[aDoBJG] O - R 💮 A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar

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A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar :white_flower: Home Thread

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#20 Aug 5th お to おく 7 343 - 358 16
#21 Aug 12th お 〜 になる to Relative Clause 7 358 - 380 23

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I hadn’t realized that を at so many uses! I knew about を2 but hadn’t seen it explained that clearly before. Didn’t know about を4.
おく: the hardest part about おく is definitely how it is contracted in informal conversation :sweat_smile:. Awesome that the dictionary mentions some of the contractions!


I knew 多い from learning it on WK but never really learned how to use it, so the dictionary entry was super useful :slight_smile:
And just met it in the wild today, so I thought I would post it here:

よつばと! chapter 101

(えな is the name of the girl よつば is talking to)


Here starts week 21, お 〜 になる to Relative Clause, 7 entries.


られる (1): I have (unfortunately) finally reached the passive, which together with causative, have always caused me pain. I feel like I can never completely understand it, and the dictionary hasn’t helped me much so far. My main issue is the “indirect passive” and the negative nuance associated to it - I really cannot distinguish it from the “direct” passive. For example: 一郎は花子にだまされた is presented as direct passive, while 私は弟にケーキを食べられた is presented as indirect. Both agents are marked by に, and both sentences can be rewritten using an active voice. If I take another example sentence, 先生はジョンに質問をされた, it is given as a direct passive and (clearly) not a negative sentence.

Am I missing something, or is the distinction not too clear? I feel like I always have to second-guess if the sentence is supposed to have a negative nuance or not. Does anyone have supplementary resources to this?


From my understanding, indirect passive is something that’s done to you but you didn’t like that. “Your cake was eaten by your brother” “your car was stolen on you by the thief” instead of active “your brother ate your cake” “the thief stole your car”. The other passive is more neutral, changing the active “I ate the cake” to “the cake was eaten by me”, not having many feelings carried over with it.
As for other resources, maybe Bunpro? They also link to other resources and to synonyms


If you rewrite these sentences into active, you get:

  • 花子は一郎をだました
  • 弟はケーキを食べた

In the first one, the original subject in the passive form (一郎) is still in the active sentence. In the second, 私 has dropped out of the picture entirely. This is what makes the “indirect passive” distinct (and not like English passive) – it’s a way to take a sentence that doesn’t involve the viewpoint-person at all (some other person is doing some action), and turn it into a sentence focused on that person (where they are the subject). So you can distinguish it from its direct cousin by thinking about what the active version of the sentence is and whether the passive’s subject is still there or not. The emotional nuance (not always negative, as the dictionary notes) is because the only reason to rephrase something to put an otherwise uninvolved person in the subject role is because the action affected them in some indirect way and we want to emphasise that.

Historical note: this indirect passive was once the only kind of passive, because the kind of grammatical task English uses the passive for (phrasing a sentence to focus on the thing the action is happening to) can be done in Japanese in other ways, for instance by using an intransitive verb, or てある. But in the Meiji era when scholars wanted to translate books from English they looked for a way to translate English passive sentences, and the Japanese られる could be stretched to fit. So the direct passive entered the language.

Jay Rubin’s Making Sense of Japanese has a section on the passive that includes some discussion of the indirect passive.


Thank you so much (and also thank you @Akashelia ). It’s becoming more clear now, but I’ll definitely check the resources you recommended.


I’m here at last!

I noticed a couple things right away: 1) I’d already forgotten how to output these keigo forms, due to barely seeing them in native media and never practicing writing them… 2) お-Vます になる being the honorific polite expression and お-Vます する being the humble polite expression actually makes a lot of sense, considering the other なる and する uses that we’ve looked at in the club so far! I think that’ll help me remember it a bit easier.

Some other things that stood out to me:

Example (d):
Mrs. Miyamoto is very pretty.

Obviously a more direct translation of this is Miyamoto-san’s wife is very pretty. Presumably you’d also be able to state “Mrs. Miyamoto is very pretty” with just “宮本さんはとてもおきれいだ”, though of course there would be slightly more ambiguity there. But the sexism inherent in this example made me wonder if this (referring to a Mrs. as “[husband]さんの奥様”) was something that is more proper/technically correct in polite Japanese, or if this example is simply a product of the time that this textbook was published.

