3

I just saw this sentence in this question:

白と青の皿を洗って。赤いのはいいから。

Wash white and blue plates. Forget red ones.

I don't really understand why is から here. As far as I know, から is used to show a reason or to say "from XX". However, the translation doesn't have any of the meanings I listed.

If から here marks that 赤いのはいい is a reason for washing the white and blue plates, does that mean if the red plates are "よくない", the listener doesn't need to wash the blue and white plates? That makes little sense to me.

In other words, if I remove the から, the sentence still carries the same meaning, right? But that raises another question, can I just add から to whatever sentence I want and its meaning won't change? Surely not, right?

I also see a lot of sentences that ends in けど. けど usually means "but" and it shows a contradiction. But sometimes I see it attached to random sentences in anime. And according to the translations, there isn't a contradiction. So can I attach けど as well to any sentence and its meaning won't change?

3

In your example sentence, we have a case where English is more context dependent than Japanese. We usually see it the other way around such as in a sentence like

りんごをたべた。

The reader fills in the "who" of the matter: whether it's "I" or "you" or someone else.

But, in a situation like:

Wash the white and blue dishes. The red ones are fine.

both languages are leaving out the part which says,

You don't have to wash the red dishes.

Some people will parse the following

白と青の皿を洗って。赤いのはいいから。

as

Wash the white and blue dish. Because the red one's a fine, [you don't have to wash them.]

But for me, that doesn't help you to see why the Japanese insists on putting から there. It doesn't help you understand when you yourself should be adding such a から at the end of your sentence. The above snippet just provides a way for seeing how to make sense of the sentence after the fact of hearing. In a way it misrepresents Japanese as omitting something when, in fact, in English exactly the same thing is being omitted. In this case, it's English that's being more context dependent here than Japanese because English is not announcing, as the Japanese is, that an explanation has just been provided.

Just about any time something functions as an explanation in Japanese, it will be followed by から or の. To my way of seeing, it's better to view the dialogue as having a different portion omitted.

Wash the white and blue dishes. [Why only the white and blue dishes? Because] the red one's are fine.

In this case, you can clearly see how it's English that is omitting something: the "because".

This approach doesn't work for every such instance of a trailing から or の. For example, if someone is pestering you to do something and you're getting tired of being pestered, the following would work fine in Japanese...

もういいんだよ

It's a bit more idiomatic and such expressions are easy to pick up on a case by case basis.

But for the sort of examples I'm referring to, find some Ted talks in Japanese. You'll hear plenty of からです and んです. The speaker's providing an explanation for what they've just said in a manner where in English we'd just have the blunt sentence and leave it to the listener to gather that it's an explanation.

2

Think of いいから as idiomatic, meaning something close to "nevermind". Nevermind the red ones. You cannot remove the から and preserve the meaning.

  • But does から have no meaning sometimes? Also what about けど? – Sweeper Oct 30 '16 at 19:12
  • @Sweeper: から means "from" or "because", depending on context. It is emphatically not meaningless. In the context of the sample sentence, 赤いのはいいから, the から is "because" -- "because the red ones are good / okay [you don't have to wash them / you can ignore them]". The bit in square brackets is unstated and implied by context. – Eiríkr Útlendi Oct 30 '16 at 19:17
  • けど means "but". It is also emphatically not meaningless. Some of how it is used does not translate directly to English very cleanly, but it definitely conveys meaning. In casual speech, it can be added on the end of a statement to convey a sense of "just saying, but...", or to imply that the speaker doesn't want to make a big deal about it, etc. – Eiríkr Útlendi Oct 30 '16 at 19:19
  • @EiríkrÚtlendi ah I see now! So it actually marks the reason for not washing the red ones, not for washing the blue and white ones? – Sweeper Oct 30 '16 at 19:20
  • @Sweeper, exactly! You've got it now. – Eiríkr Útlendi Oct 30 '16 at 19:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.