Japanese Graded Readers questions - 女の子

Hello there!!

I began my japanese reading journey with the first story of Japanese Graded Readers vol 1 - 女の子.

Now, I think I understood pretty much everything but … there´s always a but … there’s a small section I’m having some troubles:

でも 一つ だけ ありません.
それは, [言葉].
女の子 は [言葉] を 言いません.

After saying that there´s nobody/nothing else there “でも 一つ だけ ありません”
there’s this small part where quotation? marks are used “それは, [言葉]. 女の子 は [言葉] を 言いません.”

I’m guessing that [言葉] is some sort of placeholder for an unspoken word the little girl is saying but I dont know. Also I read the だけ is used on positive sentences but here is used on a negative one.

Any thoughts about this?

Many thanks in advance!!!

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でも is obviously working as a contrast to something that came before, so it would be nice to see that as well.


Thanks Leebo …

The story starts telling the contents of little girl’s room. The part goes like that:

In the room there are many things.
there is a TV.
there is a piano too,
there is a doll too.
でも 一つ だけ ありません
それは, [言葉].
女の子 は [言葉] を 言いません.

I guess those are simple phrases but Im intrigued about the use of だけ and the [言葉] parts,

What do you think?

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However, there is not even one.
That is, “words”.
The girl does not speak “words”.



Ohhhh I see, so [言葉] act like " " marks and not as quotation marks.

Many thanks Belthazar, that was enlightening!!!

What about だけ ? … I see everywhere that is used on positive sentences while しか is used on negative sentences.

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Xだけ+positive = only X
Xしか+negative = nothing but X
Xだけ+negative = not even X

Though I’ll need to confirm that last one with the grammar dictionary when I get home - Jisho’s not backing me up on it.


Following your lead I found this example:

さかな だけ べ(なかった / ませんでした)。
[I] only didn’t eat fish.

さかな しか べ(なかった / ませんでした)。
[I] didn’t eat anything but fish.

I understand it as something like:
Xだけ+negative = everything but X


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I read でも 一つだけ ありません as “But only one thing is missing” (But only one thing is not there). That is “words”.

Edit: So here we can’t use しか, otherwise it would mean “But there’s only one thing (in the room)” which contradict the list of things just said before


Yup …

Following Xだけ+negative = everything but X:

But only one thing is not there = But there’s everything but one thing

Edit: So here we can’t use しか, otherwise it would mean “But there’s only one thing (in the room)” which contradict the things in the room listed just before

Yes, yes … you are absolutely right!

Wow … so much learning stuff coded into such a small sentence!!!

Thx Arzar33!

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OK, after yesterdays’ interesting messages I decided to take a careful look at things I thought I understood well and found a lot of subtle coonsiderations to make in order to proper understand the text :smiley:

Let´s take the following sentences:
部屋に, 女の子がいます
部屋には, ものがたくさんあります

Here, the text describes who/what is inside the room but as you can see first one states 部屋に and second one states 部屋には.

The best explanation I found about it is the following:

  1. You use to indicate where things are AND to hint that those things are available in other places too. So first sentence: “there’s a little girl in the room” (not an especific girl) but other little girls are in other rooms

  2. You use には to indicate where things are AND to hint that those things aren´t available in other places. So second sentence: “there´s a lot of things in the room” (especific things that are not available everywhere else but here)

Am I correct here? What do you think?


My impression is just that 部屋に became the topic after the concept was introduced. That’s not to say that a subtler reading is impossible. But I get the sense that they wouldn’t want to repeat themselves without adding a は.

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So には in the second sentence is used to remark that the room introduced in first sentence is the same room? or I fully misinterpreted your idea? :smiley:

I suppose it does do that, if you want think of it that way.

The two sentences would be like this in English.

“In a room…”
“In the room…”

And the change from “a” to “the” in the English reflects the same concept as “に” to ”には" even if the grammar doesn’t align perfectly between the two languages. We start with “a” because we haven’t referred to any room yet. Then we switch to “the” when people know which room we’re talking about, the one already mentioned.


Ohh I see … so if the text was (both using に):

部屋に , 女の子がいます
部屋に , ものがたくさんあります

that could result in confussion since first room and second room may be in fact not the same room?

More like, starting with 部屋には、女の子がいます would cause confusion because people would be thinking “wait, you haven’t mentioned any room before. What room was that?”

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As noted above, the other uses of は do complicate things a bit. You could start with には, but then a contrastive reading becomes more likely.

But the text we have in this story, there’s no reason to assume it’s a “tricky” は. A reading of it as “vanilla は” makes sense just fine.

I think it would just be unnatural. Because if you did want to make it seem like there are two rooms, you’d probably add some info to the second one. 違う部屋に or something like that.

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That makes perfect sense … I just checked the full text and noticed the pattern you mention. It starts using and then all further references use には so no confusion.

Many thanks!

Ohhh I forgot that は hints contrast.

Yes, yes, I understand now :smiley:

Many many thanks!