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Questions tagged [grammar]

文法. A collective term for syntax (the way sentences are put together) and morphology (forms of words, including the way new words are put together). Often used to describe function words such as particles, to describe word endings, and to talk about general sentence structure.

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What's the difference between wa (は) and ga (が)?

When is it correct to use は but not が, and when is it correct to use が but not は? Are there any times when you can use either without changing the meaning of the sentence? How does switching change ...
54
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3answers
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When is Vている the continuation of action and when is it the continuation of state?

Last night, when I asked my wife to send an email to me, she said もう送っている which I took to mean that she was "sending the message". (The message had a big attachment so I imagined that it could take a ...
112
votes
6answers
28k views

Differences among -たら、なら、-んだったら、-えば, etc

Japanese language has a lot of patterns for "if" clauses. What are the differences among the following patterns and how do we choose to use one over the others?: 行くと 行ったら 行くなら 行けば 行くんだったら 行くのなら ...
59
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3answers
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Difference between -ていく and -てくる

Can someone explain the differences between v-ていく and v-てくる for me. I know that they both express some kind of ongoing action (like a place getting crowded). For example, what's the difference between ...
102
votes
1answer
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What is the difference between the nominalizers こと and の?

As Derek mentioned in his postscript, both こと and の are nominalizers that can turn a verb into a noun. ピアノを弾く【ひく】。 I play the piano. ピアノを弾く【ひく】のが好き【すき】です。 I like playing the piano. ピアノを弾く【...
116
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9answers
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What is the こと in sentences such as あなたのことが好きだ?

There were a lot of great answers here. I gave the checkmark to ento's answer because I felt it most completely explained all aspects of this use of こと. But many of the other answers are excellent, so ...
26
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1answer
1k views

Why is the topic marker often used in negative statements (ではない, ~とは思わない)?

What function does は provide in statements such as 本ではない or 本だとは思わない? I notice the は after と is often left out, at least if a Google search for 思わない is any indication, but there still seems to be a ...
46
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3answers
9k views

The difference between が and を with the potential form of a verb

When using the potential form of a verb, I was taught that the particle を becomes が. However, in real life this seems to not always be the case. I've even heard Japanese people use を instead of が ...
12
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1answer
1k views

What is a subsidiary verb?

What is a subsidiary verb? Could one explain it and give some examples of its application?
20
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1answer
3k views

What is the meaning of りゃ in this phrase?

I came across this phrase while reading an interview. そういう時はなんて答えりゃいいんだ。 I think it means "At a time like that, such a reply/response is good." But I don't understand the usage of りゃ. I couldn't ...
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3answers
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I don't understand what のも means in this sentence

Here's the sentence in question: 生まれたのも育ったのも京都なんですよ I thought using の in a sentence signified possession (ie. 私の本 [My book]). If I interpret the sentence as such, it doesn't make any sense. Then ...
11
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3answers
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~ておく / とく for preparation (Conjugation and nuance)

A few quick questions regarding ~ておく and the casual form ~とく Firstly, when changing from ~ておく to the more casual ~とく I'm assuming the verb is first conjugated to the ~て form then the ~て is dropped ...
70
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4answers
38k views

What is the difference between “に” and “には”?

The title should be pretty self-explanatory. What meanings does each convey? And in what kinds of circumstances would one be used instead of the other? For example, what are the differences between ...
23
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1answer
15k views

So-called の-adjectives - how does の *really* work?

Ok, so there seems to be some controversy over whether we can really say that there are 'の-adjectives', or whether we simply use a noun in an "attributive" way (a term which I don't actually really ...
53
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2answers
9k views

Why does Japanese have two kinds of adjectives? (-i adjectives and -na adjectives)

Japanese has two kinds of adjectives known by several terms but the ones I know are i-adjectives and na-adjectives - why? I recall that Japanese adjectives are much more like verbs than in English ...
22
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1answer
797 views

Two を in a single sentence - how to understand it?

In the book I'm reading (「キッチン」 by 吉本{よしもと}ばなな) I have found the following sentence: うしろで雄一がぞうきんを手に床をふいてくれていた。 I guess it can be translated to something like (sorry for a quite literal translation)...
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6answers
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What is the difference between 〜となる and 〜になる?

