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 ...
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78 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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139 votes
6 answers
51k views

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

The 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 ...
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72 votes
3 answers
34k views

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 ...
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31 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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26 votes
3 answers
13k views

I don't understand what のも means in 生まれたのも育ったのも京都なんですよ

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 (e.g. 私の本 [My book]). If I interpret the sentence as such, it doesn't make any sense. Then I ...
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18 votes
1 answer
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What is a subsidiary verb?

What is a subsidiary verb? Could someone please explain it and give some examples of its application?
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12 votes
3 answers
10k views

~ておく or ~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 and ...
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60 votes
3 answers
19k 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 ...
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134 votes
9 answers
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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 ...
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125 votes
1 answer
56k views

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【ひく】ことが好き【すき】...
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25 votes
1 answer
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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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30 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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89 votes
4 answers
79k 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 ...
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25 votes
2 answers
5k views

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 ...
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15 votes
2 answers
2k 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.
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5 votes
1 answer
914 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 ...
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56 votes
7 answers
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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 me it's ...
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28 votes
1 answer
24k 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 ...
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25 votes
2 answers
7k views

The meanings of ものだ

Could someone please explain to me the different meanings that ものだ can have at the end of a sentence ? Here are some examples I understand the general meaning of, but I don't understand the logic/...
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  • 377
26 votes
1 answer
2k views

Particle に to enumerate things / to list items?

I encountered several sentences where に was used—from my deduction of the context—to enumerate things. For example a character about to go somewhere, checks his bag if he has everything he needs : 2:「...
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  • 273
20 votes
1 answer
2k 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?
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3 votes
1 answer
1k views

Do I have a good grasp on the basics of what the continuative form is?

I'm doing some research as to what continuative forms are, due to naruto's previous answer to a earlier question of mine. To make sure I understand correctly; roughly; the "continuative form" is what ...
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14 votes
1 answer
964 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. ...
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  • 287
25 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
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66 votes
2 answers
14k 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 ...
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22 votes
1 answer
2k 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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  • 3,647
18 votes
2 answers
1k views

How to appropriately pair tenses in subordinate and main clauses?

Consider the following combination. Which is the correct one? テレビが私の国で 《できた》 のは1960 《です》。 テレビが私の国で 《できる》 のは1960 《です》。 テレビが私の国で 《できた》 のは1960 《でした》。 テレビが私の国で 《できる》 のは1960 《でした》。 Note: The important ...
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6 votes
2 answers
473 views

Can を used with だ/です? 君沢さんを犯人だと思い込む

I came across the following passage in a mystery manga. The main character is explaining that the as of yet unknown criminal intentionally made the listener think that Kimisawa was the criminal (...
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9 votes
3 answers
2k views

Use of に in 「私には本物の若殿様がわかります」

English What function is に serving in this sentence (the speaker has been asked to pick out the real lord from a group of people): 私には本物の若殿様がわかります I know who the real young lord is It seems to me ...
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9 votes
1 answer
2k views

How to interpret indirect passives?

While looking up some grammar points I stumbled across this paper which describes something that it calls "indirect passives". I can't think of anything similar in English, and I'm having ...
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  • 175
7 votes
2 answers
933 views

Is 寝る a stative or active verb?

Looking at past questions I am still confused with the answers given: The answer to this post suggests that 寝る is a continuation of some state. 昨日も全然寝てない。 Yesterday I didn't sleep at all. ...
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  • 1,896
13 votes
1 answer
4k 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 particle ...
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  • 359
13 votes
1 answer
1k 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 This would be my first choice but which, according to Google, is ...
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5 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the difference between 「とは限らない」and 「とも限らない」

When looking it up on the internet I find that とは限らない means 「イメージと違って、100%~と言えないという意味」. But the problem is I also get similar meanings for とも限らない. I've asked a Japanese speaker about it and they ...
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6 votes
1 answer
470 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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19 votes
3 answers
8k views

What are the general principles of using verbs to modify nouns (e.g. 焦げるトースト/焦げたトースト)?

In all the time I've studied the language, I've never heard or seen anybody even hint at whether the principles from a given language (like using “burnt toast” vs. “burning toast”) carry over, or if ...
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  • 1,494
3 votes
1 answer
891 views

Meaning of ~を~に(して) / ~を~として / ~を~にする / ~を~とする / ~を~にした / ~を~とした

While studying I found this grammar form, which I kinda understand by instinct, but can't actually formalize in my head; this is what the book say: [~を~であると考えて] 1) 祖父は今日も孫のヒロシを話し相手にして散歩に出かけた。 ...
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  • 2,737
40 votes
3 answers
13k 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 ...
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29 votes
3 answers
17k 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 used when ...
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25 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
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15 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
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  • 1,567
36 votes
3 answers
14k views

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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  • 6,448
17 votes
1 answer
4k views

Habitual aspect

My (poor) understanding of things is that there are two ways to get habitual semantics in Japanese: use the dictionary form of the verb: 毎日、映画{えいが}を見に行く "I go to the movies every day." ...
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22 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
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  • 273
19 votes
3 answers
2k views

When is it okay to use あります with a living subject?

When learning Japanese everyone's taught いる is for a living thing and ある is for non-living things. However, I recently saw the following sentence ... あと、サッカー選手でもあります。 ... which ends in ある / あります ...
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  • 4,287
11 votes
5 answers
4k 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 ...
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5 votes
2 answers
2k views

Masu stem to connect sentences

When using masu-stem to connect sentences, is the short form for shimashita = shi? 昨日無事に大学を卒業しました。日曜日に国へ帰ります。 = 昨日無事に大学を卒業し、日曜日に国へ帰ります。 Is his correct?
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  • 155
15 votes
2 answers
884 views

Why does 「電話は切れた」 sound more adversarial than 「電話が切れた」?

I noticed that while 「…、電話が切れた」 sounds just like a neutral phrase ("... and the call got cut off."), 「…、電話は切れた」 sounds more like you were negatively affected / that the person on the other side ...
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

て form and adverbial meaning

While reading I sometimes come across some sentences like 包丁を使ってたまねぎを切った。  Where 使って is word just like an adverb which modifies 切る. So I looked up a little more about the Te form and I ...
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