Japanese grammar - Order and sentence structure

Japanese grammar in practice is simple. But it is totally different and opposite from English, and that confused our learning a lot. The order of sentences, the conjugation of verbs, everything, despite being simple, is different.

You probably already know the particles, the verbs, adjectives, you can have an immense vocabulary, but when speaking and writing sentences do you feel lost? In this article, we will try to understand a little the order of the sentences and their structure.

If we search the internet about Japanese structure and grammar, they will all talk about particles and verbs, but none will explain in detail the order of each one in the sentences, especially large sentences. Let's save all of those details that we have examined in several articles and get to the point. Let's start by taking the following sentence:

The children ate the Apple 子供は リンゴを 食べた
Subject Verb Object Subject Object Verb
The children Apple Eat
kodomo wa ringo wo tablet

Unlike English, the verb will almost always end at the end of the sentence. The は and を particles present in the sentence,

Japanese is much more flexible. Anything to the left of the verb can be rearranged without changing the basic meaning of the sentence, although, as you will learn, there is still a preferred order. How is this possible? Thanks to the particles it serves to identify each part of the sentence. That is リンゴを子供が食べた。 is not common but it is not wrong.

Sentences with noun and です

Now let's talk a little about the structure of some sentences without a verb, which has only です (desu). Some like to call desu a verb, but others don't, so I'll stay neutral.

Kana お名前は ケビン です これは です
Romaji onamae wa kebin desu kore wa  hon desu
Literal Name Kevin It's this book It's
Structure Noun description verb pronominal noun / object verb
English My name It's Kevin This is one  book 

This structure can be used with other verbs.

How do I identify the subject, verb, object and etc?

Sometimes you can feel lost, asking what I define as a subject, object and verb? The table below will help you to memorize:

Category Definition Examples
Noun person, place, thing or idea Kirigaya, mountain, stick, linguistics
Adjective Describes a noun red, happy, hot
Verb An action or state of being eat, contemplate, live, be afraid
Determiner similar articles and terms a / a, o, this, that, some, all

There are many other categories of words like: pronouns, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, etc. But we will delve into these details on another occasion.

Sentences with 2 objects

Many verbs can take more than one object, and some none. When there is only one object, it is usually a direct object. And when there are two, the other is one indirect object (destination of the direct object).

先生は 授業の後で 生徒に 成績を 出した。
The teacher after school for students grades deliver
subject adjunct indirect object direct object verb

Particle word order の

Now that we know the order of sentences a little, and how is the word order? How can I use an adjective and say that something belongs to me in the correct order?

You probably know the particle の (no). Have you ever asked yourself the word order when you say that something belongs to another?

The の particle is not complicated. You can keep in mind that the possession is reversed: ケビンの車 (Kevin's car). But what about when the sentence is big? See the example below:

Kana 私の 赤い 日本の
Romaji Watashi no akai nihon no Kuruma
Literally My Red Japan Car
English My car Japanese red

Advancing a little

We've already learned the basics of Japanese sentence or sentence structure, but what do you think of going a little further? See the sentence below:

Kana ケビンさんは 金曜日に お店で 本を 買いました
Romaji kebinsan wa Kin'yōbi ni the mise of hon wo kaimashita
Literally Kevin Friday store book bought
Structure subject time place object verb
English Kevin bought a book in the store Friday

Pay close attention to the order of each object in the sentence, the subject always comes first in Japanese sentences, and this can be quite confusing when learning. Especially if we don't know the preferred order of time, place, object, etc.

As most times, the sentence started with the subject followed by the particle は that indicates the topic. When the phrase has a "time" it comes after the theme and is followed by the particle に. When the weather is something more open like afternoon and night, the particle is not needed.

The place comes after time. The placeholder is で (de), but に (ni) is also used quite frequently. The で particle is used more when the object is stopped, and the に when it is in motion. The object is placed before the verb. Using the particle を to indicate the action of the verb.

Remembering that there is no order, since Japanese is very flexible. But there is a preference and recommendation for how to speak and write for your Japanese to be easier to understand and more beautiful.

In short - Grammatical structures

Of course, there are many things that we have not studied in the Japanese grammatical structure, such as the omission of words in the sentence and several other structures. To finish I will leave some structures below so that you can go deeper and understand more the order and structure of Japanese sentences:

1 subject object verb
2 object subject verb
3 topic subject object verb
4 topic time companion place object verb
5 topic direction local verb
6 subject time place / implement indirect object direct object verb
7 subject time local existential verb
8 subject time source route destiny movement verb
9 time transport / companion place verb
10 time person / place noun verb

Don't forget the particles that accompany the objects in the sentences:

companion / person
object, route
subject は / が
source から
destiny に or へ
indirect object

I hope this article has helped you to understand more about the structure of Japanese sentences.

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