How to Understand “Japanese Sentence Structure”

Japanese sentence structure:

Japanese sentence structure can be confusing because in Japanese you can arrange bits of information in various orders within a sentence as long as certain words remain connected to particles. In Japanese, the subject is always either at the beginning of the sentence or is already known and is left out of the sentence. When the subject is declared at the beginning of the sentence, it is followed by either は or が or も depending on whether you are talking about something (は) or answering a question of who/what, or specifying who/what did/had/has/went/came/saw/etc (が) or if the subject also did/had/went/saw/came/etc (も).

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Take the sentence: I came to Japan which in Japanese Is わたしは日本にきました。Which can also be said as 日本にきました with わたしは (the subject) omitted because if you are saying it, the fact that you are the subject is inferred. But if you want to specify who came to Japan, you would say whoever came with the particle が to emphases that it was them who came. The point of the sentence is always at the end, whether it be the verb (what is being done) or an adjective (describing the subject) or a noun (stating what something is).

Now if you wanted to add some additional information to this sentence (any of the 5W’s in English), like who you came with or how you came, or when you came, or why you came, you can include those bits of information anywhere in the sentence as long as every piece remains connected to the correct particle. For example, bits of information such as {「ひとりで」 or 「ともだちと」 or「 かぞくと」} or「(a specific date) に」「(method of transportation) で」「(explanation of why) から」can all be arranged in any order as long as the subject stays at the beginning and the point at the end.

わたし is followed by either は(if you are talking about yourself), or が(if you are the person who did/had/has/was/went/etc.), or も(if you also did/had/went/saw/came/etc.), or と(if you are talking about someone else but you were also included), or に(if you are the recipient of the verb {something was given TO you or said TO you} depending on the sentence. The noun being affected by the verb is always connected to the particle that goes with the verb. I have written a post about verbs with a section about particles used with specific verbs other than the usual verb particle を. So in this sentence 日本 and に have to remain connected, and the sentence will always end with the verb (in this case, adjectives in others).

If you don’t know Hiragana or Katakana or Kanji learn it here for FREE.

Better Ways to Learn Japanese Fluently

English sentance structure and Japanese sentance structure

Making comparisons in Japanese

The main words used for making comparisons in Japanese are: より and のほが. To best understand, think of the definition of より to mean “compared to”and のほが to mean “more (or in English “er” than)”. Whatever is connected to より is the subject of comparison, and whatever is connected to のほが is what is more (whatever adjective) than.

The sentence アメリカのほがおおきいです。Means that America is bigger. Bigger than what, we don’t necessarily know, but if you were to include 日本より either before or after アメリカのほが, we would know that we are comparing America to Japan because 日本より means “compared to Japan”. So, 日本よりアメリカのほがおおきいです。Or アメリカのほが日本よりおおきいです。Are two different ways to say that compared to Japan, America is bigger (or America is bigger than Japan).

Another example of a comparison sentence using より but not のほが is when you are taking a statement and adding the fact that compared to something else, that statement remains. For example, アメリカはおおきいです。America is big. This general statement is true, and if we add the comparison of Japan for instance, the fact would remain true, so we can add 日本より before or after アメリカは. But if you put 日本より first, it then becomes the subject and therefore アメリカは would change to アメリカが because it is now being emphasized that being compared to Japan, America is what is big, or in other words it is answering the question of what is big compared to Japan. So, 日本よりアメリカがおおきいです。Or アメリカは日本よりおおきいです。

Nihon Scope

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おるすばんてんし

Orusuban Tenji – The House Sitting Angel

 

おるすばんてんしOrusubantenshi, or house sitting angel, is a book about a little boy who is visited by an angel while staying home alone while his mom is at work. This is another book published by Tully’s Coffee that I have read.

The story goes:
「きょうはおるすばんだ。なにをしようかな」そうしたらまどのそとからこえがきこえてきた。「いまおるすばんっていったよね?」「やあやあ、よいしょ」「わあ!だれだ!」「おるすばんてんしだよ」おかしいな。てんしはもっとかわいいはず。「わっかとはねがあるだろう。だからてんしだよ」「いっしょにあそぼうとおもってきたんだ」「そうなの。じゃあ」てんしとかくれんぼ!「どこかなー」でもぼくはしってる。てんしのわっかがソファーのうえでひかってる。てんしとおやつ!「ドーナッツおいしいな」「あれ。わっかとドーナッツがどっちかわからなくなっちゃった」てんしとたいそう!「いっちに、さんし!」「ごおろく、しち、はち」あれあれてんしはせなかがいたい。てんしとおふろ!「みてみて!ソフトクリーム!」てんしとおふろはきもちがいいな。てんしとトイレ!「まだですかー!」てんしのトイレはちょっとながい。「ああ。たのしかったなあ。ねえ, おるすばんてんしはどうしてぼくのところにきてくれたの?」「…それはね」カチャ「ただいま!おるばんどうだった?」「たのしかったよ!だっていまね、おるばんてんしがきてるんだよ。」ぼくはかえってきたママにいってリビングのほうをみた。「あれ?」「おるすばんてんしって?」もういえのどこをさがしてもおるすばんてんしはいなかった。またつぎのおるすばんであえるかな。

more Japanese information

Some ことば (vocabulary):

おるすばん = house sitting

てんし(天者) = heavenly person (angel)

わっか = ring (but in this case halo)

はね = feathers (but in this case feathered wings)

おやつ = snack

「いっちに、さんし!」「ごおろく、しち、はち」 = 「一二、三四!」「五六、七、八」

きもちがいい = good feeling

カチャ = sound?

