And kanji with manga
Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Reading The Examples

In this site, example sentences and excerpts typically follow a format of romaji, Japanese, and English translations, with symbols added to the romaji and translation in order to keep the Japanese text unchanged.

  • {kiita} koto φ aru (romaji)
    聞いたことある (Japanese)
    [I] have [the experience of] {hearing about [it]}. (most literal translation.)
    I've read about it. (least literal translation.)

For reference, this article will list what the symbols found in the examples in this site mean.

Semantic

[Word] in Square Brackets

Used when a phrase was added that wasn't originally there, uses vary.

[Translation] in square brackets

Used when an English word that doesn't have an equivalent word in the original Japanese text.

Often due to pronoun dropping, specially because Japanese doesn't have an "it" pronoun.

  • kawaii
    かわいい
    [It] is cute.
  • oshiete-kudasai
    教えて下さい
    Please teach [me].
  • tabemasu ka?
    食べますか?
    Will [you] eat [it]?

Incomplete sentences:

  • sono hito wa?
    その人は?
    [Who is] that person?
  • o-namae wa?
    名前は?
    [What is your] name?

Relative pronouns, due to Japanese relative clauses being simply placed before the nouns and not requiring relative pronouns at all.

  • shinda hito
    死んだ人
    A person [that] died.
  • sore ga okita shunkan
    それが起きた瞬間
    The moment [when] that occurred.
  • erufu ga sumu mori
    エルフが住む森
    The forest [where] elves live.

[Romaji] in Square Brackets

Used when a phrase wasn't included in the original Japanese text.

  • sono hito wa [dare desu ka]?
    その人は?
    [Who is] that person?

{Phrase} in Curly Brackets

When used, the translation of a romaji surrounded by brackets is also surrounded by brackets. They're nested, sometimes.

Generally groups clauses together.

  • {shinda} hito
    死んだ人
    A person [that] {died}.
    A {dead} person.
  • hito wa {korosarereba} shinu
    人は殺されれば死ぬ
    People die {if [they] are killed}.
    People die {when [they] are killed}.
  • erufu wa {mimi ga nagai}
    エルフは耳が長い
    {Long is true about ears} is true about elves.
    {Ears are long} is true about elves.
    Elves {[have] long ears}.
    (double subject construction.)
  • {{kyuu ni} okita} dekigoto
    急に起きた出来事
    An incident [that] {{suddenly} occurred}.
  • {{{{muzukashii} kanji ga yomeru} you ni} naru} houhou
    難しい漢字が読めるようになる方法
    A method [for] {becoming {in such way [that] {[you] can read {difficult} kanji}}}}.
    A way to become able to read difficult kanji.
    (stative verb eventivization as relative clause.)

Sometimes, to group noun phrases together.

  • {neko to inu} ryouhou suki desu
    猫と犬両方好きです
    [I] like both {cats and dogs}.

〇〇××△△

In Japanese, the circles, X marks, and triangles are sometimes used as placeholders, and may work like underscores. For example:

  • __-san
    〇〇さん
    Mr. ___.
  • X-san to Y-san
    〇〇さんと××さん
    Mr. X and Mr. Y.

Orthographic

(Japanese Text) in Parentheses

Used in two ways.

To show the furigana 振り仮名, typically only used when it's not a reading aid, and has a different word in the reading, that is, it's a gikun 義訓.

  • seiken (ekusukaribaa)
    聖剣(エクスカリバー)
    Holy sword (Excalibur).

In newly written articles, due to how gikun works, the parentheses may come before, e.g. "(Excalibur) holy sword." Also, if your browser supports it, the Japanese may have a ruby layout instead of parentheses: 聖剣エクスカリバー.

In Japanese, parentheses have various functions, some of which about learning grammar.

They can show that a text is optional.

  • ore (wa) Tarou φ
    (は)太郎
    I'm Tarou.
    • Here, we can remove the wa は.

When there are slashes in the parentheses, those are possible alternatives, one of which must be inserted. A slash at the end, right before the parentheses indicates they're all optional instead.

