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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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1answer
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How to use なきゃ correctly

よっぽど悪いことさえしなきゃ... Unless you do a really bad thing... Is なきゃ a contraction of ないことには? I can find the latter in my text books but not the former. Weblio suggests that it can mean both "Unless one .....
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Sentence (question) ending かい - how is it different from just か?

I sometimes find questions that are normally ended with the question particle か to end with かい. For example: いいかい? そうかい? あいつがどうかしたかい? And sometimes with just い without か (if I understand ...
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How ~てある and ~ておいた differs?

晩ご飯が作ってある Dinner has been made. (intentional) 晩ご飯を作っておいた. (I) made dinner (so I can eat it). They seem quite the same. Btw what are some cases in which -てあった are used? I can't recreate one.
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食べたそうだ vs. 食べそうだ, 静かだそうだ vs. 静かそうだ

I saw this as a comment on this question, Why does そう in 「美味しいそう」 not mean "seem" the way I think it should?「美味しいそう」-not-mean-seem-the-way-i-think-it-should, and would love to understand ...
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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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Using i-adjective color words

Why is the sentence 「車はあかです。」 not 「車はあかいです。」? Since 「あかい」 is an i-adjective.
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Grammatical name of the form used before -て, -たり, -た, -たら?

I'm looking for the Japanese name of the specific verbal form used before -て, -たり, -た, -たら: verb → 連用形 ren.yōkei → XXXX → + -て, -たり, -た, -たら 書く → 書き → 書い → 書いて, 書いたり, ...
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Volitional + と in ひとまず心を落ち着けようと、[…]

ひとまず心を落ち着けようと、飲みかけのオレンジジュースに手を伸ばす。 Please help. I came across this line and I don't really understand use of と here. How exactly does と work here?
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Syntax and peculiarities of this sentence/text

2) For full context, see the following document: https://www.docdroid.net/6ruXJ6r/img-20170802-0002-new.pdf This excerpt was taken from line 8-10: イギリスの少女はキノコ雲をかき、「科学者は時にダメージを与える」、...
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Is the grammar of 心の冷たい人 idiomatic?

The phrase 心の冷たい人 (which is given by Japanese-English dictionary on OS X) looks wrong to me, but given that it's an example in a respected dictionary and confirmed by tens of thousands of Google hits, ...
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The use of でも and ででも in this sentence

A: あ……えっと……何か手伝うことは、ありますか? B: ん? あぁ、この辺はドシロウトにできるこっちゃないからな。 邪魔にならねぇように先にメシでも食って、後は舞台袖ででも大人しくしてな Pretty much in general でも and ても don't sit well in my mind. There have been a lot of times I see ...
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What are the functions of というのは, かというと and がですね in this sentence?

その場面というのはどういった場面かというと、ナチスの兵士がですね、ユダヤ人を職業別で分けていきます。 Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xs-XWk_oQA 0:55 Translation from subtitles: There’s a scene where the Nazi’s are separating the ...
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Contraction of ~てるのか

伸ばしてんのか?髪。。。 I was under the impression that the て form followed by ん was a contraction of ~てるの. However, in this sentence we have a のか following it. The のか sounds like it's supposed to nominalize ...
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上手ではありません or 上手じゃありません

I've read somewhere that to say you are not good at something say for example Japanese language, you use: 日本語は上手ではありません but can I also use: 日本語は上手じゃありません Is there anything wrong with this? ...
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Meaning of でも or ちょうだい in テレビでも見てちょうだい

Two kids are playing 'house' ままごと. The speaker is happy. The person she is speaking to has just suggested that it's pointless. 「まったくおとうさんは現実的なんだから。さあ、テレビでも見てちょうだい。ほら、キンちゃんがでてるわよ」 Good grief, it's ...
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Use of く-form over くて in an い-adjective

何事も最初は難しく、やがてやさしくなる。 All things are difficult before they are easy. I've never seen an い-adjective used in this way (難しく). Would using 難しくて (which is what I would have used) change the meaning of ...
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Meaning of ように in this sentence

吉野家は「私たちが出した広告ではありません」と話しています。そして、うその広告に書いてあるアドレスにメールを送らないように言っています。 Yoshinoya say that "It's not an advert that we put out". And, they are saying it so that you don't send mail to the address that ...
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でも (demo) versus けど (kedo) to mean “but”

I learned that you can use でも (demo) at the beginning of a sentence to mean "but," and that you can use けど (kedo) at the end of a sentence to mean "though." However, I don't see a difference between ...
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When do you use するには as opposed to するため(には) to mean “in order to”?