Is it a nuance difference? Is it formality? EDIT For example: 請求書のお支払いは現金のみとなりますので、ご了承くださいませ。 請求書のお支払いは現金のみになりますので、ご了承くださいませ。 I just made that example up, but for some reason, my gut tells ...
25
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3answers
9k views

When to use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい

When does one use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい? For example, in phrases like: 先生は野菜を食べて欲し​{いです・がっています}。 My incomplete understanding is that the がる form is more formal/polite, but it can only be ...
18
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2answers
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Usage of ~を好き outside of embedded clauses

日本語文法の初心者です :D In general, を is not used with 好き because 好き is a na-adjective: 彼は猫が好きです。 — correct 彼は猫を好きです。 — incorrect If this part is "embedded" as a clause, を is also ...
18
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3answers
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私は猫が好き and 猫は私が好き

I'm an absolute beginner. I've learned Japanese in my spare time for less than two months. This is my first question here. Even though I think this question is potentially trivial, it's perhaps the ...
8
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1answer
705 views

Meaning of “でも” in “食事でもどうですか?”

I've found this sentence on alc.co.jp 食事でもどうですか and I am puzzled as to meaning this でも conveys. How does it differ from 食事はどうですか which would be my first choice; however, according to google, ...
18
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1answer
882 views

Difference Between べんきょう する and べんきょうを する

What is the difference between べんきょう する and べんきょうを する?
36
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3answers
13k views

Usage of commas in Japanese sentences

This might sound like a strange question, but how does the usage of commas differ when used in Japanese compared to English? I believe りんご、オレンジとバナナ wouldn't work, but that it's OK to list like りんご、...
25
votes
3answers
8k views

Usage of なんて and なんか as emphasis

When are なんて and なんか used as emphasis in casual speech? Are they used when you're surprised, angry or can it be both? What sort of feeling does it convey to the listener compared to a normal sentence ...
9
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1answer
4k views

How is the “のです” working here?

目立つ事を恐れ、一緒でなければいけないという日本人が確実に減ってきているのです。 The strong feelings that Japanese have of being afraid of standing out and everybody having to do things together are starting to become less prominent. ...
7
votes
1answer
508 views

Does は mean 'at least' in this sentence?

I can't catch the grammar of the following sentence 今なら嫉妬で100人は殺{ヤ}れますよ。 In the previous text there was no reference to 100人. What is the function of は here? Is it a contrastive marker used ...
9
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1answer
536 views

けど usage in ”魔石灯”がいい例だけど、”魔石”は…

I know that けど is a colloquial form of けれども and that is used to connect two sentences with the meaning of "but, although" but in the following sentence I cannot understand its usage. 僕達のホームにあった”魔石灯”...
12
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1answer
3k views

Stative verbs: ~ている vs ~てある vs ~(ら)れる

I'm not sure if I'm wording this properly, but I want to know the nuances of these "stative" type verb forms that act kind of like adjectives. For example, you could describe an open window with any ...
4
votes
1answer
512 views

Is there a term for using conjugating verbs such that the sentence continues with another clause?

I'm referring specifically to using the て form to form a pseudo conjunction, and specifically the transformation of verbs in formal writing by using the verb stem instead of て form. For example the ...
7
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1answer
302 views

Question with this sentence わたしはえをみるのがすきです

Just started learning Japanese and have question with the following sentence. わたしはえをみるのがすきです Do I have to use の in this situation? Can I just say わたしはえをみるがすきです without the の?
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4answers
4k views

Does Vて+いる always mean an action already completed?

For the longest time, I thought that a verb ending in て+いる meant that one was currently doing an action, similar to how we use ~ing in English to mean a contuinuing state. So 食{た}べている means "eating". ...
20
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2answers
661 views

Usage of plain i-adjectives or た form (悪かったv悪い、良かったvいい etc)

Example: 美人じゃなくて悪かったですね! (sarcastic) compared to someone who is using a room and is told あんまり広い部屋じゃなくて悪いな Or for example the difference between 無事でよかった and I can't think of the corresponding for ...
14
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1answer
1k views

How to list numbers of things

Where do you place the counter in Japanese when you want to specify how many of something there are, especially if you're listing multiple things? I believe the counter usually goes after the ...
13
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1answer
571 views

How to parse 中国人で日本語が話せる方は、お電話ください。

I have a difficulty to parse the following sentence. 中国人で日本語が話せる方は、お電話ください。 I just understood the following partial phrases. 中国人で means "with Chinese" 日本語が話せる方 means "person who can speak ...
53
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4answers
8k views

ことができる versus V~える form

Way back in the day when I was first learning Japanese, I learned that you could add ことができる to a verb to indicate potential. Like so: 食{た}べることができる (I) can eat (something) It became my ...
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3answers
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Contrasting っぽい、らしい、みたい

For example, the following 3: 女っぽい (おんなっぽい) 女らしい (おんならしい) 女みたい (おんなみたい) In what situations would you use っぽい over らしい? Does っぽい have negative connotations? Are 女らしい and 女みたい interchangeable as in ...
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8answers
16k views

When going somewhere, is there any difference between e (へ) and ni (に)?

