Short Grammar Questions (Part 2)

Continuing the discussion from Short Grammar Questions (Part 1) - #10141 by ajdgaoigjaoirgjo.

Previous discussions:


That’s a lot of grammar discussion!




What has just happened :joy:


There’s a 10k post cap on threads. When it is reached a new thread is made so discussion can continue


Long live the Grammar (ro)bot overlords!



We should merge the Short Grammar Questions and POLL threads :thinking:


If only the Grammar Regulars would agree to that :stuck_out_tongue:


Do they really have to agree? :smirk:

We could creep in over time. They wouldn’t even know. Then, one day, they are us


(I hope this is the right place to post this! :slight_smile:)

I’m a beginner who recently started reading the Pokémon Special manga. Early on, I found this sentence. Context is レッド just caught a Pokémon in front of some younger children.


この町 : This town
ポケモントレーナーで : Pokémon trainer
かなう : In my power
奴 : Servant
おれ : I
いない : Less than

Google translates this as “There is no Pokémon trainer in this town that can match me!”

The translation makes sense in context, as this is him starting to narrate the beginning of the story.

I can’t make sense of how we get there in Japanese. Best I can do is “This town’s Pokémon Trainers are less than me.” But, that doesn’t use 奴…

Assistance is appreciated!


The actual definition used here is “fellow, guy”

It’s a bit of an impolite way to refer to people, but here it’s the way Red talks. He’s trying to act tough.

おれにかなうやつは - guys who can match me
いない - there aren’t any (negative form of いる)

Edit: Out of curiosity, what are you using to look up definitions? You may be better served by using Jisho for lookups and/or for sentence break downs.


Thanks! That makes way more sense now. “Pokémon trainers in this town, there aren’t any (guys) that can match me!”

この町のポケモントレーナーで : This town’s Pokémon Trainers
おれにかなう : My match
奴は : Fellows; guys
いない : There is not (negative of いる to be)

I’ve been using Lorenzi's Jisho so I can easily add new words to the built in study lists. It looks like I missed both Lorenzi & Jisho listing the negative form of いる for いない. In hindsight, いない being “less than” seems unlikely in context at the end of the sentence without an ending particle.

I didn’t know about until now, but seems way easier to parse complete sentences than either Jisho. :slight_smile:


Kanau is 適う. Its a verb. It means to have the ability or strength to rival someone, as in you are on a similar level. に marks who is being rivaled.

おれにかなう means “to rival me”.

Put that in front of a noun, やつ, and you are describing that noun. So: やつ who rivals me. That means “person who rivals me”. Slap on a はいない and it means that noun doesn’t exist. There is no one who rivals me.

This towns pokemon trainersで gives the scope of who we are talking about. Among the trainers in this town, of all the trainers in this town, there is no one who can rival me.


Yeah I’ve found to have one of the best parsers out there. I’m not sure why Lorenzo’s Jisho would rank やっこ higher than やつ for 奴 unless there’s an anime that skewed the results since it seems to pull from an anime/drama frequency list.


I have a question related to sentence parsing based on something I run into over and over again;

What are the concrete rules to verbs preceding nouns? I know one, like if a past tense verb preceding a noun i.e 食べた人 meaning ‘person who ate’, but I’m more concerned with my confusion on when a nonpast&nonて form verb precedes a noun. My questions for this are;

Are a verb and noun only separate from each other when て form is used, and can we safely assume any time a verb is preceding a noun, the noun is being modified by this verb?

In books sometimes a comma is used instead, but that’s more “artistic license”. Usually if you see a verb before a noun, the verb describes the noun.

I know you mentioned your question is a general one, but do you have a specific example that gives you trouble?


Thank you.

I unfortunately don’t have an example. My question really just stemmed from a lack of confidence due to not ever having learned from any grammar resource on how this worked. Over time I had generally assumed that the verb being the descriptor for nouns were the case, and really just wanted to turn my assumptions into concrete conclusions.

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Verbs that modify nouns will be in plain form (past and non-past)


Nouns or noun phrases, yes. Just making something up (not saying you’ll actually see something exactly like this)


Should be interpreted as “The apple beloinging to me that he ate…” Rather than me being the one being eaten.


For a more formal description of sentence structures, look at the “Analyzing Sentences Accurately” chapter near the front of the Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese. This is for if you like exhaustive
analyses of possibilities and aren’t alarmed by category names like “pre-verbal adverbials” :slight_smile: (If you only have the Basic volume, try the entry on ‘relative clauses’ and the appendix on extended sentential units, though I’m not a massive fan of the latter.)

For a less formal, example-driven way to look at parsing sentences, see the last chapter of Jay Rubin’s Making Sense of Japanese. I think the method he advocates (starting at the beginning of the sentence and working the grammar out as you go along) is less confusing than the more formal “dissect the sentence to find the verb, subject, object, etc” process. But it’s helpful to have both approaches, and as usual with Rubin’s book there is an assumption that you’ve already worked through a textbook or similar approach and are then in need of the alternate take on a topic rather than the comprehensive from-scratch treatment.