Home Forums The Japanese Language い adjective conjugation with です and other verbs

This topic contains 5 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Joel 10 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #42151

    Hello all,

    I am (slowly) cruising through season 4 and working on い adjective conjugations. I think I understand how things work for the most part, but I have a couple points I would like to have clarified. Here are some sentences with my translations to double check that I have things right and to illustrate my questions:

    この ねこ は おおきい です。 This cat is big.
    これ は おおきい ねこ です。 This is a big cat.
    この ねこ は おおきかった です。 This cat was big. (です stays present/future, adj. conjugates to past)

    And now my question: when the adjective comes before the noun, does the です conjugate or not? And what about verbs? i.e., which of the following (if any) are correct:

    これ は おおきかった ねこ です。 This was a big cat. (です stays present/future, adj. conjugates to past)
    vs.
    これ は おおきかった ねこ でした。 This was a big cat. (です and adj. both conjugate to past)

    Or maybe my translation is not quite right? I could imagine that the first one here could mean “This IS the cat that WAS big,” and the second one could be “This WAS the cat that WAS big.”

    Similarly for other verbs:

    おおきかった ねこ あるきます。 The cat that was big is walking. (Maybe all the walking has helped the cat slim down a bit…)

    おおきかった ねこ あるきました。 The (previously) big cat was walking. -or- The cat that was big was walking.

    おおきい ねこ あるきました。 The (currently) big cat was walking.

    Thanks for any help!

    -Dylan.

    #42153

    Joel
    Member

    Or maybe my translation is not quite right? I could imagine that the first one here could mean “This IS the cat that WAS big,” and the second one could be “This WAS the cat that WAS big.”

    Aye, you can conjugate either way, but the resulting meaning is a little bit different.

    これは大きいねこでした。 = This was a big cat (but I’m not where the cat is any more)
    これは大きかったねこです。 = This is the cat that was big (but it’s not big any more – I guess it’s lost weight?)
    これは大きかったねこでした。 = This was the cat that was big (but it’s both not big any more and not here any more)

    Mind you, it’s fairly odd to use これ and でした together, especially in this context – since the cat is “was” then how is it “this”? If that makes any sense.

    Similarly for other verbs:

    おおきかった ねこ あるきます。 The cat that was big is walking. (Maybe all the walking has helped the cat slim down a bit…)

    おおきかった ねこ あるきました。 The (previously) big cat was walking. -or- The cat that was big was walking.

    おおきい ねこ あるきました。 The (currently) big cat was walking.

    Aye, that’s it exactly. Though you need a は or が between the cat and the verb in each sentence (at least until you start learning very casual speech). =)

    #42159

    Thanks, Joel, for your feedback. I agree that my examples seem a little awkward but I wanted to stay as consistent as possible and I wasn’t feeling particularly creative. Thanks also for catching my missing は’s and が’s. (I’m not ready for super casual speech yet…)

    I guess the take-home message is that the conjugation of the adjective before the noun may match, but need not match the conjugation of the verb and this grammatical freedom let’s us change the particular meaning depending on the particulars of the situation.

    -Dylan.

    #42160

    Joel
    Member

    I guess the take-home message is that the conjugation of the adjective before the noun may match, but need not match the conjugation of the verb…

    Ah, no – the take-home message is that the conjugation of the adjective and the verb/copula aren’t interrelated at all. They’re mutually independent. Even though the different conjugations make similar sentences when translated into English, they convey a slightly different meaning in Japanese.

    #42165

    OK, got it. I think I was trying to say the same thing, but you said it better.

    Here’s another question related to these issues. If I wanted to say “That is not big,” I should say

    それ は 大きくない です。

    How weird would it sound to actually say

    それ は 大きい じゃありません。

    Is this simply grammatically incorrect, or would it convey something unintended? Maybe something like “That is not the big thing,” as if you were trying to distinguish it from something else? Would I get snickers from a native speaker or just a confused look?

    Thanks again for the great feedback!

    -Dylan.

    #42167

    Joel
    Member

    I have to admit I don’t really know. I suspect they’ll understand, but give you funny looks, but I’m not sure.

    When I was in Japan, before I started learning Japanese, I tried to call ahead to my hotel and tell them I’d be arriving (very) late, but I accidentally said 私はおそくです (i.e. the adverbial form), and she didn’t seem to understand what I meant. Of course, it’s entirely possible that she did understand, and I just failed to understand her response. =P

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