連絡 => Contact (as in “getting in touch”)
連絡が来ない => No contact comes
連絡が来なくなる => It becomes such that no contact comes. (where “it” is the general situation)
連絡が来なくなった => it became such that no contact comes.
連絡が来なくなったから => because it became such that no contact comes.
Certainly this is too literal for English. My best try for a more natural translation would be something like
“Because you stopped contacting me” or “Because I stopped receiving messages from you”
Many thanks for the breakdown!! It´s perfectly clear now. I feel that sometimes I´m overthinking the が particle. From now on I´ll bear in mind that 99.9% of times it´s simply the noun, adj, noun phrase, etc. that is doing the action of the verb. 99,9% because precisely in the following page there is the construction:
where it seems that が (I´ve also read in some cases を, I don´t know if they are interchangeable) is the object someone is worried about.
I was wondering why this week was so quiet only to find I forgot to put this thread on notification… Good to see there’s been some discussion going on after all =D
Would you believe me if I told you this が is marking the subject? And that there is no object in the sentence?
The dialogue spans pages 151 and 152, but because it’s two sentences joined together by から, we can look at the sentence on page 152 in isolation:
Let’s remove the explanatory のだ and see what sentence is underneath:
In English, if you say “I was worried about you,” the word “worry” is a verb. What about 心配? Is 心配 a verb?
The best way to determine if a word is a verb is to ask, does the verb (without any modifications or helpers attached) end in an う-row okurigana character? (Okurigana is the hiragana characters that come after the kanji.)
The kanji 心配 does not have any okurigana, so we know it cannot be a verb. (Note that 心配 does have a verb “form”: 心配する. However, that’s not what’s used here. In the panel, 心配だ is used.)
We also know it cannot be an adjective. Adjectives end with the okurigana い, so we know it’s not an adjective either. (Notice: しんぱい does end in い, but in its kanji form, 心配, there is no okurigana い.)
When it comes to Japanese words, if it’s not a verb, and it’s not an adjective, expect it to be a noun.
Disclaimer: It’s debatable on whether 心配 should be called a “noun” or a “na-adjective” or another term. Because it takes the coupler (coupula) だ, I will refer to it here as a noun.
Since this sentence (the portion we’re looking at) ends in だ (well, the past tense version, だった), we know this is a “noun is noun” sentence.
Rental Big Brother is saying “Kanami was 心配.”
What does 心配 mean? Checking a Japanese dictionary, it means 「思いわずらうこと。」 “A worried about thing.”
Filling in the meaning above, we get:
Rental Big Brother is saying “Kanami was a worried about thing.”
Because there had been no contact, Kanami was a worried about thing. In this sentence, Kanami in the subject being described as a thing that was worried about.
When you see が following a noun (as opposed to at the end of a sentence), you can feel safe in knowing that it is indeed marking the subject!
Wow, that conversation between Oniichan and Kazutaka had me on the edge of my seat!! I wasn´t expecting it at all. Just a couple more questions from this week´s pages:
Is the negative form being used as to sound more polite?
What´s the grammar beneath that か? I assumed it´s there to mark an implicit question but I don´t know if certain conditions within the sentence are required in order to use it. I thought at first か was only used as an end-of-sentence question marker or doubt-admiration-explanation particle, but it seems it can also be in the middle.
I just wanted to check my translation with you guys, because I want to grasp the exact nuance of this part. I don´t know if I understood it correctly.
I read: “My brother (Kazutaka) said I was just using something like a Rental, and scolded me”
General grammar question
This last line, alongside with the last bubble in this page, where Oniichan says: お兄さんに会わせてほしい, made me think about the usage of passive and causative in Japanese. Why would we use these structures instead of the plain active form, for example in this last request? Is there a sense of politeness or some other deeper nuance when using it? Or is it just another common way of saying things as we would do in the active form, used at a person´s own discretion?
