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I have been wondering about this, since every time I hand in a 作文 in a Japanese class, I'm corrected on conjunctions. It seems to me that whenever I use a てform as a conjunction, a response comes back that it has a cause-and-effect feel. I thought that it was just neutral, since there are so many different ways to express cause and effect, but it seems that might not actually be the case. That being said, I thought that stem forms and なく might be the actually neutral way to join two clauses. I just wanted to know if I'm correct.

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Kyoko Tokashiki's 1989 thesis, On Japanese coordinate structures: an investigation of structural differences between the -te form and the -i form, addresses this in some detail for verbs. – snailplane Oct 31 '14 at 18:45

te-form is similar to the English participial construction, and has the following restrictions as opposed to using the stem.

1) It implies temporal order

'having cried, laughed'

'cried and laughed' [Without temporal implication]

2) Volitionality of what is connected must match

 'In the morning, having gotten up (intentionally), I brushed my teeth (intentionally).'

× 朝、目覚めて、歯を磨いた
 'In the morning, having woken up (subconsciously), I brushed my teeth (intentionally).'

 'In the morning, I got up, and brushed my teeth.'

 'In the morning, I woke up, and brushed my teeth.'

Note that this second restriction is reminiscent of, if not exactly the same as, prohibition against dangling participle in English.

These two restrictions together may indirectly lead to the impression that there is a cause-and-effect feel for te-form.

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Isn't "all verbs have the same subject" another restriction? You're not supposed to write "僕は朝起きて、母がパンを買いに行きました" to mean "I got up in the morning and my mother went to buy bread", are you? – Axioplase Aug 30 '11 at 1:07
@Axioplase With your example, it sounds strange because of pragmatics, but a sentence like 僕が学校行って、母が会社に行きました。 is fine. – user458 Aug 30 '11 at 3:47
@sawa: It seems to me like you're talking about intent, not volition. – Daniel Safari Jan 3 '14 at 20:59

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