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Post Some differences between Japanese Grammar and English Grammar - 07-15-2016, 06:43 PM

Its good to be back, and in this time I would like to share some of my thought about differences between Japanese grammar and English grammar when I learn Japanese. Of course this is my personal opinion so it is open for debate. Have fun!

1 - Difference in Characters:



The most obvious difference between English grammar and Japanese grammar is probably the characters. In English, or Italian, or Frence, .etc.., all of these languages follow Latin characters from A to Z. However, Japanese grammar does not have Latin characters, it has its own 3 types of characters: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji symbols. Sounds terrifying isn't it? While Latin script has 26 characters, Hiragana and Katakana script each has 46 and 45 characters. "Okay, so you tell me that if I'm going to learn Japanese, I'll have to learn 2 characters script with 91 characters in total?". Um... yes, you have to learn all of them. But wait! If you think that is over? Guess what, you will have to learn thousands of Kanji characters (based on Chinese characters) in which each character/word holds a difference meaning. So yes, in terms of characters. Japanese is hard.

2 - Difference in Verb Tense:



You have just read about Japanese characters and you are still afraid of learning Japanese? Then here is a good news for you. Unlike English grammar which has tons of verb tenses, ranging from past tense to the future tense and each tense has 4 forms: simple, progressive, perfect, and perfect progressive; Japanese grammar only has 2 verb tenses: past and present tense and each tense has formal and informal form. That's it! 2 tenses, in details, verbs in Japanese has "masu" ending. In present tense, the positive form will be "masu", negative form will be "masen"; and in past tense, the positive form changes to "mashita" and negative form changes to "masendeshita". On the other hand, the formal and informal aspect are quite easy to get. Therefore there is nothing to worry about in term of Japanese grammar's verb tense.

3 - Difference in Particles order:



So normally in English grammar we follow this order: Subject - Verb - Object, for example: "I eat rice." But in Japanese grammar, the order is little bit different which is: Subject - Object - Verb. Sounds weird isn't it? If we follow this order in English, the example above will be: "I rice eat." Sounds nonsensical and funny, but actually that is how it works in Japanese. In Japanese, the sentence "I eat rice" will become "わたしはごはんを食べます" (watashi wa gohan wo tabemasu - I rice eat). This difference is not that complicated as you gradually learn Japanese. However, it means that during your Japanese learning process, especially if you are beginners and if you are learning speaking Japanese, you cannot just translate whatever sentence you see into English since the two particles orders are different. Not to mention that there is high chance that you will be confused between the two language structure, and that will not be good.

Overall personally I find it hard to compare these 2 languages since people from different countries may not think the same. But yeah for me Japanese is truly a hard language and it needs hard work.

Last edited by Arsudar : 09-19-2016 at 08:02 AM.
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07-16-2016, 12:27 AM

Most significant grammatical difference between Japanese and western language is - I think - western grammar is positional and Japanese is not.

I mean Japanese has the "marker" for every word to indicate the class of the word and you do not consider severely about the position in the sentence with these markers.

I have no time to continue writing. see you later!


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05-02-2017, 03:29 PM

After ten months of gap, I decided to continue this thread.

I started learning English at age of twelve in school. At age 15, I was surprised at a English phrase "(to) live a life".

I'm not sure if western people understand what I found then, the first thing I was shocked was the aggressive stance against the life. I think most of Japanese people would rather think of life as "to be allowed to live". This concept would be based on Buddhism and leads Japanese people to accept HARAKIRI or KAMIKAZE kind of things.

The second thing I was surprised at was grammatical subject that "live" is the transitive verb.

Japanese language also has transitive verb but Japanese people do not concern about it so often.

When a Japanese learns English, it is important to understand the use of transitive verbs. It means that it would important for foreign people to understand it (what is it?) when foreign people learn Japanese.


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05-02-2017, 03:51 PM

When Japanese students learn English, they are told "English has a structure of S-V-C where number of C could be zero to two".

Japanese sentences also can be analyzed as S-V-O format. But I think it is wrong to understand Japanese in S-V-O format these days. Because S-V-O format is a way to understand western language and not for Japanese language originally.


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Last edited by RadioKid : 05-04-2017 at 02:38 PM. Reason: correct "S-V-C" and "S-V-V" as "S-V-O"
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05-04-2017, 02:37 PM

It is very difficult for me to write about Japanese grammar in English. Anyway, I will continue explain what I think.

Sentences in western language has always confrontation of "doer (S:
subject)" and "doee (Object)" while sentences in Japanese language has not always such kind of confrontation.

I have an impression that English is a language where "I" or "you" and other thing are confronting while Japanese language treats everything even.

When I translate some Japanese sentences, the first thing I do is construct a confrontation. Without this step, I cannot make the elemental structure of English.

If I translate Japanese sentences word to word without confrontation, foreign people would ask me "then what is the point?"

Do you understand what I want to say? I'm not sure I could express what I think correctly. I will re-write again and again later on.

And I'm sue I was wrong writing "S-V-C" instead of "S-V-O". I will correct them.


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05-06-2017, 02:50 PM

I believe western languages are based on individualism. In individualism society, people would confront each other.

Then, on what Japanese language is based?

I think Japanese language is based on equalism (?) by which I mean the talker is not insist of himself. The talker and other things around him are all totally equal. Everything is even. Japanese language is not for confrontation but for harmony.

Because of these reasons, Japanese people often omit subject. Japanese people do not want to recognize the world as the action (relation of doer and doee).


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05-14-2017, 03:17 PM

I believe western S-V-O can not fit the Japanese Language.

Why do I believe that? Because of the Japanese word marker "が:GA".

Among the markers, "は:character is HA;pronunciation is WA","も:MO;too" and "が:GA"can be a marker for the subject.

WA and MO are not always indicate subject. WA is main theme indicator and MO is "also" for every marker.

How do you learn about themarker "GA"? Did you learn it as the subject marker?

1) 犬が歩く:INU GA ARUKU:A dof walks.

In this case, "GA" indicates the dog is the subject.

2) 犬が好きです:INU GA SUKI DESU:I like dogs.

In this case, "GA" indicates the "dogs" is the object.

3) それがいいよ:SORE GA II YO;It is good / I prefer it.

in this cace, there are two way of interpretation. they are confusing.

I can not explain the "GA"s in these cases. Can someone explain for me?


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05-26-2017, 11:53 AM

Comparing English and Japanese in some cases in the daily life. English comment starts at 4:00.



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