What are some unwritten rules about the Japanese Language?

As in the title. Are there any grammar particles/expressions which are insignificant enough that they don’t really get noticed, but are still there?

  1. The words you leave unsaid are usually more important than the ones you actually say.
  2. Permutations / formality levels of 敬語 are infinitely more complex than what is taught in textbooks, and the rules are frequently broken/disregarded.
  3. Dangling participles? Subject-verb agreement? What does that even mean??
    A は B は C はこの文の主語は何だろう???

(I guess what I’m trying to say is the “subject” vs “topic” of a sentence is often very arbitrary and their relationship with the verb often seems very fluid and vague. Someone with a more thorough knowledge of grammar might explain it better or just flat out disagree lol)


I completely agree with number 2. Even a tutor of mine complained about the varying degrees of 敬語 and how he often accidentally misuses certain ways of expressing himself or others with 謙譲語 or 尊敬語。

I didn’t realise how true number 1 was until you mentioned it lol

I was surprised to learn that “participles” is an actual word… but I think here you wanted to write “particles”, right?

“dangling participles” are a thing - Dangling modifier - Wikipedia. Never thought about it before but they must be common in Japanese


Yeah, I definitely meant participles. Prime example in this amazing clip: Grammar Nazis - YouTube :crazy_face:

What I meant to say is: this type of grammar error bothers me immensely in English but seems to be flat out ignored in Japanese. For example, you can just topic-mark something/someone with は and then turn around and make the rest of the sentence about someone / something entirely different (within the broader “topic” you’ve created). And nobody seems to care if the subject and verb agree as the subject is frequently completely omitted. What/who you are talking about from one clause to the next feels very fluid, arbitrary and heavily context-dependent.


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