The sentence given with its translation is:

I'm out of the woods.

山 は 越えた よ。

When I looked up the word "越えた", it was only matched with "越える" instead. I think the meaning is similar. When I google translated 越えた, it gave me "exceeded".

I'm unsure if this is an error in my material but it's certainly confusing me as I'm still new to learning.

  • 1
    Is there some reason you’re expecting every single word in a sentence to have a dictionary entry? That wouldn’t be true about any language which has conjugation. Sep 4 '19 at 18:33
  • I see. Makes sense. I had this initially with Mandarin but in a different way. Brain still processing how the language fits together. I have actually found the dictionary for Japanese much more difficult to use than any for Mandarin. So the difference here is that it is a grammatical change, in regards to the word im referencing?
    – sups12
    Sep 4 '19 at 18:38
  • Good luck! Also this sentence is an idiom, so it won’t translate literally. Probably not worth thinking about much if you’re just beginning. Sep 4 '19 at 18:41
  • English-language dictionaries do not have separate entries for 'surpasses', 'surpassing', and 'surpassed', do they? No, they're all part of the 'surpass' entry. It's the same logic here.
    – Angelos
    Sep 4 '19 at 21:28

So this is an interesting translation, because what is actually being said, and the translation do not have the same literal meaning, but they carry the same general meaning as a figure of speech.

In short, a Japanese idiom is being translated to an English idiom.


Literally translates to:

I crossed over the mountain.

= mountain

= topic marker. As a standalone sentence, I would use を instead, but you can have this be grammatically correct if this comes in the middle of a conversation. There are cases where は can replace を in a sentence and this is one of them.

越えた = past tense of 越える, which as you have found can mean 'to exceed,' but as @chocolate has pointed out, this definition uses a different kanji: 超える. It is read the same way. 越える, as used in this example, means 'to cross over/through.'
*As a side note, jisho.org is one of the best online dictionaries I have found, and I highly recommend it.

= sentence ending particle that adds emphasis (almost like an exclamation point, but not quite).

In terms of general meaning, the phrase means that you have gotten past some trying challenge in your life. The meaning is very similar to the idiom that it was translated to (I'm out of the woods), which is why I think that they used the English idiom over the literal Japanese translation.

  • 1
    Would you consider changing your translation so it is not passive (has been passed over)? Terrible pun not intended. Sep 5 '19 at 8:35
  • 1
    超えた -->「 えた」です(「超える」と「越える」はちょっとだけ意味が違います)は = subject marker. --> ううん・・「は」は topic marker です(主格の格助詞ではなく、副助詞(or係助詞)です)It replaces を, too. eg 朝ごはんを食べた → 朝ごはんは食べた(when 朝ごはん is the topic, or contrasted. It's still the object of 食べた)
    – Chocolate
    Sep 5 '19 at 14:27
  • @chocolate Thank you! そして、「超える」と「越える」はどうやて違うの?二つとも同じjisho.org意味があるけど。jisho.org/search/%E8%B6%8A%E3%81%88%E3%82%8B and
    – ajsmart
    Sep 5 '19 at 14:41
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    「山を・峠を・国境を・冬を・50歳を 越える」とかは「越える」(≂乗り越えて向こう側へ行く、cross, pass) で、「体重が50キロを超える、気温が30度を超える、定員を・限界を・予想を・予算を 超える」とかは「超える」(≂上回る、超越する、exceed) って書くかな~と思います。
    – Chocolate
    Sep 5 '19 at 15:26
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    I agree with @user3856370 that the passive translation is confusing here. The sentence is not passive in Japanese and the は is not serving as a subject marker here (like Chocolate said). Sep 5 '19 at 15:39

山を越える has an idiomatic meaning, which means "to pass the peak situation of something". For example, 彼女の病気の山は越えたよ(The worst situation of her illness was over), 明日でこの仕事は山は(orを)越えるだろう(The most important part of this job will be done tomorrow) and so on.


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