Translation:Ms. Tanaka is Japanese.
It's not so difficult, as long as you try to break down the sentence.
たなか さん は 日本人 です。
Tanaka san ha nihonjin desu.
Just remember to take your time and break apart the sentence so you can understand how its formed.
さん is a honorific, similar to how we would say Mr or Miss.
は is pronounced Wa when used like that, it's a topic particle and you can use it like 'is'
です is usually at the end, iirc it's used in sentences like 'Who's that' with the reply being 'John desu'' or in english, "It's John."
I'm more afraid of what comes later lol
Just to be clearer, は is topic particle similar to "as for/speaking off" in English. It is NOT the is/am/are (copula) in Japanese.
です is the so-called copula. It is the "connecting" verb similar in essence to the English word "to be".
です is the polite form of だ*
Verb MUST end every sentence in Japanese.* That's why it is suggested to translate any sentences from the end to the beginning of the sentence. :)
*Read the comments below! This is a very rough simplification.
です is not really the polite form of だ
They are similar, but there are some differences between these words.
One exemple : そうだ is a declarative form, you cannot ask そうだか
そうです is the polite form of そう。 So you can ask そうですか。 です is more a polite form when you cannot use the termination ます, than a polite form of だ
I don't know if you understand what I try to explain.
Verbs in Japanese always come at the end of the sentence. 'Desu' is the present tense of the verb 'to be' so it means 'is'.
I'm just learning about verbs now in Human Japanese and they seem ridiculously simple - no conjugation between I/he/she/it/you/they. Everything uses the same verb. It's crazy!
I've only recently started studying Japanese more, but the grammar is almost identical to Korean. So for any other Korean speakers/learners (or just anyone who's curious):
は is basically the same as the Korean topic marker 는/은 in this sentence.
です is the verb; as far as I know it's the same as ~이다.
さん is not exactly the same but very similar to Korean honorific ~씨
TL;DR fromDrKriegerPhD answer below:
Who is Mr. Tanaka?
Who is Japanese?
Long original answer:
Well, since the note is not yet available I guess I'll just try to explain the subject particle が here as well.
は and が are a bit tricky to differentiate because one can replace the other under some circumstances with DIFFERENT meaning.
は is a topic particle. It introduces a new topic that will be discussed and similar in essence as "as for/speaking of". Example: 「マリアさんは学生です。」 which very literally means: As for/speaking of Maria, she is a student.
が is a subject particle. The subject is NOT necessarily the topic of the sentence. It is a bit trickier to explain so I will just give another very similar example. 「マリアさんが学生です。」 which means: Maria IS the student.
Did you see the difference? It's very subtle but the most noticeable difference is that は puts emphasis on what COMES AFTER the particle while が puts emphasis on what COMES BEFORE the particle.
Using は from the example above would roughly mean that they know Maria but didn't know that she is a student.
Using が from the example above would mean that they know that someone is a student but didn't know that Maria is the student.
Another example: このペンは私のです。 This pen is mine. (They know that this is a pen but didn't know that this is my pen. They may continue the conversation discussing about this pen as it is the topic.)
このペンが私のです。 This pen IS [the one that is] mine. (They may have been talking about pen, but didn't know that this is the pen that is mine/I am pointing out that this pen is the one that is mine.)
I hope that this is helpful as I'm still learning myself. :)
To frame this discussion of は vs. が in relation to the sentence, let's look at the following two conversations:
"What nationality is Mr. Tanaka?" "Mr. Tanaka is Japanese." "Who is Japanese?" "Mr. Tanaka is Japanese."
Note that the response to the question in English is the same. However, in the first answer, Mr. Tanaka is the TOPIC of the conversation - this would be は. In the second answer, Mr. Tanaka is the SUBJECT of the response - this would be が. So if we translate response to Japanese, it would be as follows:
"What nationality is Mr. Tanaka?" "田中さんは日本人です。" "Who is Japanese?" "田中さんが日本人です。"
And there is a hack that works a decent amount of times: if you can drop the word before the particle and the sentence retains its meaning, you probably can use は. Example:
"What nationality is Mr. Tanaka?" "Japanese." (makes sense; we know the topic) "Who is Japanese?" "Japanese." (Huh?????)
I'm no expert, and I'm sure there's some edge cases, but hopefully this makes the differences between は and が "朝飯前" for some ;)
You didn't really deserve to be down voted for that. The lettering vs. pronunciation of some of the Japanese words are... Weird.
For instance, the second symbol in "Tanaka" (田中) , well, is pronounced "naka" (中). Looking at the hiragana to "naka", you'd expect なか to be its hiragana constituents, but Duolingo teaches us instead that it is:ちゅう (from those "tap the hiragana and Kanji that belong together"). And I thought to myself (having memorized pronunciations of some symbols): "But that's saying 'chuu'; not 'naka'!", for I remembered that "China" (中国) had the hiragana ちゅうごく.
