文法. A collective term for syntax (the way sentences are put together) and morphology (forms of words, including the way new words are put together). Often used to describe function words such as particles, to describe word endings, and to talk about general sentence structure.

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95
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3answers
10k views

What's the difference between wa (は) and ga (が)?

When is it correct to use は but not が, and when is it correct to use が but not は? Are there any times when you can use either without changing the meaning of the sentence? How does switching change ...
58
votes
5answers
11k views

Differences among -たら、なら、-んだったら、-えば, etc

Japanese language has a lot of patterns for "if" clauses. What are the differences among the following patterns and how do we choose to use one over the others?: 行ったら 行くなら 行けば 行くんだったら 行くのなら 行くとしたら ...
71
votes
9answers
6k views

What is the こと in sentences such as あなたのことが好きだ?

There were a lot of great answers here. I gave the checkmark to ento's answer because I felt it most completely explained all aspects of this use of こと. But many of the other answers are excellent, so ...
46
votes
1answer
8k views

What is the difference between the nominalizers こと and の?

As Derek mentioned in his postscript, both こと and の are nominalizers that can turn a verb into a noun. ピアノを弾く【ひく】。 I play the piano. ピアノを弾く【ひく】のが好き【すき】です。 I like playing the piano. ...
29
votes
3answers
4k views

Difference between -ていく and -てくる

Can someone explain the differences between v-ていく and v-てくる for me. I know that they both express some kind of ongoing action (like a place getting crowded). For example, what's the difference between ...
29
votes
3answers
2k views

When is Vている the continuation of action and when is it the continuation of state?

Last night, when I asked my wife to send an email to me, she said もう送っている which I took to mean that she was "sending the message". (The message had a big attachment so I imagined that it could take a ...
31
votes
2answers
4k views

Why does Japanese have two kinds of adjectives? (-i adjectives and -na adjectives)

Japanese has two kinds of adjectives known by several terms but the ones I know are i-adjectives and na-adjectives - why? I recall that Japanese adjectives are much more like verbs than in English ...
22
votes
2answers
3k views

The difference between が and を with the potential form of a verb.

When using the potential form of a verb, I was taught that the particle を becomes が. However, in real life this seems to not always be the case. I've even heard Japanese people use を instead of が ...
16
votes
3answers
773 views

When is it okay to use あります with a living subject?

When learning Japanese everyone's taught いる is for a living thing and ある is for non-living things. However, I recently saw the following sentence ... あと、サッカー選手でもあります。 ... which ends in ある / あります ...
7
votes
1answer
845 views

What is the meaning of りゃ in this phrase?

I came across this phrase while reading an interview. そういう時はなんて答えりゃいいんだ。 I think it means "At a time like that, such a reply/response is good." But I don't understand the usage of りゃ. I ...
31
votes
4answers
9k views

What is the difference between “に” and “には”?

The title should be pretty self-explanatory. What meanings does each convey? And in what kinds of circumstances would one be used instead of the other? For example, what are the differences between ...
32
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the difference between 〜となる and 〜になる?

Is it a nuance difference? Is it formality? EDIT For example: 請求書のお支払いは現金のみとなりますので、ご了承くださいませ。 請求書のお支払いは現金のみになりますので、ご了承くださいませ。 I just made that example up, but for some reason, my gut ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Does Vて+いる always mean an action already completed?

For the longest time, I thought that a verb ending in て+いる meant that one was currently doing an action, similar to how we use ~ing in English to mean a contuinuing state. So 食{た}べている means "eating". ...
9
votes
2answers
332 views

Proportion and Rate

How do I form a sentence pattern for: The more/less X happens, the more/less Y happens E.g. The more you stir, the faster the salt dissolves. The colder the weather, the more ...
21
votes
3answers
4k views

Contrasting っぽい、らしい、みたい

For example, the following 3: 女っぽい (おんなっぽい) 女らしい (おんならしい) 女みたい (おんなみたい) In what situations would you use っぽい over らしい? Does っぽい have negative connotations? Are 女らしい and 女みたい interchangeable as in ...
17
votes
3answers
4k views

Usage of なんて and なんか as emphasis

When are なんて and なんか used as emphasis in casual speech? Are they used when you're surprised, angry or can it be both? What sort of feeling does it convey to the listener compared to a normal sentence ...
19
votes
1answer
505 views

Why is the topic marker often used in negative statements (ではない, ~とは思わない)?

