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169
votes
5answers
29k views

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 ...
41
votes
2answers
3k views

How does the の work in 「日本人の知らない日本語」?

I've read that 日本人の知らない日本語 translates to: "Japanese (language) that Japanese (people) don't know". But I don't understand how or what the の does in that sentence. If I'm not mistaken 知らない日本語 could ...
60
votes
3answers
7k views

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 ...
113
votes
6answers
33k 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 ...
20
votes
2answers
6k views

Relative clauses distinguishing whom/with which/that

I love in Japanese, how adjectival clauses are just added in front of nouns like adjectives. The pizza that I ate = 私が食べたピザ But last night I became confused... In english we have words to link the ...
45
votes
3answers
13k views

What is the meaning of ~んです/~のだ/etc?

This sentence ending has started to creep up more and more in my current Japanese classes, and I'm still a bit unsure what all it can mean, how to use it, or even when I should think to use it. My ...
51
votes
7answers
15k views

Why are katakana preferred over hiragana or kanji sometimes?

I noticed that "dame", which means "not good" or "don't do that", is sometimes written in manga as katakana. I was wondering, is it because katakana is used to express a strong feeling? Sometimes, ...
66
votes
3answers
23k 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 ...
104
votes
1answer
37k 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【...
27
votes
1answer
2k views

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 ...
120
votes
9answers
21k views

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 ...
51
votes
3answers
11k 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 ...
19
votes
3answers
6k views

I don't understand what のも means in this sentence

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 (ie. 私の本 [My book]). If I interpret the sentence as such, it doesn't make any sense. Then ...
12
votes
2answers
612 views

Meaning and transitivity of ゴミ袋を手に立ち上がる

While doing some translating, I stumbled upon this usage of 立ち上がる。 わたしがゴミ袋を手に立ち上がると、イツカ君とお姉ちゃんは二人一緒にわたしの所へやって来ました。 It doesn't match up with the definitions I'm familiar with, nor any of the other ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Making sense of transitive usage of 行く and 来る - 「を行く」 and 「を来る」

I think it's known that some intransitive verbs can take を particle and be used as transitive verbs such as for example 「私のことを分かってくれない」. While using 分かる transitively would require specific scenarios ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Conjunctive form (e.g. 書き) vs Conj + mono (e.g. 書き物)

I'm trying to fully understand the plain conjunctive form without a suffix. I've seen it mainly in the form of 話, where it means a talk or speech. So I think it means something along the lines of "the ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

What is a subsidiary verb?

What is a subsidiary verb? Could one explain it and give some examples of its application?
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 ...
27
votes
1answer
2k views

Rules or criteria for 連濁: Voiced or unvoiced syllables in compound words

Examples first. 空 {そら}. Almost all compound nouns for which 空 is the second component pronounce it as ぞら zora: 青空 {あおぞら} 夜空 {よぞら} 星空 {ほしぞら}. There is at least one exception though: 美空 {みそら}. 蕎麦 {...
12
votes
3answers
7k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

what exactly is “体言止{たいげんど}め”?

There is some discussion about "体言止め{たいげんどめ}" on the internet, but it is all in Japanese. My Japanese ability is too low to be able to read it, so I need some help. At the least, "体言止め" refers to ...
74
votes
4answers
45k 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 ...
59
votes
8answers
18k views

Particles: に vs. で

I have progressed pretty far in Japanese, but when I construct Japanese sentences, I still get these two particles mixed up. For example, when talking about being inside something, I don't know when ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

が and に interchangeability and difference in meaning

Consider these sentences: だれ{が・に}これが出来るか だれ{が・に}日本語が分からないか When both が and に are acceptable, what is their difference in meaning and practical usage?
21
votes
1answer
3k views

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 ...
25
votes
1answer
18k 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 ...
60
votes
7answers
17k views

What is the difference between the negative forms -ず and -ぬ?

