IMO, to be fluent is to purposely use incorrect grammar

I would like to talk about what I know so far, what I’ve started using, inquire about others’ thoughts, as well as any other examples of rules to purposefully break.

An English example
When having this discussion, I usually use this example:

If you were talking to someone and they asked you

To which school did you go?

You would most likely think to yourself, “Is this guy a robot?”

Compare this to

What school did you go to?

While technically the you-can’t-end-sentences-with-a-preposition rule is debated, if you wrote the second sentence in an English class, you’re going to get it marked wrong. That’s just a fact.

Edit: Evidently people were taught different things about this in school, and this is a bad example. This is what I was taught. Roll with the punches and let’s get to the actual point of this post below.


Incorrect Japanese that my wife uses
There are a few things I’ve gotten into the habit of saying after hearing my wife use them over and over.

  1. Dropping in られる for group 2/ichidan verb potential form
    This is the biggest habit she’s gotten me into. For example, 食べる would normally become 食べられる when conjugated to potential form. Instead, she often says the simpler 食べれる. I quite like this one, but the really bad habit this has gotten me into is just adding れる onto the end of everything to make it potential, including words I’ve already made potential. (like saying 使えれる instead of 使える. This one gets me every time. >:l )

  2. すごい instead of すごく
    I don’t particularly like this one, so I usually opt to say something like めっちゃ instead, but it does slip out sometimes. Saying something like すごい暑い instead of すごく暑い. I don’t hear this one quite as often, but it does pop out from time to time.

I had a number 3 but I forgot it while writing the other stuff. :sweat_smile:


Thoughts? Did I get something wrong? Let’s chat.

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Not a fact in any school I’ve attended.

That “rule” is pretty outdated and has been for the entirety of my formal education.

I think it’s best to use correct Japanese grammar until you’re comfortable and confident to use casual and slang grammar.

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That rule was beat into me in every English class I had. If I write formally, I never end my sentences with a preposition because of it.

The point of this post was for those of us comfortable and confident with proper grammar rules to talk about which rules are often broken by natives.

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I dunno what school you went to, but I can assure you, for foreigners learning English, you would not get marked wrong for example two, unless your teacher was a 70-year old cranky witch… I may speak from experience.

As for your main topic, there are different rules for spoken and written language. This is true in every language, but especially Japanese. I’m not really far enough in my grammar studies to be of much help, but word order is definitely a little bit more flexible when speaking than when writing.

Compare:
見ましたか、田中さんの新しい車
田中さんの新しい車見ましたか

or
ええ、ありますよ。たくさん

This is definitely not slang, and in my opinion is something that even early learners should be introduced to, along with regular usage of えと、あの、ねぇ、こっち, and so on. Then again, most resources today focus very heavily on written competency, which is natural, given that the “main goal” for many JP learners is the JLPT.

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Yeah I have never once seen a teacher or professor mark someone wrong for the second example OP used. Unless he’s 50yrs+ or not a native English speaker, I can’t imagine that being true lol

And regarding your point in your comment, that is what I like about genki. They introduce ええ、ありますよ。たくさん super early on including えと、あの、ねぇ、こっち I think. I haven’t seen こっち yet but that is something you will pick up early on regardless I think.

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32, US.

Was in every class I had. /shrug

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Same. And now I’m in a linguistics class with a section about parts of speech in English. Prepositions have a noun attached to them in some way. I think most English speakers don’t really care about this rule but it one that I could see coming up in a textbook for non-native speakers trying to learn English.

To the rest of your point, I also completely agree. Using grammar wrong on purpose seems to be a good mark of fluency. I noticed this actually from the opposite direction in a way. Hearing/seeing non-native English speakers use things like “wanna/gonna” just felt weird to me. It wasn’t that there was anything specifically wrong about it, it just was off a little. It got me thinking about how using grammar incorrectly in a natural way may be the hallmark of ultimate proficiency in that language.

