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  5. "His older brother is a middl…

"His older brother is a middle school student."


June 5, 2017



You know a lot of Japanese language! I am surprised. I want to be like you in English. I imagine you want say 'respect word', don't you?

I think you assumed 'by using お兄さん it becomes clear that I am not talking about my own elder brother. Shouldn't we refer to our elder brother as ani (兄)'.

It is right.

But this sentence tell us, 'his' elderly brother. If we take the word 'his', we cannot know the elderly brother is 'his', 'her' or 'their'.

And I think this word is necessary.

My English not good, sorry. (´・_・`)


Thank you very much for clearing it out for me, now I understand why the かれの is necessary. You are right I thought about using 兄 because of the formalities. And by the way your english is great :) Keep it up!


Really? Thank you!

And I hope you do not confuse...

We use 'おにいさん' to man or young man who are not our family, his family, her family, their family. We use 'おにいさん' to young man. It is convenient.
we can use this word when we do not know his name.


Is にいさん used as a formal way to talk about our own brother?


If it is clear you are talking about your own elder brother you may refer to him as ani (兄). Even if you talk to the Emperor it is alright to say ani. At least that is how I knew :)


Your english is a lot better than my japanese

Keep it up and thanks for your advice


Thank you for this helpful reply! Really clarified things for me after muddling through 10+ lessons unsure of exactly when or why these honorifics should be applied.


To be honest I want to have the equivalent Japanese skill knowledge you have in English! :)


I must say as a lonely child this section is somewhat depressing :(


( T_T)\(^-^ )

I am struggling in English too


Please, make a slow button with the audio. That would help a lot to understand better :)


You can tell that in the report section, good luck!


Put it in Google Translate and play the audio back a few times. It alternates between slow and fast playback speeds.




かれの おにいさんは ちゅうがく~せいです


I don't know why the (no) and (ha) keep swapping around


の works like kinda " 's ": かれの -> his かのじょの -> her

は indicates the subject we are talking about: かれのおねえさんは -> his elder sister かのじょのおにいさんは -> her elder brother


の shows "possession" in relation to something. It's telling us who the mother "belongs" to, in a way. Same would go with dog (いぬ) かれのいぬ. His dog.


Pretty sure that 'の' is also used to link nouns and adjectives e.g.

'しろの犬' would be 'White dog'


Try this method if it helps u better.

Noun and noun needs の.


Noun の Noun

かれの犬 his dog あにの車 my older brother's car いもうとの猫 my younger sister's cat

as for the white dog, since it is い adjective, nothing is changed by simply appending it's original form to the noun itself.

しろい犬 white dog あかい車 red car くろい猫 black cat

な adjectives a bit tricky though.


Or just simply 白の, to avoid repeating 犬


British people have literally no understanding of if middle school counts as "junior school", or "high school", which is making these translations really frustrating and difficult as we have no point of reference for translation. We of them in American films, but not to the extent of it being clear about which is what.

In Britain we have Primary School (ages 4 - 11), Secondary School (ages 11 - 16), and then college, or sixth form (sixth form is the same thing as college, but sixth forms are taught in secondary school buildings), and that is usually ages 16 - 18, but older people may show up there, also, and then we have university; which is ages 18+.

But for us we have no idea what middle school and high school and junior high or what age groups go to them and all of that is and so these questions are very annoying because I can't translate it from an English perspective because I have no concept of these differences.


Japanese is interesting!


Why is it just かれの instead of かれらの


The latter is "their", while the first is "his".


Is the かれの necessary?


The かれの is necessary here. Because the meaning of おにいさん is just elder brother, not including 'my', 'his', 'her', 'their'.

If when we hear おにいさんは中学生です, we feel おにいさん is a brother of the speaker. Because we omit 'I', 'my' often.


Depends, if you can infer from the context it is 'His' brother, then no. However, since all of these are single sentences it is kind of difficult to give context.


But by using お兄さん it becomes clear that I am not talking about my own elder brother. Shouldn't we refer to our elder brother as ani (兄)?


But you could be referring to "her" brother.

Also, keep in mind that you're directly translating sentences partly in order to learn and understand possessive phrases.


nisan, onisan, or anisan?


