I'm having difficulty translating this particular sentence into English, and even thus understanding it fully.


My best attempt at a translation:

I had a problem at Narita Airport because I had to rent a mobile phone to use.

I don't know how to translate the 外国でも bit and have it make sense nor am I sure about translating the 来た either.

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    Why did you translate 問題がない to "I had a problem"? – Earthliŋ Mar 16 '14 at 21:16

Let me see if I can address these one at a time:

  1. 私は成田空港で [ 外国でも使える 携帯電話 ] を 借りてきたから、問題がないよ。

    The relative clause 外国でも使える is modifying 携帯電話, so 外国でも使える携帯電話 means "a cell phone that can be used even overseas".

  2. 私は成田空港で外国でも使える携帯電話を借りてきたから、問題がないよ。

    借りてきた means "borrowed", but since money was probably exchanged for the phone, I think "rented" is probably a better translation in this case.

  3. 私は成田空港で外国でも使える携帯電話を借りてきたから、問題がないよ。

    Did you notice the negative in 問題がない? It means "had no problem", not "had a problem".

Here's my attempt at a loose translation:

I rented a phone that works overseas at Narita Airport, so there's no problem.

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  • 1
    I still don't understand the use of きた(来た) in the sentence and why its needed to mean 'borrowed' when 借りる means 'to borrow/rent' on its own? Everything else makes sense to me so thanks! – Mononoke Mar 16 '14 at 21:56
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    @Mononoke ~てきた is used both metaphorically and literally. In this case, it is used literally and 借りて来た means "I borrowed and came", i.e. "borrowed before I came", or here "I rented a phone at Narita Airport that works overseas (before I came here), so there's no problem." – Earthliŋ Mar 16 '14 at 23:39
  • I think that when ~てきた is used metaphorically, it is usually written in all 仮名, but when it is used literally (as in this case), it is usually written with 漢字. – Earthliŋ Mar 16 '14 at 23:42
  • @Earthliŋ Oh, then I suppose I misunderstood 〜てきた. Maybe you could write an answer :-) – snailcar Mar 17 '14 at 1:13

You already have a great answer, but to clarify the points you asked about, 外国でも should be interpreted as

外国で + も

where 外国で使える means "able to use in a foreign country", i.e. "works abroad". も is "also", so that 外国でも使える means "also works abroad".

As I wrote in my comment, ~てきた is used both metaphorically and literally. In this case, it is used literally and 借りて来た means "I borrowed and came", i.e. "borrowed before I came", or here

(Before I came,) I rented a mobile phone, which also works abroad, at Narita Airport, so there's no problem.

The English translation is a bit cumbersome, but such is the nature of literal translations.

Edit. A different translation (partly due to snailboat) could be

I went and got a rental phone which also works abroad at Narita Airport, so there is no problem.

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  • I see now, I totally missed that the で and も were separate particles and not together as in でも meaning 'but' or 'even if' etc. – Mononoke Mar 25 '14 at 14:31
  • But でも "but, even if" can also be understood as で + も... – Earthliŋ Mar 25 '14 at 16:38

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