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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 #: 12
Hi Kenji, It was a pleasure seeing you at Japan Fest!

Actually, it would be difficult for me to say that either Nancy or Kathy liked their jobs or not according to the 2 sentences. As for me, I would not be able to infer that they were good friends or not.

"at" might mean they are doing work at a location (their own work or independent contractors, etc)
"in" might mean they are employees of the same shop

I don't know the rules for this, I just feel how it sounds to me case-by-case.

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



A former member
Post #: 103
Hi Vince, Thank you very much for your answers to my questions. I often use that answer to people asking me about Japanese grammar, "Because this sounds better than the other." It is indeed important to understand "why" of grammar when it comes to learning a foreign language. However, I believe if it comes to a certain level, it would be going to be a matter of how they actually speak in daily life. Well, this has been a great discussion. Thank you all.
A former member
Post #: 105
Let me pose a new question. If you translate these sentences into Japanese, how would you do that?

A. We’re looking forward to seeing you at next week’s get-together.
B. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the next week’s get-together.

By the way, is Sentence B incorrect? Thank you very much in advance.
Jeremy C.
user 2497129
Chicago, IL
Post #: 42
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.

IN implies that you are inside of whatever. AT implies that you are sharing the location with whatever. When I say, "I am in the store," it is clear that I am inside the store. When I say, "I am at the store," I may be inside the store, but I may be in the parking lot. A shop is a location and when you work AT a shop you are usually working IN the shop, thus we interpret both of the above as being exactly the same. If someone parked cars at the United Center, but never went inside the stadium, they might be hesitant to say they work IN the United Center and instead say they work AT the United Center. Though most of us would assume that when they are AT the United Center they are IN the United Center and we would completely miss the implication of them using AT instead of IN.

However when the thing is not a location, but an organization instead, being "in" or "inside of" takes on a different kind of implication. Since the circus is more of an organization than a location it effects how we interpret IN and AT when used with the circus.

When you say, "I am in the Japanese Meetup Group," or, "I am in the class," or, "I am in the circus," it means I am a member of that organization. If I were to say that, "I am at the Japanese Meetup Group," it would mean I was attending a meetup without implying whether or not I was actually a member, though most people would infer that I was a member. Same with, "I am at the class," where I may or may not be enrolled in the class, but I'm attending a session of it, so most people would assume I am enrolled. Because the Meetup Group and classes are common things to join, when someone is AT one we assume they have joined it and are also IN it.

The circus winds up with a different connotation, though. Since it is common for people to visit the circus, but very uncommon for people to join the circus, when we say some is AT the circus we assume they have not joined it and are just visiting. "Schwarzeneger was in the circus," means he had joined the circus. "Schwarzeneger was at the circus," implies that he was visiting the circus (though officially it isn't specific and he could have been AT it because he was part of it). Your original sentences throw in an extra wrench of whether "in the curcus" and "at the circus" refer to the subject or the object. We have ways of being more specific if need be.

"My sister had never seen an elephant until she saw him at the circus," could mean...
"My sister had never seen an elephant until she saw him while he was at the circus," or...
"My sister had never seen an elephant until she saw him while she was at the circus."

The word, "at," only says that my sister, the elephant, and the circus were all sharing the same location and does not specify who was or was not a member of the circus. But since it is uncommon for sisters to be in the circus and common for elephants to be in the circus, in all three sentences we assume the sister was only visiting the circus and the elephant was a member of the circus.

"My sister had never seen an elephant until she saw him in the circus," could mean...
"My sister had never seen an elephant until she saw him while he was in the circus," or...
"My sister had never seen an elephant until she saw him while she was in the circus."

The first sentence doesn't say who was IN (or a member of) the circus, but because it is uncommon for sisters to be IN the circus and common for elephants to be IN the circus, we assume that my sister was visiting and the elephant was a member. In the second sentence it is specified that the elephant was IN the circus and we are left to assume that the sister was only visiting. Thus we interpret the first and second IN sentences to be the same as all the AT sentences. However, in the third sentence it is specified that my sister is IN the cirus, so we now assume that both she and the elephant are members of the circus.

I hope that helps.

Jeremy
A former member
Post #: 7
Let me pose a new question. If you translate these sentences into Japanese, how would you do that?

A. We’re looking forward to seeing you at next week’s get-together.
B. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the next week’s get-together.

By the way, is Sentence B incorrect? Thank you very much in advance.

Ohayou gozaimasu, Kenji-san. :)

I can't translate to Japanese, but sentence B is not incorrect. It sounds very awkward, and would likely never be said by a native speaker, but I don't think that it is grammatically incorrect. Sentence A is much more natural-sounding.
A former member
Post #: 106
Chris, could you describe how awkward Sentence B sounds?
A former member
Post #: 14
"the" is the definite article, and "next week" is an indefinite noun. Typically "a" or "an" are the articles used to specify indefinite nouns, but since "next week" is a relative term, it is understood to be indefinite and the article is dropped.

So to answer your question, it makes you sound like a foreigner smile
Jeremy C.
user 2497129
Chicago, IL
Post #: 43
Time stamps that use a standard phrase don't take an article. "It happened yesterday." "It happened last year." "It will happen next week." "It will happen Tuesday." Even simple counting gets to skip the article: "It happened three days ago." But when it gets a little more complicated and you have to describe when it happened, then you use the article. "It happened THE day after the big storm." "It will happen THE Tuesday after next." Also, if the number is ordinal you use the article. "It happened on THE fourth of July." "It happened on THE third day of our trip."

Jeremy
A former member
Post #: 107
Thank you Phil and Jeremy for your explanations. ‘Next week’ itself is definitive enough to require no ‘the’ article in front of it. That resolved one of the questions that I have had for a long time. It seems to me that writing in Japanese (except for Kanji and keigo) may be easier for English speakers than writing in English for Japanese speakers. In translating English into Japanese, ‘the’ or ‘a’ does not have to be clearly converted to Japanese.
A former member
Post #: 108
So, we will definitely have a Nabe party in the club house of Jun’s apartment complex, not at the club house. There will be no possibility that we are going to share Nabe under the sun. Do you think that I got the idea? lol Thank you for your explanation.
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