Note 3 (2):

I’ll call you tomorrow.

みょうにち! I think that’s a new one for me, haha! Either that, or I’ve seen it before but accidentally glossed over it because I assumed it was あした. A quick google search, and it looks like it’s more formal, which is probably why I haven’t really encountered it.

The stuff with お and ご is stuff I already knew, though I had never seen any of the ご- Japanese origin words before, haha.

Admittedly, most of my encounters of very polite language are instances of like Sakisama speaking very politely in an exaggerated manner, which isn’t exactly the best way to learn proper usage…

I’ve seen Sakisama and Mei Saint-Michel break several of the rules in this dictionary, haha, especially the one that says that お can’t be attached to foreign words. The example from earlier this year that I’ve already shared has several uses of おリング (referring to a wrestling ring, which I’m pretty sure is not a word that has been part of the Japanese vocabulary long enough to sound like a Japanese-origin word to native speakers, haha).

Here are a few other examples from their recent match at Summer Sun Princess on 2023.07.08:

Hard mode: here’s the video.

メイ・サン「沙希様! メイ・サンの初めてのおダンスをご覧になってくださいましたか?」

Mei-san: “Sakisama! Did you happen to see Mei-san’s first dance?”


Sakisama: “I was outside the ring at the time, but you were dancing? Well, well, it’s like you’ve stepped out of a dream.”


Mei-san: “The fact that I received praise from Sakisama, that means that my dancing is the best in the world, doesn’t it?”


Sakisama: "That is true. I wondered if you had some experience on Broadway. It was splendid. We danced in the ring for the first time in a long time, but, ah, those opponents of ours. Well, they seemed to shine a little bit, but were they unpolished diamonds, or just pebbles? I suppose that is up to all of you to decide.

I think I’ll try to tackle all the をs in one post, so I’ll stop with just this one for today.


I don’t see this as inherently sexist. Perhaps the most sexist or weird part of it is talking about the prettiness of someone else’s wife. Since さん/様 are gender neutral and the only name they have is the last name, I don’t see it as inherently sexist to call someone X’s wife. Especially if the person you’re close to is X, or the person you’re talking to only knows X (and not X’s wife). And leaving it ambiguous might not be a good idea. The likelihood of knowing Mrs. Miyamoto’s first name is probably pretty low in any scenario where I feel like this sentence might come up.

Sometimes the only way to refer to someone’s spouse is by calling them X’s spouse. I’ve definitely referred to people as X’s wife/husband when taking to person Z that only knows X and not their spouse (or when their main relation to me is that they happened to be married to this person X that I know and outside that I don’t know them). Sometimes it is just the expedient thing to do. Just like calling someone X’s brother, or Z’s boss. It doesn’t reduce the person to only being that thing, it is just a useful way to refer to someone when needed.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t used in a sexist way. I just wouldn’t call the phrasing by itself inherently sexist.

I think it is dangerous to apply your own cultural expectations to another language. Maybe there is a different way you could refer to Mrs Miyamoto nowadays, but if so I’ve never seen it. (I did a quick google search and looked at a list of 9 ways to refer to a wife, and 奥さん/奥様 was the only one that didn’t imply it was your wife, your mom, your daughter in law, etc.)

So if there is a newer way, it seems still part of slang rather than common usage. (Or maybe a regional dialect since I did look at an English site talking about Japanese.)


To be clear, the issue that caught my attention was the translation, not the original Japanese. Translating “宮本さんの奥様” as “Mr. Miyamoto’s wife” is fine. I could see plenty of situations where you’d want to say that. But the translation makes it look like if you say “宮本さん”, it’ll be assumed by default that you’re talking about Mr. Miyamoto, so to specify that it’s Mrs. Miyamoto, you need to then tack on the の奥様.

I’ve seen “[husband]さんの奥様” used very frequently in materials like this dictionary and Minna no Nihongo, but I don’t think I’ve ever once seen them say it the other way around, as the woman’s husband. So my question then becomes: is this the textbook/dictionary writer’s bias showing through so they’re giving more stereotypical examples because they think we’re more likely to encounter them? Or is this reflecting an actual innate trait in Japanese where the technically correct ultra polite way to refer to a woman (assuming she’s married) is as “[husband]さんの奥様”, instead of just by her name?

