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Mitsuwa Market Area Japanese Language and Culture MeetUp Message Board › Japanese/English grammar questions

Japanese/English grammar questions

A former member
Post #: 80
I hope discussing Japanese and English grammars helps us become aware of the differences between the two. This realization, I believe, would eventually enhance our fluency in speaking the other language. One difficulty with this page is that Japanese fonts do not show up correctly. So, although it is difficult to read, please use Roman ji.

My first question is:
A. My sister had never seen an elephant until she saw one at the circus.
B. My sister had never seen an elephant until she saw one in the circus.

What would be the difference between the two? Is the second sentence correct by the way?
A former member
Post #: 8
meetup.comは日本語­で書いても­いいですか­。
A former member
Post #: 89
Again, I have questions for you. For the following two pairs of sentences,
Q1. Which is correct?
Q2. If both are correct, what is the difference in meaning between them?

Pair 1:
- We hadn’t been walking an hour when it began to rain.
- We hadn’t been walking for an hour when it began to rain.

Pair 2:
- We’ve been waiting half an hour, but he hasn’t come yet. Let’s leave without him.
- We’ve been waiting for half an hour, but he hasn’t come yet. Let’s leave without him.

Thank you very much in advance.
A former member
Post #: 14
To me there is no difference at all and both sentences in each pair mean the same thing. They are both correct.

an hour vs. for an hour
half an hour vs. for half an hour

English tends to leave out "for" when speaking of duration since it is understood.

A former member
Post #: 11
That's right, both mean the same thing. However, just like Japanese, you need to know your audience. Putting in "for" isn't really more polite, but it does sound more proper. In casual speech or writing, it's ok to leave it out.

As for your first question, they both are grammatically ok. However, sentence B sounds a little odd, and seems to be implying something else. It's unfortunately one of those subtle usage things that you get into with English. "At" the circus implies that "circus" is a specific place or point in time. "In" could mean in a specific place, or that your sister is a performer with the circus and before having joined the circus, she had never seen an elephant before. Since circuses don't really stay in one place all the time, it sounds more like the latter.

So sentence "A" would be preferred, but we would probably get what you mean because being a circus performer is a little unusual.
A former member
Post #: 91
Thank you very much Lauren and Phil. I love making jokes by using the sabtle difference
Thank you very much Lauren and Phil for your explanations. I love making fun of (my and others) mistakes that literal translation from Japanese creates. They call it “Engrish.” This type of funny story is out there when English speakers use Japanese. So, Phil, if I use ‘in’ in the sentence B, does it imply that the circus includes both her and the elephant? I think I will be more careful when I use ‘in’ when I speak. Arigatou!


That's right, both mean the same thing. However, just like Japanese, you need to know your audience. Putting in "for" isn't really more polite, but it does sound more proper. In casual speech or writing, it's ok to leave it out.

As for your first question, they both are grammatically ok. However, sentence B sounds a little odd, and seems to be implying something else. It's unfortunately one of those subtle usage things that you get into with English. "At" the circus implies that "circus" is a specific place or point in time. "In" could mean in a specific place, or that your sister is a performer with the circus and before having joined the circus, she had never seen an elephant before. Since circuses don't really stay in one place all the time, it sounds more like the latter.

So sentence "A" would be preferred, but we would probably get what you mean because being a circus performer is a little unusual.

A former member
Post #: 97

Phil wrote:
"ミツワ都­内の日本語­会話会
(mitsuwa tonai no nihongo kaiwa kai)
"tonai" might not be the right word - I could use a little help on that, I'm just kind of looking in the dictionary and picking words that seem right to me. Maybe 地域 (chiiki).

And the last part - I don't know which one we want:
会(かい)­
部(ぶ)
グルプ
団(だん)­- my personal favorite, it sounds cool"


If I hear Mitsuwa 都内, it sounds to me that there is City of Mitsuwa in Illinois. Tonai is often used with a big city’s name such as Tokyo (e.g., Tokyo to nai).

It is difficult for me to translate the “Mitsuwa Market Area Japanese Language and Culture Meetup.” Does this “Area” simply mean the building where they sell goods? If so, it can be translated as, “Mistuwa nai nihongo kaiwa kai.” “Nai” means “in”. However, the title can be interpreted as “Japanese Language and Culture Meetup for people living in the vicinity of Mitsuwa Market.” If this is the case, “Mistuwa fukin ni sundeiru hitono tameno nihongo kaiwa kai.” But, this may be too long for a title of a group.


