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I want to know how to form the sentence:

We know that this is a small shop, but [...] .

I thought I could write it as

私たちはそれが小さい店だことを知っています

but it turned out that this sentence is grammatically incorrect (apparently because "da" cannot be used like that?).

I want the "is" part to really appear in the sentence and I have no idea of how to do that, since no way that I know looks grammatical.

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The reason you can't use だ like that is that だ and です are not real verbs, and こと (の, etc) used as a nominalizer expect a verb.

You can convert it into a "thought/idea" with the quotation particle use of と to fix that issue, like this: 「。。。店だという事を知っています」 .. but there are some other issues as well.

You probably want to use これ instead of それ if the store is "closer" (either physically or in terms of ownership) to the speaker than the listener. Depending on context you probably don't need to explicitly mention 私たち either. In which case we get:

これが小さい店だという事を知っています

It may be more natural to topicalize this thought with は, as follows, but this is outside the scope of the question.

これが小さい店だという事は知っています


[Edit:] I previously went a little further and suggested abbreviating down to「この店は小さいと知っています」 but several native speakers have mentioned that this use of と sounds strange/unidiomatic, and that keeping という事を orという事は would be preferable. I keep this as an example of what not to do.


Due to my over-zealousness in an earlier version of this answer, where I suggested switching the word order some, and 小さい came last in the relative clause, discussion of how to nominalize i-adjectives has come up. I don't recommend this approach here since a more direct approach exists, but I leave it here for reference, apologies for any confusion. We nominalize a clause like 小さいだ by dropping だ/です and adding any noun (either a specific noun, or a generic nominalizer like こと or の). At this point it is a noun phrase and viable target for a particle and connection to a "parent" verb phrase:

小さい(だ|です) -> 小さい(の・こと) -> 小さい(の OR こと)(を OR は)知っています


Again, this depends on context, but it seems like it might be applicable so I thought I'd mention it. If you're saying this in an explanatory way (eg answering or anticipating a question), you can also use のだ construct, eg 「うちの店は小さいのですが、。。」 "(I realize) our store may be small, but ..." This might sound a lot more natural than using 知っています, eg if you're the shop owner, or an employee, and speaking to a customer, you probably wouldn't use 知っています.

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    I think 小さいだと is incorrect because だ can't follow an i-adjective. – ignorantFid Jun 6 '16 at 15:06
  • You're right, thanks for the heads up. I thought I'd heard both with and without the だ before, but some Googling seems to confirm that だ is NG. I've removed the だ entirely, eg. 小さいだと->小さいと. – WeirdlyCheezy Jun 6 '16 at 15:22
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    Could you also say である事? – ignorantFid Jun 6 '16 at 17:34
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    Another way to express this is with の as in this question: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/4879/… – ignorantFid Jun 6 '16 at 17:36
  • I ran である事 by a native speaker friend and they said it felt unnatural and that just using 事 directly sounds better to them. There are a lot of "grammatical" ways to do this, and a lot of variation in how natural they sound to different native speakers. – WeirdlyCheezy Jun 7 '16 at 14:07

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