How do you form relative clauses that involves first person action? For example : "There aren't people I can talk to". Basically my doubt is about all those questions that require a particle like "to", "ni" and the like, when you can't use V-te ageru/kureru/morau to explicitate who's doing what to whom..Don't know if it's clear >.<

  • No, not really clear. But, "There aren't people I can talk to" could be translated as 話せる人々がいない. Maybe this already answers your question?
    – Earthliŋ
    Apr 28, 2013 at 10:31
  • Are you talking about ambiguous cases like 彼女が好きな彼?
    – nkjt
    Apr 28, 2013 at 11:15
  • 1
    doesn't 話せる人々がいない mean "there aren't people who can talk" ?
    – Dandy
    Apr 28, 2013 at 11:43
  • 1
    Or maybe Japanese just uses an ambiguous sentence like that? I try to give an additional example: "the person I wrote a letter to", where basic sentence is 人に手紙を書いた. Do you simply drop that に ? (something like 私が手紙を書いた人 ?)
    – Dandy
    Apr 28, 2013 at 11:49
  • 2
    @Dandy Yes...it's ambiguous... "the person I wrote a letter to" can be「私が手紙を書いた人」。「話せる人が(誰も)いない。」「話す人が(誰も)いない。」「しゃべる人がいない。」etc. can be read as "I have no one I can talk to" and "There's no one who can talk". (「話す相手がいない。」「しゃべる相手がいない。」would be "I have no one to talk to".)
    – user1016
    Apr 28, 2013 at 23:10

1 Answer 1


I think you might find the explanation of agency you are looking for in the introduction to the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (which I have not got to hand right now) but the other approach is to think of different ways of conveying what you want to say eg

"There aren't people I can talk to".

(which even in English feels like a rather clumsy construction anyway(?))

= There is nobody I can talk to/with = There is nobody who can talk to/with me

= 僕と話せる人がいない

or perhaps even;


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .