だ and です : Venturing Beyond Textbook Rules into Real-Life Use

Hey y’all :wave: Just wanted to share our new article about だ and です with you guys :wink:


I’m only about halfway through, but wanted to say that I’m totally digging the article. Very informative. Love the work you all put in for us learners.


Great article !

I have a case study of such da/desu mixture, from the book “Read Real Japanese” , a collection of short essay by contemporary writers. The essay of Murakami starts with:


(I’m not good at telling lie. But telling a lie in itself is not something I particularly hate. It may sound odd, but, in other words, I’m bad at big lies but I’m quite fond of telling harmless and absurd lies.)

Based on the article, I understand that the first two ではない sentences give a self-reflexive feeling, Murakami just telling harsh, objective facts about himself, and the switch to masu form with ということです give the feeling as if he directly address the readers, to explain to us what he means ? What do you think about it @TofuguKanae ? Thanks !


Why aren’t there more replies to this!? I absolutely love the visuals, the examples, and the thorough sourcing of different materials to help write about this phenomenon. It really did cover the gamut of “real-life usage”. It really inspires me to look at reading Yoshimoto Banana sometime for studying and struggling…

I’m so glad you guys are back to writing articles. This sort of stuff is absolutely my jam. I crave it.



Does this sentence really work in Japanese? I’m just a beginner but I definitely expected a particle between 私 and 天才 there.

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That was really interesting, thank you for all the work!

On a side note, I think there’s a typo in the retranscription of the excerpt of Villon’s Wife. 所詮’s furigana seem to have stuck when it was copy-pasted, which turned into 所詮しょせん.

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Yes, it works. It is quite common to drop some of the particles in casual speech.


This is a great article. Even after two years in Japan and an N1 pass, the breakdown of various mixes here helped parse some things I’ve always wondered about while interacting with native texts, but never been bothered enough by to ask about.


This page never seems to finish loading for me. Aside from anything else, the images don’t show.

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This is a really interesting and well-written article! I like the diagrams (though I’m a bit confused about the boxing glove one - why is it coming back around to the speaker instead of just going straight to the listener?).

Also, I think advertising new articles on the forums like this is a good way to get more readers (and help out us learners)!


Great article. I just hope NHK will respond at some point.

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Ohh that’s so interesting! I agree with your insight. The first two sentences sounds like they are something Murakami was thinking in his mind, observing his relationship to “lying” objectively. Then the third line feels like he summarized his observation for the audience if that makes sense.

Thank you, thank you! I was so glad to see this comment, I had to read it and share with the research team in a podcast episode about だ we just recorded💗

You could say 私は天才だ!, but the omission of the particle は happens all the times in spoken Japanese, so this totally works!

Ohh that’s right - thanks for catching that and letting me know. I’ll get it fixed :muscle:

That’s great to hear! Not many native speakers know all that, I think. I know some tutors/teachers teach だ・です as copulas and the difference is the level of formality.


Are you still experiencing this? There were some people the other day who were experiencing the same thing, but it should load now!

The boxing glove bubble is coming back because this だ is not to directly communicate with the listener, or it’s not “to start a conversation.”

From the article…

While this statement is clearly motivated by the actions of a particular person, the use of だ suggests that the statement is not intended to engage the listener in discussion. While it is directed at the speaker in the sense that it is intended to have an impact, it is stripped of all feelings of social responsibility or concern for the other person’s point of view. The purpose is to express the speaker’s outrage, not to start a conversation. The one-sided nature of this statement is what gives it an assertive, or even confrontational, feeling.

Hope it makes sense! And thanks for your positive comment💗


Still no dice. Actually, all of Tofugu is the same for me - images don’t load, and the wheels never stop spinning. Using Firefox 69, Windows 10.

Works on the iPad, though.

Ok, so the speaker isn’t expecting a response; it’s more like venting?

In that case, I think there might be a typo in the article, because I don’t understand how the speaker could be intending to have an impact on his/herself:

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Ok, just updated to 69.0.1, and it loaded the images just fine without even stopping to think about it…

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Ohh now I see where the confusion came from - that is indeed a typo! Thank you for pointing that out - we’ll get that fixed💪

Cool cool - That’s good news!


Love the article! Bit confused about this part though:

  • A: 明日テストだよ。
  • A: Hey, we have an exam tomorrow.

I know sometimes that noun declarations doesn’t necessarily translate perfectly – like 雨です for “it’s raining” (maybe it’s closer to “it’s rainy”). But I would have expected some sort of ある or あります, not だよ – what’s the specific deal here? Is it like saying 明日休日だよ (tomorrow’s a holiday)? I guess I’m trying to figure out how to tell when a noun that’s a bit more abstract would use a specific ending.


it’s vague…

nouns with state/concept-like sense may be used with です/だ just fine. “rainy” is correct example. though, “test-y” sounds weird despite being close enough in its sense.
and “テスト” is not something physical inanimate. so, no “ある”.

and よ just adds emotion "how could it happen that you do not know it?’.

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That makes things a bit clearer, I think ultimately I’ll just have to get used to it.