. They are in fact, grammatical problems which have occured to Japanese students in the past- and the aim of this FAQ is to make sure that these problems can be reviewed in a clear simple format by all students of Japanese. Effectively, the [[Japanese Grammar FAQ]] is simillar to a reference library, or an archive. It doesn't teach grammar, it shows examples of problems which have occured in the past relating to Japanese grammar. Hopefully in time this page will expand and provide our community with another excellent resource for studying Japanese.
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For the most part, I'll be referencing grammar questions that arose in the thejapanesepage.com 's forums. Any recommendations or personal queries? Feel free to send me a PM. I want to arrange these grammar questions starting with general/common questions, and gradually getting more specific and uncommon. I will try and answer them as concisely as possible. Anyone is welcome to make improvements (or corrections!) but I appreciate your asking first.
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-[[User:Ongakuka|Ongakuka]]
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That said, Yoroshiku!
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==='''Concerning させる (Saseru)'''===
 
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Sometimes even the best of Japanese students will come across a confusing grammar problem where they least expect it.
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=== だ(da) VS です(desu) ===
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[[User:Keatonatron|Keatonatron]]: Just some clarification on a fairly basic topic: Can the させる form be used when someone unintentionally is the cause for someone to do something? In other words, instead of "the teacher made the student do his homework" can you use it for "he made me laugh" or "you made me forget?"
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The copula だ・です is used to finalize a statement. They mean the same thing, except that です is polite and, like any polite Japanese, is usually prioritized when speaking to anyone outside of friends and family. The extremely polite form is でございます (de gozaimasu)
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Technically this is true. Just as we say, "You made me laugh" in English the same can be done in Japanese. Take the sentence: "Jill made the teacher laugh." We do not assume Jill is forcing the teacher to laugh, we assume that is unintentional.
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Other forms of this word include である (de aru) which is used in formal or academic text/speech. It sounds very certain and sometimes even proud - like the title of Natsume Soseki's book: 我輩は猫である "I am a Cat." The Samurai-esque alternative is でござる (de gozaru).
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*ジルは先生を笑わせた
 
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*Jiru wa sensei o warawaseta
 
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*Jill made the teacher laugh
 
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Now grammatically this is all fine and dandy. But unfortunately, in Japanese this has a somewhat sarcastic nuance to it. The example above gives the impression that Jill perhaps made a fool of herself, causing the teacher to laugh. Of course, this isn't the type of nuance we're after.
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=== Can I use か(ka) after だ(da)? ===
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Now look at this example:
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When asking a question in polite Japanese, your sentence will often end in 「ですか。」However, even though ですis a polite form of だ, Japanese people do not say だか, which actually gives off a distinct country-bumpkin feel. Questions in casual speech are best ended with the particle の (refer to the んだ・のだ section)
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*先生はジルに笑ってしまった
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It should also be noted that だ should not follow an i-adjective (「い形容詞」)or a verb.
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*Jiru wa sensei ni waratte shimatta
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*By Jill, the teacher was made to laugh
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The above translation may be a little sketchy, but it illustrates the effect given by てしまった(-te shimatta.) (See [[Grammar page 6#.E3.81.97.E3.81.BE.E3.81.A3.E3.81.9F.E3.80.81.E3.81.A1.E3.82.83.E3.81.A3.E3.81.9F|Lesson 6]] for more on しまった)
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寒いだね X 寒いね 0
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You can visit the original discussion threads [http://www.thejapanesepage.com/forum/viewthread.php?forum_id=7&thread_id=3764 -saseru -sareru te, nani?],[http://www.thejapanesepage.com/forum/viewthread.php?forum_id=7&thread_id=3622 Causitive Form Question],[http://www.thejapanesepage.com/forum/viewthread.php?forum_id=7&thread_id=3136#27886| Thisarticle] where you may ask any further questions concerning this topic.
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さむいだね X さむいね 0
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On the other hand, verbs/i-adjectives can be joined to だ with ん/の but the meaning will be affected. For example:
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===='''Comparing Confusing Conditionals'''====
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As most textbooks will tell you, there are many words for "if" in the Japanese language. If you have not yet encountered these, I recommend you visit this page. (link to be added.)
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寒い 0
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The problems usually arise with the conditionals たら and ーれば、both of which we are told mean "if." So what is the difference between the two? Is one more formal than the other? Is there a certain situation where one is preferrable, or are they interchangeable?
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寒いんだ 0 
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These are important questions to consider. In my belief, no two words are the same; context and nuance play a big role in Japanese and even in English. For example, the following English words all have the same meaning- but each has a slightly different nuance: but, still, though, although, however, nevertheless.
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The first sentence means "It's (or "I'm") cold." The second sentence could mean "Oh it's cold" (contrary to my expectation) or "I'm cold" (in explanation.) Please refer to the んだ・のだ section for more details.
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'''1. Is one conditional more formal than the other?'''
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=== What is ~んだ (-nda) / What is ~のだ (-noda) ===
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As far as たら and れば are concerned, no. Formalities are usually expressed at the end of a sentence, and most sentences with these conditionals take this structure:
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~んだ is a contraction of ~のだ. They are interchangeable, and both can be used in polite or casual Japanese. Since the former is more common, using the latter will sound like you are purposefully trying to sound serious, or proper, so I would say it works well in polite Japanese.
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* 日本に行ったら、すしを食べます
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They can follow an い形容詞 (i-adjective) or a verb. If you want to follow a な形容詞(na-adjective) you must include the な(na), please see examples below. Usage should be covered elsewhere, but I'll just say that inserting ん or の suggests one is seeking an explanation (when used in a question) or giving an explanation (when used in a statement.)
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Using ん・の in a question:
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'''2. Are たら and れば interchangeable?'''
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イギリスは、今寒くないんですか Isn't the UK cold now? (Here「ん」demonstrates the speakers interest for the listener's knowledge/explanation.)
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No. It all depends on ''what you want to say.''
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いぎりすは、いまさむくないんですか
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'''3. Ok, so how do I use them?'''
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宿題はもうやったの? Have you already done your homework? (In casual speech, it generally works well to use の as your question marker.)
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This is the final and most important question. You see, the flaw is actually in ''English'', not Japanese. Observe the two sentences below:
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しゅくだいはもうやったの?
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* If it rains tomorrow, I'll use an umbrella.
 