A former member
Post #: 6
I hope discussing Japanese and English grammars helps us become aware of the differences between the two. This realization, I believe, would eventually enhance our fluency in speaking the other language. One difficulty with this page is that Japanese fonts do not show up correctly. So, although it is difficult to read, please use Roman ji.

My first question is:
A. My sister had never seen an elephant until she saw one at the circus.
B. My sister had never seen an elephant until she saw one in the circus.

What would be the difference between the two? Is the second sentence correct by the way?
Actually, I disagree that the two are exactly the same. There is a tiny, vague difference that will likely go unnoticed if you use either sentence, but there is a difference. You all may call me a nitpicker for this, but for someone trying to master English, I think that such things gain some level of importance.

Sentence B suggests that the elephant is actually a part of the circus. Sentence A, while one would naturally assume so, does not. Sentence A leaves the possibility that one may have seen an elephant at the circus that might not actually be a part of the circus. Furthermore, one makes the aforementioned assumption because elephants are a regular attraction at circuses. If you exchanged 'an elephant' for something unlikely to be found at a circus, I think my analysis makes more sense. For example:

A. My sister had never seen Arnold Schwarzenegger until she saw him at the circus.
B. My sister had never seen Arnold Schwarzenegger until she saw him in the circus.

I hope that this makes sense. :)
A former member
Post #: 101
Thank you very much for your explanation, Chris. Please let me clarify my understanding of it. So, in a nutshell, are you positing that if one utilizes ‘in’ as in Sentence B, it conveys an impression that nouns before and after ‘in’ are closely connected? If this is true, I can tell a subtle difference between the following two sentences:

Sentence 1 (IN). Kathy and Nancy used to work IN the same shop, and would often have coffee together.
Sentence 2 (AT). Kathy and Nancy used to work AT the same shop, and would often have coffee together.

It seems that both sentences tell me that Kathy and Nancy were good friends. Although Sentence 1 (IN) may show that Kathy and Nancy loved the job they took, Sentence 2 (AT) may tell me that they did not like the job as much. What would you think about my understanding?

Yenji


Actually, I disagree that the two are exactly the same. There is a tiny, vague difference that will likely go unnoticed if you use either sentence, but there is a difference. You all may call me a nitpicker for this, but for someone trying to master English, I think that such things gain some level of importance.

Sentence B suggests that the elephant is actually a part of the circus. Sentence A, while one would naturally assume so, does not. Sentence A leaves the possibility that one may have seen an elephant at the circus that might not actually be a part of the circus. Furthermore, one makes the aforementioned assumption because elephants are a regular attraction at circuses. If you exchanged 'an elephant' for something unlikely to be found at a circus, I think my analysis makes more sense. For example:

A. My sister had never seen Arnold Schwarzenegger until she saw him at the circus.
B. My sister had never seen Arnold Schwarzenegger until she saw him in the circus.

I hope that this makes sense. :)
A former member
Post #: 11
Chris is "right on" but from my personal experience, very few people are knowledgeable enough to be able to tell the difference. The US educational curriculum has been watered down in most schools the last 30 years or so and the teaching of grammar is unsystematic and sporadic.

Also, I noticed ESL students asking me the most difficult English questions and due to my failing memory, I often reply, "Because it sounds right." LOL

Being nitpicky might be essential if you are pursuing a career that requires perfectly unequivocal English. If it were me learning English, I would watch something like Seinfeld reruns and google all the insinuations, allusions that I can catch.

[quoteActually, I disagree that the two are exactly the same. There is a tiny, vague difference that will likely go unnoticed if you use either sentence, but there is a difference. You all may call me a nitpicker for this, but for someone trying to master English, I think that such things gain some level of importance.

Sentence B suggests that the elephant is actually a part of the circus. Sentence A, while one would naturally assume so, does not. Sentence A leaves the possibility that one may have seen an elephant at the circus that might not actually be a part of the circus. Furthermore, one makes the aforementioned assumption because elephants are a regular attraction at circuses. If you exchanged 'an elephant' for something unlikely to be found at a circus, I think my analysis makes more sense. For example:

A. My sister had never seen Arnold Schwarzenegger until she saw him at the circus.
B. My sister had never seen Arnold Schwarzenegger until she saw him in the circus.

I hope that this makes sense. :)
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