What function does は provide in statements such as 本ではない or 本だとは思わない? I notice the は after と is often left out, at least if a Google search for 思わない is any indication, but there still seems to be a ...
36
votes
7answers
4k views

When going somewhere, is there any difference between e (へ) and ni (に)?

Can you use へ and に interchangeably, as in 北海道へ行く and 北海道に行く? Are there any subtle differences in the use of these two?
19
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the usage of 〜げ and how does it differ from 〜そう or 〜っぽい?

How do these two differ, for example: 寂しそう vs 寂しげ 楽しそう vs 楽しげ 言いたそう vs 言いたげ 大人げ vs 大人っぽい(...? Not sure if this one works.)
7
votes
2answers
995 views

Is it ok to use ~て下さりました instead of ~ていただきました?

Just to avoid repeatedly saying いただきました too much, can I occasionally switch it with 下さりました or 下さいました?
11
votes
1answer
559 views

Passive form - The exact difference between を and が

I've seen this question asked before, but i feel the answer didn't quite answer all my questions, so here goes. Now, I am rather sure that this: ケーキが食べられた Means: The cake was eaten. (by ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Aren't がる and たがる the same thing?

In my JLPT practise book, it has two different entries, one to explain がる and one to explaining たがる. It offeres these example sentences to differentiate them: うちの子{こ}は新{あたら}しいものを見{み}ると、すぐほしがる。 ...
27
votes
3answers
2k views

ことができる versus V~える form

Way back in the day when I was first learning Japanese, I learned that you could add ことができる to a verb to indicate potential. Like so: 食{た}べることができる (I) can eat (something) It became my ...
16
votes
3answers
838 views

Confusion about “Seemingly not ~”

So there are several ways to express something is "seemingly not ~": ~なさそう ~そうにない ~そうもない ~そうにもない (is this one even real?) I was always taught ~なさそう in my Japanese classes, and it was ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Can 「XければXほどY」 clause pattern be shortened to 「XほどY」?

There is a clause pattern 「XければXほどY」. For example, 「近【ちか】ければ近【ちか】いほど便【べん】利【り】」 which means something like "the nearer it is, the more convenient it will be". Can I shorten the clause to ...
12
votes
3answers
5k views

Usage of ~じゃん (~じゃない)

I'd like to know if I can put ~じゃん at the end of every adjective, if there are any exceptions to that usage, and if it's different from ~じゃない. Adj (na) + じゃん 便利じゃん 便利だったじゃん 便利じゃないじゃん ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

When to use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい

When does one use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい? For example, in phrases like: 先生は野菜を食べて欲し​{いです・がっています}。 My incomplete understanding is that the がる form is more formal/polite, but it can only be ...
9
votes
2answers
475 views

Why is を used in this situation? 私は先生がネコを好きだと思います

私は先生がネコを好きだと思います Why を and not が twice?
14
votes
3answers
1k views

「~たじゃない」 expression in spoken Japanese

I noticed in an anime I watched, one of the characters said something like below: さっき食べたじゃない。 And what I think the meaning is: Didn't you just eat a few while ago? From what I have learned in ...
16
votes
1answer
5k views

So-called の-adjectives - how does の *really* work?

Ok, so there seems to be some controversy over whether we can really say that there are 'の-adjectives', or whether we simply use a noun in an "attributive" way (a term which I don't actually really ...
10
votes
1answer
316 views

Difference Between べんきょう する And べんきょうを する

What is the difference between べんきょう する and べんきょうを する.
7
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the difference between は and のは?

The following sentence means "seeing all the different foreign people was interesting." This, according to my Japanese friends is incorrect: 色々な外国人を見ているは面白かった。 ... and this is correct: ...
19
votes
2answers
744 views

“太ってる猫” vs “太った猫”

I saw this sentence and its translation in a textbook 彼女は太った猫が好きじゃない。 She doesn't like fat cats I was under the impression that 「太ってる猫」 means something like “cat that is in the state of ...
31
votes
5answers
3k views

i-adjectives used as na-adjectives: is there a difference? (e.g. 大きい versus 大きな)

There are at the very least several i-adjectives can be used as na-adjectives by dropping the final い and adding な in its place. The most common examples of this, as far as I am aware, are 大きい and ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

What are the general principles of using verbs to modify nouns (e.g. 焦げるトースト/焦げたトースト)?

