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If, for example, I wanted to say "I like the book that my sister gave me", would it be 姉がくれた本が好きです?

I'm using Genki to study, but they don't seem to have any examples of this particular structure that ends in "が好きです".

3 Answers 3

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Yes, 「姉がくれた本が好きです。」 is correct.

The first が, because it is in a clause that modifies 本, can be also be swapped with の. So 「姉のくれた本が好きです。」 is also correct, and has the same meaning.

This is not the only reason that が can appear multiple times in a sentence.

Predicates like 好きだ are called "double-ga" or "affective" predicates1. This class also includes 分かる, いります, and できる, and all of these take が instead of を for the equivalent of the English direct object. So if you ask,

だれがお姉さんがあげた本が好きですか。

The answer could be,

僕が姉がくれた本が好きですよ。

This has three が, and only one of them is in a relative clause. This also implies that the other people don't like the book.

Footnotes:

1: This is the terminology used in "Japanese: The Spoken Language". Your text may use different terminology.

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  • I do not much like the analysis that “〜が” marks the object with these verbs, because that analysis would imply that two 〜がs is the limit and cannot explain why in such a construct scrambling is uniquely forbidden. The analysis that a sentence itself, which is thus subordinate can serve as the prædicate of a subject in Japanese can explain the recursive nature of theoretically limitless 〜がs, and explains why scrambling is not allowed. In this analysis “好きな”, is a simple intransitive adjective as any other and “XがYが好きだ” is thus no different than say “日本が人が寿司を食べる”, also theoretically allowed.
    – Zorf
    Feb 18, 2022 at 4:25
  • @Zorf: Yes, it's definitely an incomplete explanation. Feb 18, 2022 at 15:55
  • @Zorf Can you please explain the meaning and structure of the sentence 日本が人が寿司を食べる? Why is there が after 日本? Jan 1 at 6:19
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    @escargotagile first off I should note I have done a full 180 since that time. I'm no longer in the camp that disavows “nominative objects” and in fact have since considered them necessary to explain Japanese grammar. As for the example sentence, that's a case of clausal prædicates and unrelated. It's possible in Japanese for an entire sentence to serve as the prædicate of the subject. “象は鼻が長い。” being the quintessential example. I back then believed in the often cited analysis that “私はあなたが好きだ。works the same, but I no longer believe in that, there's too much wrong with it.
    – Zorf
    Jan 1 at 12:38
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Yes, these particles mark the subjects for the following verbs, so you can use to create relative clauses. (There are other particles in Japanese, such as the phrase-ending version).

Note that (topic-wa) does not work this way, but most of the other particles that mark a noun do, such as , and .

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  • This sounds as if the two がs in the sentence are different. By the "phrase-ending" version, I suppose you mean the nominative particle, not the conjunct.
    – user458
    Jun 11, 2012 at 0:24
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Yes. You have two nominative noun phrases in your English sentence, one in the main clause and one in the relative clause. Japanese is no different.

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  • Hi sawa, I'm going to try to look it up, but could you point out which parts are the nominative noun phrases? Jun 11, 2012 at 4:02
  • @Louis They are "I" and "my sister". These don't correspond to the Japanese one though, which are "ane" and "ane ga kureta hon" (I cannot input Japanese from my computer now), but the point was that they belong to different clauses.
    – user458
    Jun 11, 2012 at 4:20
  • @Louis If you are wondering about the form of the nominative case, you can't explicitly see it in English unless you have pronouns. So for the second one, replace those parts with a pronoun. Would you say "she gave me ..." or "her gave me ..."?
    – user458
    Jun 11, 2012 at 5:01
  • thanks, I think I get it. Actually Sineads original topic was about modifying nouns. Jun 11, 2012 at 5:43

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