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* If you buy that one, you'll have no money left.
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Using ん・の in a statement can be to give an explanation, or acknowledge/understand something you didn't before.
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Unlike the first example, the second example has a definite nuance to it. If you buy that one, you will have no money left. It is a ''fact''. Whereas in the first example, there is no definite state implied. The rain isn't going to force me to use an umbrella, I just want to use one because it is going to rain.
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これは、便利なのです。 This useful/convenient. (Here the「の」is saying 'that's why!' in explanation as to why you like or recommend something.)
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たら would be more suitable in the first example. れば would be more suitable in the second example.
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これは、べんりなのです。
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* 明日雨が降ったら、かさを使います if it rains tomorrow, I expect I'll have to use my umbrella
 
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* それを買えば、お金がありません if you buy that one, you will have no money left (FACT)
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終わったんだ。  It's finished/over (Here ん describes the speaker's realization at that very moment that something has finished.)
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おわったんだ。
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=== Conditionals: what's the difference? ===
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In English, we use the word "if" a lot; some of our conditionals ("were I to.." "should you..") are falling out of use. By contrast, Japanese has a number of conditionals that are ''all used frequently'', and understanding the way to distinguish the use of these is a challenge all Japanese learners will face. Despite having distinct nuances, there are times when more than one conditional will fit a given sentence, which is probably one of the causes of confusion.
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'''たら/tara'''
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'''ば/ba'''
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'''と/to'''
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と is placed after a verb in dictionary/plain form. For example, 見ると (if/when I look.) Whatever follows next, と tells us that it follows (or followed) succinctly, smoothly, directly. This can be thought of as 'cause and effect.'
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写真を見ると、彼を思い出します。When I look at the photo, I remember him. しゃしんをみると、かれをおもいだします。
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It is often used in the context of giving advice. In such a context, it is clearly more assertive than ば or たら。
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それを持っていくと便利ですよ If you take that with you, it's useful! (underlying nuance: you really ought to take it!)
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それをもっていくとべんりですよ
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暖かいうちに食べるといい It's better if you eat it whilst it's hot (underlying nuance: I really recommend you eat it whilst it's hot)
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あたたかいうちにたべるといい
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*Advanced: と following the volitional form of a verb will create the meaning 'even if' (usually expressed with verb stem + ても) I feel that using と in this way has a sense of poetry or emotion.
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何を言われても、気にしない >>> 何を言われようと、気にしない
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'''もし/moshi'''
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'''なら/nara'''
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Has the nuance of 'provided that.' 'On condition that.' なら directly follows a verb or noun.
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あなたも行くなら、私も行く If you will go, I will go too. (underlying nuance: I'll go too but only if you are)
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あなたもいくなら、わたしもいく
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君ならできる If it's you, you can do it (underlying nuance: If anyone can do it, you can)
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きみならできる
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=== ている VS てる ===
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Leaving out the い does not change the meaning, てる originated from fast colloquial speech patterns (in the same way as people say 'gonna' for 'going.'
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本を読んでいる >>>本を読んでる
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汗をかいている >>> 汗をかいてる

Revision as of 08:40, 15 February 2013

I began writing this FAQ when I was still at a relatively early stage of learning Japanese. A fair few years must have past... so now I intend to write this thing up from start to finish.

