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Introduction to the Japanese Grammar May 6, 2007

Posted by Dedy Rustandi in Nihongo.

This time, I want to tell you little thing bout Japanese grammar. I got this from my Boss..

Something you should know bout japanese language.
(1) Japanese is a free position language
In English and in many languages, a sentence consists of S+V+O and the position of subjects objects and verbs are fixed. But in Japanese, many of the nouns are free positional and only verbs come last. We can get the role of nouns by knowing the following particles.
私は 朝9時に 会社へ 行きます。 ( watashi ha asa 9ji ni kaisha he ikimasu)
  I at 9 clock to company go
朝9時に 私は 会社へ 行きます。 (asa 9ji ni watashi ha kasiha he ikimasu)
  at 9 clock, I to company go
会社へ 朝9時に 私は 行きます。 (kaisha he asa 9ji ni watashi ha ikimasu)
to Company at 9clock I go
All these three sentences have the same meaning, although the emphasis is a little bit different.
We can say that every word before the verb modifies the last verb.

(2) Modifier comes first
In Japanese, a modifier always comes before its object, although in English, an adjective comes before but a phrase comes after.
これは 大きな ビルです。(kore ha ookina biru desu) This is a big building.
これは 私が 働いている ビルです。(kore ha watashi ga hataraiteiru biru desu) This is a building where I work.
Japanese sentence apt to become longer and more difficult to find the primary sentence structure than other languages, because there comes many modifying phrases and subordinate modifying sentence before the primary verb.
So, short sentences is strongly requested when to speak with foreigners.

(3) Multi redundancies of language
Computer tries to understand an input text only by its grammatical knowledge. But we never do such way. We have the background situation where the input text is given and the semantic relations of the words used in the text. So even if the text has some grammatical errors such as in the usage of verbs and particles, we usually can understand the correct meaning of the text by using such information.
The next two paragraphs discuss this flexibility against grammatical errors.

(4) Inflection of verbs and adjectives
Inflection of verbs is very difficult for foreigners, especially for beginners, but this is not so important issue in the first stage to live and work in Japan.
For example, even if you speak following sentences, we never mind such errors and can understand what you want to say.
明日3時にオフィスにいます。待っています。 I’ll be at office at 3, tomorrow. I’ll wait for you.
明日3時にオフィスにいたした。待てます。 (Grammatical error)
明日3時にオフィスにいました。待っていました。(Semantic error)
Although the last example is grammatically correct, we know that tomorrow is not the past, and have no problem to understand this.
This means that inflection error of verb almost doesn’t cause any misunderstanding.

(5) Irregular usage of particles
As mentioned before, particles are very convenient to understand the role of each noun. But this will make a problem. For example,
  明日3時でオフィスにいます。 (Grammatical error)
  明日3時までオフィスにいます。 I’ll be at office until 3, tomorrow.
The first example won’t cause any problem, but the second will make a big problem. If you visit him at 1 tomorrow afternoon, you can’t see him, because he will come back at 3.
So, you will easily understand that the study of particles is more important than that of inflection. But the study of particles is not so easy.
Fro example, let’s consider the next sentences.
これは 私が 働いている ビルです。 This is a building where I work.
This is a conjunction of following two sentences.
これは ビルです。 This is a building.
私は このビルで働いています。 I work in this building.
Here, “は” is used to show the subject, but once they are combined, the second is changed to “が”. We never say “これは 私は 働いている ビルです” It’s very confusing which is the primary subject.
This complexity will surely make a foreigner embarrassed and confused.
Careful and systematic approach on Japanese teaching, especially on particles, is strongly needed.

(6) Tips
From these considerations, we recommend u to approach the following things :
i) At first, learn the very basic grammar of Japanese, especially the usage of particles
ii) Learn as many words as necessary for the field you work.
iii) Try to use Japanese as much as possible even if its Japanese is grammatically wrong.
To be accustomed to Japanese in your work is more important.
iv) And then, gradually brush up your Japanese by learning advanced usage of particles and verbs and so on.

Good Luck…


1. orido - May 21, 2007

watasiwa namae wa oRiDo..
jadi inget dulu pas kerja di perusahaan jepun..

2. Dedy Rustandi - May 22, 2007

yoroshiku onegaishimasu

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