Translation:I am behind you.
The way I see it, it just depends on what was the previous question.
- Where is the dog?
- it's behind you.
But remember as a general rule that in Japanese, if it's not stated otherwise and there's no specific context, affirmations are about yourself and questions about who you speak with (indeed, you rarely tell the other one what they had for dinner, nor do you ask them what is the color of your own coat) ;)
Prep or post is not the issue. The japanese language so often leaves out the 'viewer' which is 'me'. Such a sentence would not have been made without other references occuring in previous sentences. The only information in the sentence is 'you', linked to 'behind' and 'exist'. Without a reference to the speaker's position, ambiguity will remain even for the japanese and can easily take it to mean - You are behind me.
I'm sorry, that can't be "you are behind me". the actual sole information we got from the Jpnese sentence is the fact that some animate subject (the speaker themselves, a 3rd person contextually known, an animal also previously mentioned, or some other animate objects) is behind the listener.
This is very helpful, but your use of の is incorrect here. In this case it means that a position or location is about to be given. So, the sentence translates roughly as:
あなた - you の - position indicator 後ろ - behind に - location indicator (specially, a location where something exists, not where something is occurring) います - exists (understood to be I/watashi since no other subject is given)
So that comes out as
You ---Position regarding topic (you) about to be announced--- Behind (you) ---What is at the location (behind you) is about to be announced--- I exist (behind you)
The use of particles is blowing my mind, and i keep referencing back to this page to make sense of it: https://www.learn-japanese-adventure.com/arimasu-imasu-existence.html
To be clear, normally, の indicates possession. But not always, like here. Happy learning!
Yes, I was reading through the comments of the previous translation to use "Anata" and this one to see if anyone would coment on this.
Any native Japanese speaker will tell you to never use Anata because it seems as though you are singling out the person you are speaking to and or placing blame on said person. So its best to never use it and find another way to phrase the sentence, such as using the persons name if you know said persons name.
No, the order is significant. Reversing it will usually change the meaning. It might be clearer using a different example, since this one is a bit too abstract already.
私の犬 means "my dog" or "dog of mine" so 私の犬は白い means my dog is white. 犬 is the main noun and 私 is describing it in greater detail by specifying that it is a "dog" that belongs to the category of "mine". If you drop 私の the sentence becomes "dog is white". Same subject, but less specific. But if you reverse the order, the sentence changes - 犬の私は白い. This sentence is weird gibberish. If you drop the "犬の" it would be "I am white". The dog is no longer the main noun. 犬の私 isn't proper Japanese, but it implies "dog self" or something like that. Maybe the speaker is a werewolf or furry?
Now let's look at a more complicated example: 私の姉の学校の友達. Do you know what this means? 私の姉 means "my sister" and 学校の友達 means "school friend" or "friend from school". So 私の姉の学校の友達 is "my sister's school friend". Notice that 私の姉の学校 is all describing 友達 in greater detail. If you change the order, it means something else. For example 私の友達の姉の学校 would be "my friend's sister's school", which is quite a bit different.
If you are unsure of the proper order, remember that the last noun is always the main one, just like the final verb is the main verb in a Japanese sentence. If you are composing the sentence yourself, stop and think about what you are trying to say. Are you talking about a friend (who is from school) or are you talking about a school (that your friend attends).
学校の友達 or 友達の学校?
thanks for this comment, my question is more focused into trying to understand how particles works in general and how the order of particle can be flexible, but you helped me clear some things out.
Now I'm guessing that in general when you read japanese with particles, the particle after a word is kinda of like part of that word, example like you said: 私の implies "my" and you can see both kanji+kana(の) as one word, or 学校の友だち ["school's friend"] can be seen as 学校の 友だち while reading it, am I correct? I'm asking how does people usually mentally read these, I wanna make sure I'm doing the pauses in my speaking at the right times.
Also let me rephrase my last question now, maybe this way I can clear something that's on my mind about order...
Can you say for example "後ろにあなたのいます"? I'm already guessing no, but I want to know if this is because of the の particle or because or something else, I'm almost sure I've seen weird movements of particle like this but with another ones like は/が and で.
Anyways, thanks for that comment, was very helpful.
Yes, you can think of the particle as being a part of the word. When native speakers talk, they generally do not put a space or pause between the word and the particle that comes after it. The same is true with the Japanese copula (desu/da). Conversationally, it tends to flow with the speech and gets parsed almost like a single conjugated word instead of two separate words. It is important to take note of which particle follows which word in the sentence, because with Japanese, the particles are vital to understanding the grammatical structure of the sentence.
