Nihongo - Let's Learn Grammar

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  • 公開済み: 21 8 2013
  • アップデートされたもの: 14 7 2015
  • 状況: 完了
This movella teaches you straightforward the grammar of Japanese. From 助詞 to 動詞, you will be able to get a complete and organised movella that includes all major particles and essential grammatical usages to make cool Japanese sentences! 行きましょうね!


16. Subordinate Clauses

In the previous chapter, you were taught how to modify adjectives, both い- and な-adjectives. In this chapter, you will learn how to use that knowledge to create subordinate clauses!



Subordinate Clauses

Subordinate clauses are basically phrases describing the noun. In my opinion, making subordinate clauses in English is much harder than it is in Japanese. Really because words used to create subordinate clauses do not exist in Japanese. There is no such thing as an article in Japanese, unlike in English, such as the "The," "A" and "An."


Remember how to use adjectives? Just like in English, adjectives describe a noun. All we have to do in Japanese is place the noun after the adjective, just as English does:


男の子 【おとこ・の・こ】= Boy

悲しい 【かな・しい】= Sad

泣く 【な・く】= To cry


• 悲しい男の子は泣きました。= The sad boy cried.


Let's use this sentence for a little while more.


In English, how would we describe the boy as a crying boy and is sad?


• The boy who was crying was sad.

The "who was crying" part is the subordinate clause of the boy. We could say "The crying boy," but that sounds too direct and awkward. However (and this is why I think Japanese subordinate clauses are easier in English), in Japanese all we have to do is place the verb after the noun, working just like any other adjective!


• 泣いていた男の子は悲しかったです。= The boy who was crying was sad.

Keep note that making the verb the subordinate clause will need to take the plain form of its tense. Tenses will always be in their plain forms.


• 泣く男の子は・・・ = The boy who cries...

• 泣いている男の子は・・・ = The boy who is crying...

• 泣いていた男の子は・・・ = The boy who was crying...

• 泣いた男の子は・・・ = The boy who cried...


It's as simple as that! There is no such thing as "The [noun/time] who/that/when/where..." Those words do not exist in Japanese like they do in English. They are manifested arbitrarily when they are behind the noun they describe.



"That Time When"

We use "when" a lot when we're describing stuff.

"Do you remember that time when I ate the whole pizza by myself?"

"I stepped in mud that time when I missed the bus."

"(Those times) When I get sick, I drink a lot of orange juice."


This is an expression that you will encounter and use quite often.


時 【とき】= (Time stamp)


This word gets a lot of traffic because we always like talking about certain events in time. For example, that time when you bought that cute dress, or that time when you forgot your wallet before leaving the house, or even that time when you plan on visiting Japan for the first time. These are all subordinate clauses.


Treat 時 exactly like a noun to stamp a time for the subordinate clause:


新しい 【あたら・しい】= New

財布 【さい・ふ】= Wallet

買う 【か・う】= To buy

風邪 【か・ぜ】= Cold

引く 【ひ・く】= To pull/catch

• 新しい財布を買いたかった・・・ = (That time) When I wanted to buy a new wallet...

• 初めてお寿司を食べてみた・・・ = (That time) When I tried sushi for the first time...

• 風邪を引いた・・・ = When I caught a cold...



Be careful with your は here! If you give 時 a は, you are making the entire subordinate clause a general event. Think of "When" transforming into "Whenever" when は is used.


• 風邪を引いた・・・ = Whenever I catch colds...

• 新しい財布を買いたい・・・ = Whenever I want to buy a wallet...

☆• 初めてお寿司を食べてみる・・・ = Whenever I try sushi for the first time...

☆ Using は for specific times with 時 can make your sentence wrong. In this sentence, you cannot try something for the first time multiple times. So be mindful when you include は. Additionally, you cannot make a general time with something that happened in the past because it's already done.


• 新しい財布を買いたかった時は・・・ = Whenever I wanted to buy wallet...

If your intention is to talk about a general time for whenever you used to buy wallets, then this is fine.


Rule of Thumb

It's very easy to describe a noun in Japanese. Just be sure to conjugate your verbs accordingly. They will take on the plain forms of its tenses, whether it'd be past, perfect, future and so on.

Your い-adjectives are true adjectives, so just slap them behind the noun.

Your な-adjectives, however, are not true adjectives, so remember their  tail.



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