This Sentence is Making Me Pull My Hair Out


I’m trying to say: My apartment doesn’t have any grass so I like to take naps on the lawn at the church behind my apartment.

I’ve submitted this sentence to both italki and HelloTalk for correction and both came back with different corrections, primarily to make it read more like it’s my apartment’s church rather than the church behind my apartment.

How do I say what I want to, and can somebody please explain why? I’m so confused.

Edit to add:

italki correction: 私のアパートには芝生がないから, アパートの後ろ教会の芝生で昼寝をするのが好きだ。

HelloTalk correction(more reordered from the original): 私のアパートには芝生がないから、教会のアパートの後ろ 芝生で昼寝をするのがすきです


Can you maybe post one of these corrections? Might help some to see what a native was telling you.


The sentence sounds a little strange even in English. Who has a lawn in their apartment?

Maybe you could say:

I like napping on a lawn but since I live in an apartment, I take a nap on the lawn at the church behind my apartment.



I think the most confusing part of the sentence is アパートの後ろに教会の芝生で.

The に particle makes it seem like behind your apartment is the target of the verb 昼寝をする (whatever that might imply), while the grass of the church is the place where the action is occurring. The に particle in this kind of scenario should have a verb ある or いる.

At first I was thinking of suggesting アパートの後ろの教会の芝生で, but I think @d-hermit’s example is probably more correct. The の particle isn’t saying that the church belongs to your apartment, it’s saying that the church “belongs” to behind of your apartment.

As for why you may have gotten different corrections from different people, it’s just that there are always many different ways to express the same concept.


If they’re are changing that に to の, then I think that’s right. I’d probably use something like アパートの裏の教会, but I’m not sure what the best word for “behind” is here.

Edit: ninja’d…what @TheCodingFox said.


I think this case would be 後ろ. Maybe this SO thread would help here:

裏 means the opposite side of surface or the field that belongs to that aspect extensionally a zone that lies in front of that aspect while 後ろ means backward of something when objects or spaces are put in a row in order.


裏 and 表 are used for objects that have 2 sides, one being the front, the other being the back.
So you can say ビルの裏, because a building usually has a front and back sides.
But you cannot say 木の裏, since a tree doesn’t have a back or front side.


Yeah but you can use 裏 to mean the side of the house not facing the street, right?

Kinda like the difference between “behind the house” and “on the back side of the house”


Yes, that would be covered in that second part I quoted:

So you can say ビルの裏, because a building usually has a front and back sides.

But in this case when it’s talking about relative positions of objects, 後ろ seems to be the only word I’ve seen used. :man_shrugging:


I somehow managed to read only the first sentence of that :sweat_smile:


Hehe, no big.


Would you mind sharing the corrections you’ve received? That way, we might know how the people answering you might have interpreted your sentence. I agree that it probably sounds strange to say that one’s apartment doesn’t have any grass, because most apartments don’t…

I’m not at all sure, but I think it might be better to use 後ろ here because an apartment is a single compartment inside a building and it may not be clear whether it has a ‘front face’, especially if the front door faces into some sort of lobby. 裏 is probably correct too though. (PS: my ‘front face’ argument could apply just as well to 後ろ as well, so it may not be valid to begin with.)

As far as I know, アパート (and apartment for that matter) can be used to refer to the entire building.

I still feel like I tend to see buildingの裏 more though…off to ninjal I guess.

Edit: Ninjal was conclusive to the point that I felt like I’d messed something up…11 examples of アパートの裏 out of 20,000 hits, but I couldn’t find a single example of アパートの後ろ :sweat:
I searched google as well and "アパートの裏" gives 2,100,000 results vs just 365,000 for "アパートの後ろ".

But what’s the context of the hits? Is it phrases talking about a building behind behind the apartment or simply talking about the back of an apartment / the backside of the apartment building? Basically every resource I’ve seen talking about relative position expressions, like 下, 上, etc., all use 後ろに to say something that is behind something else.

