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I'm not confident that the English grammatical words I'm using are okay; feel free to correct me.

Let's start with the phrase 読{よ}む本{ほん} meaning, among other acceptable translations "the book I do read". The auxiliary do I used to translate is nothing but a convenient way to mark the tense (present) and the aspect (not progressive).

That's what I call "a noun determined by a verb" structure since 本{ほん} is determined by 読{よ}む.

My question deals with the other forms of 読{よ}む which may be used to determine 本{ほん}:

  • 読{よ}む本{ほん} : the book I do read
  • 読{よ}まない本{ほん} : the book I don't read
  • 読{よ}んで本{ほん} : the book I'm reading
  • 読{よ}まないで本{ほん} : the book I'm not reading
  • 読{よ}んだ本{ほん} : the book I did read
  • 読{よ}まなかった本{ほん} : the book I didn't read
  • ... ?

My questions :

  1. Are the above forms grammatically correct?
  2. Leaving aside passive and causative, did I forget some forms? I'm particularly curious to know if imperative/volitional forms may have some sense here.

Any help would be appreciated!

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  • 2
    You might want to look up the term 連体形 ("attributive" form).
    – blutorange
    May 1, 2015 at 14:30
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    And thinking about it again, 連用形+名詞 compounds are possible too, eg. 着物 (a thing one wears; wearing-thing), 買い物 (a thing one buys; buying-thing), 読み方 (a way in which one reads; reading-way) etc. Not sure if you would count this, but it's worth mentioning. Also, this is somewhat unrelated, but constructions of the form 〜しての名詞 are possible too, eg. 後は読んでのお楽しみ or それは、読んでの通りよ.
    – blutorange
    May 1, 2015 at 18:49
  • Thank you again, these details are very interesting. May I ask you what do mean "後は読んでのお楽しみ " and "読んでの通りよ" ?
    – suizokukan
    May 2, 2015 at 9:15

1 Answer 1

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First, it sounds strange to me to put "I" as default subject of the determining sentence. I'd rather explicitly mark a subject, unless it's very clear from its context.
Anyway,

  • わたしが読む本 : the book I do read (O)
  • わたしが読まない本 : the book I don't read (O)
  • わたしが読んで本 : the book I'm reading (X)
  • わたしが読まないで本 : the book I'm not reading (X)
  • わたしが読んだ本 : the book I did read (O)
  • わたしが読まなかった本 : the book I didn't read (O)

To express progressive aspect, we need an auxiliary verb いる.
And, when combining two verbs (読む + いる), we use て,
thus it will be 読む + て + いる = 読んでいる.
So 'the book I'm reading' is わたしが読んでいる本.
Note that 読んでいる is in a perfectly legit ru-verb form(一段動詞). You can then transform it into whatever you want.

negative    読んでいる + ない = 読んでいない  (book that) I'm not reading.
past        読んでいる + た = 読んでいた  I was reading.
neg + past  読んでいる + ない + た = 読んでいなかった  I was not reading.
... 

One more thing one should keep in mind when using progressive is that, in modern Japanese, it's very common to drop い from aux (い)る. So it's fine to say わたしが(読んでる/読んでない/読んでた/読んでなかった)本.

Imperative/volitional forms in general do not modify following nouns.

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  • Thank you very much : your answer is very clear and informative.
    – suizokukan
    May 5, 2015 at 20:03

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