In English, the order of the words gives you strong clues about the subject, object, and verb in the sentence. In the sentence, "John ate the apple" we know that John is doing the action, because he comes first. If the order is reversed, "The apple ate John." then the grammatical relationships between the words is changed and the apple becomes the subject of the sentence. Now John is getting eaten, instead of doing the eating. Japanese is different. Although there are common sentence patterns in Japanese and word order IS very important in some instances, you can get pretty creative with your organization without messing up the sentence completely. As long as you keep the particles associated with the same words. So to use the same example sentence in Japanese - ジョンがリンゴを食べた。 "John ate an apple". If we reorganize the sentence to move, flipping the position of John and apple, we get リンゴをジョンが食べた。 "John ate the apple." It still means the same thing, because the particles are still associated with the same words. This sentence pattern is less common, but still grammatically correct and carries the same meaning as the other arrangement. The only difference is that it puts a little more emphasis on John. But if we flip the particles around, the whole thing changes. リンゴがジョンを食べた。Now the apple is the subject of the sentence and poor John is being eaten by hungry fruit again.
Okay, enough about apples ... back to your question. Can you say for example "後ろにあなたのいます"? Short answer, no. Longer answer, it depends. This sentence is broken, because you swapped the particles around and that usually changes the meaning and grammar, sometimes in very bad ways. This sentence doesn't really make sense anymore and definitely isn't the same sentence as the original. It says something like "Yours is to the rear." What exactly あなたの is referring to is ambiguous without further context, but the use of います implies it is something animate/alive and 後ろに indicates the location where it is existing is behind or to the rear of something else that is also left unstated. Strange as it might sound, this is technically a reasonable sentence in Japanese. The language tends to leave a lot of things implied and it is up to the listener to work out the full meaning. But without some contextual hints to fill in the blanks, this can lead to more questions than answers.
In terms of this sentence, あなたの後ろ can be thought of as a single unit. In fact, the entire grouping あなたの後ろに could be considered one grammatical "unit" within the larger sentence. In a more complex sentence, you will usually want to work backwards from the verb, finding particles and grouping different "chunks" of the sentence together so you can work out the full grammatical structure and understand the relationships between different key words.
For example, here is another sentence using this same kind of grammar, but a little longer:
(Watashitachi no ie no ushironi niwa ga arimasu.)
庭があります = a garden exists/there is a garden
の後ろに = at the back of (or behind)
私たちの家 = Our house
"There is a garden at the back of our house."
And here's another one:
Watashi wa gekijō de totemo senotakai hito no ushiro ni suwatta.
座った = sat
の後ろに = behind or to the rear of
とても背の高い人 = very tall man (literally "exceedingly high of stature person")
劇場で = at the theater
私は = as for me
"I sat behind a very tall man at the theater."
Hopefully, this helps clear up a few things. Particles (and grammar in general) is a very deep subject. I highly recommend seeking out additional resources. Japanese grammar is fascinating to learn, but very different from English. Good luck!
Pretty good examples, yeah that clears some things up. I also find Japanese very fascinating to learn in general, I hope one day I can easily create some intricate sentences like you just did. For now, I guess I'm gonna have to experiment with things until I get the hang of it.
I will leave this link below here for anyone looking for more info about particle order and sentences structure.
No, you would never say this in English, if you are referring to your position with regard to another person. Always "I'm behind you" or (for example) "I'm three people behind you".
BUT stating your position as it is in the queue (line) or vehicle for example, "back" is the correct word: "I'm at the back of the queue", "I'm at the back of the bus".
To use both together "I'm behind you, at the back of the queue". You're telling your friend two things here: you aren't just behind them, you're also a long way away, at the back!
Because it's incorrect. If we assume that the speaker is the subject, which is reasonable because no other possible subject is given, then the sentence is saying "I am behind you." It would be one thing if they were equivalent, but they aren't. Their meanings are almost inverted, in fact.
If you told me "I am behind you," that tells me where you are, using information that I already have (my own position and the direction I'm facing.)
If you told me "You are in front of me," that tells me where I am (which I presumably already know,) using information that I don't necessarily have (your position and the direction you're facing.)
Also, you can be behind me without me being in front of you. It just means we're facing away from each other. Similarly, I can be in front of you without you being behind me, which would mean we're facing each other.