1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. "はい、アメリカ人です。"


Translation:Yes, I am American.

June 6, 2017



"Yes, it is an American person" was wrong - is there any reason this isnt a possible answer? Isnt literally the sentence "yes, America person is"? Which could mean, it is, I am, they are etc?


The correct answer is "Yes, I'm american". "American person" would sound strange. です (desu) is often used to refer when we talk about ourselves. For exemple, you could say "嬉しい です" (ureshii desu) that means "I'm (feeling) happy", in this case you don't need to say 私 (watashi = me, I).


Depending on the question, it could mean he is or they are. But without context better to put I am


It likely flagged it for two reasons: "person" and "it."

"It is an American person" is a strange sentence in English. While not technically grammatically incorrect, it also isn't a very natural sentence.

With people, you most often do not use the word "it," and with -an endings for nationalities, it isn't followed with "person."


How come we don't use "Watashi" in this?


Japanese is really contextual, and the subject of the sentence is often left out. There's nothing wrong with adding it, and I believe it's nice to include it to be more formal, but it's usually not necessary. In fact, sometimes saying the subject ("anata" meaning "you") can actually be considered rude or offensive.

It's like in English if you asked what i was up to and I replied "Doing the dishes.". It's understood that I'm talking about myself so I don't need to say "I am doing the dishes."

In japanese language textbooks, there's usually pictures or an example conversation so that we can understand the context.


Thank you, I couldn't figure it out until this comment cleared it up. :)


So technically this can also be "he is" or "you are"?


Yes, is possible depending on the question asked.


As I understand it the default context when you speak is that you are talking about yourself unless someone else has been mentioned in the discussion. This would mean watashi is implied and can be omitted.


Yes, i'm from america is not accepted


"From (place)" is a different construction. It involves that extra bit on the verb, something like はい、アメリカしゅっしんです。Would be "Yes, I'm from America"


Whats the difference between ええ and はい?

  • 2289

Level of formality, like "yeah" vs "yes".


So there are two translations for "yes" in Japanese? Is one more formal than the other or something? Could someone please explain?

  • はい - more formal
  • ええ - less formal


"I am from the U.S." is wrong?? :(

  • 2289

Yes. 人 ("jin") is the agentive particle. This sentence does not say where you're from, it says who you are. The best translation is "I am an American."


Any chance we could say we are from other countries like Canada  カナダ ?


Why isn't "Yes, I am an American person" an acceptable answer? Isn't that the literal translation?


I've been falling back on some sign language I know. Literal translation to spoken word doesn't make much sense.

Same kind of thing, when you go from one language to another, proper translation would be what makes sense in English, not literal.

Japanese seems similar to sign language in that you often describe the subject. So America + person = American.

  • 2289

If you're talking about American Sign Language, it's really not so much "person" per se as it is the agentive sign. It's more equivalent to the -er suffix in English: "one who is or does [thing]".


Why was the です (desu) pronounced "des"? Is it something that always happens to vowels at the end of words or sentences?

  • 2289

i and u de-voice when they're surrounded by voiceless consonants.

"suki" (like) is pronounced more like "ski" because the "s" and the "k" are both voiceless.


As what is already stated, the vowels /i/ and /u/ are sometimes dropped when placed between "voiceless consonants" /k/, /s/, /t/, /p/ and /h/ or at the end of an utterance preceded by "voiceless consonants".

Example: すきです [*Romaji: s(u)kides(u)] (Lit. Trans: I like it.)


Usually omit the final goal after a consonant yes.. Some formal speakers pronounce it desU, but it's unusual (strange for our level to say it)


What's the function of "ji" after American? Can i just say "hai, american desu"?

  • 2289

It's amerika-jin and the "jin" is the agentive particle. It's almost like saying "America-person". It's what we translate into English as "American": Someone who is from America or has American heritage.

You could say "amerikan desu", but that would strongly mark you as a non-fluent foreign speaker.


Why "Yes, i am from US" is not acepted?

  • 2289

人 ("jin") is the agentive particle. This sentence does not say where you're from, it says who you are. The best translation is "I am an American."


It looks like yes is american

  • 2289

Japanese does not use pronouns nearly as often as English does. In context, the subject would be heavily implied.


When use i "人" ?


In this reading (じん) it’s basically a suffix which you stick to the end of a place and the resulting word means a person from that place. So it’s somewhat similar to the English suffixes “-(i)an, -ese, -ish” (as in “American, Chinese, Turkish), but be careful not to use 日本人 etc. as an adjective, or to speak about the language. It means specifically a person from Japan.


Correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't "Yes , you're american" be acceptable as well since the sentence doesn't define who is being described?

  • 2289

That would seem reasonable.


Shouldn't it be "Yes, it's an American (person)." Rather than being I'm an American (person).


Both should be accepted seeing as we don’t know the context.


I am having trouble finding any information on why or how 人 is pronounced ひと normally but when used as a particle its is じん. Anyone have any links I can check out?


The why is easy to answer. Basically, the Japanese have been on a borrowing spree of Chinese words for the better part of the last 1500 years. In fact in the beginning they would just straight up write Chinese and Japanese itself wasn’t written at all. So during that time, they borrowed a number of words involving 人, including the way of forming a demonym (name for the inhabitants of a place) by adding -人. Since it was borrowed from Chinese, its pronunciation is based on the Chinese one at the time, so it became modern 人.

However Japanese also had a native word for “person” – ひと – which continued to exist. And since it essentially meant the same thing as the Chinese word, they just took the same character to write that word as well. As a result, there are multiple pronunciations for the same character – because it’s essentially two different words but they are written with the same character because they have the same meaning.

Maybe it’s easier to understand if we imagine a similar situation in English. Suppose English had no writing and the only writing system people know is Japanese. Then if we want to write the English word “person”, we’d probably borrow the character 人 from Chinese because it means the same thing. But we also have words directly borrowed from Japanese (“gaijin” 外人 for instance) and obviously we would use the Japanese spelling for those. So both the sound “person” and ”jin” would both be written 人. In fact there may be more. “Android” for example is borrowed from Greek and literally means “man-shaped, man-like”, so we might end up writing that as something like 人形. Then 人 would have a third pronunciation “andro”. This is basically what happened in Japanese.


Why is there a jin?

  • 2289

It's the agentive. Literally, アメリカ人 is "America-person".


はい、アメリカ ぢん です (is this correct, it's hard to type in Japanese keyboard)


The yes sounds like hi but the individual character sounds wa o va ... How come ?

  • 2289

はい is ha-i. I don't know where the "wa o va" is coming from.

Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.