Need grammar help for designing card game

I’m making a card game based on Japanese grammar. So far I’ve been using my own grammar knowledge, but I figured having someone who actually speaks Japanese help would be a good idea before I got too much further.

In the game players make a sentence out of cards. Requiring the sentence to be make sense would cause several problems, so I decided to put rules on the cards instead. For example, a 形容詞Adjective card might say that the next card has to be a 名詞Noun or です, and the 名詞Noun might say that the next card has to be another 名詞Noun, a 助詞Particle or a copula. During play, the part of the card that says what specific word it is will be covered up, so the categories have to be chosen in such a way that the sentence works no matter what words they end up being, within the categories. Particles are an exception to this rule, because they’re never covered up, so maybe other exceptions can exist too.

Some initial questions I have:

  • When can particles go after non-noun words? Can all particles go after nouns?
  • Where do adverbs go in a sentence? Do they affect the rest of the syntax at all?
  • Can auxiliaries (other than ない) be used as words? What type of word is 食べよう (or よう, if that’s a word)?
  • Cure Dolly complained about 従う being labelled as intransitive because it has an object. Can that object be を-marked?
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Not to discourage you, but there is a similar idea already -

It’s a funny beast, it sort of works as a ‘make a sentence’ toy, but I’m not sure it works for either teaching or as a game.

If you could get a copy, it may provide a useful reference for grammar and game elements. I think the company got into difficulty a few years back and it’s no longer in print - It might be a collector’s item now.


Thanks. I’ll check it out.

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It really depends on the particle - there’s lots, and their uses are varied. Conjunctive particles like が, から, でも, etc. can go after verbs, は can mark almost anything, の or こと are used to nominalize adjectives, と often comes after adverbs, and so on.

Adverbs are very flexible and go anywhere in the sentence as long as they come before the verb they modify. They often come right before the verb or at the beginning of the sentence, but there aren’t really any hard rules about where they should go.

What counts as “word” in Japanese is pretty hard to define. I believe in Japanese linguistics, the た in e.g. 食べた is considered to be an auxiliary verb, so it could be parsed as one or two “words” depending on how you look at it. There’s also a way of separating semantic blocks by seeing if you can insert a particle like さ after a block without making the sentence invalid.

従う is intransitive, as it does not take a direct object marked by を. Instead, the target is marked with に. I’m not sure if there’s a proper label for this type of word, but there are many words like this where they don’t line up with what you’d expect if you come from English. Like how わかる is intransitive.

Particles can go after particles. Some examples that came to mind:

  • particles after nominalizing の
  • topic marker は after other particles