の(は) Explanation (please help!)

So I’m doing some lessons on Bunpro, and one of them is の(は) and the description says that using it turns verbs into nouns. However, I’m getting really confused as I look through the sample sentences, because all of the English translations use the Simple Present Tense form of verbs instead of turning it into a noun. It’s causing me to become a little confused, and the additional readings aren’t exactly helping me out either so I was wondering if the wonderful WK community could break through my stupidity to try and explain this grammar point.

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Can you copy over an example you find confusing, for those of us who aren’t on Bunpro.

読む のは 私です

Which they translate to mean “I am the one who reads.” where “to read” becomes a noun.

Or : 寿司を食べる のは 、彼だ。 “He is the one who eats sushi.” Where “to eat” becomes a noun.

But they’re technically still verbs. So I’m a little lost.

This の is not “turning the verb directly into a noun” but acting as a placeholder noun itself. Like the English “one”.

寿司を食べる plus の is a noun phrase, “one who eats sushi.” It wasn’t just the verb being nounified. The whole clause got nounified.

BTW, it’s not just verbs that の can follow to do this.

赤いのがほしい
I want a red one.

It’s discussed in this imabi article.

https://www.imabi.net/theparticlenoii.htm

There’s a section on the nominalizer の, and then a section on this の

It’s not really a super clear distinction, but the nominalizer の with 読む would be like 読むのが好きです. This is not “I like the one that reads” but rather “I like reading.” Here read became a noun.

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japanese has a fixed pitch system, so you don’t put stress on syllables or words for emphasis.
you could say
“it is to the shopping mall that i go” or “i go to the shopping mall”,
“it is going that i do, to the shopping mall” or “i go to the shopping mall”
(even if it might sound odd in some cases)

in japanese, you can use の for this purpose:

モールに行くのは俺だ
モールに行く方法なのは歩くことだ
目的地なのはモールだ

not even sure if this is relevant for this thread, since i don’t do bunpro, hehe… but の can be used for many things.

Are you using Bunpro by itself to study these things? I really don’t recommend that as a way to learn grammar fully. Bunpro itself links to free online resources in the Readings, which you should also be using to cover the points as you learn them, then use Bunpro to review. Tae Kim and Imabi also exist, and are great for ideas like this. Often you need both a broader and deeper explanation, so it’d be good to find one or two resources you’re comfortable consulting (since every teacher has their own style).

Nothing wrong with asking here - this one is often thorny for people -, and sorry if my concern is misplaced and you did read the things with it.

Also, for reference, the Bunpro lesson covers both cases of の-nominalisation discussed in the imabi article. ^^

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this is an example of a time that getting a good grammar book is going to help you. の doesn’t “turn verbs into nouns”, really. It is one of a class of nous that are called “formal nouns”. They are used in relative clause constructions.
They include:
の, こと, もの, ところ, etc.

The difficulty you ran into is sometimes (in different constructions) as @Leebo mentioned, [something…verb] + の can mean “the one that [something…verb]” and can also mean “[something…verb]-ing”.
The examples you gave are examples of a common “cleft construction” used for emphasis in japanese. They are of the “the one that [something…verb]”. Sentences like “i heard lisa playing the piano” (<- “lisa playing the piano” is the direct object of the sentence) are the second type.
As a general rule, many of these formal nous are used in set grammar patterns. So what kind of nominalization will sound natural in japanese (ie should one use の or こと), will just have to be learned with the grammar pattern.
check out the following pages for many examples.
And make sure you are very familiar with how relative clauses work in japanese (noun modification by relative clause constructions really is the heart of japanese grammar).


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Oh no definitely not. I have a physical Genki 1&2 textbook and workbook I usually consult along with Bunpro. And I always read the extra readings! In this case they just weren’t helping to clear my confusion (which I stated in the OP)

What would you suggest as a physical book in addition to Genki because I already use it. And unlike a lot of opinion I’ve seen here I actually enjoy it haha.

And to everyone else, thanks for responding. You’ve all been really helpful and I kind of understand things a bit more. Particles are definitely not my strong suit to begin with and all their different uses are still something I need to learn!

(also first time attempting to reply on mobile so I’m sorry if formatting sucks)

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It’s good to have A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (book one of a three book series) for this kind of thing. It’s not a textbook you’d read through, but rather a reference book you’d use when you don’t fully understand grammar explanations from elsewhere.

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