Just copying snippets from the first 5 hits:

  • アパートの裏 は畑… アパートに住んでいます。
  • 賃貸の アパートの裏 の崖が崩れかかってます。
  • 私は アパートの裏 に回って、一階の角部屋を見上げた。
  • そう確信したボンゴレは アパートの裏 から這い出て、自分が来た森の方へ走りだした。
  • 所有している アパートの裏 に家を建てたいと考えています。

I guess it’s just a colocational thing…

Edit: Top 5 for “アパートの後ろ”

  • アパートの後ろ には車1台しか通れない道ではありますが車は通るし、道路を挟んで一軒家もあります。
  • 私は住んでいる アパートの後ろ に.
  • マンハッタン街路樹と アパートの後ろ に見えるエンパイヤーステートビル[10266002174]の写真素材・イラスト素材。
  • アパートの後ろ が空き地になっており、建物が無いので日当たりと風通しがとても良かったです。
  • このビーチ プロムナード撮影写真 アパートの後ろ に若い男フォトを今すぐダウンロードしましょう。

These are much longer sentences…maybe it’s more formal or something?

1 Like

These still read to me more like they are saying at the ‘back of’ the apartment/apartment building which obviously in English can also be said as the ‘behind’ so this might come as a subtle nitpick. I think this is a case of where we need to look at a Japanese dictionary/thesaurus and look at the antonyms of these words.

I think we can both agree that to say that something is in front of something we would use 前 and not 表, correct? Such as saying 'I’m in front of the train station"? If we can agree on this and then look up the antonym of 前 we get 後ろ not 裏. Whereas the antonym of 裏 is 表.


1 Like

If we look at the first answer on this page, I think we might get something which confirms a hunch that I had earlier: 裏 is used for something that has a defined front/top/‘right side up’, whereas 後ろ is a position relative, to an extent, to where the speaker is. 裏 is more closely attached to the object in question, and may even be a part of the object, whereas 後ろ can refer to something a little further away. As such, perhaps the reason 裏 is more common for アパート is that apartments tend to have defined entrances/front doors. Still, it’s not probably wrong to use 後ろ provided one’s mental reference point is in front of the apartment. Also, 裏 tends to be more common for flat objects, so it may not be unjustifiable to use 後ろ for something like an apartment, which takes up quite a bit of space, even if an apartment building definitely tends to have a front and a back.
1 Like

And that was sort of my takeaway on those sentences posted above. The ones using 裏 tended to sound to me more like something that was pretty closely attached to the ‘back of’ the building. Where as without reference, the sentence of the OP sounded like he was just referring to a relative position of the church to the apartment which may not be quite so directly adjacent. :man_shrugging:

Like in English, if I was to talk about the porch I have (or say hypothetically a backyard pool), I would say ‘it’s at the back of my house’ because of its relative position to the back side/face of my house which to me would map to the 裏 usage. Whereas the houses being built across a pond behind my house I would say ‘they are building a bunch of houses behind my house’ which I would map to 後ろ. This is just at least my takeaway of the usages of these two words especially in light of reading multiple Japanese definitions and seeing what Japanese resources map as their antonyms.

I’m not sure what you mean by this exactly, but to me three of them are quite clearly talking about things that are behind an apartment building of some kind. Especially since in two of those cases they feel the need to explicitly say what apartments they’re talking about.
Besides I find it hard to believe there would be so few hits on google of people talking about things behind an apartment.

I get where you’re coming from, but colocations are often weird like that…

Yeah this is my guess as well. I’m pretty sure (but can’t be bothered to search) that it’s used with most words that refer to buildings though. I’ve seen it used with 社, 家, ビル etc…

I can’t say whether there’s a significant nuance to it, just that 裏 is significantly more common, and the way I’ve seen it used could plausibly be the same as what OP wants to say :man_shrugging:

Maybe my followup post would have helped? When I talk about my back porch, I don’t say ‘the porch is behind my house’ I say ‘the porch is at the back of my house.’ Yes, that is subtle, but to me the two hold a different connotation.

But even things on HiNative all seem to support this very notion that relative position phrases use 後ろ whereas 裏 is talking about the back side/back face of something.

I think there is a significant nuance difference from any resource both Japanese and English I’ve looked at. This is why I even directly copied those thesaurus entries where they provide antonyms for these words. To me, the antonyms are very much a dead giveaway on something like this. It’s like the difference between in Japanese saying ‘short’ in height vs ‘short’ in length. The way you disambiguate these terms since in English we just simply say ‘short’ is to look at which Japanese word maps to the antonym that means height vs length.

1 Like

And not trying to beat this to death, but I would definitely check out these two definitions:後ろ裏

There’s a very important phrase in the definition of 後ろ but not 裏 that to me specifies the very nuance that I refer to and that’s the usage of ‘位置’ (location, position) in the definition where as 裏 has no such similar wording and instead refers to 面 (surface/face) in both of its entries. That to me is the very important contextual difference that I’ve kept trying to allude to if maybe not always being clear enough.