I was working through my N5 sentential grammar (sentence composition) practice book, and there was a question with an adverb, おおごえで (大声で):

山を のぼりながら おおごえ ___ ___ ___ ___ 人も いました。

1 うた   2 うたう   3 を   4 で

The answer given is below:

(A) 山を のぼりながら おおごえ _で_ _うた_ _を_ _うたう_ 人も いました。

However, I was thinking perhaps the adverb おおごえで should be placed before the verb うたう since the person was singing loudly (loudly modifying to sing). The resulting sentence would be:

(B) 山を のぼりながら うた を おおごえ で うたう 人も いました。

  1. Which sentence is correct, A or B?
  2. Also, are there any differences in nuance between A and B? Thank you!

*I am aware of a related question being posted before (see below), but the adverb in that post was a time frequency adverb and it was easy to see how the scope of that kind of adverb changes with its placement. With おおごえで, the matter is an entirely different one, I suspect.

Can placements of adverbs be altered freely?

1 Answer 1


"大声で" isn't an adverb, but rather a noun followed by the particle で, which indicates the means by which something is done. The difference is like the English "There was even a person who was singing in a loud voice while climbing the mountain" vs. "There was even a person who was singing loudly while climbing the mountain". "大声で" is better thought of as the former.

As far as word order is concerned, unmarked word order places the instrumental case (nouns marked with で) before the accusative case (nouns marked with を).

"歌を大声で歌う" would be marked word order, placing a special emphasis on the fact that the song is being sung in a loud voice. Most songs are probably sung loudly while climbing a mountain, so there's no special emphasis on this fact.

However, you're right in thinking that an adverb (or a verb or adjective used adverbially) would be typically placed immediately before the verb in a sentence with unmarked word order. Something like that might be "歌をやかましく歌う".

  • Ah, I see. I think I confused 大声で with 大声に, the latter being a noun turned into an adverb. Thanks for clearing up those parts of speech. As for grammatical cases, I am largely unfamiliar with this concept; however, my thinking is that Japanese uses postpositional particles as opposed to having genuine cases (although this might be wrong or overly pedantic, I'm not sure). However, terms aside, your comment on marked word order was very insightful. Can you recommend some links to more information on grammatical cases / "cases" in Japanese and word order? I am still new to this.
    – rhyaeris
    Dec 3, 2015 at 12:52
  • In this case, the distinction between cases and particles is mostly a terminological one. Many languages, such as most Indo-European languages, mark case through declension (and nouns typically must take a declension), while other languages, such as Japanese, mark case through adpositions (which can be omitted in certain contexts). However, not all particles are case-marking particles; case-marking particles are those that reflect the grammatical function performed by a noun or a noun-phrase. Regarding word order, I'm afraid I don't have anything on hand at the moment. Dec 3, 2015 at 14:02

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