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A father is talking to his kid about their plans tomorrow and says,


Why not:


(The sentence is supposed to say, "Kenshin, would you like to go to shopping with dad?" Obviously, not a one-to-one translation)

Aren't both sentences the same? I can't see the second sentence not relaying the idea of "together". So what does the 一緒に do exactly? It seems, to me, that the sentence doesn't really need it.

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Are you sure the father talked to his child in polite form? Is that the royal family or something? –  sawa Jul 2 '12 at 22:54
Does being royal or commoner have anything to do with 一緒に? lol. –  dotnetN00b Jul 2 '12 at 22:56
Of course not. It may have something to do with using politeness to the own child. –  sawa Jul 2 '12 at 22:57
It's an example sentence, sawa. I didn't realize the politeness level would distract from the question. –  dotnetN00b Jul 2 '12 at 22:58
Why is together "needed" in the English expression go shopping together with dad when you can say go shopping with dad? –  sawa Jul 2 '12 at 22:59
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4 Answers

At the coffee shop after practice, 行こうか is a perfectly good sentence if the highest ranking person says it. Everyone will get up and leave. In other situations, do you want to go home is very different from do you want to go home with me. Japanese can drop the you, but still needs the 一緒 (but not the me/us/them). I remember hearing a lot of 一緒に without names or pronouns. I know this is an example sentence, but I wonder if since 一緒に is so often required in this kind of question, it isn't automatically used and then names are added for emphasis. By 'then added', I mean some kind of mental process that assembles the sentence before speaking, not final word order.

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Why is together "needed" in the English expression

go shopping together with dad

when you can say

go shopping with dad

Doesn't the latter already convey the idea of "together"?

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Actually it's not needed. Most english speakers would say: "go shopping with dad". At least in America. –  dotnetN00b Jul 2 '12 at 23:01
I agree. That is why it is in double quotation. And the same is for Japanese. 一緒に is not needed (which is already obvious from your other Japanese example). At least in Japan. –  sawa Jul 2 '12 at 23:03
Ahhh. Well the times that I've heard any sentence about two people doing something, と一緒に was used. So I thought it was common to use it as opposed to omitting it. –  dotnetN00b Jul 2 '12 at 23:05
My native speaker intuition says that "Go shopping together with dad" is much less natural than "お父さんと一緒に買い物に行く". "Needed" may not be the correct word but I think that it is quite reasonable to wonder what underlies the fact that "一緒に" appears much more often in Japanese than "together" does in English, when both are equally "unnecessary" from a pure meaning standpoint. Not because the Japanese way is "illogical" or anything, but simply because there must be a reason for the difference and that reason is probably interesting. –  Matt Jul 3 '12 at 0:30
I agree with Matt - using 一緒に in this kind of situation is much more natural than using "together" in English. To equate them, much like equating most things in the Japanese language with a single, clear-cut English counterpart, is misleading at best. Answer could also be interpreted as smart-ass, but I'm sure that's not the way it was intended... –  ジョン Jul 3 '12 at 9:53
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"一緒に" gives an impression that Kenshin and his father do shopping together all the way through. Even if you don't say "一緒に", the sentence would mean the same basically.

However, it would also be taken as "I would go shopping with you. You drive, and drop me at the entrance of the department, you do shopping for your own, I do mine. Let's get back together at the entrance when we both finish shopping." ...Because you didn't mention "together" for shopping.

I guess this explanation would work the same in other languages through.

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Aren't both sentences the same?

Probably not sentimentally. There's much more of a bond in the use of 一緒に.

Also, I think that it expresses ((with-me go) shopping) more than (go (with-me shopping)).

I can't see the second sentence not relaying the idea of "together". So what does the 一緒に do exactly? It seems, to me, that the sentence doesn't really need it.

In many languages, there are words that are often used, but are not necessary, or not even meaningful. In this case, it is meaningful, but not necessary. Sometimes, it's just a habit. Or some improper sentence that goes uncorrected for it's perfectly understood. Just to tease you more, consider the sentence "約10人ぐらいいました", which means "there are approximately around 10 people." Bad English, very natural Japanese…

The notion of "need" you have needs to be loosened :)

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