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Thread: [Lesson] Sentence Structures #1

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    Lightbulb [Lesson] Sentence Structures #1

    I'll have an attempt on explaining basic sentence structures in Japanese. Hopefully this will help anyone reading it understand Japanese sentences, as well as make and compose them yourselves. I personally think that understanding structures is one of the most important aspects in learning Japanese.

    Upon deciphering a reading material, if you understand structures well, you just need a dictionary to help you knowing words and kanji you don't know. However, even if you know a lot of words and kanji, if you have problems in understanding structures, you may find it harder to decipher what's being said.

    To start, let's have some comparison between structures in English and Japanese.

    In English, a basic sentence has this kind of structure:
    Subject - Verb - Object
    And this is how a simple sentence in English is like:
    He eats a fish.

    He is subject, who does eat to a fish
    Eats is verb, which is what he does to a fish
    A fish is object, which gets eaten by him

    That's just basic English, and everyone must've known it already.
    Now, let's compare it to how the structure of a basic sentence in Japanese is:
    Subject - Object - Verb
    Here are some examples of basic sentences in Japanese:
    • 彼は魚を食べます。
      かれはさかなをたべます。
      Kare wa sakana o tabemasu.
      He eats a fish.

      彼 = kare = he = subject
      は= wa (ha) = particle (explained later)
      魚 = sakana = fish = object
      を = o (wo) = particle (explained later)
      食べます = tabemasu = to eat = verb

    • 私は本を読みます。
      わたしはほんをよみます。
      Watashi wa hon o yomimasu.
      I read a book.

      私 = watashi = I = subject
      本 = hon = book = object
      読みます = yomimasu = to read = verb

    • 彼女は着物を着ます。
      かのじょはきものをきます。
      Kanojo wa kimono o kimasu.
      She wears a kimono.

      彼女 = kanojo = she = subject
      着物 = kimono = traditional Japanese clothing = object
      着ます = kimasu = to wear = verb

    Notice the difference of object placement between English and Japanese sentences. It doesn't mean that sentences in Japanese are object-centred, though. However, Japanese does have passive sentences, which I will be covering later. To add additional components like adverbs when making a sentence, make sure you know where to put them. I will be covering this in the next lesson.

    So basically, to compose sentences in Japanese, just have your words ready, and place them according to the structure explained above. Easiest way to remember this is that unlike English, Japanese always puts the main predicate at the end of a sentence. You can easily deduct what a sentence primarily means by identifying its subject and predicate.

    For example, with this kind of sentence.
    姉は今朝食堂で フォークで牛肉を 食べました。
    あねはけさしょくどうで フォークでぎゅうにくを たべました。
    Ane wa kesa shokudou de fooku de gyuuniku o tabemashita.
    My sister ate beef with fork at a restaurant this morning.

    姉 = ane = one's older sister = subject
    今朝 = kesa = this morning = adverb of time
    食堂 = shokudou = restaurant = adverb of place
    フォーク = fooku = fork (katakana transliteration) = adverb of manner
    牛肉 = gyuuniku = beef = object
    食べました = tabemashita = to eat (past)

    With various aspects possessed by that sentence (although being a rather short one), deciphering it may look hard. However, it actually isn't really hard. Just look at the sentence - which one is the subject and which one is the verb?

    The subject here is 姉 (ane), easily found with the は (wa) particle following it, plus it being at the beginning of the sentence. While the verb is 食べました (tabemashita), easily found with the を (o) particle preceding it, plus it being at the end of the sentence. Side note, while を particle follows an object, it's followed by a verb of the object. Object を verb - this would be the pattern.

    With both subject and object identified, now we can conclude that the core of this sentence is just 姉は食べました (ane wa tabemashita; my sister ate). To break the sentence into structures, let's just use some typical questions like ones below.
    • Who does something? 姉 (ane; one's own sister)
    • What is done? 食べました (tabemashita; ate)
    • So, my sister ate something. What did she eat? 牛肉 (gyuuniku; beef)
    • So, my sister ate beef. How did she eat it? フォークで (fooku de; with fork)
    • So, my sister ate beef with fork. Where did she eat it? 食堂で (shokudou de; at a restaurant)
    • So, my sister ate beef with fork at a restaurant. When did she eat it? 今朝 (kesa; this morning)
    • There you have the complete sentence: "my sister ate beef with fork at a restaurant this morning".

    That concludes the very first lesson on basic sentence structures from me, which is very simple and limited. I will be covering more on the next lessons, so stay tuned! And remind me should I forgot. Questions, doubts, or corrections - fire away! In the correct section that is~
    sukartinikayika, Cee and arczyx like this.

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    Re: [Lesson] Sentence Structures #1

    I'd like to see an update in this thread! Very informative and helpful so far

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    Re: [Lesson] Sentence Structures #1

    not bad i like it ^^

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    Re: [Lesson] Sentence Structures #1

    Thanks. Nice introduction

    Ill be waiting more interesting lessons
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    Re: [Lesson] Sentence Structures #1

    Nice wan ^^
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    Re: [Lesson] Sentence Structures #1

    Nice start, gives a good idea about general differences between Japanese and English.

    While probably not the best thing to do in my first post, I have to point out, seeing as this is about grammar after all, that 食べます = tabemasu is not the infinitive, but the conjugated form of the verb, so it would not be translated as "to eat" (which would read 食べる taberu) but instead "(subject) eats".

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    Re: [Lesson] Sentence Structures #1

    thank you for lesson 1
    then wait lesson 2 > <

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    Re: [Lesson] Sentence Structures #1

    http://japanese.about.com/library/blbasic.htm

    Here a Link with some basic lessons . Hope it's going to help someone soon or later
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