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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How to know if ~たら is hypothetical or temporal

I encountered the following sentence in the chapter introducing conditionals from the online grammar guide Imabi. 休んだら、元気になったWhen I rested, I got better. Earlier, the article explained that たら can ...
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な directly after a noun (not a な-adjective)

While reading a grammar book, I read the following explanation of な な na, a masculine ne Both sexes use ne, but male speakers often use na instead. There are other uses of na common to both ...
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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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How does the present tense work in a relative clause?

そんなわけで、まだ日も暮れない夕方の通学路を、駅に向かってゆっくりと歩く俺と加藤。 I encountered this quote in a light novel and am stuck on how to interpret it. It feels like 歩く should be "walking" in this context, but it is not 歩いている. The ...
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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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~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 ...
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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 purpose of the suffix “さ” on adjectives?

What is the purpose of the suffix "さ" on adjectives like 美しさ and 多さ? The former is the title of an essay by Banana Yoshimoto, so I don't have much context for it. The book editors translated it as "...
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Can placements of adverbs be altered freely?

I'm curious if there is any difference in nuance between these two sentences: 彼は少なくとも週に一度車を洗う。 彼は週に少なくとも一度車を洗う。 I'm aware that grammatically speaking both are 100% right, but this question is not ...
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how do we tell if ばかり means “about” or “only” ?

If ばかり could mean approximately; about; and could also mean only; merely; nothing but;, then how should we know if this sentence 5000円ばかりもっている。 means: 1) I have about 5000 yen. or 2) I have only ...
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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 ...
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Why is the て-form being used before ん?

In the following sentence: 誰{だれ}探{さが}してんの What is the grammatical reason for 探{さが}す to be used in て-form before ん?
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Understand the difference between [dictionary/ない + ようとする] and [volitional + にする]

I have come across a couple of concepts that seem relatively similar, but I would like an understanding on their differences, if any. The first is the dictionary/ない form + ようとする. And the other is the ...
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Difference between volitional +と思う and volitional+ と思っている

I've looked around the site for anything related but i couldn't find any clues. My take at it is that using the volitional form with と思う you're expressing your plans in the near future as in ...
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The different usages of ことがある

If I understand correctly, the main usages of ことがある seem to be the following: Verb(plain)+ことがある: There are times when (I) Verb(past)+ことがある: (I) have experienced (something) before But after this ...
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「どこでもある」と「どこにもある」の使い分け

I have come across this sentence: 一九七0年頃までは、どこでも銭湯がありましたが、今は、少なくなりました。 Why does it say どこでも X がある instead of どこにも X がある I understand that で and に are very similar as they have ties in the past, ...
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Choice of tense with そばから

When using そばから in the sense of "as soon as", everything I find says that you can use either た form/past tense before it, or dictionary form, but not what the difference is. Sometimes people even use ...
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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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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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What does the sentence structure AでもB mean in this song?

The song in question can be found here. For example: いっぽんでもニンジン While I do know that でも means 'but', I also know that most particles have multiple meanings. Since 'but' wouldn't make much sense ...
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にしても and としても, is there a difference?

にしても and としても...Don't they both have a meaning of "even if"? Is there any subtle difference between these two forms?
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What is the difference between ずに and ない-form?

My wife is studying for the JLPT exam, and came across the following question: 2時間、_____立って話しました。 She narrowed the choices down to: すわらずに すわらないと Or another similar question: ...
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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, ...
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Usage of て-form in 知っての通り

I have just come across the phrase 知っての通り〜 (as you know...) I have never noticed this usage of て-form before and can't find an explanation. What is the difference (if any) between this and 知っている通り? ...
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What is the difference between 〜を〜とする and 〜を〜とした before nouns?

In everything I can find online, the constructions [N1]を[N2]とする[N3] and [N1]を[N2]とした[N3] are lumped together as basically having the same meaning. Is there any difference between them? My textbook ...
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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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“からだけ” vs “だけから”, which is grammatical?

Good afternoon all, I was wondering when we chain particles, should "から" come before "だけ", or should it be the other way round? For example, I'm expecting a mail from 健一, a mail from 健二, and a mail ...
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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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How do I say “before” or “used to” in Japanese?

朝、作文を書いた時、疑問に思いました。 How can I say something like: I didn't use to like this band. Before, I didn't like this band.
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How to use 〜かのよう{に・な・だ}

I understand fine how to use 〜(の)よう{に・な・だ}, but I'm not sure when or how you can add in the か. Here's an example from my book: 4月になって雪が降るなんて、まるで冬が戻って来たかのようです。 How is this different than if it had ...
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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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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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Can 何で mean “how”?

Looking at this, it seems that when the word 何 is used with the で particle, it roughly translates into "by means of what" or "in what context." Personally, that sounds like asking "how". Is this ...
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How does the particle を relate to the verb 行く in the structure「A を + B に行く」?

I came across this sentence in my japanese practicing material (the point is I didn't make up the sentence so I assume it's correct or at least commonly used) 日本についてのアンケートを中国人100人に行った。 and It doesn'...
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Break down the phrase “[失礼]{しつれい}しなければならないんです”

I've just heard the phrase [失礼]{しつれい}しなければならないんです (shitsurei shinakereba naranaindesu) used as Excuse me, I have to leave. The explanation said it literally translates to If I don't leave, it won't ...
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What does 逃げっこなしにしよう mean?

So, I was reading a children's story and came across this sentence: 「いいか、この最後{さいご}のローソクが消{き}えたら、本当{ほんとう}のお化{ば}けが出{で}るかもしれん。だが、どんなお化けが出ようと、お互{たが}いに逃{に}げっこなしにしよう」 What I'm having trouble ...
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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 exactly is the difference between <verb>-てしまう and <verb>- [切]{き}る?

I've read that both the ~てしまう and ~きる (18th meaning of 切る at http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1MUE%E5%88%87%E3%82%8B) forms are used to signify something has been finished/done/...
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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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Can ~たり~たり end with verbs other than する?

In the past, I have come across several examples of ~たり~たり seemingly being used with other final verbs than する, which is generally taught to be mandatory at the end of ~たり~たり phrases. Is this ...
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Conflict among teachings of なら and ば

I recently read a helpful answer on a question asking for clarification on the ways to say "if" in Japanese: と, たら, なら, ば. The link is here: Differences among -たら、なら、-んだったら、-えば, etc According to the ...
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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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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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What grammatical function is や performing here?

それで何だっけ? 昨日の夜の話 全然覚えてないや 「電話が鳴って君からだってわかったら 急に変な気分になったんだ。」 This is an excerpt of lyrics from Indigo la End's song 彼女の相談. I can't figure out what function the や in line 3 performs. Does ...
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what does しにみえてる mean?

The phrase in question is: 広瀬さんが指導碁をお願いしにみえてるんだけど  In context, I think it means something like "Hirose-san came to ask for a teaching game, but..." but I still have not been able to break down my ...
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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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Proper form of なさる - なさります or なさいます

In Genki II (second ed.), page 168 we are given polite forms of some verbs, among them する with なさる. They have also written that some of them have irregular conjugations in long forms, among them なさる, ...
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って vs が. JLPT question

I'm looking through JLPT N3 questions and have come across this one: A: ねえ (   ) どんなひと? B: とても親切でいい人だよ The possible answers are: 田中さんが 田中さんで 田中さんって 田中さんでも Number 4 makes no sense at ...
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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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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?