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I was reading a Japanese article as practice today and came across a sentence including two "が" particles that I had trouble understanding:

午前7時ごろ、シャンシャン乗ったトラック動物園を出発して、成田空港に向かいました。

It seems like there are two subjects (シャンシャン & 乗ったトラック), but what is their relationship? How do they apply to the later verb (出発して)? Is there a rough guideline I can follow whenever I come across sentences like these in the future? Thank you!

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    Have you come across the concept of relative clauses? Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 21:12
  • No, I'm assuming that's the concept involved so I'll look into it.
    – revebed583
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 22:17

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午前7時ごろ、シャンシャンが乗ったトラックが動物園を出発して、成田空港に向かいました。

You are right that there are two subjects, but they are the subjects of different verbs.

The first clause is

午前7時ごろ、??トラックが動物園を出発して
Around 7 A.M. the truck left the zoo and ...

This is a simple structure with one verb having one subject and one object.

The ?? part corresponds to シャンシャンが乗った and is called a relative clause. It describes the noun that follows it in the same way that an adjective can describe a noun. It means "Shanshan rode" and is again a simple clause with one verb and one subject.

I assume you would be happy with 重いトラック (a heavy truck). You could also translate it as "a truck which/that is heavy". In the same way, (シャンシャンが乗った)トラック is "the truck that Shanshan rode".

Altogether,

午前7時ごろ、シャンシャンが乗ったトラックが動物園を出発し
Around 7 A.M. the truck that Shanshan rode left the zoo and ...

This is an essential part of Japanese grammar. Look up 'relative clause' and learn it well. You will not survive without it.

P.S. I have no idea what Shanshan is. I'm guessing it's a daft panda name or something.

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  • Actually I'm not sure its accurate to claim that 動物園 is the object of 出発する but that's a technicality that we don't need to dwell on now. Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 22:19
  • It's a temporal / spatial object for a verb of motion. Compare constructions like 道を歩く or 階段を上がる. Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 22:59
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    @user3856370 re "Shanshan", yeah, it's referring to the panda Xiang Xiang that was returned to China very recently. It made big news in Japan :)
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 6:05

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