I would like to know if the anime's title " boku dake ga inai machi " grammatically correct? It's quite confusing because the verb ”いる” in negative form, should be the last word as long as I know. 街 Is noun and its referred to location of the existence of 僕 so how come they put it at last? I tried to rearrange the words' order and put it in this way: 僕だけが街にいない。 Is there some grammar rules support the original title in any way?

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    If it helps and makes it easier, you can try thinking of ‘relative clauses’ in Japanese as (attributive) adjectives, because they act in much the same way, preceding the noun they modify. So, for example, you can have a [big] town [大きい]街 or a [nice] town [素敵な]街, but you can also, like here, have an [I’m the only one not there] town [僕だけがいない]街. Functionally, the verbal clause works the same as the adjectives. Jul 7, 2016 at 16:19

2 Answers 2



is completely grammatical and natural-sounding.

If you thought, however, that this was a sentence, I am sure that you felt there was something wrong with it.

That is not a sentence; It is only a noun phrase (a relative clause). It never was meant to mean "It was only I who was not in the town." Instead, it was meant to mean "The town where I am the only person missing". See the difference here?

Unlike in European languages, the main noun in a relative clause comes at the very end (「街」 in this case) in Japanese. 「僕だけがいない」 modifies 「街」 here.

In English, for instance, the noun "town" will come at the beginning of a relative clause as in "the town where ~~~~", "the town in which ~~~~", etc.

That is one of the major differences in word order between the two languages and certainly is a major source of confusion and mistakes for Japanese-learners.

Finally, if one were to turn the noun phrase in question into a "real" sentence, one could say:

「(この/その)街には僕だけがいない。」 or


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    Pedantically speaking, in English, ‘town’ as the antecedent comes before the relative clause, not at the beginning of it. The relative clause begins with “where” and “in which” in your examples. Jul 7, 2016 at 16:14
  • "at the beginning of a relative clause" - I think you meant "before", or "in front of"... But earlier you also call the whole expression a "relative clause".... Isn't a relative clause what describes the noun without the noun itself? Wikipedia: In English, a relative clause follows the noun it modifies
    – macraf
    Aug 25, 2017 at 7:00

Though I don’t have any knowledge about the context of the sentence from which the phrase was picked up, I don’t find any particular problem with the expression in the phrase “僕だけがいない街” on its alone. “僕だけがいない” is used an adjective clause to depict ”街” - the town.

It means “the town lacking of only me,” i.e, “the town where everybody is there, but me.” Nothing is strange, but it sounds creative and poetical to me. I love it.

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    It's the title of a recent manga and anime series, and the context it appears within the work is definitely as poetical - the first time it's used in reference to a girl who dreams about living on a far-away island away from all her problems, and imagining that the town where she no longer exists goes on without her.
    – ConMan
    Jul 8, 2016 at 2:09
  • Yeah it's sound natural to me too.
    – Alyazi A
    Jul 8, 2016 at 9:23
  • And as he said the phrase came from anime's title. It's quite good actually. You should give it a try :)
    – Alyazi A
    Jul 8, 2016 at 9:25

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