It’s hard to tell which of those cases it is just from the limited examples given in this entry, and I don’t really have opportunities to encounter this often in native media (and don’t live or work in Japan so have never had to navigate this in real life) which is why I asked the question. Textbook/dictionary creators make a lot of decisions about what examples to include or leave out, and it often reflects inherent biases either within the individuals or within the larger culture they live in.

I’ve taken a sociolinguistics class where we talked about a lot of examples in language (mostly English, yes, but many other languages have examples of this as well) where the male version of something is assumed to be the default and then a separate category is created for the female version (for an example: stores used to have a “building sets” toy section for the main line of lego toys, which are aimed at boys, and then also a “girl’s building sets” toy section for the offshoot lego line that is aimed at girls).

For a non-English example, in Spanish, when you refer to a mixed gender group of people, you default to the male version of the word. Hijo = son and hija = daughter. Hijas = daughters, and hijos can mean “sons” or “sons and daughters”. English doesn’t have as many gendered nouns as Spanish, but we have something similar with the words “actor” and “actress”, for instance. “Actors” includes actresses, and you can even use the word “actor” to describe an actress and no one will bat an eye at it, whereas if you call a male actor an “actress”, it’ll likely be seen as an insult. So the male version is the default, and the female one gets its own special category.

Exceptions where it works the other way around are exceptionally rare (in English, at least). One I can think of is “model” and “male model”, where “model” is assumed to be female by default, so you’re more likely to see someone talk about male models as a separate category rather than having to specify that they’re talking about female models.

I guess maybe to rephrase my question, does 宮本さん and 宮本さんの奥様 work like that, where Mr. Miyamoto is seen as the default, and Mrs. Miyamoto gets the special category?


Part of your ability to grasp the nuances of these is caused by the fragmented sentences we use to study Japanese in grammars, textbooks etc. Taken apart from context, it’s difficult to understand the nuance, but in native material, when the sentence is preceded and followed by other sentences, the meaning will be clearer and not as frustrating.
I always found this frustrating myself, so I just take the general meaning from grammar rules and then try to understand it deeper, when reading native material. There is a point it clicks, I promise :smile:


Ah, yeah, sorry I didn’t get that was what you were asking.

My guess would be that it is a product of the writers’ bias. These things tend to be. The translation was probably just what sounded more natural in English, rather than suggesting anything special for the Japanese.

One way to check this, unless someone else chimes in, is to read recently published (say 2010 and forward) manga/novels set in offices. There are bound to be some married women working in some of those, and I’d be surprised if they were referred to by saying they are their husband’s wife, unless possibly if the husband also worked in the company. But maybe that is my cultural bias, thinking it would sound super weird.


I’m not going to look for を examples because there are way too many haha.


Pretty straightforward, though I was a bit surprised by note 2 saying that in some constructions, を can be replaced by が. I’d learned example 5 and 6, at least, as が being mandatory, haha, so を still being an option was news to me!

Okay, I said I wasn’t going to look for examples, but note 3 taunted me by saying that を can’t occur more than once in a clause, whether it’s the direct object marker or the space marker. I was almost certain I’d seen this before, and sure enough, it was in one of the sentences I had a lot of trouble translating last month, haha.

This is from Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling's Tokyo Princess Cup tournament show on 2023.07.16, after Rika Tatsumi faced Raku in the first round.

Hard mode: here’s the video.

辰巳「最近のらくの急成長というか闘いが私はすごい好きで。普段はおっとりしててマイペースで試合中もそうだと思うんですけど。でもそんならくががむしゃらに闘って、キレッキレで闘う姿に私も励まされたりとか…っていう闘いをするなって思って、すごいいいなって感じて、それを今日も感じました。だし、すごい粘りもあって…今日は勝てたんですけど、また次らくと闘うのも楽しみだなって思いました。無事初戦突破して、次は中島翔子ですね。いや、強いからイヤです。なんですけど、この前翔子が配信でツンデレ? デレてくれたんですよ。私のこと爆弾処理の当たり引く方って褒めてくれたんですよ。当たりを引く方? 生き残る方を引くタイプだって言ってくれて、私もそう思ってるので、自分を。だからその当たりを引いて、次も勝利して、トップまで上り詰めます」

