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Sorry if this is a really open-ended question, but one thing occurred to me when I was asking a prior question here; are there any particular grammatical errors frequently made by native Japanese speakers?

For example, in English there are quite a few obvious mistakes that native speakers make - your vs. you're and me and Sally went... rather than Sally and I went... and often non-native speakers of English are better at distinguishing between them than native speakers.

Is there any such Japanese grammar that is commonly used incorrectly by native speakers?

I am more interested in common mistakes than obscure mistakes; mistakes where one would think that a native speaker should know better.

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  • 2
    「通り」should be written 「とおり」 in hiragana but I've seen many people write it as 「とうり」。 (Wait, is this a "grammatical" error?) Maybe「ら抜き言葉」is seen as a grammatical error (but I'm not sure). And many people say/write "~~たり~~する" but I learned at school that we should say/write "~~たり~~たりする"
    – user1016
    Nov 21, 2012 at 21:32
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    Now I remembered we often say 「すごい寒い~!」「すごい嬉しい~!」「すごい+ an adjective」. I think we use すごく when we write formally though.
    – user1016
    Nov 21, 2012 at 23:10
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    Maybe this should be community wiki? There also seems to be some confusion between the imperative of ichidan verbs and godan verbs ending in -iru and -eru. Is it しゃべれ or しゃべろ, みれ or みろ etc. There might be some dialectal influence on this too, not sure.
    – dainichi
    Nov 22, 2012 at 0:25
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    Interesting question. Try not confuse evolution of modern Japanese vs real grammar mistake.
    – oldergod
    Nov 22, 2012 at 1:50
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    Those aren't really good examples of "grammatical errors". "You're"/"your" is just spelling and most of the time its not even a legitimate mistake. Also mistakes in text/print are usually not mistakes of language but mistakes of typing or editing and whatnot. I would also take special heed to oldergod's comment on the distinction between "semi-tolerated emergent conventions" and a true linguistic error. The latter are by far much more interesting, especially when the culprit is perverse enough to violate a linguistic universal, and not just a language particular.
    – taylor
    Nov 22, 2012 at 3:04

3 Answers 3

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If some construct is common among native speakers, is it a grammatical error, or an artifact of a shared dialect? It's an error in the prescriptive sense, in that it is contrary to some preferred dialect that is promulgated by schools and institutions.

Here is an example: using 全然 (zen zen, [not] at all), in the positive sense (totally).

"昨日, 全然楽しかったよ!” (Kinou, zen zen tanoshikatta, yo! Yesterday was totally fun!)

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  • Oh yes~~ I say 全然いいよ very often, knowing it's wrong! >▽<
    – user1016
    Nov 21, 2012 at 22:41
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    @chocolate: Actually, that is a common misconception, see here.
    – Jesse Good
    Nov 22, 2012 at 0:15
  • @JesseGood Ewww so 全然+肯定文 is not incorrect? I didn't know that~ 遠慮なく使おう・・・w
    – user1016
    Nov 22, 2012 at 11:42
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    Well, the misconception is that some usage which a community of speakers accept and use can be "wrong".
    – Kaz
    Nov 22, 2012 at 15:47
  • Actually since 2012 I learned that the positive 全然 may be historically right; the banishment is a prescriptivist hyper-correction, or something like that.
    – Kaz
    Feb 18 at 23:51
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I'm not sure if it is common, but I asked a question once about something I often saw: (I think these types of mistakes are common though when you mix up to words)

環境を配慮した家 <-- Should be に not を

Using たり only once (reference):

×本を読んだり、手紙を書く暇もありません。  

→○本を読んだり、手紙を書いたりする暇もありません。

Using two words that mean the same thing in a row (very common):

まず初めに

今現在

Using 申し訳ない as 申し訳ありません or 申し訳ございません. Technically 申し訳ない is a 形容詞.

なので at the beginning of a sentence.

すいません instead of すみません (perhaps more of a spoken thing).

こんにちわ instead of こんにちは

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  • That point about 申し訳ない is interesting. So is 申し訳ありません prescriptively incorrect? I could have sworn we had been taught it.
    – jogloran
    Nov 22, 2012 at 3:50
  • @jogloran: Prescriptively, yes. Here is a link in Japanese talking about it. However, it is so common, taking a descriptive approach might be better (still up for debate).
    – Jesse Good
    Nov 22, 2012 at 4:04
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    Thanks for that. As the link says, 申し訳ありません is incorrect in the same way that 危ありません is incorrect, but the descriptive tendency is probably because 申し訳 also occurs as a standalone noun while 危(あぶ) does not. Also, I would never have thought 申し訳のう to be the correct combining form.
    – jogloran
    Nov 22, 2012 at 4:19
  • Why is なので at the beginning of a sentence incorrect?
    – istrasci
    May 29, 2013 at 14:28
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    @JesseGood: I thought it was just an implied (それ)なので, where それ is the entire previous sentence/paragraph that is being used as the reasoning, while being intentionally omitted.
    – istrasci
    May 29, 2013 at 21:40
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Don't know about native speakers, but I know that a commonly made mistake is to use a grammatical structure such as ~と思う without the necessary だ if preceded by a noun or な adjective.

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