[aDoBJG] Characteristics of Japanese Grammar - Section #1-5 💮 A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar

Characteristics of Japanese Grammar - Section #1-5

A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar :white_flower: Home Thread

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Reading Page Numbers Page Count
#2 Apr 1st Characteristics of Japanese Grammar - #1-5 16 - 35 20
Topics covered this week
  1. Word Order
  2. Topic
  3. Ellipsis
  4. Personal Pronouns
  5. Passive

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Such a joke of a week

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In the Topic subsection the authors say “A topic must also be presented if a sentence is the first sentence of a new paragraph, even if the last sentence of the preceding paragraph has the same topic”. I’m not a hundred percent sure this is as blanket a rule as the phrasing suggests, although it’s certainly the usual thing.


I was wondering about that when I read it, but once again I fall down on the fact that I don’t really read any novels, so I couldn’t even check if I wanted to.


The book doesn’t consider negative as a tense? That’s interesting.

There’s a slight typo in the first “Topic” example sentence, repeating a で twice

Finished reading the rest. Passive is one of my weakpoints to be honest, since it doesn’t really exist in my language. Especially the 私は父にカメラをかってもらった sentence caught me off guard


In case it wasn’t clear, that sentence is not passive in Japanese. The dictionary is giving some examples of cases where English uses a passive but Japanese does not (instead using morau or naru).


yeah, that wasn’t very clear tbh


I checked real quick and in the 7-8 instances I looked at it always reintroduced it (though as expected, the topic usually changes completely). But then for one, Japanese (at least in my experience) uses way less paragraphs than English does, and names are reintroduced really often anyway. I think paragraphs here feel more like chapter changes in english, where obviously you would present the topic again.

So the statement seems correct, but it honestly sounds like a non-issue to me, so not sure why it was mentioned.

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Read through half of it, this section is definitely better than the previous one was, more organized.
I feel like trying to explain every rule of the word order is basically impossible and felt that part turned out a bit clumsy. The rest was interesting though. Sort of the same thing with ellipsis, where you cannot find every rule, but the examples were helpful with pointing out most cases of it, so I didn’t have a problem with that.

いや、(私達は)よしましょう。caught me out a bit because I’ve genuinely never heard the verb よす to cease before. Might simply be a result of the book being relatively dated, but correct me if I’ve just managed to avoid it somehow lol.


I read ellipsis and personal pronouns today.

Ellipsis: I was surprised at seeing the skipping of は but including everything before and after it. I guess that might happen when people talk about it. I guess I’ve seen that with commas while reading, but I feel like that is probably not something I’ve seen written out in manga or so, or maybe they’ve always used spacing for it.

I feel like that and skipping を might be as much slurring/talking fast so it kinda disappears rather than like skipping it. Probably just something I’ve decided on to make it make sense to me. xD

When I saw that example I thought I should look it up. xD

I can’t remember having seen よす either. Perhaps with its kanji, 止す? Although I don’t know if it is just faulty memory or actually not having seen it.

Personal Pronoun: I feel like this section really shows its age and could have used an update or two. I feel like 彼 and 彼女 are fairly often used in the manga I read, so it seems to have entered mainstream language use more than the text suggest. But then it has been almost 40 years, so no surprise there.

I wonder why it hasn’t been updated since 1986/89 (I’m unsure if there was an edit for 1989 or if it was just about the first paperback edition coming out) but those are the only copyright dates on the copyright page.


It does say they’re “fairly widely used in current spoken Japanese”. My guess is that the section is written the way it is to try to convey to the student “don’t use these everywhere you would use English pronouns” by emphasising the differences and the situations where they don’t get used, rather than the places where they do get used (which is easy to pick up as you go along).

My impression of that was different

I personally feel like “fairly widely” isn’t accurate anymore though. I feel like it should probably be acknowledged that Japanese now has/uses a third person pronoun when it seems appropriate, so it should have belonged in the table, not pointed out in a small section at the end.

So it isn’t just the words used, which can be interpreted in many different ways. (What does fairly widely mean? Does it refer to only certain age groups using it or only parts of the country or only a certain % of any age group?) But the fact that it was regulated to a paragraph at the end of the section instead of integrated with all the other pronouns.

Basically, not including it in the table, the placement at the end almost like an afterthought, and the words used all combined to give me the impression that 彼 and 彼女 was still getting accepted grammatically as a normal part of Japanese, but wasn’t quite there yet. Also because I can’t say I’ve seen that anywhere else; all other mentions in more modern grammar resources I’ve used have just had 彼 and 彼女 as a normal part of the language and not pointed out in that way.

So yeah, my impression was different. More showing that the authors were unwilling to qualify it as a completely normal part of Japanese at the time of printing. And I don’t see a problem with that, because it had apparently not yet become widely used enough to jump from new quirk-/slang-that-might-disappear to become an accepted part of the language. Dictionaries by necessity tends to be slow to adopt new usages of language.


I’ve seen it primarily as よせ.


Yeah, I think quite often a comma is used to “replace” it, so imagining a comma helped it feel natural to me. But from what I found (a little debate on this) it’s only a helper, and all of these examples are indeed fine.

Huh, you’re right, that does ring a bell. I guess I just never made the connection.


Just finished this week’s reading and the section on passives was actually pretty helpful. I’d somehow never heard of (or maybe just never remembered) indirect passives.

Also seeing ~にする and ~になる next to each other helped work out some kinks in my understanding of the latter.


Why would you consider negative to be a tense?


I personally don’t, but from experience, most sources, especially those that try to fit the grammar into the European standards does. It’s not a negative observation, I just find it interesting, how in some places it feels like they really try to stick to the western patterns, but also use the helper verb ない explanation


I haven’t yet seen a source that considers negative to be a tense. Do you mean “conjugation” instead of “tense” maybe?


That, yes, I’m just mixing up my words


Ah yes. There seem to be some debates as to whether Japanese verbs are modified by endings or auxiliary verbs (or maybe both). I consider that debate to be largely immaterial though (as it also really depends on your definitions).