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According to this Grammarly post:

It’s not an error to end a sentence with a preposition, but it is a little less formal. In emails, text messages, and notes to friends, it’s perfectly fine. But if you’re writing a research paper or submitting a business proposal and you want to sound very formal, avoid ending sentences with prepositions.

So it says its not wrong, but not recommended for formal writing, which is probably why I always had it marked wrong in school.

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The “correct” English example being grammatically incorrect inspires confidence in this post.

Every instance of natives breaking something on purpose are instances where the native person knows the integrity of the language to a point where breaking it can’t be accidentally misinterpreted by another speaker due to the word with the closest “distance” to the alteration being the original.

That’s all there is to it.

Same as purposefully misspelling or mispronouncing words. Don’t bother doing by imitation, you’ll only acquire a feel for it when you get good enough at the language not to have to question yourself on whether you can break grammar a certain way or not.

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I really like the way you’re approaching this.
I think the inverse could be true as well though. A lot of this kind of slang is learned through mimicry though. Using “ain’t” in the south, for example, is often used very wrong. I know you could argue that it’s just a dialectic thing, but as a southerner, it feels like slang to me since I will purposefully not use it when writing formally.

Edited cause I hit submit too early.

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This 1000%. I’ve been having this thought more and more recently, which lead me to making this post. I believe this is what can make someone go from saying, “Wow, they are good at X language,” to “Wow, they sound just like a native.”

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As someone who studied using Tae Kim’s, I’m well aware that there are grammar rules that gets broken in casual because “people are inherently lazy” or “efficient”. Just glad that there’s a shorter form for なければいけません and other stuffy sounding phrases in casual conversations.

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While true, the way you’re using it will sound off because you’re breaking it but in a way that’s not quite right, and eventually you learn the more proficient way of doing it.

I suppose getting into the habit of breaking it that way through mimicry is something that you could start doing, but it won’t make you sound more native I don’t think.

In my experience, it’s just another opportunity to sound like a foreigner when awkwardness could be avoided by just saying it normally.

The “wanna” “gonna” etc example coming to mind. You can tell when the person has a faint idea of how to use it but not really.

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Yeah, that one might be my least favorite.
I usually go for ~ないといけません instead now after confirming that it’s not much different and most people think they’re interchangeable.

Also to re-iterate this thought, it’s also how you end up with すいません, すまん, いいじゃん, etc.

People being lazy and dropping sounds. Pretty sure rendaku is really just another such lazy evolution as well, as well as replacing same consonant syllables and つ with っ or dropping a syllable entirely from how you’d think the word should be pronounced based on the kanji it’s made up of.

The られる to れる thing also sounds lowkey like the ら is there but goes silent, or すごい暑い from すごくあつい really being just dropping the く and the い just naturally dropping itself in there due to the next word starting with a vowel. Naturally slurred, basically.

In English for example, when native speakers can’t spell a word for shit or when they do the mistake of writing “should have” as “should of”, really it’s them putting in writing what they hear in naturally slurred speech.

I don’t think it’s possible to devoice ら and then also simultaneously skip its beat. You could say 苦しさ and devoice the し, but it’s still going to be said over the same amount of beats, so even if somehow you could devoice ら, 食べれる has one less mora than 食べられる. It’s not that I’m just not hearing it, it’s that I’ve confirmed with my wife that she is not saying it because “it’s easier”.

Edited to disambiguate the first sentence to show I don’t believe ら can be devoiced.

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Even the cranky witch who thought me English in high school didn’t mark that wrong, and she was strict on just about every other obscure grammar rule.

Japanese forums (not that they’re a great source) really say it’s just dropping it because it’s easier that way, but that most people they know wouldn’t do it.

I guess it’s kinda like taking “alright” and slurring it into “aight” and then just not even slurring it and saying it as “ight” without even trying to pronounce the first part.

So it might be like that.

I was actually thinking of my German teacher when I was writing that latter part. I don’t think I ever had an English teacher who wasn’t extremely chill.

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