My grammar textbook contains the problem sentence

ある専門家のページによると、ありの巣は、初めは女王ありがたった一匹で【   】。

1 作るそうだ   2 作ったそうだ
3 作られるそうだ 4 作られたそうだ

I chose the incorrect answer 3 作られるそうだ. The correct answer is 1 作るそうだ, making the sentence


I guess the queen ant makes the first nest. I am very confused by this sentence.

  • What is the direct object of 作る?
  • Why is は used twice?
  • What does で mean in this sentence?

I think my question is not very clear because I am confused. Please feel free to edit it.

  • 2
    Sorry, are you saying that in your textbook, the correct answer was [作るそうだ]and you incorrectly chose 作られるそうだ from a set of other multiple choice answers? Or are you saying that your textbook asked to to conjugate [作るそうだ]to some other verb form? Commented May 17, 2018 at 10:35
  • 2
    please clarify what exactly was the question and what answers were proposed (if it’s a multi-choice) Commented May 17, 2018 at 11:53
  • 3
    ^ 選択肢の中から「作られるそうだ」を選んだら不正解で、正解は「作るそうだ」だった、ってことでしょ?
    – chocolate
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 12:30
  • Sorry for the confusion. I've edited the question. Commented May 18, 2018 at 8:07
  • I like both of the answers, so I think I will wait a couple days before choosing the one with the most votes. Thank you very much. Commented May 18, 2018 at 8:30

2 Answers 2


What is the direct object of 作る?

The direct object of 作る is ありの巣.

Subject = 女王アリが
Direct Object = ありの巣を (を is replaced by は)
Verb = 作る

Why is は used twice?

The は in ありの巣は is the topic particle. This means ありの巣 is the topic/theme of the sentence. When an object or subject is the topic, the object/subject marker を/が is replaced by the topic particle は. (「XXを」→ ◎「XXは」×「XXをは」)
The は in 初めは is the contrastive particle. It implies 女王ありがたった一匹でありの巣を作る occurs only at the beginning, and other ants will build the nest later.

What does で mean in this sentence?

The で indicates 動作の様態/状態, "manner of an action" or "in what manner an action is performed". Here, it expresses that the action 「巣を作る」 is performed たった一匹で, "alone" or "all by herself". Examples of the use of this で:

一人買い物に行く -- go shopping alone
家族みんな出かける -- go out with the whole family

  • Oh, I also didn't realize 一匹 is counting ants, not nests. Commented May 18, 2018 at 8:27

The direct object of 作る is ありの巣.

初めは means "at the beginning" and 一匹で means "by oneself".

を as a object marker can be changed to は as a topic maker or a contrastive particle like 初めは女王ありがたった一匹でありの巣を作る can be rephrased as ありの巣は、初めは女王ありがたった一匹でつくる.

If you want to change the sentence to passive form, ありの巣は、初めは女王ありによってたった一匹で作られる.

  • 1
    I'm not sure that's what his grammar textbook is asking him to do. I think it's literally asking him to substitute in the correct form of [作るそうだ]at the end of the sentence provided. In order to help him/her, it's kind of important what the grammar book is requesting. One thing that is clear from the question is that changing the OTHER parts of the sentence is not part of the exercise. So "女王ありによって" is not allowed in this case. Commented May 17, 2018 at 10:31
  • I think he asked about transitive verbs without を and passive form. そうだ can't be passive form but the sentence before it can be changed to passive form as I said. Commented May 17, 2018 at 11:00

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