(But hey, there's the 中-symbol again!)
This was especially frustrating to me, because I initially thought that Japanese was a very strict language, almost mathematical and algebraic; I thought Kanji was a way to put long meanings into shorter written sentences, or rather lesser amounts of symbols.
We all simplify what we learn in our own ways, so that we may understand particular things better, at least in our own heads. My background "tricked" me into thinking that there was pure algebraic nature here. I know now that I was wrong in considering this, at least in the raw form of that idea.
The unpedagogical nature of duolingo, however, is that I have very little knowledge of why I was wrong in thinking that, or how I should think about the language; Rather, duolingo uses the same brute force for teaching you languages, that you would get by growing up somewhere with that language - at least on this level.
That's why this comment section exists! And while negativity is frowned upon (I saw a debacle further up in the comments): everyone deserves to be given a chance, I think; to get feedback on what one would think of as frustrating, and learn something new, something that would help one understand the frustrating things.
I hope you're still a learner; and myself I'm hoping I'll understand more further up the levels.
Yes and no. Honorifics are generally omitted in English, being typically translated in this case as either "Maria" or "Mrs. [insert surname]". This is much easier to see with similar suffixes like ちゃん and くん (used for close friends and young boys respectively) neither of which have a simple, idiomatic translation ("master" is an archaism and doesn't really reflect the connotations of くん).
TL;DR: for translating these sorts of words, generally either omit or rephrase
It is traditional and polite, if rather formal English, to leave honorifics untranslated. In the same way formal English will usually refer to a French person as M or Mme, rather than Mr or Mrs.
IMO it should be acceptable to write -san. It doesn't have a direct English equivalent anyway, being gender-neutral.
It is always pronounced "wa" when being used as a subject marker. There is an origin story of why it isn't pronounced "ha", but I only read that story one and took away to always pronounce it "wa". Only other time that is the case, iirc, is when you run into the present negative of "to be" which is dewa arimasen. Dewa there is では.
As others have commented elsewhere, kanji often have multiple readings (pronunciations) which come from the preexisting Japanese phonetic language kun'yomi or from the Chinese pronunciation when they adopted Chinese ideographs on'yomi.
I believe the general rule is on'yomi is used when kanji are used when combining two (or more) kanji into one word, e.g. 中国, but obviously there are exceptions. And come on, they're not about to use a Chinese pronunciation in a Japanese name :P
人 is the kanji for "person" or "people", and it has a few different uses (and a few different pronunciations to match).
In this context, it is used as a suffix to indicate nationality, or ethnicity (I'm not 100% sure which). Literally, it translates to "[country] person" but we know it means "person of [country]". A few examples:
・日本人 = person of Japan (=日本), Japanese person
・アメリカ人 = person of America (=アメリカ), American person
・フランス人 = person of France (=フランス), French person
・アジア人 = person of Asia (=アジア), Asian person
・宇宙人 = person of space (=宇宙, the cosmos), alien
Good examples, Jason! But as a suffix too, 人 doesn't have to be attached to geographical terms:
新人 (しんじん) = "new person" = newcomer, greenhorn
白人 (はくじん) = "white person" = Caucasian person
社会人 (しゃかいじん) = "society person" = productive member of society
Another key usage of the character is as a counter for people, though it's pronounced nin in that case (except for one and two people). For example, 五人 (ごにん) = 5 people
Hi! Follow up question on this: does this explain why it is pronounced じん in this context, but it can be read as ひと too? What i mean is when it refers to "person of (japan)" it is read as じん and maybe when we are talking about just people in general or an individual it is ひと?
For your first question, yes there's a reason (courtesy of Ian in another comment: https://japanese.stackexchange.com/a/449), but it essentially boils down to "that's just how we do it now".
For your second (well, technically third) question, you can break down the kanji 田中 and find meaning in it, but now it just means "a common Japanese surname". 田（デン or た）means "(rice) field", and 中（チュウ or なか or うち）means middle/center or inside.
I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "how do you get the kanji" though... I think you mean how do you know "Tanaka" refers to 田中 and not some other set of kanji? I think the only real way to do that is to learn loads of kanji and common kanji combinations f(^_^; because that way, you'll be able to figure out based on context what kanji they are possibly referring to.
You're half right. But dropping the honorific actually doesn't do anything to the meaning of the sentence. So 田中は日本出身です and 田中さんは日本出身です mean exactly the same thing, but they imply different things about your relationship with or status relative to Tanaka or your knowledge about Japanese cultural norms.
Also, 出身 is pronounced しゅっしん which is typically romanized to shusshin. しゅしん can mean "chief umpire" or "chief god" depending on the kanji.