I keep having するため(には) corrected to するには when writing sentences, but how interchangeable are they and when should each be used? Taking some Japanese sentences from Space ALC with my own English ...
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What exactly is a “taru adjective”

On the talk page of the Wikipedia article on "Japanese adjectives", user Dougalg suggested nearly two years ago: I know these are falling out of use, but still exist. If anyone can give an ...
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What's the difference between 歩んでいった and 歩んできた?

私はまっすぐな人生を歩んできた。 私はまっすぐな人生を歩んでいった。 Could someone explain to me the difference between the two? Thanks a lot! Edit: I still find ていった confusing even after reading the other post. So ...
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what is the difference between ごとに and おきに?

Both ごとに and おきに appear to mean "repeatedly at intervals". What is the difference between these two expressions?
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Passive vs. active form of verb (past) What is the difference?

I was wondering what the difference is if I use passive form or active form of a verb. For example: ネズミは猫に食べられた。The mouse was eaten by the cat. 猫は、ネズミを食べた。The cat ate the mouse. What EXACTLY is ...
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What is 〜からです and when is it used? How does it differ from 〜ですから and 〜んです?

I have seen this expression a few times, and have never quite understood it. In particular, it seems to be equatable both to ですから and to んです, but I can't figure out where it would be used over either ...
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Difference between 書かないようになった and 書かなくなった?

Example sentences: ぜんぜん長い手紙を書かないようになった。 ぜんぜん長い手紙を書かなくなった。 My Translation: I never write long letters anymore. I believe they both mean the same thing but there's obviously some difference I don'...
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Usage of doubled non-past tense “た”

I've recently been noticing some patterns which look like two repeated past-tense verbs, but I think which indicate a command rather than the past tense. For example: さあ、行った行った。 "Get along with ...
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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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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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In what situations can you use ぞ as a sentence ender

When can one use the sentence ender ぞ? I've only ever heard it anime, so I'm unsure of it's actual usage in the real world. Is it not used that often or limited to specific age/gender groups?
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The uses & etymology of で

In Japanese, the particle で seems to have multiple uses: Instrumental: 車{くるま}で大阪{おおさか}に行{い}った。 "I went to Osaka by car." Locative: 図書館{としょかん}で数学{すうがく}を勉強{べんきょう}している。 "I'm studying math in the library....
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Does ところを always mean the same thing as のに? What is the difference between ところへ and ところに?

One of my JLPT books, 総まとめ文法N2, uses the following examples to explain the grammar pattern ところだ: お忙{いそが}しいところをすみません。(=忙{いそが}しいのに) → I am sorry to bother you at this busy time. 会{あ}いたいと思{おも}...
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Meaning of 「という訳でもないのだが」

I have a question about the meaning of という訳でもないのだが in the following passage. If I'm understanding correctly 「いたからと言ってなんだ」 - 「居たからと言って何だ」 would translates something like - "even if he/she was, than ...
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In what way is the negative form of a verb an adjective?

I was reading the wikipedia page on "predicate," where it mentioned that in Japanese, the negative form of a verb is an adjective. I thought that this was too expansive a statement to be true, but ...
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Expressing a regretful wish

What is a good way to express a wish about something that won't or is unlikely to happen? For example: I wish I were tall enough to be allowed on that roller coaster. I wish I could eat that ...
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Varying word order for stylistic effect

Sometimes, for stylistic or rhetorical effect, one wants to delay mentioning a word/concept until the end of a sentence. For example, it's often best to save the punchline for the very end: I was ...
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What is the meaning and application of ren'youkei?

