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Particles in Japanese

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Jason
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Postby Jason » August 3rd, 2007 12:20 pm

maxiewawa wrote:Shanghai ni wa, chuugokujin ga yoku arimasu.

You have some major problems after the ,

NEVER use ある for people. ある is for inanimate objects only. For people and other living things, always use いる.

よく means "often" in the sense that something is done often or some state of being often exists. Your sentence says "there are often Chinese people in Shanghai." While grammatically correct (if you change ある to いる), considering it's Shanghai stating that there're often Chinese people there is more than a little odd.

I think what you were looking for was something like: 上海には、中国人がたくさんいます。 Or いっぱいいます。
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maxiewawa
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Postby maxiewawa » August 3rd, 2007 3:05 pm

:shock: :shock:

I don't know what to say. You're 100% right!

:oops: :oops:

It always ticks me off when teachers give conflicting information, and I always get really :x :x when i do it myself.

Thanks for your help Jason先生!

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nilfisq
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Postby nilfisq » August 3rd, 2007 6:17 pm

maxiewawa-san,

thanks for your extensive reply (i won't look at the mistakes that jason pointed out of course :) ).

it still seems quite complicated to me (i have a phd in linguistics so maybe i should learn to be a bit more patient: i am sure time will tell) - anyway, you say:

maxiewawa wrote:Shanhai ni nani ga arimasuka.
What is in Shanghai?

Shanhai ni chuugokujin ga ippai imasu.
In Shanghai there are lots of Chinese people.

I'm not really talking about Shanghai as a major topic, I don't add a 'wa'.


imo you ARE talking about shanghai as a (major?) topic.
compare this to the following sentence in newbie lesson 23:

Kobayashi-san no heya ni wa nani ga arimasu ka.
What do you have in your room, Kobayashi?


also i would like to know why you say (cf. newbie lesson 18 ) :

kono hen ni koushuu denwa wa arimasu ka?
and not :
kono hen ni koushuu denwa ga arimasu ka?
is there a pay phone around here?


or are both sentences possible?

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Postby jkeyz15 » August 4th, 2007 1:32 pm

は is a definitely a complex particle. I've got to get some sleep.Check out guidetojapanese.org/forum/ . There's been many threads on it and there is a recent one now.

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Postby maxiewawa » August 4th, 2007 3:35 pm

Ok, I'm going to try to do my best to explain 'wa' and 'ga'. Hopefully it will help with the other construction ('ni' and 'ni wa').

Truth is, we have a very similar concept in English, but we just 'feel it out' instead of having a set structure.

Picture this situation. The department head is introducing a new boss to the company staff.

Department Head: He is Bob. He is Bill. He is Ben. The new boss greets everyone by name.

If this was a Japanese company, the introductions might go like this

Kare wa Bob desu. Kare wa Ben desu. Kare wa Bill desu.

In each case, the Japanese uses the topic particle 'wa'. (Sorry if the dialog seems a bit weird, stick with me!)

But picture this:

Department Head: He is Bob.
New Boss: Hi Andrew.
Department Head: He is Bob. He is Andrew.


In this example, the New Boss makes a mistake, calling Bill by the wrong name. the Department Head corrects him, then points out the employee that actually is Andrew.

Before showing you how the Japanese version might go, try reading out the above dialog, in particular the last line. (He is Bob. He is Andrew.) Do you notice how differently you read the two sentences? Not just the names have changed, but you probably put a bit of an accent on the 'he' in the second sentence. Although they are written almost exactly the same, they sound a little bit different.

Now the translation.

DH: Kare wa Bob desu.
NB: Konnichiwa Bill.
DH: Kare wa Bob desu. Kare ga Bill desu.


In the Japanese instead of putting added emphasis on 'he/kare', the particle after it changes. Because the Department Head is picking Bill out of a group, the particle is 'ga'.

A lot of the difficulties with particles are that they are often explained in print, and a lot of the equivalent nuances in English are expressed only with voice.

Hope this helps. It's a little over simplified (oxymoronic) but I hope you get the general idea.

nilfisq
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Postby nilfisq » August 5th, 2007 12:27 pm

thanx a lot for the tips and the explanations! in the meantime i have been reading around a bit and i think i already get a better idea of the functions of the particles; besides, the podcasts contain so many dialogues and it is always good to have lots of 'real life' examples that explain the theory.

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Postby cronus » December 4th, 2008 4:58 am

I saw Bueller_007's explanations, and I just had to post this:

AWESOME job! you have helped me a lot!

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Postby jazzbeans » December 25th, 2008 10:21 pm

How do you guys memorize Japanese particles?

