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For example if i say something like,"あなたはやさしい人です”。

Versus if I say,"あなたはやさしい人".

Is the second sentence (stated above) grammatically correct or does there "need" to be a particle at the end of my sentence?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

There are actually three sentences worth discussing

(1) あなたはやさしい人です

(2) あなたはやさしい人だ

(3) あなたはやさしい人

For each sentence, we should consider three dimensions: grammaticality, softness, and politeness.

(1) is soft (doesn't sound too direct), polite (shows respect for addressee).
(2) is rough (sounds like a point's trying to be made), not polite (doesn't show respect for addressee).
(3) is soft (doesn't sound too direct), not polite (doesn't show respect for addressee).

All three are grammatical.

(Note: "Not polite" doesn't necessarily mean "rude". There is no need to use the polite form with your friends, close family, or people much younger than you, for example -- in these cases the polite form would be overly distant or odd.)

(Note 2: It's probably worth pointing out that the presence of あなた makes all of these sentences sound a little jarring.)

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1  
Should this answer be qualified to refer to spoken sentences? I've never seen it written like type-3 and である is not mentioned. –  virmaior Jan 15 at 4:58
    
All three can be written and spoken. In formal writing である is used, but in non-formal writing any of the three can be used (depending on desired effect). I did not mention である because it further complicates things by adding another dimension (formality) and I figured that it wouldn't be useful to the asker to start discussing more formal language. –  Darius Jahandarie Jan 15 at 5:37
    
I'm sorry to question you, but don't Japanese sentences need at least a verb to technically be grammatical? It might be acceptable/understood to leave it out, but I thought Japanese sentences were fragments without a verb. –  tabibito Jan 15 at 6:19
1  
@tabibito As far as grammatical analysis goes, such sentences are treated as having a "zero copula" (often denoted as ∅ in linguistics). That is to say, the sentence does still have a verb, its just that the verb's surface form is nothing. This can actually happen in English newspaper headlines: "Teacher credited with disarming gunman"; there is still an "is" in there semantically. In Japanese it is not limited to newspaper headlines of course. –  Darius Jahandarie Jan 15 at 6:37
    
Darius I greatly thank you for your input it helped me out in so many ways that I would run out space to describe on text. With this I also wanted to say that Kaizora also helped clarify what Darius told me because I couldn't understand (at the time) Darius' thought because he put it too intellectually but when things came together it all made sense. Thanks to you two I understand and to all the other people who helped me I love Japan and will continue to educate myself. –  user4498 Jan 15 at 6:44

I believe Darius hit all the points on how it differs in spoken Japanese.

I'd like to add that tone and context also play a huge role when it comes to spoken Japanese, or any other spoken language for that matter.

Generally speaking, です at the end of sentence has a high likelihood of signifying politeness, but it also depends on context and tone (which I will only discuss context since I can't show you tone). For example, you see your friend picking up trash for a stranger who dropped it intentionally, and you reply:

あなたはやさしい人(です)。

It could imply a number of things, such as:

  1. statement: "You are a nice person." (especially if you don't know this person very well)
  2. re-affirmation: "You are indeed a nice person"
  3. surprise, "Wow, you sure are nice."

could also be any combination of the inferred meanings depending on the situation. If sarcasm was intended though, です at the end would actually make it more informal and in some ways "rude." Plus, if you use あなた altogether, it could sound more impolite than polite.

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This line Depending on the tone, with or without です, it could imply a number of things, such as: is a completely unclear utterance. Also, I don't thin Darius was at all intending to say that adding あなた made the statement informal. –  virmaior Jan 15 at 6:35
    
The point of that sentence is to indicate that in a spoken sentence, with or without です, it would not matter, because tone and context are also important factors in determining the meaning of the sentence. But you are correct, Darius did not imply informality in the sentence so I will not refer to him. –  kaizora Jan 15 at 22:42
    
I think you're missing that I'm saying your sentence there is beyond empty, because it merely states that the presence OR absence of です can mean OR not mean any of a list of things that follows. In other words, it answers nothing to include such a sentence. –  virmaior Jan 16 at 0:08

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