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A little while back I was working my way through the Book "Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication" When I got to page 156 it explains the topic of the section which is "The te form of a verb, followed by ください, expresses a polite request or command...." It then gives some examples and asks you to solve a few problems. One of the sentences to translate was "Please carry this chair to the conference room"

I worked out the problem like so

会議室にこのいすを運んでください。

however the answer the book gives is

このいすを会議室に運んでください。

This seemed very strange because the conference room is a direct object of the chair. I am also aware that を can mean the space through which something is going, but again that usage seems incorrect since we are talking about a destination.

Can anybody explain this usage of the を particle and if my answer makes any more or less sense than the book answer? If I had never seen this sentence before Im sure I could make out what it means, but the way it uses the を particle is tripping me up. Thanks!

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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The two sentences are actually completely grammatically equivalent. Phrases ending in particles can be placed in an arbitrary order so long as they all precede the verb. That's because the particles indicate the function of the phrase, not the word order. For example, the following two sentences are also grammatically equivalent:

私は東京に行きます。 東京に私は行きます。

Now, even though they mean the same thing, the emphasis is not the same. Usually the subject precedes any objects, for example. But getting a feel for how word order affects emphasis is something that can really only come through practice, except that things at the front of the sentence are generally emphasized more. For instance, the first one is just "I'm going to Tokyo", but the second one might seem more like, "Tokyo? As it happens, I'm going there."

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The direct object marker を always comes straight after the direct object, not before it. You can have a place as the direct object with を (町を歩く) but here the direct object is still the chair, not the conference room. The sentence is basically このいすを運んでください, but with some extra information placed in the middle (会議室に).

To my ears, the book answer sounds more correct. Your sentence sounds correct, but sort of stiff. Your sentence has the を in the correct place, but you don't necessarily need for the verb to follow directly. You can put some extra information between を and the verb:

寿司を笑顔で食べる (すしをえがおでたべる) Eat sushi with a happy face.

This page explains particles better than I can:
http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/verbparticles

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thank you, this is very helpful as well :) –  Colin Wheeler Jun 9 '11 at 0:27
    
+1 for "object marker" which should be mentioned in any accepted answer about the wo particle... –  repecmps Jun 9 '11 at 2:00

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