だっていまね = still now

かえってきた = to return

さがして = to search

The translation and explanation I believe would be:
A little boy said to himself, “I’m staying at home today, what shall I do?” then he could hear a voice from outside the window. The voice says, “you’re staying home right now, right?” and the little boy replies with a sound of surprise and agreement and also says, “good point” then says, “Huh, who is [saying] that?” and the voice replies “[I am a] house sitting angel.” The boy then thinks to himself, “strange, angels are suppose to be cuter” but then reasons by saying that “he has a halo and wings therefore he is an angel.” The house sitting angel then says, “I was thinking we could play together” and the boy replies, “is that so? Well, then…” and the house sitting angel and the boy play hid and seek. The little boy proclaims, “Where… [could the house sitting angel be hiding]” even though he already knows where he is because his halo is glowing above the couch. Then the boy wants to share a snack with the house sitting angel. They eat doughnuts together and the little boy proclaims, “doughnuts are delicious” but then states that “[he] cannot tell the difference between the doughnut and the house sitting angel’s halo. And then the little boy exercises with the house sitting angel. They count eight repetitions of different exercises before the house sitting angel’s back starts to hurt. Then they take a bath together. The little boy exclaims, “look, look, ice cream” while playing with the bubbles in the bath. The little boy notes that the bath with the house sitting angel feels good. Then the little boy and the house sitting angel use the toilet, but the house sitting angel fell asleep on the toilet and tells the little boy “not yet” when he is calling out to use the toilet. The little boy notes that the house sitting angel’s [time using the] toilet is a little bit long. Finally, the little boy says, “it was fun” and asks the house sitting angel, “why did you come to my place?” and just as the house sitting angel was about to answer following a long drawn out “well…” the little boy’s mother returns. After opening the door, she proclaims that “[she] is home” and asks her son “how was [your time of] staying at home?” and the little boy answers that it was “fun! because a house sitting angel came, and that even now he is still there” The little boy returns to the living room with his mom to see the house sitting angel, but he is no longer there. The little boy hopes that next time he has to stay at home that the house sitting angel will return. On the last page there is a framed photo sitting on a desk of an old man that looks like the house sitting angel holding a baby boy who looks like the little boy, so from that we discover that the house sitting angel is actually the little boy’s grandpa who passed away when the boy was younger.

Such a heartwarming story. Check out the homepage for updates on newest posts, hopefully I will continue to read and review children’s books, but either way you are likely to find something new and interesting. Thanks for reading ^_^

 

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ペンギンさんのまくら

Mr. Penguin’s Pillow Review

Today when we were showing a good friend and work associate from Thailand around Tenjin, we decided to sit down and drink some coffee at Tully’s. There I found some kids books to read. Although I often pick up any kids book I see and read a page or so, I have never sat down and read an entire story, and today I did not only read the entire stories of many different children’s books but I also had a fun time discussing the meanings of different words and phrases and concepts in Japanese. Be sure to check out our homepage to see what new articles are being written, because hopefully I will continue to review the other kids books that I read as well as continue to seek out and read new ones and write reviews of them here.

more Japanese information

Of the 5 books I read, I liked the story and simplicity of ペンギンさんのまくら (Mr. Penguin’s pillow) the best. ペンギンさんのまくら is published by Tully’s Coffee Japan and was released in July 2017.

ペンギンさんのまくら
This is a book about a penguin who has a pillow but still can’t sleep very soundly. He goes around asking different animals if they can become his pillow by asking: “まくらになって“. This book is similar to the “Are You My Mother?” Dr Seuss book. First he goes up to a giraffe and asks him if he will become his pillow, but he realizes that his hooves are too hard. Then he finds a small little critter, but the little critter ends up falling asleep on Mr. Penguin instead of becoming a nice pillow for Mr. Penguin. Then a hippo who scares the little penguin away when it invitingly opens its mouth to create a nice padded oyster-like bed for him to sleep in. Then the porcupine and rhino who have to sharp of body parts to sleep on. And then a giant Galapagos Island turtle whose shell is too hard, and a koala who is too high up in a tree. And finally a soft looking fluffy polar bear who although he is big and scary makes the perfect pillow for Mr. Penguin to get a good night sleep on.
This book has a relatively easy reading level with many adjectives as well as animal names. I would recommend reading this book to people who are learning Japanese and who are at the beginning stage of learning basic vocabulary even though there are some more difficult terms in this book as well. I’ve also written a post with a collection of children’s songs to help learn basic Japanese that you can check out if you would like.

– Nihon Scope

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