Tatsumi: “I really like Raku’s rapid growth, or I guess I should say her fighting. I think she’s always quiet and takes things at her own pace, and she’s like that in matches, too. But this time she fought recklessly and briskly, and she encouraged me, too… I think getting to the point where she fights like that is really good, and I felt that in her today. She also had incredible tenacity… I got the win today, but I’m looking forward to fighting her again. I made it past the first round safely, and next up is Shoko Nakajima. No, I don’t like that because she’s strong. What was it, when Shoko was on stream recently, being tsundere? She was complimenting me. She praised me for being the one who’d get the task of taking care of the bomb disposal. The one who draws that lot? She was calling me the type of person who’d live through it, and I think so, too. So I’m going to draw that lot, win the next one, and go on up to the top.”


This is one that I’ve struggled with before, but after seeing it come up enough times on this forum, it no longer confuses me, haha.

The note about のぼる was new to me, though. I hadn’t realized there was a difference in nuance between を and に there. That one might be a bit tricky to remember.


This one’s a bit trickier… For some reason, I always forget this use. Also, I confess, the related expression note comparing を to から didn’t really help me understand when one is acceptable and the other isn’t… I suppose I’ll probably eventually get it, but maybe it’ll take me a few more years of reading, haha.


I also always forget this one! I feel like I don’t see this very often in native media? Or I guess if I do, I end up glossing over it without noticing it. Oh, maybe the answer is in note 1, which says that the key sentences are examples of written style and are seldom used in conversational Japanese.

I liked how that note explained that 悲しむ, 喜ぶ, 恐れる, 懐かしむ, and 悩む are all inwardly-oriented psychological verbs, so they can’t be considered transitive verbs in Japanese. Therefore, the particle を preceding these verbs cannot be the ordinary direct object marker を which normally marks an outwardly-oriented event. Rather, it indicates the cause for human emotion expressed by the main verb.

The examples it gives with ので definitely feel more familiar to me. I guess it’s likely I’ve seen that a lot more than the を versions, haha.


Here the second を is in a relative clause 爆弾処理の当たりを引く modifying 方, so it’s not in the same clause as the first を in the main 私のことをX方って褒めてくれた sentence.


Yeah, I can’t think of many cases like this.

In the UK, I have heard ‘nurse’ and ‘male nurse’.
What happens if a male nurse gets promoted to head of a nursing service?
Does he become a ‘matron’ or a ‘male matron’?
Certainly not a ‘patron’. :slightly_smiling_face:

What about ‘stripper’ and ‘male stripper’?
(outside of my personal linguistic experience)

Maybe I should stop now.


Relative clause: Some of the translations in this caught me by surprise, not because they were wrong but because I’m so bad at piecing together the right meaning for some specific instances. Like the one about Mr. Brown who was taught by 私, reading it a bit sloppily and I thought it meant something like the Mr. Brown who had taught me. Looking again at the sentence made that entirely nonsensical (あげる for sure wouldn’t be used then!). I do need to pay better attention to such things so I don’t make simple mistakes like that. :sweat_smile:


Had to adjust my sleep schedule so that I could briefly become a morning person, and it disrupted my studies more than expected, so here I am, behind again :smiling_face_with_tear:. Going to aim for doing two a day and hopefully catch back up.


I was a bit surprised to find this listed as grammar? I guess maybe note 1 is the reasoning, because it works a bit differently from the English ‘many’. It’s interesting that 少ない is an antonym that works similar in many ways, except without a counterpart of 多く or 多くの. The related expressions are all things that I’m pretty familiar with.

I don’t think I’m gonna go hunting for an example of this one, because it feels very straightforward to me, haha.


This was definitely an enemy of mine as an early beginner, haha, but at some point I stopped thinking too much about it and I guess after seeing enough examples, it sort of just no longer was a problem? The causative version of this is definitely the one most likely to trip me up, though.

Here's an example of the causative Vて おく with a contraction! This is from Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling's 2023.05.27 show, which was in Yuki Kamifuku's hometown. Her usual tag partner Mahiro Kiryu teamed up with Aja Kong against her in the main event. The match ended with Mahiro eating the pin (this isn't unusual) and she got a bit of a talking to from Aja afterward.

