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The origins of my interest in the Japanese language is something that natives often ask about, but I'm always having trouble with the grammar for answering that and want to rest this case once and for all.

For example, I might want to say that I've had an interest in the Japanese culture since middle school, and therefore have been studying Japanese for quite a while. My first attempt would be:

中学の頃から日本の文化に興味を持っていたことはあるので、日本語の勉強はずいぶん前からやったことがあります。

However, that feels grammatically a bit off and I'm not quite sure how to make it better. What's the problem here?

Another common case is this; Originally I started studying Japanese to be able to play games in it, and I've been studying for five years now. What I'd say from the top of my head is the following:

もともとはゲームを日本語にやれるために日本語の勉強を始めたんだが、もう五年間を勉強したことはあります。

This is probably alright in a conversation, but I don't really know which word to use for playing games, the 始めたんだ seems slightly incorrect in this context, and I have no idea whether the part after the comma is proper Japanese or not. It seems a bit repetitive at any rate. As I don't want to have any doubt in the vocabulary or sentence structures I'm using, I would like to know which parts should be corrected, if any?

I'm also not entirely sure whether this type of question is allowed here or if it's too broad, so let me know about that as well.

Thank you so much!

  • You probably want ~始めたのですが or ~始めたんですが in place of ~始めたんだが. – Aeon Akechi Dec 22 '15 at 17:39
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The biggest problem throughout your Japanese is, you're using ことがある as the counterpart of have V-ed. Yes, it sounds off because what it exactly tells is "you have ever done and right now you are not doing". Thus your first piece should be like:

中学の頃から日本の文化に興味を持っていたので、日本語の勉強はずいぶん前からやっていました。

But strictly speaking, this sentence thematizes 日本語の勉強, so best used in answer to whoever mentions your Japanese studying, e.g. "How long have you been learning Japanese?", "Wow, you must've worked hard in your Japanese!" etc. Otherwise, the は is better to be deleted:

中学の頃から日本の文化に興味を持っていたので、ずいぶん前から日本語を勉強していました。 (I also switched word order for the sake of naturalness here.)

Now, the second one should be:

もともとはゲームを日本語でやれるように(日本語の)勉強を始めたんですが、もう五年間勉強しています。

  • "In Japanese" is 日本語 (with most of the verbs). 日本語 means "into Japanese".
  • やれる + ために is redundant. You could use either やるために or やれるように.
  • Temporal adverbial "for timespan" doesn't need case particles.
  • が, け(れ)ど(も) and から are "coordinative"; they need agreement in politeness before and after them.

Elsewhere, your Japanese seems already very well. Hope you keep enjoying studying Japanese —— and feel free to point out my English errors...


PS
If I were to tell the same thing as your second sentence I'd go like (quite colloquial):

もともとゲームを日本語でしたくて勉強を始めてから、もう五年になります。

| improve this answer | |
  • Amazing response! Thank you! This will definitely help pinpoint my weaknesses. After thinking about it, the core reason I use ことがある so much might be because I don't properly understand the differences between している vs していた and した vs していた. Do you have any examples? As for your English, I don't think there's much to criticize. The vocabulary is diverse, the use of compound sentences is not too simple or too complex, and overall the text is very informative. Perhaps there might be a mistake related to the use of quotation marks with other punctuation, but that's something I can't tell. – mmKALLL Dec 22 '15 at 22:50
  • Thank you. Well, they're worth a chapter of a book if fully explained, but for Japanese た, the basic notion of it is perfective, so it seems as if covers both perfect and past in English. ている has some complexity, but it's good to know that some verbs have different aspect framework than English, for example 持つ can only translate "have" in 持っている form, because the grammatically correct definition of 持つ is "come to have". – broccoli facemask - cloth Dec 23 '15 at 7:55

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