Confusion regarding the order and particles in this example sentence

Hi guys,

I came across this sentence in the 子犬 vocab lesson:


The puppy that was standing at the entrance was given the nine balls around its neck by the prince.

There’s a lot of extra information being added here such as “standing at the entrance”, “nine balls around it’s neck”, but if we remove the extra information, it could be simplified to “The puppy was given the balls by the prince”. However, how would one know whether the “standing at the entrance” would apply to the puppy or the prince? Additionally, I’m not quite sure how one would be able to tell whether the the balls were hanging around the prince or the puppy (for example, the balls could’ve been hanging around the prince and it was later given to the puppy).

From the English perspective, we know that the puppy was the one that was standing at the entrance because that information follows directly after mentioning the puppy. Similarly, we know that the balls were hanging around the puppy’s neck because the prince has not been mentioned yet and we used the word “its”. However, due to the fluent nature of Japanese word order, it’s hard for me to tell exactly what part of the sentence the “extra information” is describing.

Other things that I found odd with this sentence is that the “standing around the entrance” part that describes the puppy comes at the end of the sentence when we transitioned to talking about the ball, and also that “下げて” comes right before talking about “入り口” even though there’s no relation between the words.

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王子 is marked with に, so it can’t be the subject of the sentence. It only makes sense as the benefactor of the にもらった sub-clause, so it’s not possible to interpret any of the other sub-clauses as applying to the prince, since the subject is clearly その子犬.

Edit: to address some of the other points, 下げて is in the continuitive form here, so it isn’t related nor does it need to be related to 入口, because 入口 is being used as the location marker for the next verb.


[As for that puppy] [[nine balls given by the prince] hanging from the neck] and was standing in the entrance.

So you would parse it as in the translation: “The puppy was standing in the entrance with the nine balls it received from the prince hanging from its neck.”

In English, the word and sentence order is different, so it can be really confusing when parsing Japanese sentences. In English the most important part of the sentence often comes first, including the main verb, with extra information appended after. However in Japanese, the most important part comes last, and the extra information is prepended before.

Edit again: note that the main verb is 立っていた, so the sentence would simplify to “The dog was standing” or “The dog was standing in the entryway.” The part about receiving the balls from the prince is the extra information, not the main verb, which you can tell because the main verb always comes last in Japanese, unlike in English where it typically comes right after the noun.


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