Hard mode: here’s the video.


Aja: “Since it was Kamifuku’s hometown, I let her have the credit, but I really don’t care about this place. I was going to smash it to bits. But it’s not very destroyed, is it? It’s disappointing, but it can’t be helped. Today, I’m showing you Kamifuku’s hometown and one other thing, which is that Mahiro Kiryu isn’t a weakling.”

桐生「はい! 私はザコじゃないです」

Kiryu: “Yes! I’m not a weakling.”


Aja: “That’s right. That’s why you should stand proudly with your chest out and don’t slouch. Your body is still in good condition, so you haven’t lost. Don’t stand there trembling; you can do it. Knock her down with everything you’ve got! Send her flying!”


Kiryu: “I will! I’m working with Kamifuku-san as a tag team, but…”


Aja: “When you’re facing her, that doesn’t matter.”


Kiryu: “Today, or rather from now on, if I have to face her… I’m going to crush her.”


Aja: “That’s right. Even when you’re teaming up, be explosive and keep your eye on the prize. You should take the initiative. How long are you going to give her free reign?”


Kiryu: “I won’t let her act freely anymore. And with that feeling in mind, we’re going to continue our friendly rivalry and keep working hard together so that we’ll never lose…”


Aja: “It’s not a friendly rivalry. You’re going up. Right there, that’s what’s wrong with you. It’s no good; you need to be re-educated.” (she drags Kiryu backstage)

Still a couple weeks behind, but I’ll get there eventually!! :triumph:


I keep getting unexpectedly busy, but I did finally manage to finish the O’s!!


I like this sentence in note 1: “However, if a social norm requires the speaker to talk in honorific speech, the honorific form is used, even if the speaker does not respect the person he talks about.”

The note goes on to say: “Politeness is expressed in this form by two elements: first by the polite prefix おー, and second by the verb なる, which describes someone’s actions or state indirectly. This indirectness is a common strategy in polite expressions.”

This is the breakthrough I had on my own when considering these expressions recently! I used to have trouble remembering which was the honorific version and which was the humble one, but now that I have more familiarity with other uses of なる, I think I’ll be able to keep them straight from now on.

I think I might’ve seen a few examples of this in Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling, probably in Sakisama’s speech somewhere, though I’ve shared those examples so many times at this point, I think I’ll leave them alone for this. This might’ve also showed up somewhere else, possibly during one of the more serious press conferences, but it’s too much of a pain to search for, so no example this time.


Note 2 mentioned that this expression is only used when the speaker’s (or their in-group’s) action involves or affects the person the speaker wants to be polite to. Somehow, I hadn’t really considered this before, haha, but it’s sort of a “duh!” moment in hindsight.

Interestingly, according to note 3, the verbs with special humble forms don’t follow that rule.


Extremely short entry!

There was a small surprise in here for me. Note 2 says that ~終わる can be replaced by ~終える in written Japanese. Interesting! I wonder why that’s just a thing in written Japanese but not spoken? (I did check if there were any examples of it in my TJPW translations, but couldn’t find any.)

I considered grabbing an example of ~終わる, but kept having to sift through examples of just the regular verb 終わる and not the auxiliary verb, so I gave up, haha. This one’s pretty straightforward, anyway.


Finally had time to put down some of my thoughts. I haven’t even had time to look up things on Bunpro, I’m so busy.


  • regarding を: it’s nice to learn some nuance about this particle that I use constantly simply because the textbook says I need to use it in this exercise, but goodness are there many of these nuances. I think for now I will simply memorize the particle used with the verb whenever I learn new ones.
  • (Vて)おく: ah, it is once again the dreaded て-form that changes the meaning of the verb. I was wondering why the dictionary was giving so many different definitions. I am used to having this happen with auxiliary verbs such as する, so I can just add おく to that list. Maybe I should look into writing down all the auxiliary verbs I’ve noticed so far?
  • I was worried I would have trouble distinguishing between the different meanings of られる, but looks like at least the construction of the godan-verbs makes this easy. Now I just need to remember which is which.

A lot of the entries dealt with politeness. I’m not in the rush to learn any of that, I’ll be happy I can make myself understood at all without having to worry about how rude I come across. Not yet, anyway.