This Sentence is Making Me Pull My Hair Out

From Midori app examples search:

He parked his car behind the building.

Or in English you could also say ‘He parked his car at/in the back of the building.’

Did you read the dictionary entries I posted? English allows you to phrase things many ways to mean something similar, but those two dictionary entries were quite clear. One referred to location specifically, the other had no such call out and instead talked of face/surface. That’s why I specifically called out a monolingual dictionary instead of someone’s translation of something.

Everyone is so awesome. Thanks for the feedback. I added the corrections to the post like you all asked.

So to me that feels like where I would say “round the back” implying that it’s behind the house, but within or adjoining to the property the house is built on. Is that what you mean?

I’m not saying you’re wrong in general, just that in the specific context of buildings, 裏 seems much more popular, including to describe things like fields, cliffs and other buildings that are/will be behind an apartment (just from that set of 5 hits on google).

And as @anon1067447 points out, where does 裏手 fit into this?

This one is even more on point:

There is a large garden at the back of his house.

Yes, I would be referring to something attached to the back side of my house. Hence why I would use 裏 in that case.

And yet from native speaker teachers I’ve had when we talked about hypothetical positions of things like a post office behind some other building, they would always use 後ろ. Not a single time did they use 裏. This is again why I brought up the importance of using that monolingual dictionary entry to point out that there is a nuance difference specifically pointed out in their definitions. One of location vs the side of a surface/face.

Arguments over the specific nuances of 後ろ and 裏 aside, the italki correction looks “correct” to me (I dunno what’s going on with the HelloTalk one though!), for the reasons @TheCodingFox outlined.


Given what you wanted to say, I think that the second correction is wrong, or that at the very least, the person in question didn’t understand what you wanted to say. I think the second correction makes it sound like the apartment is owned by the church. The first makes sense, in my opinion, but as someone else said above, I think 裏・後ろ にある 教会 is probably a much clearer structure. (The reason is that chains of の tend to become confusing after a while.)

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Yeah, I don’t disagree with either sentences? I would also say that a garden in my back yard is at the back of my house and I would use 裏 in that situation. Did I not make that clear in both my talking about the porch or hypothetical pool in a back yard? To me, the important distinction is those things are talking specifically about stuff relative to the side of the house or 面. Just like I would use 表 to talk about my front porch attached to the front of my house not 前.

The HelloTalk one was the first correction I received. Hearing your feedback makes me realize that I wasn’t wrong for wondering where their correction was going.

I wish you’d said this at the start :sweat_smile: Anyway, I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere arguing about this anymore…I’ll put of judgement until I’m exposed to it more.

On the dictionary front, my J-J (sanseidou kokugo) has "〔建物〕のうしろ” as one of the definitions…

it said 裏手

Lies! (also is it just me or does にある feel really formal? Let’s not argue about it here :cold_sweat:)

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I didn’t really see it as fighting. I always like to have a good intellectual debate on stuff like this. It always ends up brining up interesting things even if I’m wrong (and I have a history of that happening :sweat_smile:) which I’m fine with being. :slight_smile: And I would hope that someone else can derive some useful information from our talk.



I don’t see anything formal about にある… what would be the informal version of this?


In this case? の…
Maybe it’s just me

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I meant in the non-fighting sense of arguing. It was fun and I definitely feel like I’ve learnt something. I just don’t feel like we’re going to reach a satisfactory conclusion on this.

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Good I just wanted to make sure you didn’t take my comments as being attacks or anything. :slight_smile: It also lead me to actually look up many of these words in a monolingual dictionary for the first time just as further research which is always more enlightening.

Yeah, because I think this is heavily subjective. To me it’s sort of a call between is the sentence kind of talking about things relative to the side/face of the building vs. a more abstraction relative position like on a map. To me it’s like what was mentioned above by @Jonapedia where it’s all about sort of the relative level of ‘attachment’ you see of the structure to the one it’s being compared to.

Ya, given the discussion, I suspect you can use either without sounding weird/causing a misunderstanding.

Still curious about 裏手 though… Jisho says "back (esp. of a building) and my J-J simply says "うらのほう”

Hahaha. It’s quite OK in this case, but believe me, I’ve seen worse in university-level mathematics notes in Japanese. In those moments, you really wish the writer had chosen another structure to make things clearer. The problem is that it’s hard to know which blocks go together after a while. For example,

You could actually argue that this sentence says ‘the church’s behind-the-apartment lawn’. Alternatively, you could say it means ‘the lawn behind the church’s apartment’. That’s the sort of confusion I meant.

As for formality levels, I’m not sure, but I think にある is really standard Japanese, so it’s just an attributive clause here that shouldn’t be anything too formal.

I wasn’t arguing, just trying to find analogous examples. I don’t have a strong opinion on this yet.

Like this:
What’s that building at the back of the hospital?

Taken together, it seems like the 裏手 usage is implying the area in question is part of one property, as opposed to the relative locations of buildings, etc. But that is purely a guess at this point.

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No problems, was my bad. I just misread things. :slight_smile:

Yeah, that was kind of how I was reading it. :thinking:

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