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Consider two variants of a sentence with a comma:

  1. 雨が降って、傘を持ってきてよかった。
  2. 雨が降った、傘を持ってきてよかった。

I've seen that (2) is grammatical in Japanese (as opposed to English, where it would be considered a "run-on" sentence). Do both variants mean the same thing ("It was raining, so I was glad I bought my umbrella")? If not, what is the difference between them, and in general when should one use the て-form with commas?

My guess is that (1) has more of a cause and effect relationship ("It was raining, and then, because of that, I brought an umbrella and was glad"). Then I suppose (2) is more disjointed, and could mean ("It was raining, and I happened to have an umbrella, so I was glad")?

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    Neither is particularly natural. 1 is grammatical; 2 is orthographically anomalous in using dictionary form before comma. Consider 空に雲が広がって、雨が降り始めた. This is like (ordinary) Clouds spread over the sky, and it started to rain while ・・・た、雨が・・・ is like Clouds spread over the sky, it started to rain without and.
    – sundowner
    Sep 14, 2023 at 12:05
  • @sundowner: So in general, only the て form should ever precede a comma?
    – George
    Sep 14, 2023 at 16:20
  • Neither suggests a cause and effect relationship between raining and bringing an umbrella.
    – aguijonazo
    Sep 14, 2023 at 21:10
  • @George [連用形]{れにょうけい}/Continuative form, similarly to te-form, can be used for conjoining of clauses, and it can be followed by comma.
    – Arfrever
    Sep 14, 2023 at 21:30
  • If a relative clause is paused by a comma, dictionary form+comma is naturally used. 彼が持っていた、古い本。= an old book which he was carrying.
    – sundowner
    Sep 14, 2023 at 22:40

1 Answer 1

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Which is the intended meaning of your Sentence (1)?

  • A: It was actually raining when I went out, so I took an umbrella. It ended up being useful in some other way (say, as a photography reflector or a weapon).
  • B: I brought an umbrella when I went out because I anticipated that it might rain. It did end up raining, so the umbrella was indeed useful.

If A is the intended meaning, your Sentence (1) is correct. If B is the intended meaning, Sentence (1) is awfully unnatural because of the limitation described in the last part of this article.

In this sentence pattern, Sentence 1 and Sentence 2 are sequential events. In other words, Sentence 1 takes place first and Sentence 2 takes place after that.

  1. 明日試験があって、今日準備しなければなりません。 X

Therefore, when you say 雨が降っ傘を持ってきよかった, "雨が降った" → "傘を持ってきた" → "よかった" must happen in this sequence. A satisfies this, but B doesn't. If B is what you mean, you must say "(本当に)雨が降ったので、(あらかじめ)傘を持ってきてよかった".


As for Sentence (2), it's just two independent sentences somehow joined with a comma instead of a period. While such a technique may be deliberately employed to convey halting thoughts in monologues or similar contexts, it's simply incorrect as standard Japanese.

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  • The fact that (1) means A is really tricky and unexpected! But your answer led me to explore causality nuances among て, から, and ので, and their differences remind me a lot of Japanese conditionals (から/ので reminds me of ~たら action conditionals, while て reminds me of と or ~えば conditionals). Not sure if that makes any sense :)
    – George
    Sep 15, 2023 at 22:55

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