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Thread: Some random questions...

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    Some random questions...

    1: Can anyone explain to me (in simple, practical terms) the difference in usage between the は and が particles? I thought I understood the gist of it, then I tried some practice exercises and completely bombed them - so now I'm totally confused. I'm using Tae Kim's Grammar guide, btw.

    2. Also, how common is it to drop the vowel from す and し? From what I've read it is only dropped sometimes, but going through vocabulary and stuff I've noticed it's dropped like 90% of the time, like in はじめまして、そですね and どうして。 So just to get an idea, would you say it's dropped most of the time, some of the time, 50% of the time...? Or is it just kinda on a case by case basis? (Tokyo dialect) Just kinda want to get a feel for how I should be pronouncing stuff.

    Is the vowel dropped for either of these? あした, しごと?


    Probably really stupid, but it's been bugging me.

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    Incompetent Teitoku pichu655889's Avatar
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    Re: Some random questions...

    Don't take me as a reliable source, but...

    From what I know は as a particle is used to indicate the subject (Subject + は) and が is used to indicate objects (Similarly, Object + が). は also replaces が when the clause has a negative meaning to it:

    日本語話せます。 - I can speak Japanese. (Positive sentence)
    日本語話せません。 - I cannot speak Japanese. (Negative sentence)

    About す and し, I think it's more of a matter of speech? Like it is easier (or faster) to say "desne" rather than "desune" or "shigoto" rather than "shgoto" .

    Finally it should be そうですね and not そですね.

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    Re: Some random questions...

    Thanks for the correction, now that I say it out loud there is a long vowel there.

    Anyway - I understand the dictionary definition of the particles, but something is missing. Like, you know when you study something or listen to a lecture in class and you're like "I totally get this" and when you take the test you're sure your answers are correct, but when you get the results back you're actually wrong more often than you were right? That's basically what happened, and I don't really understand why.

    I'm hoping someone familiar with the language can give me a breakdown on the use of particles in practice...



    Anyway, this was the little test I took, with the answers filled in.

    ジム) アリス は 誰?
    ボブ) 友達だ。彼女 が アリスだ
     
    アリス) これ は 何?
    ボブ) それ は 鉛筆。
    アリス) あれ も 鉛筆?
    ボブ) あれ は ペンだ。
     
    アリス) 図書館 は どこ?
    ボブ) ここ が 図書館だ。
    アリス) そこ は 図書館じゃない?
    ボブ) そこじゃない。図書館 は ここだ。
    I read the lesson before this over (for like the tenth time now) and I kinda get it, but I also kinda don't. I understand the theory, but in practical use sometimes they are used how I'd expect, and sometimes not.

    (Also, they didn't cover the positive-negative thing in the lesson, that does help to explain some of it)

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    Re: Some random questions...

    I'm guessing that you got Q1 and Q3 wrong?

    ジム) アリス  誰?
    ボブ) 友達だ。彼女  アリスだ

    and

    アリス) 図書館  どこ?
    ボブ) ここ  図書館だ。
    アリス) そこ は 図書館じゃない?
    ボブ) そこじゃない。図書館 は ここだ。

    I went on ahead to check my grammar guidebook, and this is what it says:
    が is used after the subject noun that denotes the newly introduced item in the context. Note that an item can be marked by が when introduced for the first time, but is marked by は afterward in the same context as more details about it are explained. は can also mark an introduced item if the speaker knows that the listener recognizes him but that he/she does not have its information (Eg. Name).

    紹介します。この人鈴木さんです。彼私の旧友です。(First time the listener meets Mr Suzuki)

    この人鈴木さんです。彼私の旧友です。(Listener recognizes Mr Suzuki but does not know his name)
    That explanation should explain the answers for the mini-test you did I think. There are more explanations of the usage of the particle in the book, which I am too lazy to copy down here. (Sorry! But I could if you want )

    FYI, this is the book on Amazon.
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    Re: Some random questions...

    It was the same for me, I kinda got the hang of it after some time.

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    Senior Member mildis's Avatar
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    Re: Some random questions...

    Quote Originally Posted by GlassNoodles View Post
    I read the lesson before this over (for like the tenth time now) and I kinda get it, but I also kinda don't. I understand the theory, but in practical use sometimes they are used how I'd expect, and sometimes not.
    I think you read This Page and These Exercises


    Natural languages are usually complicated something. There are many exceptions. And important thing is that the real sentences or sayings are not from the Grammar, but the Grammar has come from the analysis of existing sentences and sayings.

