2

I always get confused with these kinds of Japanese sentences. Which is correct?

​ 1. 六ページの本を読んで。

​ 2. 六ページ目の本を読んで。

Are sentence 3 & 4 ungrammatical?

 ​3. 本の六ページ目を読んで。

​ 4. 本の六ページを読んで。

1
  • 1
    More naturally, 6 > 六.
    – user4032
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 1:36

1 Answer 1

3

My take on your sentences if they finished 「読んだ。」 not 「読んで。」, which feels less natural, is as follows:

  1. I read the 6-page book.

  2. I read the book [referred to] on the 6th page [of the pamphlet].

  3. I read the 6th page of the book.

  4. I read page 6 of the book.
    or
    I read the book's six pages.

I would add one more sentence to your set but expect you are familiar with it:

5.  本を6ページ読んだ。  
  I read 6 pages of the book

When the counter comes after the noun it functions as an adverb telling you to what extent the verb is performed. Note that in example 5 we are not told which pages are read, it could be any six pages chosen at random. Usually this does not apply when the "counter" is connected to the noun by の (ie modifies the noun). To take a famous example, Kurosawa's film "The Seven Samurai" is called "七人の侍" in Japanese because it is about seven particular samurai, not any seven random samurai. In English this meaning is conveyed by the word "The".

The above sentences have to be used in context to make sense. This is most obvious in number 2 which cannot be translated into English without adding some context to the phrase itself in [...] and, even with these additions, the context is incomplete because we don't know what the pamphlet is.


References

For a more general explanation of context see the answer to the following question (on a different grammatical subject): What's the difference between wa (は) and ga (が)?

For further explanation of の modifying nouns: "Making sense of Japanese" by Jay Rubin, p116

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  • 2
    No, 2 is certainly grammatical and it can even be meaningful: "Read the book on the 6th page", for example "Read the book listed on the 6th page of this pamphlet".
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 15:27
  • 2
    @Earthliŋ: Fair point. I've added it to my answer
    – Tim
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 15:54
  • I feel #4 can mean "I read 6 pages of the book" as well.
    – null
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 9:07
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    @Noir : I have extended the explanation. (BTW: Akami, I think you mean "modifies the noun" not "has a direct object", the object belongs to the verb.)
    – Tim
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 1:37
  • 1
    @akami: To answer the question in your deleted comment: 本の六ページ読んだ could be spoken version of 4, ie with the を omitted.
    – Tim
    Commented May 24, 2014 at 3:01

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