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Word order in Japanese


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Hi everyone! Today I`m going to talk about pretty simple gramm issue (extremely important though) word order. There are no strict word order in sentences of some languages (for instance russian). But Japanese grammar requires definite word order, so that people could understand you.

Every sentence in any language contains such parts of a sentence as Subject (S), Object (O) and Verb (V). So, now I`m going to give you simple and easy to remeber formula that will help you to memorize word order in Japanese language. For instance, in English most sentences are of the form "we do something", where the subject (we) preceds the verb (do), which in turn preceds the object (somsething) for that verb. So, English is SVO language (i.e. Subject, Verb, Object). Japanese, in contrast, follows a different ordering: most sentences are of the form "we something do". The subject preceds the object for the verb, afre which the actual verb comes. Therefore, Japanese is SOV language.

This formula allows to categorise languages. Of course this formula is a general explanation of a word order for languages. Note, that it is ok to say both, "we ate some cake" and "cake; we ate some". But the first example is more acceptable and is commonly used.

In the case with Japanese this rull can be extended as well. Japanese is SOV language, but actually it is an (S)(O)V language. It means that you only need a verb to express your thoughts, but don`t need a subject or an object at all to form a correct minimal sentence in Japanese. If you say "ate" in English it will be considered as lack of information and a person, to whom you`re talking to, would be confused. While in Japanese you can say a verb and competent listeners or readers fill in these blanks themselves, choosing which subject and object make the most sense. In japanese you can ask your interlocutor a question (based on the particular situation and context): 食べるの?[taberu no] - "Are you going to eat this?", while in English by saying "eating" you may confuse interlocutor.

I hope this material was usuful to those of you, guys, who`ve just started learning Japanese and have troubles with the word order. Have question? Don`t hesitate leave a comment and good luck!

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