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In the Genki series of textbooks, we are taught that both the て-form of a verb and the conjunction と can join sentences.

I'm slightly unclear on their semantic differences. Some examples with my best translations,

私はその人と話す元気になる。Whenever I talk with that person, I feel uplifted.

私はその人と話して元気になる。I talk to that person and feel uplifted.

Is this correct? It seems that と makes an assertion that holds very generally, while て is a statement of something that happened (or will happen) once.

The text lists the next sentence as wrong,

× 私はその人と話す喫茶店に行きます。Whenever I talk to that person, we go to a coffee shop.

私はその人と話して喫茶店に行きます。I talk to that person, and go to a coffee shop.

Is my previous interpretation/translation still accurate here? If so, is it wrong because the first sentence probably meant to say the second?

(Quick follow-up: can we also use multiple と's in a sentence in this way?)

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    If you're reading okay at this level, go to a library and get a novel to read. That's the best way to get the patterns into your head, and I think the questions you have here are more about the patterns than the grammar. You seem to understand the grammar well enough.
    – Joel Rees
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 12:10
  • Thanks, that is solid advice. But while I can piece together this grammar, I'm still unclear about its meaning as I wrote above. Any clarifications would be appreciated :)
    – kennysong
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 12:22
  • I used to believe と was only used to list nouns, で was used to connect nouns, たりする was used to list verbs and て, was used to connect verbs. But recently a native sent me something like "話すと聞く" so I don't know anything anymore lol Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 12:49
  • @FelipeOliveira と can be also used to connect clauses (with a meaning I'm trying to understand), you can find it in Genki 18.3, or maybe consult a standard grammar book.
    – kennysong
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 2:10

2 Answers 2

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As for the first group:

  1. 私はその人と話す元気になる。Whenever I talk with that person, I feel uplifted.
  2. 私はその人と話し元気になる。I talk to that person and feel uplifted.

A. 私はその人と話す
B. 元気になる

In sentence 1, there is a causal relation between A and B, where A is the cause and B is the result/effect. In my rough and intuitive understanding, A has the function of a switch or a trigger for B.

In sentence 2, the relationship between A and B can not be expressed with a short phrase like sentence 1, but A is like a condition or means for B to be executed smoothly. In my rough and intuitive understanding, A has the function of helping B.

So my attempt is:

  1. 私はその人と話す元気になる。
    • Whenever/When I talk with that person, I feel uplifted.
    • I talk with that person, so I feel uplifted.
  2. 私はその人と話し元気になる。
    • I feel uplifted by talking with that person.

As for your attempt, sentence 1 is perfect and sentence 2 is somewhat correct.
Before talking about your attempt for sentence 2, the sentence 2 in Japanese is not a perfectly good example, because 私はその人と話す is not so appropriate as the means of 元気になる compared with like 一晩{ひとばん}眠{ねむ}る, 運動{うんどう}する or 薬{くすり}を飲{の}む. These are used as:  

  • 一晩眠って元気になる。
  • 運動して元気になる。
  • 薬を飲んで元気になる。

As for the second group:

  1. 私はその人と話すと喫茶店に行きます。Whenever I talk to that person, we go to a coffee shop.
  2. 私はその人と話して喫茶店に行きます。I talk to that person, and go to a coffee shop.

C: 私はその人と話す
D: 喫茶店に行きます

For sentence 3 and 4, you reported that sentence 3 is judged to be wrong in your textbook, but, I think, grammatically there is no problem in it. I also think sentence 4 is not so naturural, though it is grammatically correct. However, since the relationship between C and D is not so close, they are just unnatural.

If you want to describe the contents like sentence 3 or sentence 4 that I said grammatically correct, it is essential to divide C and D into two separate sentences, or to add some proper phrase that makes C and D more closely related.

An example of improving sentence 3:

  • 私はその人と話をすると何故か喫茶店に行きたくなる
    Whenever I talk to that person, I feel like going to a coffee shop for some reason.

An example of improving sentence 4:

  • 私はその人と話をして歩くことが体に良いと分かったので、私は歩いて喫茶店に行く。
    I understand walking is good for the body by talking with that person, so I will walk to a coffee shop.
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  • Thanks @mackygoo, I have two questions. 1) I don't really understand your statement, "there is a relationship as means of some action between A and B", and how it differs from "causal relation between A and B". 2) I wrote sentence D myself using the て-form, but you are saying that it is wrong? How would you translate "I talk to that person, and go to a coffee shop", then?
    – kennysong
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 2:01
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    @kennysong: >How would you translate "I talk to that person, and go to a coffee shop", then? If A and B are not in close relation, I recommend you to separate them like: その人と話す。そして、喫茶店に行きます。または、現在形で表現すると不自然なので過去形で例を示すと: その人と話した。話す内容が多いので、その続きは喫茶店でしようと意見がまとまったので、二人で喫茶店に行った。
    – user20624
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 2:22
  • @mackygoo 本題から離れますが、自分の「感覚的」、つまり「直感的」な理解を英語で表すには、"intuitive", "my impression" といったような言い方が望ましい。Sensuousは「性的」もしくは「触れる感覚として快適」というニュアンスが非常に強くて、誤解を招きかねません。
    – Philippe
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 12:51
  • @mackygoo: Got it, the distinction is more clear now. Quick follow-up: is it valid to use multiple と in a sentence in this way?
    – kennysong
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 15:28
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    @Kennysong: >is it valid to use multiple と in a sentence in this way? Yes, you can use multiple と like this: 1. 私はその人と話す、あるいは酒を飲む元気になる。 2. 私はその人と話す元気になり、その人のお兄さんと話す元気がなくなる。
    – user20624
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 4:35
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I think 「私はその人と話して元気になる。」 would be a little limited in use. 「毎日その人と話して元気になります。」 on the other hand, would be a natural construction, because you are saying that you actually do it.

I would probably prefer 「私はその人と話すと元気になる。」 for both of the English translations you give, because the use of 「と」 in connecting phrases tends to describe a relationship between the phrases -- not quite a causal relationship, but more than just a coincidental sequence of events that happen, or a habit or custom.

「私はその人と話すと喫茶店に行きます。」 This feels strange because we expect a relationship, something like 「その人と話す度、喫茶店に行ってしまうのよ!」 And then we want to know why there would be such a connection between speaking to that person and going to a tea (or coffee) shop.

Again, for the same reasons as above, 「私はその人と話して喫茶店に行きます。」 feels like it wants a 「毎日」: 「毎日その人と話して喫茶店に行きます。」

(afterthought)

It may be (depending on the speaker, I think) that 「毎日」 or some equivalent can be assumed -- understood by that 以心伝心 thing that is really hard for foreigners to grasp.

(end afterthought)

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  • Thanks @Joel, are you essentially saying that the last two sentences sound odd because the semantic relationship between その人と話す and 喫茶店に行く is not clear? The same way the English sentences sound a bit odd?
    – kennysong
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 2:07
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    Not exactly the same way they sound odd in English, but, in this case at any rate, the meanings are similar enough that the intuitive explanation works.
    – Joel Rees
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 14:54

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