Can you use へ and に interchangeably, as in 北海道へ行く and 北海道に行く? Are there any subtle differences in the use of these two?
10
votes
2answers
421 views

Proportion and Rate

How do I form a sentence pattern for: The more/less X happens, the more/less Y happens E.g. The more you stir, the faster the salt dissolves. The colder the weather, the more ...
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1answer
2k views

Where does the verbal form しとく come from?

In a manga I am currently reading, one of the character exclaims: 安心しな。秘密に しとく から。 The general meaning of the second part ("I'll keep it a secret") is quite obvious, and it seems that "しとく" (...
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2answers
2k views

Is it ok to use ~て下さりました instead of ~ていただきました?

Just to avoid repeatedly saying いただきました too much, can I occasionally switch it with 下さりました or 下さいました?
20
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1answer
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ないで vs なくて: combining phrases with negative verbs

Can you use 〜なくて instead of 〜ないで in the following sentence without changing the meaning? 病気になると、一切化学薬品や抗生物質を使わないで、鍼や指圧や漢方薬で直します。風邪の時は何もしないで暖かくして、寝ているだけです。 In general, what's the difference between ...
24
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2answers
1k views

“太ってる猫” vs “太った猫”

I saw this sentence and its translation in a textbook 彼女は太った猫が好きじゃない。 She doesn't like fat cats I was under the impression that 「太ってる猫」 means something like “cat that is in the state of becoming ...
17
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1answer
962 views

Passive form - The exact difference between を and が

I've seen this question asked before, but i feel the answer didn't quite answer all my questions, so here goes. Now, I am rather sure that this: ケーキが食べられた Means: The cake was eaten. (by ...
13
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2answers
821 views

て versus combining-form for joining clauses

Is there a difference between these two sentences 昨日はビールを飲んでパイを食べました。 昨日はビールを飲みパイを食べました。 More generally, when should I choose one form over the other? Thanks.
11
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5answers
2k views

Who scolded whom in Aに怒られる?

I can see that someone got mad or someone made someone else mad. The things that make it difficult are に and the られる form of 怒る. What does this mean? How do you figure out who did what in these types ...
8
votes
1answer
399 views

What is the purpose of adding と?

For example: 柔和{にゅうわ}な線{せん}で縁取{ふちど}られた宝石{ほうせき}のような瞳{ひとみ}に、ほっそりとした顎{あご}、綺麗{きれい}な鼻筋{はなすじ}。美人{びじん}っていう人{ひと}の条件{じょうけん}しっかりと備{ととの}えちゃってる。 What is the purpose of the と in ほっそりとした instead of just saying ...
25
votes
3answers
3k views

The reason for using 何も+negative, but 何でも+positive

In one of the Japanese classes I attended, I've been taught that while we use 「何も出来ない」to say "He cannot do anything", to say "He can do anything" we use 「何でも出来る」 instead of 「何も出来る」. Why is there a ...
21
votes
2answers
868 views

Can we optionally include (or exclude) an を particle in between the noun of the する-verb and the する itself?

When we have a する verb (e.g. 支{し}度{たく}する、案{あん}内{ない}する、心{しん}配{ぱい}する), is it true that we could optionally insert an を particle in between the noun and the する? Because in the example sentences here and ...
19
votes
2answers
3k views

<adv> versus <adv>+と versus <adv>+に

I often see adverbs used in one of three ways: 1) Adverb appears in isolation in a sentence: あまり 好きじゃないんですが。 2) Adverb is followed by に 別々に お願いします。 1970年代後半、多くの罪もない日本の一般市民が 次々に 失踪した。 3) ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

How many verb endings to express “do this (please)”?

I'm familiar with the て and てください forms of a verb to give a command/request and request, respectively. However, I've run across these other forms and really don't know which to use in what situation. ...