    Therefore the grammar cannot explain everything. There are too many exceptions.

    Anyway, "postpostions" Ha, Ga, and Mo are difficult things.

    In the above page, the author writes:

    Ha: topic particle
    Ga: identifier particle (subject particle)
    Mo: inclusive topic particle

    These are the author's explanation. And the explanation shows the certain, limited aspect, function of each "postpostion".

    The Author shows the folowing example:

    ジム) アリス は 誰?
    ボブ) 友達だ。彼女 が アリスだ
    In the view point of the Natural Japanese knowledge, These sentences are strange. Maybe not used usually. These are artificial sayings, composed for the purpose of explanation for beginner learners. In short, unnatural.

    In the special background situations, these sentences may exist, or may be used. But not usual sayings.

    And the next example:

    アリス) これ は 何?
    ボブ) それ は 鉛筆。
    These sentences are also not usual. When an adult person talks with a little child, or a baby, he may say, or use this kind of saying. But these are artificial, not natural sentences.

    The following 4 cases are possible, and they have correct in Japanese grammar:

    1)
    Kore wa nani?
    Sore wa enpitsu.

    2)
    Kore wa nani?
    Sore ga enpitsu.

    3)
    Kore ga nani?
    Sore wa enpitsu.

    4)
    Kore ga nani?
    Sore ga enpitsu.

    According to the background situations, these 4 conversations are possible and correct Japanese sayings.

    So if you are confused in usage of Wa, Ga, Mo, -- it is natural situation.


    The author explains (defines) ONE usage or ONE rule. But there are many usages and many rules and exceptions.

    In this chapter, you had better to follow the explanation or definition of the author. He explains one rule, or concept, so according to his explanation, you shall answer the question. Do not use the knowledge or info which you have learned in the other places or through other explanations.


    You say:
    Quote Originally Posted by GlassNoodles View Post
    I'm hoping someone familiar with the language can give me a breakdown on the use of particles in practice...
    Impossible. There are no total breakdown of usage of any words. Postpositions (particles) are especially difficult.


    However, I try to show rough "Bird's-eye view" usage of these postpositions (I call these "particles" as "postpositions")

    To get this kind of "View" of usage, one should research Big-size Japanese dictionary, which explains both old usage and modern usage.

    ------

    (Continued) reply is too long

    _ mrd

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    Senior Member mildis's Avatar
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    Re: Some random questions...

    The below are a bit high level explanation (not for beginner).

    は HA, this is 係助詞 (Kakari-joshi), [present proninciation: "wa". In the old time, it was read as "ha" or similar sound]
    ( What is "Kakari-joshi". Roughly: When HA is used, always there is the 2nd particle or 2nd sentence in the total sentence. And in relation with this 2nd particle or sentence, the meaning/function of HA will be decided. HA is not used independently. "Kakari" roughly means "relation").

    There are three representative usage of HA (there are other usages, but omitted).

    1] SPECIALITY: To show the second element (sentence) has Special meaning, - 2nd sentence is special case etc. (example) (私は)あの男は嫌いだが、挨拶はする。Ano otoko HA kiraida ga, aisatsu HA suru. (Though) I dislike that guy, but I greet him. [explain]: greeting is "special" action. (People usually do not greet to whom they dislike.)

    2] COMPARISON, CONTRAST: Like English expression: "On the one hand..., on the other hand..." (example) メアリーは可愛いが、ジェインはもっと可愛い。Mary HA kawaii ga, Jane HA motto kawaii. Mary is cute, but Jane is more cute. [explain]: "comparison" of Mary and Jane.

    3] TOPIC, SUBJECT: Like English "As to (As for)". (example) お祭りは楽しかった。Omatsuri HA, tanoshikatta. As to the festival, it was amusing. == The festival was amusing. 犬は肉を食べる。Inu HA, niku wo taberu. As to a dog, it (they) eat meal. [explain] When one wants to say or express something (xyz) about the ceratain thing (A), "A HA, xyz == As to A, xyz." is used. A is the topic of saying. The contents of what one wants to say is expressed by "xyz" part.