In all the time I've studied the language, I've never heard or seen anybody even hint at whether the principles from a given language (like using “burnt toast” vs. “burning toast”) carry over, or if ...
14
votes
2answers
509 views

Can we optionally include (or exclude) an を particle in between the noun of the する-verb and the する itself?

When we have a する verb (e.g. 支度する、案内する、心配する), is it true that we could optionally insert an を particle in between the noun and the する? Because in the example sentences here and here, we can see this ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

How is the “のです” working here?

目立つ事を恐れ、一緒でなければいけないという日本人が確実に減ってきているのです。 The strong feelings that Japanese have of being afraid of standing out and everybody having to do things together are starting to become less ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

のだから vs のだ (んだから vs んだ)

When I learnt this grammar point a while ago, my teachers told me not to use it with "から". There reasoning for this was that のだ already implies a reason or supporting information for a conclusion. ...
9
votes
2answers
262 views

Varying word order for stylistic effect

Sometimes, for stylistic or rhetorical effect, one wants to delay mentioning a word/concept until the end of a sentence. For example, it's often best to save the punchline for the very end: I was ...
9
votes
1answer
581 views

why is it that some 形容動詞 accepts の after it while some only accepts な after it?

why is it that some 形容動詞 accepts の after it while some only accepts な after it? Examples: の only: 普通、大勢 な or の: 初心、特別、特殊 Is there a way for us to tell if a 形容動詞 needs a の or な particle after ...
7
votes
1answer
989 views

What is the difference between でなくand ではなく?

This is the sentence I have just read: 外国へ行くとしたら、ただの旅行ではなく、勉強を 目的として 行きたい。 If I ever have a chance to go abroad then I would like to go to study rather than just travel. The は feels ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

“slightly/somewhat” の 「~[目]{め}」: Usage and limitations

I'm somewhat confused about the usage and limitations of the ~め suffix that means "somewhat/slightly". I've only ever heard it on a handful of words: 大きめ 小さ目 多め 少な目 早め and maybe a ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Passive vs. active form of verb (past) What is the difference?

I was wondering what the difference is if I use passive form or active form of a verb. For example: ネズミは猫に食べられた。The mouse was eaten by the cat. 猫は、ネズミを食べた。The cat ate the mouse. What EXACTLY is ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

The different usages of ことがある

If I understand correctly, the main usages of ことがある seem to be the following: Verb(plain)+ことがある: There are times when (I) Verb(past)+ことがある: (I) have experienced (something) before But after this ...
7
votes
3answers
874 views

How can I come to terms with the animate/inanimate distinction in Japanese?

According to this answer, "This made me laugh" would translate literally into Japanese as: これが僕{ぼく}を笑{わら}わせた。 However, the same answer explains that this would be an odd thing to say in ...
7
votes
2answers
701 views

Zero-nominalisation - Why and When?

Building on from Zhen Lin's answer to "The grammar of ~かれ~かれ", Brief explanation of Zero-nominalisation: Nominalisation refers to the process of turning a word, or more generally a phrase, into a ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

What is 〜からです and when is it used? How does it differ from 〜ですから and 〜んです?

I have seen this expression a few times, and have never quite understood it. In particular, it seems to be equatable both to ですから and to んです, but I can't figure out where it would be used over either ...
8
votes
3answers
909 views

Is this って equivalent to 「と」?

Is the って in the following sentence equivalent to 「と」 as in AはBと変わる/違う? 昔から好きな曲って変わらないみたい。 My favourite songs have not changed for many years. Does this mean it is equivalent to the と used ...
9
votes
4answers
360 views

相手の日本人 or 日本人の相手?

If I wanted to describe the person I was speaking about as being Japanese, to me it seems natural to say: 日本人{にほんじん}の相手{あいて} ... however, one time a Japanese teacher told me it's more correct to ...
9
votes
6answers
587 views

Shouldn't this phrase using だけのこと mean “just for that”?

In a grammar textbook I have, there is this phrase: 幸{さいわ}い日本{にほん}で日本語{にほんご}を勉強{べんきょう}して、かなり話{はな}せるようになりました。日本{にほん}に行{い}っただけのことはありました。 The translation given is: Fortunately, I studied ...