Help! Please explain sentence structure


#1

Hello. This sentence came from Minna no Nihongo. I understand what it means (they can do what normal people can’t) but I don’t know how it was formed. So please do explain it to me. Thank you!

普通の人ができないことができたのだ。

Questions:

  1. Why are there two が particles?
  2. Why is there a の particle in できたのだ?
  3. What happens if you add の to a verb?

#2

The の particle can also turn a sentence into an explanation.

http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/nounparticles#The_particle_as_explanation


#3

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1. が is a subject marker. Here, the first が is attached to 人, and the second is attached to こと. Refer to this Tae Kim video for the usage of が

Also, the two subjects in their entirerity are

And

More on this below.

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2. の is serving as a sort of noun here. This is a common occurrence in Japanese, where non masu-form and te-form verb phrases modify a noun. An example would be 水を飲んだ人 (in English: the person who drank the water) (lit: water drunk person)

Here, 普通の人ができない modifies こと. That こと has been できた and the entire verb phrase modifies の.


の by the way, for all intents and purposes, is the same as こと except more subjective. Consequently…

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3. Adding の to the end of a verb is simply like adding こと to the end of a non masu-form or te-form verb.

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#4

For me this is the most annoying thing about Japanese… kinda understanding something but not really.

How do you rate 皆の日本語?


#5

Thank you so much! Your explanation was really comprehensive. I have been enlightened. Thanks also for the links.


#6

Thank you! That was a good read. :smile:


#7

At my level, I’m actually satisfied with understanding meanings. But in the real world, I think it doesn’t really count because they look for JLPT certificates and that’s the thing that’s annoying. Haha. Or maybe that’s just me.

Re: Minna no Nihongo
The one I have is 初級で読めるトピック25.
It hasn’t been 24 hours since I used it, but it contains a lot of articles for reading comprehension practice. It has exercise questions at the end. Also an answer key is provided at the back so you can self-evaluate. The main textbook I used for grammar is the Genki series, which was okay.


#8

For me, it helped reading through the website of 80/20 Japanese. Some helpful visuals.


#9

Just want to highlight one little thing that @xyzbuster touched on but which I don’t think quite got emphasised:

The first が marks the subject of the subordinate clause 普通の人ができない. The second が marks the subject of the entire sentence - in this case, the subject is the entirety of the subordinate clause


#10

I mean obviously we are missing context here but wouldnt the translation be something more like “the thing that normal people can’t do has been done”?


#11

May I recommend

It’s one of my favorite channels for explaining japanese grammar👍

Ps. A bit weird though


#12

Yes, this makes sense. (Although I find that in many cases native Japanese speakers are able to figure out the implied subject (or in this case, the person/people who were able to do the thing) easily from subtle clues that I completely miss, so I can’t be sure that such a clue isn’t present in this sentence.)


#13

Yup


#14

Yep. This sentence was taken out of an article that talks about ninjas. :joy: Hence, it pertains to them. (Sorry I selfishly took it out of context because I was more concerned on the sentence structure :innocent:)


#15

Textbooks are full of out-of-context sentences, so it wouldn’t be unusual if it had been. (And Japanese sentences which often don’t use so much as a pronoun are not fully understandable out of context.)

However, みんなの日本語 does sound interesting based on the fact that I like ninjas.


#16

Japanese is a much more contextual sentence than English, so the context is often massively important. Sometimes it can make the difference between a sentence making sense, and complete anarchy.