I learned this な as a harsh prohibitive particle, as in "don´t do…! However, at first I understood it here as a negation:
“This doesn´t concern me!!”
Then in later readings I came up with the possibility of this more or less free translation to respect the な grammar:
“Don´t blame it on me!!”
What do you guys think? Am I going in a wrong direction here?
Many thanks in advance for all your help, as always!!
Disclaimer: I didn’t mark anything in spoilers as 1) I go into depth breaking things down, and 2) we’re near the end of week 12. If you haven’t read through week 12 yet, and don’t want spoilers, please feel free to skip over my wall of text for now.
Let’s look specifically at the embedded question:
First, let’s look at 怒る (おこる). This is a verb, for the action of getting angry.
The final る has been replaced by れる. Some people will tell you this is the passive form. It’s not. Passive is English grammar for an English translation. But we’re looking at the Japanese grammar for the Japanese original. This is the 受身 (うけみ) form.
What is うけみ? According the dictionary Goo, 「文法で、主語が他からの動作・作用を受ける意を表す言い方。」 “In grammar, a way of saying that the subject means to receive an action or effect from another.”
Cure Dolly calls うけみ the “receptive form”, because the subject is receiving an action. The action being received here is “getting angry”.
怒れる = receive the action or effect of getting angry from another
In English, we don’t use the active voice and say, “I received my parents getting angry.” Instead, we use the passive voice and say, “My parents were angry with me.” You can see why people call うけみ the passive form, because English rewrites this sentence to use a completely different type of grammar, and it’s convenient to use this unrelated grammar as a label for the Japanese grammar.
Please give me a moment to climb down off of my うけみ soapbox. It’s gotten pretty tall these days.
Why did I go so deep into うけみ form? Because it helps to understand the use of the negative here.
怒れる = I will receive the action or effect of getting angry from another.
怒れないか = Won’t I receive the action or effect of getting angry from another?
English: “Won’t (my parents) get angry with me?” (passive voice)
Consider that the base of this sentence is:
The subject (が-marked) and coupler (だ) are unspoken, but because 心配 is a noun, we know a “complete” version of the core of this sentence would look like:
「∅が心配だ」 (Note: I’m using ∅ to fill in an unspoken subject.)
As we reviewed on a separate page earlier, 心配 is “a worried about thing”. What kind of worry is it? If you ask 10 people to name something they are worried about, you’ll likely hear 10 different kinds of worries. And people may even list off multiple things they’re worried about. Even in English, the “worries” can refer to so many things. There exist so many kind of worries!
How do we narrow it down, to be more specific as to what the worries are about? We do this by modifying the word 心配/worries.
Consider the following in English:
“My worries keep me up at night.”
This doesn’t tell us what kind of worries they are.
“My worries about whether I’ll oversleep keep me up at night.”
Now we know what the worries are, because “worries” has been modified to be more specific.
How about if we modified worries with a question?
“My ‘will-I-oversleep?’ worries keep me up at night.”
Going back to the sentence from the panel:
Here, I’ve clearly marked the sentence that modifies 心配 to more narrowly define what the worries are.
“Is it ‘won’t I receive the action of getting angry (from my parents)’ worries?”
“Is it ‘won’t (my parents) get angry at me’ worries?” (passive voice)
In English, we’d probably also replace the noun “worry” with the verb “worry”:
“Are you worried your parents will get mad at you?”
Looking at my breakdown above, do you see where this か is indeed being used at the end of a sentence, which is embedded into the main sentence as a modifier for 心配?
You’re correctly identified the って as “said”, but I’ll add some inner quotation marks to make it more clear before diving into it:
“My big brother said […], and he got mad (became angry with me), and…”
The quoting of what Kazutaka said is:
Let’s focus on this portion:
Again, I’m using ∅ to denote an unspoken subject. We’ll have to infer the subject from context. We already know it can only be either Kanami or Rental Big Brother.
