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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Should: ほうがいい、べき、ことだ

So far, I have learned about three different ways to say "should" in Japanese. I'm interested in knowing the differences among ほうがいい、べき and ことだ. What are some situations that each form would ...
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Difference between「と思います」and「かと思います」?

What is the difference in meaning and usage between「と思います」and「かと思います」at the end of a sentence?
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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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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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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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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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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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「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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Difference between だろうか and ではないだろうか

In my opinion, they both share the same meaning of "~, isn't it". However, it seems that they cannot be used interchangeably. For example, in the following sentence, according to my mock exam textbook,...
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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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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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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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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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How close are なりつつある and なっている?

語学学習は私の新しい習慣の一部になりつつあるのでしょうか? "Is learning languages becoming a part of my new daily routine?" なりつつある here seems similar to なっている... are they often interchangeable? Would I be able 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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Meaning of 然 in conjunctions and other grammatical words

Here are a few grammatical words that use 然 according to jisho.org: 然し(しかし) however; but 然して(そして) and; and then; thus; and now; and finally 然うして(そうして) and; like ...
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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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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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What is the difference between 残念ながら and 残念なことに

I hear both 残念ながら and 残念なことに when expressing that something was unfortunate before the actual sentence, much like the English "Unfortunately, ...". However, I'm not sure on where these two phrases ...
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What exactly is ありき?

I think from looking up ありき that it means "based on", but it's usage is unclear to me. I've come across it in these two examples: まずは結論{けつろん}ありき Which I think means "the conclusion is based on ...
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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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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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usage of「ご迷惑をおかけ・・・」variants for a business apology

I have to apologize for a procedural error at work, and am unsure about selecting the right form of apology from the variants of 「ご迷惑をおかけ・・・」: 1.「ご迷惑【めいわく】をおかけして申【もう】し訳【わけ】ございません。」 2.「ご迷惑【めいわく】...
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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 as ...
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When do I use の/こと as a nominalizer, and when do I use 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}をするのは[問題]{...
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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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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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Does ません sometimes not negate?

I have a text in my learning materials as follows: 彼ら は 自分 の 事 しか 考えて いません。 Its translation is apparently "they only think of themselves". Now it all makes sense to me until the ません at the end. ...
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In front of "ほうがいい," is it always past tense?

ほうがいい means: the particular way "ほう" is "が" good "いい" So, for example, if it looks like it's going to rain, I might say to a friend: "今日は雨らしい。傘を持った方がいい。" But what I'm curious is, why is "持った" ...
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Is a palindrome a thing?

A palindrome is a word or phrase that is the same backwards and forwards, such as "Bob", "aibohphobia" or "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama." In English, as well as many other languages, this is a ...
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What’s the difference between [v] たとしても and just the plain ても

What’s the difference between [v] たとしても and just the plain ても? Example: (1) 説明書を読んでも分かりにくい (2) 説明書を読んだとしても分かりにくい
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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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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 食べたいものを好きなだけ食べる mean?

食べたいものを好きなだけ食べる seems to be weird for me because in my understanding this sentence mean I just eat the food I like from the food that I want to eat The complete sentence is as follows. ...
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に vs で: 映画に見る vs 映画で見る

Branching off from the comments to this question: Do I say えいがにみました or えいがをみました ?: Preamble: The comment says 映画に見た is valid for "I saw it in a movie". I went to search for example sentences and ...
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心配でたまらず - what is the verb and its form?

Could someone explain the grammar/words behind this and similar phrases? I did some research and probably found the explanation, but I am not sure if this is correct. The phrase may be found in a ...
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Why 次第 instead of によって in this very example?

I was randomly browsing this page and came across this sentence: 砂糖{さとう}は作{つく}るものしだいで使用{しよう}します。 This recipe happens to have a French equivalent En fonction des recettes, on utilise du ...
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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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Can とても be used with [大好]{だいす}き or [大嫌]{だいきら}い?

とても means "very" [好]{す}き means "like" [大好]{だいす}き means "like very much" If I really like something can I use とてもとても大好きです ?
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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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How to say regrets [I should not have X]

How in the world does this: 晩ご飯を食べるんじゃなかった。 translate as "I should not have eaten breakfast"? This roughly translates as "It was not that I eat breakfast."
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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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Grammar explanation for ~よし

Studying for the N1 with sample questions I stumbled across this grammar construct ~よし. However I am unable to find any explanation online or in any of my grammar books - probably I am searching for ...
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Does 今度 mean "this time" or "next time"?

My dictionary gives many meanings for 今度, they include "this time" as well as "next time". How can it mean both? Since it is 今 in it, shouldn't it only mean "this time"? Also, I am confused between 今回 ...
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How to tell よく (often) apart from よく (good)?

Whenever I see 「よく」, I have to ask someone whether it means "often" or "good". For example, here is a sentence from my book: クラスへ行って、先生の講義をよく聞いて、ノートをよく取り、それをよく覚えれば、試験でいい点がもらえる。 I thought all ...
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〜しては is this a grammar pattern?

I was trying to translate this sentence: 僕はアルバイトしてはレコードばかり買っていたから、一日半働けばLP一枚買えるな、と思って働いていた。 I think I get the overall meaning as: Because I spent all my wages on records I went to work thinking "...
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Question about grammar, how to say "today I am returning to japan"

Today while I was self studying my Japanese textbook, I noticed this sentence which was translated roughly from "today I am returning to japan" わたしは 今日 日本 に かえります。 This seemed a bit odd to me since ...
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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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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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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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