I'm teaching myself the language for a while now and I'm picking up on basic grammar structure. Combined with a dictionary, I can occasionally even make sense of a sentence!

But the full meaning of this one eludes me (as well as Google Translate and Bing Translator). It's a review of a game I worked on:


It doesn't seem to be an error, even to a beginner.

From what I can tell, with help of Google Translate and OS X Japanese-English dictionary, the components seem to be:

  • ゾンビ - zombie
  • を - object marker
  • 潰して - 'te' form of crush (Google Translate), destroy (Bing Translator), fit for (?!) (OS X dictionary)
  • いく - to go; "going to"
  • のは - I have no idea what this is; it seems to be composed of possessive "no" and as-for-# subject marker "wa"
  • 単純 - simplicity
  • に - location marker (here, in?)
  • 楽しい - enjoyable

So it seems to be a positive review; it seems to say "You will crush zombies [のは] (which is?) enjoyable in simplicity."

What does のは above mean? What nuance am I missing?

  • 3
  • @nkjt Thanks! I'll accept this if you post it as an answer. Aside from linking to the questions, I'd add "it nominalizes the verb, turning it into gerund form -- that is, into a noun" so that a future reader has an easier time understanding what I was confused about :-) May 31 '13 at 16:04
  • If those links clear it up for you, I think it's probably best just to close this as a duplicate of one of those questions, rather than repeating what's been said elsewhere.
    – nkjt
    May 31 '13 at 16:10
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    @IvanVučica Note that in some languages, what is called "the gerund" does not actually function as a verbal noun, but only as an verbal adverb, so I think it's best to avoid the term. May 31 '13 at 16:17
  • @IvanVučica Hi Ivan; good job on studying Japanese via English resources out of Croatia! You should get you hands on some Japanese grammar handbooks, like those of Seiichi Makino: A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, as well as the Intermediate and Advanced ones.
    – Kaz
    May 31 '13 at 20:16

Interesting choice of beginner's literature.

の is not the possessive, but a nominalizer, i.e. it can make a verb (潰していく) into a noun (潰していくの), which you can then use as the topic of the sentence (using は). The analogous construction in English would be the gerund, i.e. to crush → crushing.

Also, に is not the location marker, but turns the na-adjective 単純 into an adverb.

Summarizing, we have

Crushing zombies is simply enjoyable.

Watch out for particles that have multiple uses (の and に being the worst cases).

  • 1
    Note that the to-infinitive in English can also function as a verbal noun, which unfortunately makes the parallel a little less nice (but still understandable). May 31 '13 at 16:19
  • @Earthling Regarding the choice: well, I can't help but wonder what the "loyal Japanese audience" thinks about the game I worked on; if it makes for an interesting question on Japanese SE, better for me :-) Thanks for a great explanation! May 31 '13 at 16:34
  • @Earthling Any easily understandable reason why the いく appears here? May 31 '13 at 16:35
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    There was a question somewhere... here.
    – Earthliŋ
    May 31 '13 at 16:44
  • Thanks! I have a lot to learn, obviously -- including how to properly search Japanese SE. Which is not as trivial as searching for program code on StackOverflow. :) May 31 '13 at 19:38

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