On its own, the word 利用 (りよう) is a noun, meaning “use”, as in “A textbook’s use is to spread knowledge and information.” However, because it has する on it, that means the action of 利用 is being performed. “Use this textbook to spread knowledge and information.”
This brings our English translation thus far to “∅ uses” (where ∅ may be a pronoun such as “he” or “you”).
する is in its せる form, させる. This is the “causitive form”. In English, this includes works like “make” (“I made him clean his room”) and “let” (“I let her go to the mall”). At its essence, this form is used when causing an action to take place (whether by force or allowance).
“∅ causes to use”
Someone causes (makes or allows) the use of something.
“∅ is causing to use”
Someone is causing (making or allowing) the use of something.
I often had difficulty when I see なんて, so please forgive me for a poor explanation here. なんて is similar to “something like […]” in English. So, 「レンタルなんて」 is similar to “something like a rental”. Also, the fact that there’s no particle here, I don’t know how to tell if なんて marks a topic, subject, object, or otherwise. For all I know, it’s modifying 利用…
And so, due to “I don’t know”, I’m going to write this as:
“∅ is causing to use such a thing as a rental”
For the subject, is Kanami causing the use of a rental, or is Rental Big Brother causing the use of a rental, in Kazutaka’s eyes? Here’s my read on it:
“He’s making you use such a thing as a rental.”
Now let’s add in だけ, which means “limit”. It’s similar to “only” in English, but without any implications. (In English, “I have only five dollars” implies that five dollars is a small amount. だけ doesn’t have that kind of implication.)
“He’s only making you use such a thing as a rental.” (“That’s the limit of it. There’s nothing more. He doesn’t care about you. The only thing he’s doing is making you rent him, so he gets paid.”)
And the final だ:
“It is that he’s only making you use such a thing as a rental.” (“The fact of the matter is, that’s all there is to it.”)
Disclaimer: I’m still a learner myself, and I may have errors (especially where I’ve noticed my weaknesses).
General grammar question
There is no passive voice in Japanese. The passive voice is often used in an English translation when the うけみ (る/れる) form in the active voice doesn’t sound right in English.
“John received a hit in the face by the volleyball.” (Active voice)
“John was hit in the face by the volleyball.” (Passive voice)
I’m not familiar with if the causitive form ever gets translated into a passive voice. This is entirely because I’ve never looked into it. I don’t have the experience of knowing whether that happens or not. That said, looking at the line you’ve quoted:
“I want to be let to see your big brother.”
This is a fairly literal translation in the active voice, but it is awkward in English. Less awkward would be:
“I want you to let me see your big brother.”
I expect an official English translation would use:
“I want to meet your brother.”
Consider Kanami lets Rental Big Brother meet her big brother. We could say:
“He was let to see her big brother.”
But this is awkward in English. We do sometimes use let passively:
“He was let in.”
However, I can’t think offhand of many passive uses of let outside of a small number, such as:
he was let in
he was let go (he was fired???)
he was let loose
To round back to your question on the use of passive voice:
The うけみ form often sounds awkward in English when using the active voice, but “sounds right” when using the passive voice. (The passive voice may change the meaning of the sentence, though!)
I expect the causitive often translates into the active voice. I’d have to see examples of it translated into the passive voice to comment on them.
You used “concern” in your first translation, and “blame” in the second. If you keep “concern” with your second translation, I’d say that’s about right:
“Don’t concern me!”
“Don’t involve me!”
You can see here where it’s a “harsh prohibitive”.
Omg, a million million thanks for all that breakdown!!! Everything is so much clear now. If I have troubles again with all these grammar points I´ll surely come back to your text as a life-saver. This is the kind of grammar that pushes the “absolute beginner” to the limit and which I remember was being talked about in the first threads of the bookclub. It´s complex, but once you understand it maybe just 70-80%, you feel like your progress has rocketed, and that keeps you motivated to continue. Many thanks again!!
P.S: I can´t wait to see how this first volume ends… Ready for week 13!