My knowledge about ren'youkei is limited to "tabe is the ren'youkei of taberu". I would like to know what the meaning of ren'youkei is, what linguistic idea lies behind this term and for what it is ...
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When is と added to onomatopoeia?

While at first I believed it was simply bound to each individual word, I've noticed that the same onomatopoeic word sometimes has と after it and sometimes it doesn't. Here's a case I stumbled upon: ...
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Why don't we use ~なくて instead of ~ないで?

Background In my understanding that might be wrong, I think the ~ない form of a verb becomes an i-adjective. For example, 納{なっ}豆{とう}を食{た}べない人{ひと}が多{おお}いです。 where 納{なっ}豆{とう}を食{た}べない modifies 人{ひと}. ...
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Meaning of 寝てない

昨日{きのう}も全然{ぜんぜん}寝{ね}てない。* Yesterday I didn't sleep at all. Is it 寝る in て-form followed by ある in negative form? Or a contraction of 寝ていない? Also, why is it not in past form? I thought one should ...
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What is the difference in terms of grammar between きり and っぱなし?

I'm pretty sure there is a difference between the use of these two words. I came across the example sentences: 息子は、自分の部屋に入ったきり出てこない。 母は入院している父をつきっきりで看病している。 電車が混んでいて、東京まで立ちっぱなしだった。 I ...
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Correct use of かけて

I'm confused by the use of かける in the sentence : 雑誌の占いコーナーを読んでいたら、「日本人は占いが好きです」と、外国人の友達が話しかけてきた。 I thought かける was used to express an activity on going, which gets interrupted by something else. eg ...
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What is the function of と when it's not quoting, or doing exhaustive listing?

Consider these two sentences:  (1) 母はついてくるようにアリスに合図した (Mother signaled to Alice to follow her)  (2) 父は手で私に部屋を出ていくようにと合図した。 (Father gestured to me to go out of the room) And another sentence ...
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How can I come to terms with the animate/inanimate distinction in Japanese?

According to this answer, "This made me laugh" would translate literally into Japanese as: これが僕{ぼく}を笑{わら}わせた。 However, the same answer explains that this would be an odd thing to say in Japanese, ...
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What does “nanode” mean? What are its grammatical rules?

What's the meaning of this sentence and what does なので mean here? If possible, I would like to know the grammatical rules of なので as well. 英語と日本語なので私にとっても良い勉強になります。
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How does 甘く work in this sentence?

お汁粉は、甘く{あまく}煮た小豆の汁に餅などを入れた温かい食べ物です。 Oshiruko is a hot food with a rice cake in a sweetly boiled adzuki bean broth. I think I must be misunderstanding how 甘く is used here, since you can't boil ...
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What's the difference between ~てある and ~た (past form)?

As I understand it てある is rather different to ている in that it refers to a resultant state rather than an ongoing action. However I wonder, what then is the practical difference between a resultant ...
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Is saying 「XはYは…」 acceptable?

In いっすんぼうし, a very popular fairy tale, this line appears: だいじんは からだは ちいさいけれど げんきな いっすんぼうしを たいそう きにいり じぶんの いえで はたらかせることにしました。 Is 「だいじんは からだは」 grammatically correct? What would be done to make ...
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Is this って equivalent to 「と」?

Is the って in the following sentence equivalent to 「と」 as in AはBと変わる/違う? 昔から好きな曲って変わらないみたい。 My favourite songs have not changed for many years. Does this mean it is equivalent to the と used ...
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What exactly is this でね construction?

The following dialogue is from the video game Final Fantasy VI: 宿屋{やどや}の[親父]{おやじ}は、[余所者]{よそもの}が[嫌]{きら}いでね。 I think I understand this sentence. It means something like "the old man at the inn ...
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What is this との?

For full context: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/easy/k10011218521000/k10011218521000.html The sentence in question: 「中国やロシアから旅行に来る人がビザを取りやすくなったり、韓国や香港などとの間を飛ぶ飛行機が増えたりしたためです。」 "This is because it ...