For the most part, I'll be referencing grammar questions that arose in the thejapanesepage.com 's forums. Any recommendations or personal queries? Feel free to send me a PM. I want to arrange these grammar questions starting with general/common questions, and gradually getting more specific and uncommon. I will try and answer them as concisely as possible. Anyone is welcome to make improvements (or corrections!) but I appreciate your asking first.

That said, Yoroshiku!


Contents

だ(da) VS です(desu)

The copula だ・です is used to finalize a statement. They mean the same thing, except that です is polite and, like any polite Japanese, is usually prioritized when speaking to anyone outside of friends and family. The extremely polite form is でございます (de gozaimasu)

Other forms of this word include である (de aru) which is used in formal or academic text/speech. It sounds very certain and sometimes even proud - like the title of Natsume Soseki's book: 我輩は猫である "I am a Cat." The Samurai-esque alternative is でござる (de gozaru).


Can I use か(ka) after だ(da)?

When asking a question in polite Japanese, your sentence will often end in 「ですか。」However, even though ですis a polite form of だ, Japanese people do not say だか, which actually gives off a distinct country-bumpkin feel. Questions in casual speech are best ended with the particle の (refer to the んだ・のだ section)

It should also be noted that だ should not follow an i-adjective (「い形容詞」)or a verb.

寒いだね X 寒いね 0

さむいだね X さむいね 0

On the other hand, verbs/i-adjectives can be joined to だ with ん/の but the meaning will be affected. For example:

寒い 0

寒いんだ 0 

The first sentence means "It's (or "I'm") cold." The second sentence could mean "Oh it's cold" (contrary to my expectation) or "I'm cold" (in explanation.) Please refer to the んだ・のだ section for more details.

What is ~んだ (-nda) / What is ~のだ (-noda)

~んだ is a contraction of ~のだ. They are interchangeable, and both can be used in polite or casual Japanese. Since the former is more common, using the latter will sound like you are purposefully trying to sound serious, or proper, so I would say it works well in polite Japanese.

They can follow an い形容詞 (i-adjective) or a verb. If you want to follow a な形容詞(na-adjective) you must include the な(na), please see examples below. Usage should be covered elsewhere, but I'll just say that inserting ん or の suggests one is seeking an explanation (when used in a question) or giving an explanation (when used in a statement.)

Using ん・の in a question:

イギリスは、今寒くないんですか Isn't the UK cold now? (Here「ん」demonstrates the speakers interest for the listener's knowledge/explanation.)

いぎりすは、いまさむくないんですか


宿題はもうやったの? Have you already done your homework? (In casual speech, it generally works well to use の as your question marker.)

しゅくだいはもうやったの?


Using ん・の in a statement can be to give an explanation, or acknowledge/understand something you didn't before.

これは、便利なのです。 This useful/convenient. (Here the「の」is saying 'that's why!' in explanation as to why you like or recommend something.)

これは、べんりなのです。


終わったんだ。 It's finished/over (Here ん describes the speaker's realization at that very moment that something has finished.)

おわったんだ。

Conditionals: what's the difference?

In English, we use the word "if" a lot; some of our conditionals ("were I to.." "should you..") are falling out of use. By contrast, Japanese has a number of conditionals that are all used frequently, and understanding the way to distinguish the use of these is a challenge all Japanese learners will face. Despite having distinct nuances, there are times when more than one conditional will fit a given sentence, which is probably one of the causes of confusion.

たら/tara


ば/ba


と/to

と is placed after a verb in dictionary/plain form. For example, 見ると (if/when I look.) Whatever follows next, と tells us that it follows (or followed) succinctly, smoothly, directly. This can be thought of as 'cause and effect.' 写真を見ると、彼を思い出します。When I look at the photo, I remember him. しゃしんをみると、かれをおもいだします。

It is often used in the context of giving advice. In such a context, it is clearly more assertive than ば or たら。

それを持っていくと便利ですよ If you take that with you, it's useful! (underlying nuance: you really ought to take it!)

それをもっていくとべんりですよ


暖かいうちに食べるといい It's better if you eat it whilst it's hot (underlying nuance: I really recommend you eat it whilst it's hot)

あたたかいうちにたべるといい


  • Advanced: と following the volitional form of a verb will create the meaning 'even if' (usually expressed with verb stem + ても) I feel that using と in this way has a sense of poetry or emotion.

何を言われても、気にしない >>> 何を言われようと、気にしない

もし/moshi

なら/nara

Has the nuance of 'provided that.' 'On condition that.' なら directly follows a verb or noun.

あなたも行くなら、私も行く If you will go, I will go too. (underlying nuance: I'll go too but only if you are)

あなたもいくなら、わたしもいく


君ならできる If it's you, you can do it (underlying nuance: If anyone can do it, you can)

きみならできる

ている VS てる

Leaving out the い does not change the meaning, てる originated from fast colloquial speech patterns (in the same way as people say 'gonna' for 'going.'

本を読んでいる >>>本を読んでる

汗をかいている >>> 汗をかいてる

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