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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Range of numbers

How would one express a range of numbers regarding an action? Example: I usually study anywhere between 2 to 4 hours a day. Would the からーまで grammar structure be appropriate here? 一日に普段2から4時間までを勉強する。...
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Meaning of pattern 「XがXなら、YもYだ」

While reading, I came across this sentence: 「上官が上官なら部下も部下だな」 What does this 「XがXなら、YもYだ」 pattern mean? "Like X, like Y"? "X will be X, and Y will be Y"?
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How do you say “if and only if” in Japanese?

I would like to know how to express mandatory conditions in Japanese. Since Japanese distinguishes between different types of languages, I should probably ask more precisely: What is the right way to ...
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What's the meaning of 〜ておきます?

What exactly does 〜ておきます mean in this context? 旅行{りょこう}する前{まえ}にホテルを予約{よやく}しておきます。 Is this trying to say something like "Before traveling, reserve a room". Is this a suggestion? An order? (If so, why ...
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Are 終{お}わる and 済{す}ませる synonyms?

I know that they both mean "finish". But I wonder if there are situations or contexts where you can use one but not the other.
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なんか after て- form of a verb

I am confused by the use of なんか, especially after the て-form of a verb. What do: あきらめてなんかない, 消えてなんかない mean? How do they differ from simply saying あきらめていない, 消えていない? What is the purpose of なんか?
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Is there a difference between からすると and からして?

These two phrases seem to have very similar usage and I'm unable to determine the difference between them. The examples I have are: 彼は服装からしてだらしない。きっと他の面も同じだろう。 kare ha fukusou karashite ...
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Why is this sentence ungrammatical? 「お寺が公園のとなりです。」

I wrote this sentence (meaning "The temple is next to the park") in my Japanese course and my teacher said it's wrong, because I was supposed to use a は instead of a が. My understanding is that there ...
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Is there a subtle difference between 少なくても and 少なくとも?

My sense is that the meaning is identical but that 少なくとも is somewhat more formal than 少なくても. Is that observation valid?
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「です」, what is it really? Is my analysis correct?

At an elementary level, often, Japanese learners are taught that です is equivalent to the verb "to be" in English. Typical example: 私は学生です, I am a student. That's fine, after all, it works. And to ...
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Can 誰にも be used in positive verb?

Most examples I read, 誰にも is always used in negative verbs. Is there a case in which 誰にも is used in positive verbs?
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Difference between にとって and として

What differences are there between にとって and として ? To the best of my understanding, both have meanings of stating something from a certain point of view or perspective. However, I think that there's ...
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「とおり」と「ように」の違いは何ですか

I have a question about the difference between とおり and ように. 先生が言ったように、試験は難しかった 先生が言ったとおり、試験は難しかった
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What does it mean when この is in front of a personal pronoun?

As in このオレさま and この僕も. I know the literal translation, but I never understood what the intent of it is.
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How does “ ~ずにはいられない ” work?

時代の流れを感じずにはいられない。 I can't help but feel time passing by. 彼のことを同情せずにはいられない。 I can't help but to feel sorry for him. 私は、彼の才能を賞賛せずにはいられない。 I can't help but admire his talent. Would ...
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Do all verbs have an honorific and humble form?

I was reading about this phenomenon in a few places and saw, for instance, this table of transformations and substitutions for various verbs. Is it only these common verbs which change, or do all ...
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ない in つまらない and similar adjectives and their conjugation with すぎる

The usual path for conjugation would be: 高い → 高すぎる  (drop い, append すぎる) ない → なさすぎる (drop い, append さ, append すぎる) Is ない in つまらない treated as the negative ない which conjugates as 2.? Or is つまらない a ...
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What is the significance of a large く character in literary texts?

I am currently reading an early story by Tanizaki Junichiro in Japanese. I have come across both the hiragana く and ぐ written twice the size they usually are, taking up the same amount of space on the ...
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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 ...
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How does one use the “[V ます stem] に [Vタ]” pattern (as in 待ちに待った)?

Every now and then I hear 待ちに待った, as in: 待ちに待ったライブ a long-awaited concert I started wondering if this pattern can apply to other verbs, and it certainly seems to, if Google is any indication. I ...
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Meaning of volitional passive form

お姉ちゃんに何を言われようが、まる子はウキウキ気分なのであった。 What was said by her sister ???? but, Maruko felt cheerful. I can't think of any way in which something which is passive can also be volitional. How do I understand ...
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Zero-nominalisation - Why and When?

Building on from Zhen Lin's answer to "The grammar of ~かれ~かれ", Brief explanation of Zero-nominalisation: Nominalisation refers to the process of turning a word, or more generally a phrase, into a ...
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Does a list using と end with が?

Asking this other question has reminded me of another confusion I often have, one of my long standing bad habits that you'd think I'd have sorted after all this time in Japan. I'm never quite sure ...
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can we omit verbs when speaking casually?

I've heard that we can usually omit nouns and stuff like that, but can we actually omit verbs or must they still be there? Example sentence: アイツ帰るなり、すぐに部屋にな~ Edit Can we omit verbs in the main ...
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Why are equal signs used to substitute an English hyphen?

I was reading an article about Idlib and the groups that were there on Wikipedia, and hovered to the language setting to gloss at the title translations. For Japanese, I saw something unusual in its ...
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Meaning of 増える in this sentence

In the following sentence: 魚は三匹に増えていた。 I don't know whether to interpret に as to or by. So if I start with one fish then: The number of fish increased to three (there are now three fish), or ...
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verb た-form + そう, hearsay or observation?