  • ore wa Tarou (da/desu/φ)
    俺は太郎(だ/です/)
    I('m) Tarou.

´, Acute in Romaji

Represents a dakuten 濁点 diacritic for words that don't have a standard romanization.


  • あ゛
    Ah. (a with dakuten.)

Not to be confused with a ', apostrophe, that comes after n ん to disambiguate:

  • kon'ya
    こんや
  • konya
    こにゃ
  • n'nya
    んにゃ
  • nnya
    っんや

~, Tilde in Romaji

A stylized way to represent a prolonged sound mark.

  • aa~~!
    ああーー! (or ああ~~!)
    Aahhh!

Standard Linguistic Symbols

The symbols below are also found in linguistic articles cited around the site.

φ, or ∅

The null symbol, used in grammatical analysis, such as the null particle (zero particle) or null copula (zero copula).

  • ore φ, Tarou φ
    俺、太郎
    I'm Tarou.
    • ore wa Tarou da
      俺は太郎だ
      (same meaning.)
  • φ {neko ga suki desu}
    猫が好きです
    {Cats are liked} [is true about me].
    [I] like cats.
    (double subject construction.)

In tables, shows the unchanged root morpheme and there is no suffix added. For example, below we have at left the base word, and at the right the same word the ~ta ~た jodoushi 助動詞 added.


Nonpast form.
~ta ~た
Past form.
korosu
殺す
Kills.
Will kill.
koroshita
殺した
Killed.
shinu
死ぬ
Dies.
Will die.
shinda
死んだ
Died.
da

To be.
datta
だった
Was.

*, Asterisk at Start of Sentence

Indicates it's ungrammatical. Grammatically wrong sentences sometimes also have the Japanese text struckthrough.

  • *dare wa keeki wo tabeta?!
    誰はケーキを食べた?!
    (wrong.)
    • An interrogative pronoun such as dare 誰, "who," can't be marked as topic by the wa は particle.
    • dare ga keeki wo tabeta?!
      ケーキを食べた?!
      Who ate the cake?!
      (correct.)
  • *sore keeki ga oishi-sou da
    それケーキが美味しそうだ
    Intended: "that cake looks delicious."
    (wrong.)
    • The kosoado word sore それ, "that," is a noun and can't come prenominally like the adjective "that" in English.
    • sono keeki ga oishi-sou da
      そのケーキが美味しそうだ
      That cake looks delicious.
      (correct.)
  • *nigenasai wa
    逃げなさいわ
    Intended: "run away!"
    (wrong.)

#, Octothorpe at Start of Sentence

Indicates infelicity. The grammatical syntax of the sentence is correct, but its meaning makes absolutely no sense.

  • #{ie wo deta} mae ni asa-gohan wo tabeta
    家を出た前に朝ご飯を食べた
    Intended: "[he] ate breakfast before {leaving the house}."
    (wrong.)
    • Due to how tenses work, the temporal noun mae 前, "before," can't be qualified by a relative clause in past tense. The tense of a subordinate clause in Japanese is relative to its matrix, consequently, deta must occur before tabeta, but mae ni means tabeta occurs before deta. Both clauses express they must occur before the other, creating an irrational wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey cyclic reference.
    • {ie wo deru} mae ni asa-gohan wo tabeta
      家を出る前に朝ごはんを食べた
      [He] ate breakfast before {leaving the house}.
      (correct.)

?, Question Mark at Start of Sentence

Indicates oddity. The sentence is well-formed and felicitous, but would be considered weird if spoken nevertheless.

  • ?kono ore-sama ni oshiete-kudasai masen kashira?
    この俺様に教えてくださいませんかしら?
    Wouldn't [you] teach me?
    • This sentence combines male speech (ore) and female speech (kashira), as well as arrogant speech (kono ore-sama) and polite speech (masen). While anyone can understand what it says, nobody can understand what leads a person to talk like this. Probably watching too much anime.

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