All Japanese surnames (family names), as far as I know, are made of kanji (usually two, but surnames with just one or even three kanji do exist). 田中 simply happens to be a very common surname that doesn't have scary looking kanji, like the most common Japanese surname 佐藤 (satou).
I honestly don't hear the pause myself, but having it there is not wrong either. In Japanese speech, putting pauses after a particle, rather than between a word and its particle, tends to be the more natual place to put them. Obviously, this is not true 100% of the time, and as you get used to Japanese speech patterns (generally if you're exposed to native speakers), you'll get to know how changing where pauses go can lead to different emphasis or subtle indicators of context.
は is a particle that very commonly has a pause after it. Because it establishes the topic of the conversation, a short pause generally gives listeners time to mentally get their bearings for the new direction of the conversation.
I am slowly understanding this now... hopefully someone can help me out, truly the only way I learn is by breaking down the sentence.
So if 田中さん means Tanaka-san (Mr.Tanaka) Tanaka can be replaced by a last name in which will be (Mr/Ms.Last name)?? is -san general for Mr./Ms. ? is there anything other than -san not including -senpai (elder/master) -chan(young person)??
So, in Japanese, these name honorifics, like -san, can be added to the end of any name, first or last. Generally speaking, Japanese people are more likely to address each other by their last names in most everyday situations (e.g. at work) and typically use first names when addressing family (because they all have the same last name) and friends.
I would hesitate to describe -san as "general for Mr./Ms." because they don't necessarily map onto each other very well. Here's a brief description of a few other common honorifics (note that I'm not a native Japanese speaker, and my interpretation comes purely from my own experience with Japanese):
- -san (さん) is your average-level politeness honorific; typically used by co-workers, strangers and acquaintances. Side note: in schools (generally above around 3rd grade), -san becomes exclusively used for female students while boys get:
- -kun (くん / 君) is an honorific typically used for young boys, but it's also commonly used by older people (e.g. managers, professors) for young people (e.g. new hires, university students) regardless of gender. It can be slightly condescending, in that it puts the subject below the speaker in social standing.
- -sama (さま / 様) is a respectful honorific typically used by people in customer service roles or for anyone with a high social standing.
- -sensei (先生) is a word meaning "teacher", but it is commonly used as an honorific for teachers, doctors, lawyers, and other experts.
Which honorific to use (or not use) depends on your specific relationship with that person, who you're talking to, and their relationship to you, so these are all general descriptions. Unfortunately, I think the only way to really get a grasp of these (and other less common honorifics) is lots of exposure; honestly, anime and J-drama are a pretty good way to do that if you can't find yourself a native speaker or a job in Japan.
So "san" is gender neutral. Chan can be used for girls (sometimes young boys). Kun is used for boys (although girls can use it too). Chan/Kun typically are used if you are "closer" to the person. I kind of think of it like this
sama = most formal sempai = elder in your field/age/student/etc. san = formal but slightly closer in status/age/friendliness/you could be friends but just be more on the polite side which is never bad in Japanese kun/chan = friends no ending = very close
There are also other ones but these are the most common.
さん is genderless, so there's no way to tell without additional information about the person. For example:
- if you know their first name, you can make a guess based on that. However, there are some names, such as Hikari or Kaoru, which are common among both boys and girls.
- if you know you're talking a school-aged child, especially in a school context, there's a good chance that "Ms." is correct. Boys generally get referred to by くん instead. (ちゃん is also very common for girls, but above around 12 years old, male teachers calling their female students ちゃん can seem as a little creepy, so さん is favored instead.)
- if there has been some context in the conversation leading up to it, e.g. someone talking about their favorite member of AKB48 (an all girl Japanese idol group), it can clue you in.
- obviously, if you can see them or their face, that should give you a good indication.
You can't, from this sentence alone. Japanese relies a lot on context for meaning, and you'd have to use context clues to figure it out. This can be as simple as realizing that the person speaking pointed to Tanaka-san while they were speaking, or more complicated like knowing the speaker is referring to a student in a schooling context and the fact that that heavily implies Tanaka-san is female because that's a convention that has evolved in Japanese schools.
Tanaka is actually a surname. So that's the equivalent of saying "Williams" sounds masculine, even though your name might be "Jane Williams." As for Japanese given names, certain kanji and/or last syllables do imply a gender.
For example, names ending with -shi or -ta are typically male, and -ko and -mi are typically female, just to name a few. To draw inspiration from your screen name, the Japanese names for two characters from Pokemon are Kasumi and Satoshi. Now you can guess which is Ash and which is Misty :P
It's not anything close to a fixed rule, though . . . off the top of my head it's not difficult to think of popular anime characters whose names defy that rule, for example Hinata from Naruto who is female, or Illumi from Hunter x Hunter who is male.
Edit: though thinking about it Illumi is probably supposed to be a western name, oops.