Howdy friends, so happy to see there has been a healthy discussion here, since it covered most of my doubts as well–special thanks to @kousei22 for making most of the questions and to @ChristopherFritz for the always mindful answers!
After reading this thread up to now, I’m left with just one (rather silly) question:
How the が marking the subject of the sentence as being すみません works here?
I translated it as: Sorry but please don’t make she (younger sister) be afraid.
But that’s just the “English version” of this sentence that made more sense to me, since I could not arrive into a more “literal translation” that let’s me inspect the nuances of the Japanese grammar being used here.
I don’t think this が is marking the subject of the sentence, I think it just means “but”. The topic of the sentence is the person he is addressing, but this is obvious from the context of the situation, so there is no explicit topic mentioned within the sentence.
I was going to say the same as @Micki. As far as I´m concerned (to add to what he has said) this が is the formal version of けど, and, according to Bunpro, is widely used in literature. I infer from this that it would be natural for it to be in fixed polite expressions such as in this one including すみません: “I´m sorry but…”. I think the Bunpro fact that it is “widely used in literature” could be misleading, though. I´d say it´s just the formal version of けど (which, of course, would be the most appropriate too when writing an academic essay or something similar).
I’ve mentioned before that が marks the subject, but I may have left out one minor details: only a noun (including a clause ending in の) can be a が-marked subject. When you see が after something other than a noun, it’s as @Micki replied.
I avoided mentioning this other が before because I didn’t want to confuse things. But now’s just the time to expand!
That’s me every time I encounter a “new way” to use an “old particle”. “This makes no sense. Lemme look it up… Ooooh, I see.”
Back when I was first learning particles, sometimes I’d see a laundry list of uses. The good and bad is often there’d be notes on usage: “This goes after the verb stem.” “This goes after the plain form of a verb.” “This is used only in this situation.”
Memorizing all this was too difficult (and the worst way to go about it for me). Instead, I’ve been aided by two things:
Developing a better understanding of grammar, beginning with Cure Dolly’s videos.
Doing a lot of reading, allowing pattern recognition to do its thing.
Yup, just switch it around to “the subject is always marked by が”, and you’re set!
Edit: Some people will tell you there are times when the subject is marked by の. Don’t worry about that right now.
I have watched Cure Dolly’s video about particles , and carefully wrote it all down, so every time I encounter a particle that’s being used a little outside of its most common patterns, I try to find a way to fit in the “general meaning” of the particle instead of just trying to memorize “exceptions”. It has helped me immensely!
Right now I am a faithful advocate of Queen が, and every time I see someone say that X is the subject because it’s marked by は for example, I always correct them (in my mind) and do the whole ∅が process.
When people say this, in many cases they are “technically wrong, but practically right”.
As you may know, many sentences have the same noun as both the topic and the subject. And if the topic and the subject are the same noun, there is no reason to state both of them.
For example, in English:
“About that lost cat (topic), that lost cat (subject) has been found.”
“About that lost cat (topic), it (subject) has been found.”
(Pronoun “it” has replaced the subject in English, but Japanese drops the subject.)
In the second sentence, the topic “that lost cat” is, for all practical purposes, also the subject. But the specific words “that lost cat” are technically not the subject, they’re the topic.
(Kids, don’t try this at home. Only trained professionals should apply Japanese rules to English sample sentences.)
The problem that arises is when someone hears “は is marking the subject here”, and then that listener looks at a different sentence and says “は must be marking the subject here, too.” That’s the big mistake!
Of course, this has lead to the popular example sentence:
I’m definitely 100% on board with Cure Dolly’s method here. You can fill ∅が into any sentence without a stated subject (and also ∅は into any sentence without a stated topic) to help make it clear that there is unstated information. And that lets you know there must be some context that makes it clear what that missing/unspoken noun is. (I’ve seen instances in manga where a subject being unstated prompted a request for clarification from another character.)