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Questions tagged [syntax]

統語論. Rules governing construction of phrases and sentences in a language.

28
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2answers
8k views

How to end a sentence in わけ

The is a certain way of talking where you can end just about anything you say in わけ. What is the sentence structure for this way of talking?
20
votes
2answers
22k views

When asking 'What is your name?' or 'What is your job?', why is it 'は' not 'か'?

As per the title, when asking 'What is your name?' or 'What is your job?', why is it 'は' not 'か'? For example, we are taught this: おしごとは。 'What is your job?' But I don't understand why it isn't ...
19
votes
4answers
5k views

Are there cases when two or more particles will occur next to each other without intervening lexical words?

Most particles seem to be postpositions but I'm sure I've seen say a noun followed by a location particle followed by "wa" or "ga" or possibly "wo" but when I've tried to use it I've only confused my ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

Usage of か after a clause?

Here's a sentence I found: デパートはどこにあるか、知っていますか? Do you know where the department store is? What's the purpose of the か particle in 「どこにあるか」? Under what circumstances do I use it? I'm fairly ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Difference between sentence final ものだ and ことだ

My understanding is that ものだ is used to assert things which are mostly known to everyone. 誰かの家に招待されたときは、何か手土産をもっていくものだ 'When invited to somebody's home it's customary to bring presents'. On the ...
17
votes
3answers
12k views

How to separate words in a Japanese sentence?

Unlike some languages (English, French ...) , written Japanese sentences don't have spaces between words. I know that it is the same in Chinese for example, but the fact that the Chinese language ...
15
votes
2answers
291 views

The use of -さん when answering about oneself

If someone says, あなた は Chris-さん です か。 Are you Chris? Do you answer Chris です Or Chris-さん です
14
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3answers
465 views

Sentence structure/element order

In the textbook Japanese for Busy People I, the order of the elements in a sentence is always the same (subject - when - with whom - by what means - to where - verb) at least as far as I have made it. ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
12
votes
1answer
575 views

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 ...
12
votes
1answer
460 views

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 ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Writing a story in Japanese: how to handle dialogue

I'm an elementary Japanese student. I am trying to write a simple story in Japanese, and I want to make it as interesting as possible with my current knowledge of the language. I am concerned about ...
11
votes
2answers
248 views

Is there a difference between この小さな街で and 小さなこの街で?

I noticed in songs, there are lyric lines that push the demonstrative adjective (*) この, その etc to the middle of sentences by switching it with an adjective/verb that describe the subsequent nouns. For ...
11
votes
3answers
500 views

Are Japanese modifiers “greedy”, “anti-greedy”, or do they mean whatever people choose them to mean?

(I'm a beginner. I just started learning Japanese about a month before I wrote this.) The Japanese Wikipedia article 飛べない鳥, which corresponds to the English Wikipedia article Flightless bird, has the ...
10
votes
2answers
885 views

“As in” in japanese

Just a quick question here, but somehow hard to find: How could I say "as in" in japanese ? For example : I learned the kanji 「評」as in 「評論」today. Here is my attempt, sorry for the lousy japanase ...
10
votes
2answers
8k views

Nominalization with のが、のを

I've just learned to nominalize verbs with のを but as I was looking for more info on the web I saw that this is also done with のが and こと. The question "What is the difference between the nominalizers ...
10
votes
2answers
340 views

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 ...
10
votes
1answer
513 views

What is the meaning of しも?

In a recent class, my Japanese teacher taught me the use of しも as something akin to a formal version of でも as in the following sentences: いつでも暇{ひま}じゃないんですよ。 いつしも暇{ひま}じゃないんですよ。 I was told the above ...
10
votes
2answers
564 views

How to write about something in the future where something will have happened

How could I write about something in the future where something will have happened? That is, I'm writing from the perspective of the current time, about a perspective in the future where something has ...
10
votes
1answer
353 views

How can one stop “去年【きょねん】教職【きょうしょく】” from looking like a weird 4 kanji compound?