When talking TO your own older brother, お兄さん (おにいさん) or 兄さん (にいさん) can be used.

When talking ABOUT your own older brother, 兄 (あに) generally should be used, but 兄さん (にいさん) is also often used by children or when talking to people you are very close to.

When talking ABOUT other people's older brothers, お兄さん (おにいさん) is the only one you should use (of these three).

When talking TO other people's older brothers, just use their name. They are their own person, before being someone else's relative.

Also, あにさん doesn't exist; if you add さん, the reading of the kanji changes. And be careful with romaji; おにいさん should be oniisan, with two "i"s, to denote the long "i" sound.


thanks so much for this! i've only heard a partial explanation previously and was getting confused about which word to use when talking about other people's older brothers. i understand now that both 「あに 」and 「おにいさん」 are used, depending on the situation.


Glad I could help :) but just to be clear, this isn't a complete explanation either. There are plenty of niche cases that I haven't talked about, for example, using 兄貴 (あにき) or 兄上 (あにうえ) instead, or using the above phrases as name suffixes or for people you don't know.


one thing i was wondering: is it common to use 「兄」 or 「兄ちゃん」 if you're talking ABOUT other people's older brothers AND they are younger or much younger than you are (as in the case of this exercise, a middle schooler at best).

or is 「お兄さん」still used?


Yes, you could use either「兄ちゃん」or「お兄さん」even if the person you are talking TO and talking ABOUT are both much younger than you. But you wouldn't use 「兄」because that's reserved for talking ABOUT your own older brother.

Japanese "language politics" (for lack of a better term) is pretty complicated and it's fairly easy to get lost in the weeds when discussing it. Personally, I think it's more useful to just learn the generally polite version, not worry about it too much, get a feel for what native speakers do and use that as a guide.


@laszlopanaflex You're welcome, and good luck! In my experience, most native Japanese speakers are very forgiving of foreigners' incorrect/incomplete grasp of "language politics", especially if you're talking with a language exchange buddy, so just go for it!

Actually, I hope they avoid the topic altogether, in such a way that doesn't leave beginners wondering about it. Getting into Japanese is difficult enough, and "language politics" is a rather advanced area which touches on a lot of cultural aspects as well. I think the best approach is to learn the basics and let exposure teach the rest. (After you get to a certain point of fluency, it might be worth going back to study it more rigorously but you probably won't get as much out of it as a beginner.)


thanks! that's great advice. i've actually been a bit shy to practice conversing in japanese with others because i'm afraid that i'll either use a too-casual version of some word or phrase and end up insulting them, or speak way too formally and seem awkward.

i hope the forthcoming japanese tree update helps us to understand these "language politics" so that we can use the right verbiage in the right situations!


生 and 年 looks almost the same, the first means student and the second means year, correct me if I'm wrong.


Why isn't かれのにいさん ok? Isn't it the same as かれのおにいさん just less formal?


The people of Duolingo have said that there is the limit of this system. I have read about this several times. They have to prepare many patterns of correct answer. Instead of it, they hope to use the same word if possible.

Though 'にいさん' is correct Japanese word. But I don't know they are able to add the answer.


HI! Are you a native Japanese speaker? I am native English, would LOVE to help you help me and vice versa via some messaging app? Please do let me know! Anyone may respond to this, by the way or if you have tips to learn the language better. Thanks guys! Very few native speakers in my area, its hard


Yes. I am Japanese speaker. Many people help me here. Thank you! So I'm glad if I also can do something for you. :D


I really love the complexity of Japanese grammer. It keeps me entertained :)


Why is wa used here instead of ga? Doesn't ga get used when mentioning something for the first time? Since there is no other lines in this example, aren't we to assume that this IS the first time?


The difference between は and が is not that simple. Here is a pretty good in-depth breakdown.

Long story short: you can't assume one or the other without context or knowledge of the intent of the speaker, so either one is "correct".


Why is it not Kare wa?


Why doesn't 彼のお兄さんが中学生です work here? I noticed that it doesn't work for any his/her _ is a ___ student, is there a reason for that?


There was no option for kare it only had karare

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