Japanese has no spaces, therefore words are split between kanji and hiragana/katakana to be read more easily. Ta-naka sa-n wa ni-hon-jin
de-su, Mr. Tanaka is a Japanese Person/Mr. Tanaka is Japanese. Assuming you know which characters are kanji, "TA" and "NAKA" are the readings of the first kanji. It's a name. NI-HON-JIN, is "Japanese(Nihon)Person/Human(Jin)". I don't have any Japanese input on this keyboard here, sorry! I recommend using more than simply Duolingo to learn Japanese. A set of books, "Genki", are very good for learning, as well as a book called "Remembering the Kanji", by Heisig. Every kanji has a meaning to it that can be used to help remember it and help to understand a word. Heisig will simplify the task of learning to read Japanese kanji by making it much easier to work with and remember anywhere between 2000-3000 kanji, depending on how serious you are.
田中 -- さん -- は -- 日本 -- 人 -- です
田中 (Tanaka) = name
さん (San) = Mr. (Ms. , Mrs.)
は (Ha sounds like Wa) = the topic marker
日本 (Nihon) = Japan + 人 = Person = 日本人 = Japanese
です (Desu) = is/it is/I am
田中 さん は 日本 人 です
Tanaka Mr. -- Japan person is
(Mr.) Tanaka is Japanese
Translating backwards can help
By the way
は is the topic marker
が is the subject marker (が is not in this sentence)
What does that even mean?
Topic: a non-grammatical context for the whole sentence.
Subject: a grammatical relationship only to the verb. found on this site:
Not sure if that's what you wanted or if you want Duo to break the sentences in the program down in some way.
About the way to read "Kanji" in Japanese, we have two way for reading. There is a histrical reason. Example to read the "中", as you asked we have to read it as "なか" and "ちゅう". If we read the "中" as "なか", the way to read kanji, we have called the way, "音読み（おんよみ）", and if we read the "中" as "ちゅう", we have called the way "訓読み（くんよみ）".
Originally, we had not used kanji to Japanese. So when we read "中", we had read it "なか", there were not the way to read "中" as "ちゅう", but when kanji had come from China, we had not known how to read kanji, so we had heard the original sound for each kanji reading then we checked the meaning of the kanji then we had set each kanji to Japanese.
So in the "中" case, Chinese had read it as "ちゅう" and Japanese had read it as "なか".
The meaning of "中" in Japanese is something is put/placed to something inside, or something is through middle of something, if we had had like this situation, we have used "なか", and if Chinese had in the same or similar situation, they have used "ちゅう", but I have not known why Chinese have read the "中" as "ちゅう".
So are 日本人です and 日本しゅっしんです interchangeable? Duolingo uses the first as "I am Japanese" and the second as "I am from Japan", but if you have to translate you can use them interchangeably. Is this just Duolingo being itself, or are they actually interchangeable in Japanese? (Or does the difference in meaning matter at all?)
Well, yes, it's the same difference as it is in English, and you can sometimes use them interchangeably, but not always.
The first, 日本人 and "I am Japanese", refer to either a person's race/ethnicity or their nationality (bluntly, what they look like or what passport they have). On the other hand, the second, 日本しゅっしん and "I am from Japan", is referring to the person's cultural identity; that is, the place they "come from" and identify with.
You can be Japanese (ethnically), but be born and raised in America, so you consider yourself to be "from America", amd vice versa.
If you are introducing your friend to a person, and if the person whom is introduced your friend is not related with you or your friend or if you do not have deep relation with the person, it is a better way to introduce your friend with to add "san", I would say it is a polite way to introduce someone to somebody. However if you introduce you the friend to another your friend, it is also a better way to add "san" BUT it is not friendly. If I were you in the situation, I could not use "san". However if you need to introduce the friend in a polite situation(i.g Japanese lesson in your school, A traditional party and so forth), you should use to add san otherwise other people will feel or assume you that you do not have good manner for introducing somebody.
Don't worry, you'll get there eventually. Japanese sentence structure is very different from English, so it's completely normal for feel a bit lost.
8020japanese has a great beginners guide to Japanese sentence structure, and I suggest giving the whole post a read (here: https://8020japanese.com/japanese-sentence-structure/), but I've just taken the image which I've found to be the most useful visualization of the difference.
In most cases you just need to learn the proper pronunciation of a kanji in the context of the specific word it is used in.
In general kanji by themselves and used in the names of people will use their kun-yomi (native japanese reading) なか - 中 Inside、田中 Tanaka、中村 Nakamura
Kanji in compound words will usually use their on-yomi (Sino-Japanese reading) ちゅう - 中国 China、中学生 Middle-school Student
Though there are often multiple readings and exceptions for both types so which one is used e ntirely depends on context. There are also often irregular readings that are only used in names.