In writing, sometimes you get the illusion of a 4-character compound: Xさんは去年教職を退【しりぞ】いた。 This bothers some non-natives. To correct the "problem", can I always just place a comma between the kanjis ...
10
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1answer
386 views

What does ending a statement with 「っ」signify when coupled with 「・・・」?

I have seen a few sentences or exclamations that end a sentence with 「っ」. Specifically, I read the example below: ちなみに純文学について語れなんて言われても私には、無理・・・っ! The following sentence is listed below (However I'...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

た+ではないか or た+のではないか can someone enlighten me?

I encountered a question in my JLPT n1 practice book , and I got really confused because I was sure my answer was right but when I look at the answer sheet the answer is really far from what I have ...
10
votes
1answer
217 views

Telling the speaker apart from the person being spoken about

A recent question about the usage of quoted speech contained this interesting sample sentence: ハイリアの民は、ふしぎな力を あやつることが、できたと言います。 Often when I read this kind of sentence, I wonder if ハイリアの民 is part of ...
10
votes
1answer
304 views

(伊曾保物語) 鼠と猫の事 comprehension problem “只、人は、愚にして、他人にぬかれたるにしくはなし”

I am having trouble parsing/understanding/translating a sentence in the last section of the fable "the mice and the cat" (鼠と猫の事) from the 仮名草子 伊曾保物語 (Aesop's fables). Here is the paragraph in question;...
9
votes
1answer
26k views

Saying something is like/not like something else

How does one say "this is like/similar to that" or "this is not like that" in Japanese in essence? An example sentence is "In this way, the English are like the Japanese" ; I have not been able to ...
9
votes
3answers
6k views

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 ...
9
votes
2answers
279 views

How to express a comparison between two elements in two different fields

It can seem a trivial question but I am quite struggling. I would like to translate a sentence form like this one: [noun1] is more/less [adjective1] than [noun2] is [adjective2].
9
votes
1answer
3k views

“unfinished” sentences ending in particles like を, に and が

This is something I've always wondered about, but can't find any info about. When native speakers come across a sentence that ends ...を。, ...と。 or ...が!*, how do their brains parse it? Is it just a ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

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" ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

<動詞の辞書形> + がよい ― How is this allowed?

I've come across this form many times in my Japanese Bible. The meaning is quite obvious based on context, and seems to be one of the following: ~べきです, ~ほうがいい, ~なさい, or ~ように (let it be ~). Here are ...
8
votes
2answers
390 views

How to break down who did what in AにBをCさせる

I'm trying to understand the following: 後輩にサイフを開かせることはないよ I guess this could be generalized as AにBをCさせる. It's confusing. Maybe if someone can break down how to understand this and then I can ...
8
votes
3answers
864 views

Don't understand the structure of 「夕方アパートの山田さん宅の玄関で」

I've just stumbled upon a phrase: 「夕方【ゆうがた】 アパートの山田【やまだ】さん宅【たく】の玄関【げんかん】で」 If I understand it correctly, the meaning is: In the evening, at the front door of Yamada's apartment. What I don't ...
8
votes
1answer
318 views

Placement of adverbs

I was working through my N5 sentential grammar (sentence composition) practice book, and there was a question with an adverb, おおごえで (大声で): 山を のぼりながら おおごえ ___ ___ ___ ___ 人も いました。 1 うた   2 うたう  ...
8
votes
1answer
215 views

Truncated adjective まっすぐ

I have a sentence in a book that goes like 甘い匂いのするまっきいろな花です。It is a kids book, so everything is in kana. I'm having trouble figuring out the bolded part. It talks about a dandelion in the context, so ...
8
votes
2answers
386 views

夏目漱石‘s use of question marker かい for an open instead of closed (ie yes/no) question

Can anybody explain why かい is used in the following sentence from 第三夜 (Dream #3 - from Natsume Sōseki's Ten Nights of Dreams, 夢十夜): 自分が御前の眼はいつ潰れたのかいと聞くと、何昔からさと答えた。 "I asked [him] when [he] had ...
8
votes
2answers
519 views

Rules governing formation of adjectival and genitive modifications for Noun-Phrase

The following was observed in sawa's answer to "Can ごとに be replaced by それぞれ in this question?":  ◯ 正月はそれぞれの家が門松を立てる。  × 木村さんはそれぞれの会う人に挨拶している。  ◯ 木村さんは会う人それぞれに挨拶している。 それぞれの会う人 is said to ...
7
votes
3answers
768 views

“After I do [x], I do [y]”?

