Short Grammar Questions (Part 1)

If you were thinking of でも meaning ‘but’, that one only opens new sentences, so you would never find it in the middle like that.

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Yeah, that’s what confused me. I’m still getting used to double particles.

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Also, words like が、けど、から、ので (are these conjunctions? How do you call these in English?), will come after verbs/i-adjectives, not nouns. Those need だ/な/です or other conjugations of である after them to be grammatical.


Not a Grammar question but I have an awfully hard time differentiating between つ and っ in 縦書き’s. Their sizes look way too similar. Any tips?

Noted, I got most conjunctions down, very useful to learn. Also when would you use である? Can’t you just use あります? From what I’m reading, it just appears to be more formal.

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である and あります are not equivalent. である is a copula, like だ or です. It is grammatically necessary for some things (it’s basically a way to make a relative clause from something that ends with a copula). Like if you wanted to make 学生だ into a relative clause modifying something, let’s say 私, then could go with 学生である私 (I who am a student). It’s still more formal than other ways of phrasing things with basically the same meaning, though.


なるほど。So when would である be used over です or だ at the end of a sentence? I heard it’s used more often when explaining things than stating fact, is that right?

Yes, that’s one way it can be used. It’s also more appropriate for something like a research paper, where you do need something higher register than だ, but things like です/ます are kind of unnecessary politeness. A research paper is a serious topic and it need not be weighed down with politeness.


I think I have a clear understanding. Could I expect it to be used in daily conversation?

Not really. Usually things will just be phrased differently, or you might see の where a textbook would tell you that only である is grammatical, simply because である feels too stiff for casual conversation. I suppose there might be some idioms or proverbs that use it that could still appear in conversation, but those kinds of things are kind of their own beast anyway.


In the main text or in furigana?

In the main text, my only suggestion is to look at it relative to the surrounding characters. The small っ won’t quite line up with the other characters, while the big つ should. Other than that, I think it should become easier as you learn more words.

In furigana, they often use つ in place of っ for some reason. It depends on the book, but from my experience this is very common. In this case, you just have to know since you can’t rely on a visual difference. In my experience though, it’s very often the small っ, particularly when the word is two kanji and there are four furigana and the つ is the second character, because that’s just linguistically more common. (e.g. 学校・がっこう)

P.S. The quick or short Language Questions Thread (not grammar) exists for these quick non-grammar questions. [2022] 多読/extensive reading challenge is also a good place to ask about things reading related.


I felt I ought to add something, so here I am. There really are, as you said, ‘lots of possibilities’.

First of all, while も’s base meaning is ‘also’ (at least, in my opinion), it can also mean ‘even’. Just another possible nuance to keep in mind. (I hope it’s clear that ‘even’ is an extension of the ‘also’ meaning, because you need a basic level of similarity in order to be able to add the emphasis that ‘even’ implies.)

There’s another possible interpretation for this combination (でも) that works in almost all circumstances. It might not be the most correct interpretation in this particular instance, but it works here as well because it still allows for a comprehensible translation.

で is also the て-form of だ・である・です. For more typical verbs, 〜ても is often used to mean ‘even if ~’. As such, 〜でも can be used to mean ‘even if it’s ~’ or, by extension, ‘even in the case of ~’. In this case, 日本でも could then become ‘even if it’s Japan (that we’re talking about)’. You’ll notice that this also works for hard-to-translate Japanese expressions like 「それでいい?」(literally ‘is it good with that?’). If you decide to throw out the ‘で marks the means’ interpretation, you’ll realise that the interpretation that goes ‘if it’s that, is it OK?’ actually also works very well. This interpretation is so general that it can even fix another problem for us…

It’s true that this only ever appears at the beginning of new sentences, but have you ever considered that it’s really exactly the same thing as the ‘て-form/means marker + also/even’ interpretation of でも? For example, if I said「それでもいい?」, one could interpret it as meaning ‘is it fine even with that?’ or ‘even if it’s that/even if that’s the case, is it OK?’ Notice, however, that Japanese tends to allow you to tack particles onto practically whatever works, and so in this case… it’s like you’re tacking でも onto the previous sentence. ‘Even so’ sounds a lot like ‘but’, doesn’t it?

Yup. I think ‘conjunctions’ is the right word.


You just blew my mind, I’ve always interpreted [adjective]+でも as a use of でも, and not で + も :exploding_head:

Is it right to think of も as basically just a particle that emphasises similarity? So while we have a bunch of ways to say that in English (too, also, even, as well) those are all possible candidates for も?

I’m a little hesitant to turn it into a ‘similarity particle’ because I’m worried there’s a case I haven’t thought of yet. Come to think of it, it might be a little less obvious how to link usages like 「三時間もかかった!」(‘It took as much as three hours!’ – I’m using ‘much’ to emphasise magnitude without focusing on numbered quantities) to ‘similarity’, even if you could say drawing parallels and emphasising that a certain quantity is relatively large requires ‘similarity’ as well. My personal preference is to start from ‘also’ and extrapolate things from there, but that’s probably because 也 works like も in many cases in Chinese, and we use ‘also’ in the same way as 也 in Singlish, so I have a non-standard usage that helps to refer to.

However, all the words you just listed are possible translations of も given the right contexts.


I’ve seen (気) げ as a suffix in novels - to my contextual understanding it carries the same meaning as そう right? Are there any subtle differences between them?

Most of the time げ could be replaced by そう with no change in meaning. However, げ is more likely to be used in writing than in spoken language, and certain idioms use げ but never そう.


This isn’t a grammar question but what’s up with the commas next to each kana in ずんぐりむっくり?

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That’s basically the Japanese form of italics. It emphasizes something for some effect, whether it be irony, exaggeration, etc.


For none grammar questions there is The quick or short Language Questions Thread (not grammar), just fyi :smiley:


Aw yeah I remember that thread, thanks for the heads up. :slight_smile:

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