    ------

    が GA, this is 格助詞 (Kaku-joshi)
    ( What is "Kaku-joshi". Roughly: In English, there is "case" in nouns. In Latin language, there are 6 (7) cases in nouns. In Classic Greek, there were 5 cases. Usually, they are called: Subjective, Genitive, Dative, Ablative, Accusative, and Vocative (Locative was used in Old Latin. There is no Ablative case in Classic Greek). For example, second declension noun "dominus" have the following forms in each case: dominus, domini, domino, domino, dominum, domine. -us, -i, -o, -o, -um, -e are a kind of suffix. "Kaku-joshi" has the similar function as these Noun conjugation suffix. Very roughly:

    が GA -- Subjective
    の NO -- Genitive
    に NI -- Dative
    で DE -- Ablative
    を WO -- Accusative

    GA, NO, NI, DE, WO are representative "Kaku-joshi" in Japanese language. "HA" is not "Kaku-joshi" (It is "Kakari-joshi"). But "GA" is Kaku-joshi.
    "格 Kaku" means roughly "case" in this case.)

    There are many usages of Kaku-joshi "GA", but I think two usages are Representative in the contemporary Japanese language. (And sometimes "old Genitive" usage is used like phrase. In this usage, "GA" shows possesion, or belonging like English Genitive "of". In Modern Japanese, Kaku-joshi "NO" is used for this usage. (example) 我が国。Wa GA kuni. My country, or Our country.)

    1] fact SUBJECT: Indicating the Noun is subject of sentence. (example) 太陽が昇る。Taiyou GA noboru. The Sun rises. 雀がコックロビンを殺した。Suzume GA Cock-Robin wo koroshita. The sparrow killed Cock-Robin. メアリーがきれいな声で、歌をうたった。Mary GA, kireina koe de uta wo utatta. Mary sang the song with beautiful voice. [explain] These sentences state the objective fact. Simple fact.

    2] feeling OBJECT: In the special cases, GA Kaku-joshi indicate the noun is "objective", not "subjective. Special cases: To show "hope, wish, like, dislike, ability, posibility". (example) ジェインが好きだ。Jane GA sukida. (I/, Someone) love Jane. 葡萄酒が飲みたい。Budoushu GA nomitai. (I/ Someone) want to drink wine. 英語が読める。Eigo GA yomeru. (I/ Someone) can read English.

    In the second usage of Kaku-joshi "GA", there is strange sentence (it loolks like strange.)
    A) 私は、ジェインが好きだ。Watashi HA, Jane GA sukida. == As to I, I love Jane.
    B) メアリーは、頭がよい。Mary HA, atama GA yoi. == As to Mary, her brain is good.

    In A, "Jane" is not the subject of the sub-sentence - clause. Jane is the object.
    In B, "atama" is the subject of the sub-sentence.

    ------

    Comparison of Subjective HA and GA:

    I have noticed:
    In the case of 誰、何、どれ (Dare, Nani, Dore | Who, What, Which), GA is used. HA is not used as Subjective postposition. That is, there are "Dare GA", "Nani GA", "Dore GA". But "Dare HA", "Nani HA", "Dore HA" do not seem to be used. The reason. In my opinion, Dare, Nani, Dore, -- these are unknown and uncertain thing, so they cannot be the topic of statement.

    "Dare GA koroshita Cock-Robin" (Who killed Cock-Robin?) exists, but "Dare HA koroshita Cock-Robin" is not used.
    "Nani GA gen-in nanoka" (What is the cause?) exists, but "Nani HA gen-in nanoka" is not used.

    Mary HA utsukushii (Mary is pretty) is opinion, statement, judgement of a speaker. On the other hand,
    Mary GA usukushii (Mary is pretty) is not opinion. It is simple fact.


    (Continued)
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    Re: Some random questions...

    Quote Originally Posted by pichu655889 View Post
    I went on ahead to check my grammar guidebook, and this is what it says:
    /QUOTE/
    が is used after the subject noun that denotes the newly introduced item in the context. Note that an item can be marked by が when introduced for the first time, but is marked by は afterward in the same context as more details about it are explained. は can also mark an introduced item if the speaker knows that the listener recognizes him but that he/she does not have its information (Eg. Name).

    紹介します。この人鈴木さんです。彼私の旧友です。(First time the listener meets Mr Suzuki)

    この人鈴木さんです。彼私の旧友です。(Listener recognizes Mr Suzuki but does not know his name)
    /QUOTE/

    Quote Originally Posted by pichu655889 View Post
    That explanation should explain the answers for the mini-test you did I think. There are more explanations of the usage of the particle in the book, which I am too lazy to copy down here. (Sorry! But I could if you want )

    FYI, this is the book on Amazon.
    -------------------------

    As to the examples which pichu655889 introduced. the difference of two sayings can be understood by the following explanation:

    A] 紹介します。この人が鈴木さんです。彼は私の旧友です。
    In this case, この人 (this person) is (almost) totally unknown, uncertain for people, or listners. So "this person" cannot be the topic of statement. Therefore, "simple fact" is shown. Thus GA is used.

