I am very weak in determining the scope of subject when reading Japanese sentences. For example, when reading the following passage,


  1. how can I know that 兄 in 【娘が「これ、借りて良い」と、兄に許可を求めている。】 refers to 娘's elder brother rather than 筆者's elder brother?
  2. if 兄 must refer to 娘's elder brother, why did 筆者 not write【娘が「これ、借りて良い」と、娘のお兄さんに許可を求めている。】? お兄さん is used here because 娘 becomes a third person from 筆者's point of view.
  • 娘が(その)兄に許可を求めている The writer who is an elder person(father?) sees young people who are an older brother and a younger sister. And he hear that they share various things(ex. clothes and so on). He feel the flow of time because he grew up in the age of making a strict distinction between male and female. – nariuji Apr 26 '16 at 14:52
  1. how can I know that 兄 in 【娘が「これ、借りて良い」と、兄に許可を求めている。】refers to 娘's elder brother rather than 筆者's elder brother?

In the first sentence the only subject is 娘 -- marked by が. Ergo, the one who receives permission to borrow from "brother" must be the daughter. And with that referent being set, then without a lot of other context, it's hard to make the brother anyone other than her own brother.

  1. if 兄 must refer to 娘's elder brother, why did 筆者 not write【娘が「これ、借りて良い」と、娘のお兄さんに許可を求めている。】? お兄さん is used here because 娘 becomes a third person from 筆者's point of view.

My sense as a non-native speaker is that on the simplest level without context, お兄さん and 兄 could both be used (with some other modifications for the sentence). But here 兄 should be strongly preferred.

First, one way of making it お兄さん would be to write from the daughter's perspective assuming she would refer to her brother as お兄さん rather than writing about the situation from the author's own perspective. The rest of the paragraph is not written that way but rather from the author's perspective about his children.



would be find here because that would make sense for her to say.

Second, the writing style here is appropriate for a Japanese essay or academic format. In such a context, there's no reason to use polite forms like お兄さん. Instead, the relations are stated simply. To give an example, 神様 is just written 神 in most academic writing.

Third, assuming the author is writing from his own experience, there's also a third reason. If this is the author's own family, then they are closer to the author than the audience. And you don't use honorifics about people who are closer to you than your audience.

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I think 兄 is 娘's elder brother.

1.It is hard to think that 娘 seek to borrow something like clothes of this writer's elder brother, who is an uncle for 娘、because this writer said 同じような体つきのふたり(same frame).

2.I think the reason is because this context indicate it. And if 兄 is this writer's elder brother, I think this writer write 私の兄.

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  • But 兄 is my elder brother and お兄さん is third person's elder brother. If we talk about a third person, we should use お兄さん. What do you think about this rule? – Not A Zoomed Image Apr 25 '16 at 12:41
  • 兄 is my elder brother for this 娘. – Yuuichi Tam Apr 25 '16 at 12:58
  • It might be correct only when it is in direct quote, isn't it? In my case, it is not an indirect quote. – Not A Zoomed Image Apr 25 '16 at 13:42
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    お兄さん is polite saying of 兄, so I think it is often used in third person like 友達のお兄さん、彼のお兄さん. In this case, 兄 is this writer's son, so this writer may not use お兄さん. For example, When I introduce my mother to someone, I don't say 私のお母さんです but say 私の母です. – Yuuichi Tam Apr 25 '16 at 13:58
  • In my understanding, when referring to third person's elder brother, for example, we must use お兄さん rather than 兄, regardless whether or not the elder brother is my own son. Another example, when father gives commands to his son as follows. Father:  お父さんが話すときに、騒がないで下さいね。 Son: はい、わかりました。 In this case, the father still uses お父さん rather than 父 even when referring to himself. It is because his son's father rather than my own father. What do you think? Sorry if it makes you busy. – Not A Zoomed Image Apr 25 '16 at 14:28

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