I've studied and studied and when I write to my friends in Japanese, I see myself having to guess what to use.. or look at my grammar book again to find out.

I just don't think I can remember them well, I can with some, but not most, if I'm honest. I gave up a few days ago and focused on kanji, learning Kanji is so much more easier...

But!

I'm determined to fully understand at least one particle usage (if not more) before I have to start fully revising for non-Japanese related exams I have in mid-January.

Any advice on how you've all memorized them would be very helpful to me!

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Question on "yo" particle

Postby gerald_ford » January 19th, 2009 4:44 am

So, if the particle "yo" is used to add emphasis, does this make the sentence more harsh or rude? I do often hear in Japan "something, something desu yo", so I guess it's not rude, but I wanted to be certain anyways. A long time ago, in my college Japanese class our teacher said that if we used it too much, it sounds assertive, so I think I tend to hold back even when it's normal to say.

Just curious to get other opinions. Thanks!
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Jason
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Re: Question on "yo" particle

Postby Jason » February 16th, 2009 7:15 am

gerald_ford wrote:So, if the particle "yo" is used to add emphasis, does this make the sentence more harsh or rude? I do often hear in Japan "something, something desu yo", so I guess it's not rude, but I wanted to be certain anyways. A long time ago, in my college Japanese class our teacher said that if we used it too much, it sounds assertive, so I think I tend to hold back even when it's normal to say.

Just curious to get other opinions. Thanks!

I guess it could be taken as rude if it was overused. It has a sense of giving the listener information they didn't know. So overuse could possibly be seen as like treating the person like they're stupid or not very knowledgeable. It just depends on the situation it's used in.
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Postby jen4321 » December 5th, 2009 10:42 pm

Bueller_007 wrote: Like the English "and", it can also be used to give an (immediate) consequence to an action. (i.e. I walked out my door and got hit by a bus.")


That's one way to make sure i never forget the proper usage of と!!
(笑う)

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Postby jen4321 » December 5th, 2009 10:45 pm

jazzbeans wrote:How do you guys memorize Japanese particles?

I've studied and studied and when I write to my friends in Japanese, I see myself having to guess what to use.. or look at my grammar book again to find out.

I just don't think I can remember them well, I can with some, but not most, if I'm honest. I gave up a few days ago and focused on kanji, learning Kanji is so much more easier...

But!

I'm determined to fully understand at least one particle usage (if not more) before I have to start fully revising for non-Japanese related exams I have in mid-January.

Any advice on how you've all memorized them would be very helpful to me!


I have the same problem jazzbeans I get the particles wrong in the grammer section of test papers but when i go back and look at WHY it's wrong and look at the rules for using the particles it makes complete sense.

I guess trial and error lol
It probably comes naturally after you have used them for so long. Unfortuantely my teacher usually just corrects my speech but never elaborates :?

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Wa Ga

Postby indiana23 » December 22nd, 2009 6:52 pm

Jp101 has taken a different approach in teaching wa and ga, as opposed to my textbook. My textbook uses ga often and even says to used wa a little as possible. Someone else told me to just forget about wa until i know how to use it ,citing the fact the too many wa's can be annoying. Is this true?
Can anyone explain jp101's teaching strategy to me? As an example, i think two of my books start you off with, "A ga suki desu". However, jp101 starts us off with, "A wa suki desu".

Can anyone explain?

Thanks

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Re: Wa Ga

Postby amost » December 23rd, 2009 1:42 am

indiana23 wrote:Jp101 has taken a different approach in teaching wa and ga, as opposed to my textbook. My textbook uses ga often and even says to used wa a little as possible. Someone else told me to just forget about wa until i know how to use it ,citing the fact the too many wa's can be annoying. Is this true?
Can anyone explain jp101's teaching strategy to me? As an example, i think two of my books start you off with, "A ga suki desu". However, jp101 starts us off with, "A wa suki desu".

Can anyone explain?

Thanks


[A] ga suki desu -> I like [A]
[A] ha suki desu -> As for [A], (I) like it. (The "I" subject is implied)

A book of mine has an interesting story about ha and ga. Some friends are eating out, and the waiter asks "go chuumon ha?" ("your order?"). One friend says something like, for example, "maguro, onegaishimasu" ("may I have the tuna"), and another friend says "watashi ha, unagi desu". Unagi means "eel".

To newcomers of japanese, this probably blows their mind. Did he just say that he's an eel?!?!? The answer is of course, no, he did not. ha is the topic marking particle. So an accurate translation would be "As for me, [implied subject 'my order'] will be eel"

Do you get it? the ha marks the topic, but not necessarily the subject. When the topic and the subject are both in the same sentence, it's easy to see, but when only the topic is explicitly stated, you have to get the subject from context!

hope this helps :)

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Postby jkerianjapanesepod5596 » April 11th, 2010 1:29 pm

I'm going to attempt my own explanation of は vs が, although this might be more technical than some would prefer. Much of what I'm writing here is taken from "The Structure of the Japanese Language" by Susumu Kuno.

