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Over a year ago, I wrote a text on Lang-8. I'm analyzing my texts. I wrote, very badly, this sentence:

この本書は、Lang-8で一番日本語の本書を書きます。

I tried to say "this is my first text on Lang-8" 😂

Yeah, looking at it now, I don't even now what I was thinking. 🤔 Anyway, I received the following correction:

これは私の、Lang-8では初めての日本語の作文です。

I need help to understand the の particle after the 私. Is it that rule where the noun is implicit by the context, in this case, my text (作文), or the の particle is just being connected normally with the entire sentence, but separate with a comma, creating a different style (私のLang−8では…), in this case creating a relationship between 私 and 作文? I don't think it's the former, because Lang−8では "disconnect" 私の with what comes after. If so, I never saw it so far... Is there something with that comma?

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「これは私{わたし}の、Lang-8では初{はじ}めての日本語{にほんご}の作文{さくぶん}です。」

In this sentence, both 「私」 and 「Lang-8では初めて」 modify the 「日本語の作文」.

Strictly speaking, the comma is optional, but that is a good place to use one because it helps visually notify the reader right away that another phrase would follow 「私の」 that will also modify the noun near the end of the sentence.

In other words, a comma is often used after a phrase when the word it modifies does not appear right after that phrase.

  • Thank you very much for your answer. Is it grammatically correct to say that Lang−8では create a gap between 私 and what comes after it? For example, we could very much move Lang−8では right before 私の, and then let the entire sentence be connected with の's, becoming: これはLang−8では私の初めての日本語の作文です。Or, Lang−8では is really grammatically connected with 私の? – BIG-95 May 30 '18 at 23:47
  • Wait, I forgot what you said with "both 「私の」 and 「Lang-8では初めての」 modify the 「日本語の作文」." Okay, is it really two の's being used to modify one noun? So, based on what I said, there is no gap between 私の and what comes after Lang−8では? This is completely new to me, if so. I know it may sound silly all of this but, it is a little bit weird to recognize... @l'électeur – BIG-95 Jun 1 '18 at 23:11
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    @BIG Is it really two の's being used to modify one noun? -- Yes... 「私作文」+「Lang-8では初めて作文」 -> 「私 、Lang-8では初めて作文」. Or you could also parse it as 私の[(Lang-8では初めての)作文]... with 私の modifying the whole 「Lang-8では初めての作文」"first journal on Lang-8". The comma was placed there, cos without it the phrase might sound/look like saying 「これは、私のLang-8では...」 "In my Lang-8, this is..." – Chocolate Jun 2 '18 at 5:43
  • @Chocolate Thank you very much! This is what I wanted to know about the grammar point. If you don't mind, I would like to ask one more thing about it: Do you have any idea of how often this kind of sentence pattern happens? Is it more common in writing than speech? – BIG-95 Jun 2 '18 at 12:46
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    @BIG 「これは私の、~~では初めての・・・です。」-- I don't think it's a rare sentence pattern, but I think it'd sound a bit formal and less casual/colloquial, so you'd say like this more in writing or formal speech.. eg「これは私の、海外では初めてのボランティア活動です。」. You could rephrase it 「これは私にとって ~~で(は)初めての・・・です。」. More casually, you might say it more simply as.. 「初めて~~で・・・します。」(without saying 「これ」「私」), eg 「初めてLang-8で日本語の作文を書きます。」「初めて海外でボランティア活動をします。」 etc.. – Chocolate Jun 2 '18 at 16:16
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Yes, this is just standard use of the possessive の. The comma is there to set off a relatively long noun phrase to make it more comprehensible. You may have heard that は doesn't belong in a noun phrase, but in this case it's acting contrastively (i.e., this is my first post on Lang-8 as opposed to other sites).

Comma use in Japanese is much looser than in English, and there aren't a lot of cases where commas are absolutely required or prohibited.

  • Hi, thank you for answering. When you say contrastively, considering that you started saying that I may have heard that は doesn't belong in a noun phrase, does the は particle here belong to a noun phrase, or you are saying that は creates a contrast between 私の and 初めての日本語の作文です, in this case, exemplifying like I said to l'électeur, a gap? (I'm sorry, but I didn't understand exactly what you said with that i.e. after contrastively; that should answer my question above) @mamster – BIG-95 Jun 1 '18 at 23:10
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    I guess I would say that は can sometimes appear in a noun phrase. That’s really all I meant, I’m afraid! – mamster Jun 2 '18 at 4:11
  • I see. Well, what I asked here and for l'électeur was, essentially, the same thing. I think @Chocolate answered what I wanted to know. Thank you very much. All answers contributed here, for sure! – BIG-95 Jun 2 '18 at 12:52
  • I think this link clarify the point "the comma is there to set off a relatively long noun phrase to make it more comprehensible": japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/2972/… – BIG-95 Jun 2 '18 at 15:50
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Yes, the comma shifts the の to 作文, as you indicated.

Assuming that we want 私の to modify 作文:

Let's consider this case, with no comma.

これは私のLang-8では初めての日本語の作文です。

Here 私 and Lang-8 are tightly coupled because they're next to each other. Furthermore, 私 and Lang-8 look even more tightly coupled because they're in the characters between the first は and では, making them look like they're in the same phrase.

So, taking the above example and inserting commas explicitly where particles mark the end of phrases, we have the following

これは、私のLang-8では、初めての日本語の作文です。

Here it's clearer that 私のLang-8では is one phrase.

To resolve this and make 私の modify 作文:

これは私の、Lang-8では初めての日本語の作文です。

The comma after の separates 私 from Lang-8. Therefore, 私のLang-8 is no longer an independent phrase. Lang-8では then belongs to the phrase that modifies 作文. If 私の doesn't modify Lang-8, then logically it must modify 作文.

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