Short Grammar Questions (Part 1)

Thanks for your reply. Yes, there was a sentence:


Hello. I’m reading now “Breaking into japanese literature” parallel text book and here is one sentence with different usage of と particle and って that I can’t understand.


And translation in the book is:
“Can you see my face?” I asked her urgently.
“See it?” she smiled. “It is reflected here in my eyes, is it not?”

My questions:
What is a function of と in “一心に聞くと” ?
Why after that it changes to girl-answering context, is it because of って?
Why there is again と in the girl answer “写ってるじゃありませんかと”?

1 Like

In both instances they’re quoting particles.
Does this clear it up?

You wouldn’t write it that was because, well, it’s ugly, but hopefully that shows the nesting quotes. The narration uses と because it’s book narration, but when she asks the question back, she said って out loud.

Oh wait, were you asking about the と at the end of 一心に聞くと?
That’s the conditional, and here just means “when” or “after” the verb. When he asked, she then answered.


Here’s an article that might help:

1 Like

thank you! it’s pretty clear now, seems I was confused by double nested quotes

1 Like

I am perplexed by the use of passive tense in the following sentence of a novel I’m reading:


(Context: the MC is attending swimming classes, and there’s this free-spirited girl the MC is describing in that paragraph).

While the meaning seems quite straight forward, I am confused as to why 放っておく is in passive form. 今は諦めて makes 今 the topic, and 大人 seems to be the subject, since they 注意する in the previous sentence. So, at the start of the part in bold everything seems to fit since the adults are the ones giving up: 大人が諦める.

But what’s with the 放っておかれていた? 放っておく means to leave alone, so why would the adults be the ones left alone, when clearly it is the girl that they are leaving alone / neglecting?

Any help is appreciated!

I’m not certain, but I think this sounds like indirect passive. The grammar dictionary has a section explaining it, but I never really got the hang of it. The meaning is something like “the subject is affected by the doing of the verb” if memory serves.

Lemme see if I can find an explanatory link…


Thanks, that’s a very interesting article. So, if I understand correctly, in this “indirect” passive tense, the 大人 are not the ones “passively receiving” the action of the verb, but instead are somewhat “inconvenienced” by the fact that she’s being left alone?

The article you linked also links to a Tae-Kim blog post that shows an interesting example:

(私が)ケーキを全部 食べられた

Which roughly means that the subject 私 is “inconvenienced” by the fact that someone else ate the whole cake. As most textbook examples, that seems to make sense very well (Tae-Kim goes on to debate that the “inconvenienced” implication is not really there in japanese, but I think I get the idea)

But in my example something feels off, since the 大人 are the very actors that are performing the 放っておく action. They seem to be “indirectly affected” by something they themselves are doing; I am guessing in a sense of “there’s no helping it” way. Is that even possible?


No, it’s the girl who’s being affected by the doing of the verb. Or possibly the first person.

Honestly, I’m just guessing.

A fill-in-the-blank exercise from my Basic Kanji workbook:

大学まで電車で( 通うと )、30分かかる。

Is the と in the answer acting as a type of quotation particle for the description of the type of commute being undertaken???

I don’t think it’s that use of passive voice, because it functions grammatically identically to the “direct passive.” If you want to emphasize the inconvenience of rain, you still say 雨降られた. The に is absent in that sentence, and trying to read it that way doesn’t help it align any more obviously with the first clause regardless.

It just reads like an implicit sentence switch between clauses. At least that’s the only way I can make sense of it. The explicit subject of the first clause is the adults, and the implicit subject of the second the girl, who has been given up on and left to her own devices.

My non-native expectations would be for both clauses to align and have に(も)注意されていた in the first clause, but I suspect that consistency just isn’t an important enough factor to have overridden the desired flow of the sentence for the native writer.

That’s a correct understanding of that (slightly figurative) use of the passive voice:

雨が降った。It rained.
(私は)雨に降られた。I got rained on/out/rain ruined my plans even if I wasn’t caught in it directly.

Though I don’t think that’s what’s happening in this passage. (Or rather, I don’t think it’s a particularly non-literal use of passive voice.)



The narrator feels particularly put out themselves by the adults coming to ignore the girl, or that the girl is particularly close to the narrator. In which case you could read it as the “indirect passive,” with an implicit (彼女を).


Such that the implied subject of the second clause would become the narrator, and it would become, essentially, “I had had my girl given up on by the adults.” But … that’s a lot of round-about work when it seems easier just to read the subject switching to the girl herself. It also doesn’t really change the meaning or make the sentence any cleaner. Hard to say without more context, but I can’t imagine any native speaker would read it that way.


It’s the conditional と. If you commute by train it takes 30 minutes.

1 Like

Thanks, Leebo - that’s a form/use of と that I’m only vaguely familiar with; I will look it up now that I know what it is. Cheers!

I came to this conclusion on my own but nice to see some confirmation on my own theory, thanks !

And how would a native speaker read it? :stuck_out_tongue:

Just an implicit subject switch to the girl in the second clause instead of an implicit subject switch to the narrator, which requires filling in a lot more gaps for the same practical meaning.

Also probably in their heads and quite quickly.


@IanD, I asked a native speaker about it, and she immediately came to the same conclusions as yours, without any hesitation. The grammatical subject of the verbs changes mid-sentence. The subject of 諦めて is the adults, but the subject of 放っておかれていた is the girl. And according to her there is no nuance of ‘suffering passive’ here, just a plain passive, she was left alone by them.

Also I asked if it’s doesn’t feel awkward to switch subject like this and if it would be better to rewrite, but she doesn’t think so. She couldn’t explain well why, but for her it feels more beautiful written the way it is.


I think it just becomes more verbose/arrhythmic when you add in all the extra syllables and particles needed to maintain the subject across clauses. At least that was the sense I got when I started thinking about how you’d make them align. Since it’s prose fiction, those are pretty big considerations.

(Also, good to know!)


The book continues on explaining that the narrator (the MC in this case, since the book is written from a first person point of view) does find it annoying that the adults have left that girl to do whatever she wants, as she finds that she disturbs the class (the MC is a very 真面目 kind of person), so I think this idea wasn’t completely off.

Thanks for clarifying!

I guess that since context makes very clear what the sentence means, it makes sense that such subject-switching in the middle of sentence is allowed, but it is still a bit disturbing as a non-native that some of the rules I use to figure out what’s going on can be twisted like that :sweat_drops:

Thanks a lot for confirming this!


Yes, but that’s why we read!