Verb る-form + そう indicates hearsay. 帰るそうだ 'I hear he will go home.' 帰らないそうだ [Negative] Verb masu stem (i.e. conjunctive form 連用形) + そう shows information obtained through the senses, ...
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に and で revisited

Consider the statement A: ホテル(に/で)泊まる. For both cases would translate to "I stay at a hotel" in English. However they are answers to different questions. Consider the questions 1.どこに泊まる and 2.(ホテルで)...
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What does 彼女は私ほど自分のことを好きじゃない mean?

Consider the following 彼女は私ほど自分のことを好きじゃない。 My attempt is as follows A: She does not love herself as much as I love myself. B: She does not love herself as much as she loves me. C: She does not ...
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ならば vs なら. both are totally interchangeable without affecting the nuance of the sentence?

is it true that なら is merely a short form of ならば and as such, both are totally interchangeable without affecting the nuance of the sentence? Also, a second question is is ならば more "formal" than "なら" ?...
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Unifying concept for noun-adjectives of the pattern Xかな

Consider these: ~か: 静か 愚か 厳か ~やか: 穏やか 鮮やか 賑やか ~らか: 柔らか 滑らか 明らか There are many more that I've not listed. The か/やか/らか at the end of these words seem to ...
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Contrasting 〜てならない、〜てしょうがない and 〜てたまらない

These three phrases can be used to express emotions and feelings that cannot be controlled. For example in the following sentences: a) 1点差で負けたので、悔しくてならない。 b) 1点差で負けたので、悔しくてしょうがない。 c) 1点差で負けたので、...
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Can we have two thematic は particles in a sentence?

Good afternoon all, From what I understand, there are two types of は-particle: The thematic-は (topic-marker) which is used to introduce things into the universe of discourse. The contrastive-は. ...
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Distinguishing between 'on' and 'above'

世界のルールで、島は水より上に出ていなければならないと決まっています。 World rules determine that an island must stick out above the water. In this sentence 水より上 clearly means 'above the water', but when I look in bilingual ...
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Does “te-form” of a verb always include て/で? Why?

In so-called 学校文法 (the Japanese grammar which all native Japanese speakers learn at around middle school), one form of a verb is called 連用形 (aka continuative form), which looks like this (screenshot ...
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Difference between ままに and ままで?

What would be the difference between 扉はやはり音もなく、押されるままに動いた。 and 扉はやはり音もなく、押されるままで動いた。 When do you use ままで instead of ままに?
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Is 「3人いるだと」 grammatical?

3人いるだと!? Can you say 3人いるだ as a statement? If だと is simply だ + と, I would expect 3人いるんだと. Is だと considered a particle in its own right, with different rules than だ? Transcription of the contents of ...
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Does the nominalizer 〜の require the adnominal form before it? If yes, why?

A while back I was trying to break down 〜なの, and this is what I decided on (with the help of some of Bart Mathias's posts on mailing lists). My hypothesis is that the nominalizer 〜の requires ...
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Imperative used instead of conditional form

This quesion: と言っても vs とは言え . reminded me of a similar case: どっちにしても vs どっちにしろ which are also synonymous as far as I can tell. That got me thinking: Is this coincidental? Are there ...
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たい form が vs を untangling

This question is posted exactly because it's been answered a few times and various other sources describe it differently as well - varying degree to which one is preferred and why. So far I've come ...
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Verb volitional form (動詞の意志形) - usage

I have a couple of questions about the volitional form of verbs that I've become unclear on lately. Here is a Bible passage containing the grammar in question: (Note that I'm using a Bible passage ...
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副詞 before copula

When reading through The meaning of そう, I was thinking about そう's status as a 副詞. Certainly, it acts like many other 副詞 in that it can directly modify verbs. However, I was curious about the usage ...
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When choose の/こと or というの/ということ

I'm studying nominalizers and don't understand when to use の/こと and when to use というの/ということ. For example, in the sentence: こんなによく[遅刻]{ちこく}をするというのは[問題]{もんだい}ですよ。 Could I say: こんなによく[遅刻]{ちこく}...
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Can I eat here?/ Is it ok to eat here? in Japanese

I went to Japan and want to ask the food vendors whether I can eat in front of his shop. Basically, I want to say "Can I eat here? or Is it ok to eat here?" I know that ここ = Here 食べる = Eat 大丈夫 =...
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Shouldn't this phrase using だけのこと mean “just for that”?

In a grammar textbook I have, there is this phrase: 幸{さいわ}い日本{にほん}で日本語{にほんご}を勉強{べんきょう}して、かなり話{はな}せるようになりました。日本{にほん}に行{い}っただけのことはありました。 The translation given is: Fortunately, I studied Japanese ...
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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 ...
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What's the difference between ~てください and ~ていてください?

This question has come up on the side of at least a couple of other questions, but I don't think it's been definitively answered, so let's see if we can come up with something solid. After going ...
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相手の日本人 or 日本人の相手?

If I wanted to describe the person I was speaking about as being Japanese, to me it seems natural to say: 日本人{にほんじん}の相手{あいて} ... however, one time a Japanese teacher told me it's more correct to ...
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What is the nuance when は directly follows a verb in plain form?

It seems like this is a remnant of (or reference to) older forms of Japanese. Is that all there is to it, or does it have special meaning? Examples from songs: 歌声 笑い声 満ちる大空 目指すは憧れ (DuDiDuWa*...
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How do I say “He already went to do X for me”, implying he is still in the process of X, not finished?

The other day at some festival a few japanese friends asked me something to the effect of アイスを買ってくるけど、行く? But I had already asked a friend, who had not yet returned, to get some for me. So I said ...