5

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?)

  • 1
    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 Jul 5 '17 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 Jul 5 '17 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 – Felipe Oliveira Jul 5 '17 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 Jul 6 '17 at 2:10
4

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.
  • 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 Jul 6 '17 at 2:01
  • 1
    @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。 – mackygoo Jul 6 '17 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 Jul 6 '17 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 Jul 6 '17 at 15:28
  • 1
    @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。 – mackygoo Jul 7 '17 at 4:35
2

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)

  • 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 Jul 6 '17 at 2:07
  • 1
    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 Jul 6 '17 at 14:54

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.