-ず and -ぬ are two alternatives to the negative form -ない / -ません. But I noticed that depending on the word, it's either -ず or -ぬ, although it seems like some words can take both suffixes. Some examples ...
12
votes
1answer
699 views

Meaning of ところ in アメリカのいいところ

I feel as though I understand what the below sentence means, but what I think it means makes no sense. 日本に行ったら、アメリカのいいところも発見できるかもしれないですね。 My translation: If you go to Japan, you might be able to ...
20
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
48
votes
1answer
32k views

What are the rules regarding “mute vowels” (“u” after “s” and “i” after “sh”)?

When you first begin to learn Japanese you are taught that Japanese has no stress and each syllable should be pronounced equally. You also learn that certain vowels are not pronounced, or only ...
32
votes
2answers
10k views

けど at the end of the sentence?

According to dictionaries, 「けど」 means ‘but’, ‘although’, ‘however’. However, it seems to have slightly another meaning at the end of the sentence. For example, here are few example sentences with ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

What is じゃねぇか? What is its original form?

完成前とずいぶん色が違うじゃねぇか! In this sentence, what is じゃねぇか?
55
votes
2answers
10k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
478 views

using の with と,で, から, まで

http://www.shiro.jp.net/2013/10/tono-deno-kakrano-madenoeno-learning.html This page explains that a noun with と, で, から, まで that modifies another noun must have の attached to them as in: ...
13
votes
2answers
1k 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.
5
votes
1answer
570 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
498 views

the omission of an implied “の” creates the appearance of a 四字熟語{よじじゅくご}?

I believe that www.yojijukugo.com has a pretty thorough list of 四字熟語? Is there a better site? However, I know that I've seen a lot of 4, or more, adjacent kanji that are not listed as 熟語。An example ...
51
votes
6answers
12k views

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 ...
22
votes
1answer
886 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)...
19
votes
1answer
1k 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?
28
votes
6answers
2k views

Why are some lyrics' words written in kanji whose usual reading is not how it is sung?

Some song lyrics in the official lyric book that accompanies the CD is sung as another word. Usually, the way it is sung is given as a furigana on the kanji: Written: 君が希望に変わってゆく          (...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

なく vs. なくて and stem form vs. てform as conjunctions

I have been wondering about this, since every time I hand in a 作文 in a Japanese class, I'm corrected on conjunctions. It seems to me that whenever I use a てform as a conjunction, a response comes back ...
11
votes
2answers
7k views

How are the different pronunciations of kanji used, such as onyomi and kunyomi?

Even when I think I've memorized how to read a particular kanji, 人 (ひと) for example, and try to read other words I find that it's also pronounced じん...and I'm sure it probably has many other readings. ...
16
votes
2answers
6k views

Where does the な in 大人 (otona) come from?

As far as I understand, the word 大人 (otona) uses the kanji 大 to represent お and the kanji 人 to represent と. According to this site the readings for 人 do not include な. Where does the な come from then?
6
votes
2answers
425 views

Can someone explain me the use of は and が in this sentence?

田中さんは今日来ますか。 はい、来ますよ。あ、田中さんが 来ました。   Does Tanaka san come today? Yes, he does. Oh, Tanaka san came. I don't understand the use of が in the second sentence. Can someone ...
87
votes
10answers
9k views

How should I choose between [知]{し}る and わかる?

Both 知る and わかる get used for "know", "understand", "learn", "find out", and various other concepts. How do you know which to use when? Are there any rules to help you decide? Additionally, both of ...
32
votes
3answers
25k views

The many ways to say “and” in Japanese

In English, we just have one word for the conjunction and which works just fine for many categories, but in Japanese, there are separate words: と joins nouns together in a closed list や joins nouns ...
27
votes
1answer
3k views

~うございます - keigo い-adjectives

I'm not sure if this is actual keigo, or just a polite form of adjectives. Anyway, there are several that we're all familiar with that are still used today. はやい → おはようございます ありがたい → ありがとうございます ...
26
votes
3answers
11k 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 ...
29
votes
3answers
9k 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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