Grammar question!>

I just use ‘relative clause’ here to mean ‘clause that’s modifying a noun’.


I’m always kind of curious about this. I call those “noun descriptors”, but that does that make sense?

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I think you can call them what you like as long as everybody in the discussion understands what the terms mean. In that regard ‘noun descriptor’ is probably better than ‘relative clause’ because people will know to check what you mean rather than assuming something…

The DoBJG calls the combination of modifier clause + modified word an “Extended Sentential Unit”, which again has the advantage of uniqueness, though it’s rather a mouthful.


This discussion reminds me why I was so bad at college-level English grammar (much less Japanese). To me, proper English grammar was always “what sounds right” based on pattern recognition trained by a voracious appetite for reading. With one notable exception, this attitude has mostly served me well.

The vocabulary and meta-thinking required to even discuss nuanced points of grammar invariably gives me a headache. If I struggle, I can just barely follow much of the discussion above, but I’m giving up now in fear that someone will introduce “subjunctive mood”.

In this thread, the OP asked:

I would still say this was already best answered (in effect) by @pm215: 「(かれ)の好きな映画(えいが)」.

I’d be surprised if a native Japanese speaker answered the question in any other way.

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I suspect you’re right, but Google does turn up uses with ga in the modifying clause, though (and not just false positives like “私はディズニーの映画が好きなので、彼が好きな映画の話をしてきてもあまり聞いてあげられず、…” where the ga is attached to して, not 好き), like:

  • 彼が好きな映画のジャンルはアクションやホラーといったジャンルものや、誰も観ていないようなB級映画ばかりと思われがちかもしれません。

  • 自分が好きな映画と彼女が好きな映画が、まさかの一緒だったとき!

  • 気になる彼が好きな映画や音楽をSNSなどでチェックしておくと、会話のなかで役立つはずです。

My guess is this isn’t any different from the general case of “when does the subject in a modifying clause usually end up as ‘no’ rather than ‘ga’ ?” (which I forget and am too lazy to go look up, so I will guess that emphasis might be involved).

Edit: oh, and that false-positive suggests another maybe-reason: 彼が cues you to expect either a heavyweight modifying clause or else that this will go with a later verb, 彼の cues for a lightweight short modifying clause?


With no evidence or research (only a headache! :grin:) I’d say 彼が emphasizes “the movie that HE likes,” while 彼の emphasizes “the MOVIE that he likes.”