So, I'm trying to construct a sentence along the lines of "After I do this action, I do that action," but I'm having the absolute hardest time figuring out what syntax and verb conjugations to use. ...
7
votes
2answers
6k views

Proper use of ため to thank someone for doing x?

I know ため can be translated into English as "for" such-and-such. But is it appropriate to use it to thank some one for doing something? For example, "Thank you for your email address." Would it be ...
7
votes
2answers
307 views

「が」vs「の」 with possessives

I know that the normal possessive form is usually formed subject+「の」+object. Though, in one instance, I found が being used in 天は我が物. I know that 「が」 can be used to express possession, though is there ...
7
votes
1answer
245 views

What is this や in 大きすぎや?

Is this a contraction along the same lines of なければ → なきゃ? 反乱を抑えるためだけが目的だとしたらリスクが大きすぎやしないか Also, can you contract 言えば or あれば?
7
votes
2answers
256 views

Most natural way to write sentences of the type “A verbs that B verbs that C verbs that…”

A) I think the typical way to say Tanaka said that Yamata knows where the building is in Japanese is 田中さんは山田さんが建物はどこか知っていると言った Maybe it's more natural to say "the building's location" ...
7
votes
4answers
309 views

オタクの僕の弟 - Does the “otaku” refer to me or my brother?

In the sentence オタクの俺の弟がこんなに友達が少ない訳が(ry (which is the name of the third episode of 旦那が何を言っているかわからない件), does the "otaku" refer to boku or otouto? In general is AのBのC、always interpretable as (AのB)のC as ...
7
votes
1answer
182 views

Is repetition of words in questions, such as the 番 in 電話番号は何番ですか common in Japanese?

In this other question, the answers say that 電話{でんわ}番号{ばんごう}は何番ですか is a common way of asking for someones number. I was thrown off by the repitition of 番, but the answers say it's commonly used. So ...
7
votes
2answers
742 views

Usage of ”し” particle

Whenever I watch drama or news I always hear "し" particle being used. Back when I was still studying "Minna No Nihongo" my teacher taught me that ”し” means "だから” but native Japanese tend to use this ...
7
votes
1answer
281 views

Grammatical Pattern : VerbてのNoun

What does this grammatical structure/pattern mean? I am trying to understand the meaning of the following sentence where the VerbてのNoun pattern appears. "昭和64年に起きた誘拐事件を巡る物語だけに、“昭和な顔”を買われての起用だったという"...
7
votes
1answer
247 views

Can the volitional form be used to nominate yourself for something?

I did a quick search on this site to see if I could find any answer to this and found this question: Does the volitional form of a verb mean both "let's" and "I want to"? But ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a study available on the similarities between Japanese and Turkish grammars?

No I'm not claiming the Altaic hypothesis so try not to bring that up in answers. Still there are grammatical similarities between Japanese and Turkish such as agglutination and use of postpositions ...
7
votes
1answer
4k views

When to use で vs に vs nothing at all

There are a lot of post that describe the ambiguous scenarios when to use で vs に, but there are still many scenarios that are confusing, and sometimes I'm not sure if I should be using a particle at ...
7
votes
1answer
190 views

「〜がする」 the extended use of する (to do)

I'm going through some basic grammar and this one website teaches the "extended" use of the word する. There is a confusing example which looks like: 波の音 がする The translation is: "(I) hear the sound ...
7
votes
2answers
372 views

Do we use odd day pronunciations outside of calendar ranges?

After reading @jkerian's comment in this post, I started thinking about this. Here's the comment in full: On a side note, all days ending in '4' are also irregular, and use ~よっか. So the 14th is ...