    B] この人は鈴木さんです。彼は私の旧友です。
    In this case, people. or listners have already some information about "this person". So "this person" can be the topic of statement. Therefore, introducer's opinion or thinking is shown.

    In the case A, "This person is Mr. Suzuki" is the Simple fact.
    In the case B, "This person is Mr. Suzuki" shows the opinion or recognition of introducer.

    The sentence "This person is Mr. Suzuki" is sometimes correct, and sometimes a lie (or, misunderstanding) etc.


    Addition:

    When first introducing someone, for instance, Mr. Suzuki, the below 4 sentences are possible: (practically usable)

    紹介します。この人が鈴木さんです。彼は私の旧友です。
    紹介します。この人が鈴木さんです。彼が私の旧友です。
    紹介します。この人は鈴木さんです。彼は私の旧友です。
    紹介します。この人は鈴木さんです。彼が私の旧友です。

    In Japanese dictionary, there is no explanation that "GA has function of emphasis". But practically, GA has similar function. It is "Specifying" or "Identifying", so the Author says GA is "Identifier particle".

    Kare HA watashi no kyuuyuu desu.
    == [In my recognition,] he is my old friend.

    Kare GA watashi no kyuuyuu desu.
    == He is my old friend. [This is the fact.]

    When using GA Kaku-joshi, "This is the fact" is added in implication. So one can say GA has function of identification. And it brings "emphasis" effect.


    And why the author of the grammar book introduced the above example:

    紹介します。この人が鈴木さんです。彼は私の旧友です。

    Kono hito GA Suzuki-san desu. == This person is Mr. Suzuki. [This is the fact.]
    Kare HA watashi no kyuuyuu desu. == [In my recognition,] He is my old friend.

    -------------------------

    _ mrd

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    Re: Some random questions...

    @mildis;

    That was a very detailed explanation. Thank you! I take formal lessons for Japanese and for some reason we are not allowed to use は in the particle section of our tests. As a result, we don't really see how it is used and I'm not too clear on the usage of the particle.

    Quote Originally Posted by mildis View Post
    These sentences are also not usual. When an adult person talks with a little child, or a baby, he may say, or use this kind of saying. But these are artificial, not natural sentences.
    _ mrd
    I did think that the sentences sounded a little weird but wasn't sure...

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    Re: Some random questions...

    @mildis

    You are correct in saying in your explanations of HA and GA about 係助詞and各助詞. Just wanted to add more explanation.

    Using the example of introducing Mr Suzuki, "This man is Suzuki-san)", as you have noted, there are two possible ways:
    紹介します。この人鈴木さんです。 
    Kono hito GA Suzuki-san desu.

    紹介します。この人鈴木さんです。
    Kono hito HA Suzuki-san desu.

    As you have noted earlier, GA implies emphasis on "Suzuki-san".

    The difference between the two ways is the context in which the sentences are use.
    In the first sentence is used because the listener is already aware that Suzuki-san exists but haven't met him yet.
    In other words we get this scenario:
    1) Mr A and Mr B are talking to each other.
    2) At some point in the conversation, Suzuki-san is mentioned.
    3) Mr A and Mr B meet Suzuki-san and Mr A introduces Suzuki-san to Mr B.

    In English, we would get - "This man is Mr Suzuki" (with emphasis on "this" implying "this man is Mr Suzuki, the guy we've been talking about"). The important part is that the existence of Suzuki-san has already been established to Mr B, either in an earlier conversation or in the current one before the introduction.


    The example with HA is used when the listener is really meeting Suzuki-san for the first time, and "Suzuki-san" has not been mentioned in conversation earlier.

    Likewise, with the examples of 彼私の旧友です and 彼私の旧友です。 (He is my old friend)
    If the speaker has already mentioned that he has an old friend, then GA is used, if not, then HA is used.

    In other words, HA is used when something is being introduced to the conversation for the first time. GA is used when the subject has already been established at an earlier point in conversation, and GA is used to refer to that point.

    I hope this makes sense. I find it difficult to explain Japanese grammar. Never really think about grammar when using Japanese everyday...
    Last edited by TheNej; October 28th, 2013 at 01:45 AM.

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