There are two meanings to は, and three for が. は is used for contrast and thematic reference. が is used as a direct object marker for certain verbs/verbals, an exhaustive subject marker, and as a 'neutral-descriptive'.

は is often called the 'topic marker', in contrast to the 'subject marker' of が, but this term is almost never explained. The key difference is context. Imagine, if you will, a big box of things that have been mentioned in a conversation. We'll call this box the "universe of discourse". You only use certain constructions when talking about things that are in this box. This sounds rediculously complicated, until you realize that we do this in English as well. For example:

The boy was bouncing a ball off the store wall.
is ungrammatical.

Now, several of you are freaking out right now, since that seems like a perfectly reasonable English phrase. It is... but not without context. If I start the conversation with that phrase, I've left out enough important details that you'd be reasonable to suspect I was playing a game of quotations (or insane...).

I saw a boy in Wallgreen's last night. The boy was bouncing a ball off the store wall.
provides the needed context. The first sentence introduces a boy into the context of the conversation, the "universe of discourse", and "The" selects him out of it as the particular object I wish to make a statement on.

A boy was bouncing a ball off the store wall in Wallgreen's.
is perfectly reasonable. From this we can see that we use "A" to introduce elements to our "universe of discourse", and "the" to select them out. There are several things that are considered to be always in this universe, such as personal referents. Note my first example is perfectly fine if your listener is aware you have a son. This can get a bit messy in English, so let's head to Japanese before the analogy fails.

In Japanese, the thematic は is used with generic noun phrases ("the brits") or things that are already in the universe of discourse. It's sometimes tricky to nail down exactly what is there, but the general idea is that you don't introduce things to the conversation using thematic は。 This is why you cannot use question words with は, the non-specified referent cannot be in the universe of discourse. (だれは来ましたか?) <--- BAD! INVALID! DO NOT USE! :evil:

Contrastive は, on the other hand, is much more free, and this partly explains why
「雨は降っていますが、たいしたことはありません」 is valid, while 「雨は降っています。」 is not.** Note that this is more complicated than the textbook contrastive は, as the contrast extends through the meaning of the final predicate, not just the things before the は marker.

And unfortunately it can be ambiguous which は you're looking at. Kuno's example is 「わたくしが知っている人はパーティーに来ませんでした」. If read thematic (if you were talking about all the people you know... such as all your new Japanese friends), it means "Speaking of the people I know, they did not come to the party". If you read it as contrastive, it means "People came to the party, but none that I know." The meaning is similar, but distinct.

There can be only one thematic は in a sentence. If you see a second one, the second is certainly contrastive, and the first might be.


Onto が...
The first meaning of が is trivial, the direct object of certain verbs, particularly those having to do with personal capability or preference, replacing the normal direct object particle を, e.g.「だれが映画が好きですか?」. This is adequately covered elsewhere, and aside from the curious subset of verbs on which this is used, is mostly uninteresting.

The other two meanings, exhaustive-listing and neutral description, are a bit tricky to understand. Any が can be an exhaustive-listing が, but neutral description only works with action verbs, existential verbs, and adjectives/nominal adjectives that represent state change. "Sentences of neutral description present an objectively observable action, existence, or temporary state as a new event." Neutral description is a valid way of introducing something to the universe of discourse, but it is far from the only one. 「空が赤い!」

Stative verbs, and adjectives/nominal-adjectives of permanent states are the predicates, only the exhaustive-listing interpretation is valid. The basic idea is that exhaustive-listing works similar to contrastive は, implying contrast to the rest of the universe of discourse.
A:「だれが日本語を知っていますか?」
B:「ジョンが日本語できます」
できる is a non-action verb, so this is exhaustive-listing. Assume that we are talking about the three new students: Jon, Bill and Tom. If B knows that Jon and Tom can both speak Japanese, B just lied. If B knows Jon can speak Japanese, but doesn't know about the others, the contrastive は is appropriate to use instead of が.

Note that this is only a quick overview of the whole topic, and each of these uses has special-cases that bends the rules... but this is a decent summary of the common cases.

** It's very hard to think of a valid way to introduce rain (in a non-general way) to the conversation without it falling. I'm sure someone can dream up a way for it to work, but for the general meaning of "it's raining", は is not correct.

Edits: Correcting both my English and Japanese tenses :oops: ... I should learn a language someday, maybe English!

Edits: Simplifying introduction


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