Take the following sentence: "I knew that you were/are an angel" For fun, and since I happened to know the one word of vocabulary required for this, I tried to translate it.

To do so, I thought about using the te-form and then simply chain the two sentences "I knew" and "you are an angel" together.

That resulted in the following : "( 私は)知りまして、君は天使です"

Putting the polite form of to know into the past with the te form seemed easy enough. I'm not quite sure for the casual form, but my guess would be 知て. (shiru, drop ru, add ta, drop ta, add te)

However, google translating that back into english yielded "I know that you are an angel", which is the present tense form, and with this kind of sentence just happens to have a completely different implied meaning.

Google translating the english sentence into Japanese however, yielded the following, which I do not understand: あなたが天使であることは分かっていた.

I get that "あなたが天使である" includes the "being/are" meaning of the sentence, while I above only ended with "です". So the difference in meaning when using desu and aru would be my first question.

Furthermore, there is no te form or sentence chaining involved here - From what I get, こと converts the whole previous verb into a noun, so now we have this huge "you're an angel" - noun?

Then, the 分かって part seems more intuitive, simply being the past form of I understand. (although I'm not sure why we aren't using shiru here).

Finally, the last part, いた, has me lost, to be honest.

So, my second question would be on how I can properly understand the googletranslate translation, whether it is right or not, and whether there are any better alternatives or not.

Finally, my last question is about sentence chaining in general: How do we know what part comes first? Assume my translation above was correct for a moment, instinctively I put the "I know" part first. But I can see that in fact, the know part should come last as it is the true verb of the sentence. What about more complex sentences? And finally, why would the following be wrong/unnatural: 君は天使でして私は知りました


  • There are lots of posts here regarding 知るvsわかる and the ている form. Go look them up. Also, the-form is not past tense. た-form is. I would translate your sentence as 君が天使だって知って(い)た. – Sweeper Jan 8 '18 at 7:49
  • @Sweeper Thanks for the answer. I did read a post about 知る vs 分かる, and concluded that 知る was what I should use in this case, so I was surprised that googletranslate used the other one. I know that the te form in itself is not past tense, but I read that if you habe the polite form Xました, which is past tense, you have to get rid of the た and add a て to put it into past tense te form. Is that not right? I'm therefore still confused in what ways exactly my translations are wrong, and why the googletranslate form may or may not be unnatural. What level of politeness & context would your translati – Gandalf Schmidt Jan 8 '18 at 11:41
  • @Sweeper ion be meant for? I have to admit that I'm also not familiar with the way you conjugated the last part, but I'll lool that up right now. Thanks. – Gandalf Schmidt Jan 8 '18 at 11:43
  • My translation is not using the ます form. In the ます form, it would end with いました instead of いた. And yes, that's how you conjugate a verb in ます form to te-form, but there is no past tense in your sentence. If your sentence were correct, you would have to end with でした to express past tense. – Sweeper Jan 8 '18 at 11:48

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