Derek Schaab
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Differences among -たら、なら、-んだったら、-えば, etc
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133 votes

と, ば The main clause must be a constant non-volitional reaction to the conditional clause unless the conditional clause shows state or if the subjects of the two clauses differ. お金を入れてボタンを押すと、切符が出ます。 ...

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What is the difference between the nominalizers こと and の?
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125 votes

(This question had to show up eventually… :) For my answer, I'll be borrowing most example sentences and categorizations from pages 176-179 of 初級【しょきゅう】を教【おし】える人【ひと】のための日本語【にほんご】文法【ぶんぽう】ハンドブック and ...

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What is the difference between "に" and "には"?
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110 votes

This is really no different than the normal use of the scope/topic particle は, except that with には (and では, とは, and any other combination), the scope of the sentence expands to include the particle ...

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When is Vている the continuation of action and when is it the continuation of state?
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95 votes

The key to understanding this difference in aspect (not tense) lies in knowing what kind of verb we're dealing with. For verbs that describe actions (食【た】べる, 走【はし】る, etc) and events (降【ふ】る, 吹【ふ】く, etc)...

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Is じゃないです equally correct as じゃありません?
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73 votes

I read an interesting paper on this very topic a few months ago. Let's see…ah, here it is: A Discussion of the Polite Negative Verb Forms masen and nai desu (PDF, Japanese) This paper by Kayoko Tanaka ...

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Difference between -ていく and -てくる
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72 votes

~ていく and ~てくる (usually written in kana, since they are such common suffixes) can express both physical movement (such as in 行【い】 ってくる "go and come back") or a continued change in state. ...

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How do we construct sentences ending in わけ?
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61 votes

While sawa's answer does cover the basic construction rules, it's definitely worth it to go over the different use cases of わけ. Grab a comfy chair and your favorite beverage, because this is a long ...

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What is the difference between 〜となる and 〜になる?
59 votes

I've asked this very question in the past and my research led me to the following definition which (surprisingly) differs from every other answer here so far: ~となる expresses a discrete change, while ~...

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Usage of すみません (sumimasen) versus ごめんなさい (gomen'nasai)
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59 votes

On a basic level, すみません is to apologize for something that you have a "right" to do, such as when passing through a crowd or getting a waiter's attention at a restaurant. ごめんなさい, on the other hand, is ...

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The difference between くらい and ほど in hyperbole
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44 votes

OK, I think I've got something here. Essentially, the difference boils down to the following: ほど expresses an upper bound; it is often emphatic and therefore expresses surprise くらい expresses a lower ...

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When to use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい
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44 votes

Japanese has a curious unwritten rule which states, in essence, that you cannot presume to know the intimate details of a third person's mental state. This is quite an unfamiliar concept in English-...

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What are the guidelines for omitting particles?
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33 votes

Which particles can be omitted from sentences? は, が, and を are often dropped; に sometimes. か, as a sentence-final question particle, can be replaced with intonation. Does the omission of particles ...

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What connotation does なんだ add?
31 votes

It's hard to answer this specific question without getting into the more general topic of the ~のだ construction, which, as jkerian mentioned, can mark an explanation for a certain context, which may be ...

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Usage of たくさん vs. 多い
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30 votes

I don't think the existing answers are hitting this question from quite the right angle, so here is my take: First, in sentences where you only wish to mention the presence of "a large number&...

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If Vて+いる isn't a gerund, then what is it?
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29 votes

I think the confusion here arises from the fact that English can use the "-ing" form of a verb in two different ways: using a verb as a noun (gerund), or expressing a continuous action (...

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What does っつの mean?
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27 votes

っつ (sometimes つう) is a slang version of という (or an alternate version like といった, depending on the context). It's extremely informal. 冗談【じょうだん】だっつの。 (=冗談だ【じょうだん】といったの。) I said I was joking. [...

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Love in the air: 愛x恋 {あい vs こい}
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27 votes

The difference between 愛 and 恋 is worth diving a bit deeper into. My view is as follows: 愛: sacrificial, unconditional, love for the other person's sake (often parallels the Greek agape, but can ...

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What are the differences between 〜ので and 〜から?
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26 votes

I find the best way to discriminate between these two is the following: ~ので marks an objective cause: 電車が遅れたので、間に合わなかった。 The fact that the train ran late is an objective, verifiable fact. The ...

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What exactly is "なの" (nano)?
25 votes

なの relates to the ~のだ construction, and as such provides explanatory, secondary, or supporting information (which could be a reason, a cause, or other fact the speaker feels would aid in the listener'...

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Is there a rule for when to use くらい vs ぐらい?
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24 votes

This page at the goo.ne.jp Q&A site quotes the NHKことばのハンドブック, which states that while there were at one time rules for when to use くらい and when to use ぐらい, modern-day Japanese has no such ...

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Usage of ~じゃん (~じゃない)
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23 votes

The first thing to understand here is that じゃん forms a tag question, so it's entirely different than the negative form: このゲームは楽しい。 This game is fun. このゲームは楽しいじゃん。 This game is fun, isn't it? ...

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Differences between 度 and 回 when counting occurrences
21 votes

For counting a number of occurrences 回 and 度 are interchangeable with small numbers. Somewhere around 4 (the line is quite vague), 度 becomes uncommon, and by the time you get to 6, 回 is pretty much ...

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What is the learning curve for learning Japanese writing?
20 votes

What is the learning curve like for learning Japanese writing? About the same as English. Chances are you didn't start learning to read English by pedaling your five-speed Schwinn (with the baseball ...

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The reason for using 何も+negative, but 何でも+positive
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20 votes

Rather than memorizing edge cases like this one, I think the key here lies in understanding the difference between も and でも in this context. In positive statements using も, the grouping is explicit. ...

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とっても versus とても
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20 votes

とっても is a spoken variant of とても, just like すんごい is a spoken variant of すごい and あんまり is a spoken variant of あまり. If you're writing a paper or speaking in a formal setting, it's better to use とても.

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What's the difference between に and で when speaking of time of an action?
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20 votes

There are some interesting connotations in the Chiebukuro examples crunchyt kindly pointed to which I think are worth going over in more detail. First, the ~でする and ~にする forms: この仕事はあとでします。 I'll do ...

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

Writing the lyrics this way allows the artist to convey an extra bit of the ulterior meaning. To use the first example, where 希望 is sung as ゆめ, we can assume that ゆめ was chosen because it fit well ...

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のだから vs のだ (んだから vs んだ)
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19 votes

Perhaps your teachers told you ~のだから (~んだから) is incorrect not because it is never used (you already know it's very common) but because you can't simply drop it into any sentence. While digging around ...

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What does のですが mean in the following sentence?
19 votes

~のですが (or ~のですけれども, or ~んだけど, or any of a number of variants) is often used in this way to "set the stage" and provide a context for a succeeding clause or sentence. Here, the purpose of ~のですが is to ...

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In what situations can you use ぞ as a sentence ender
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19 votes

Borrowing from page 277 of this grammar textbook and the Daijisen entry flamingspinach linked to, ぞ is a (primarily masculine) sentence-ending particle used to express strong intent (そうはさせないぞ), ...

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