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"There is one book on the bookshelf."


June 11, 2017



I love counting in a location questions because there are four ways to do it:

本だなに本が一さつあります On the book shelf: Books: One exists

本だなに一さつ本があります On the book shelf: One book, it exists

本が本だなに一さつあります Books: On the bookshelf, one exists

一さつ本が本だなにあります One book: On the bookshelf, it exists

Each one is distinct but all reference the same situation. I find that cool.


The only thing that is not cool is having just one book in your bookshelf :(


Are all 4 options accepted on duolingo?


the ones with number + counter sometimes require a の between them as 一つの本, but from what I have seen recently they have added the ones that are missing in almost every exercise. If you are using another counter like 羽 or 人 you might want to add the の just to be sure.


When in doubt, is using の always acceptable? I just got used to using it with counters and now I'm afraid there might be a few situations where it's preferable not to use it. 


i tried #4 and it was marked incorrect


I would usually separate the counter and the noun with a の. 一つの本, sometimes leaving out the の will make it incorrect


I put "本棚に一冊本があります" and got it, was wondering about the alternatives and this comment pretty much answered the question, lol.


Honestly, this is why I truly hate this chapter


To say that GA indicates the indirect object in Japanese is categorically WRONG. GA indicates the subject. In "Peter gave John a book", "Peter" is the subject", "a book" the direct object, "John" the indirect object. In a Japanese translation of this sentence, the subject would be marked by GA, the direct object by O and the indirect object by NI. The biggest conceptual difficulty for learners (this one anyway) is to understand the difference between GA and WA - the latter indicates the "topic" of a sentence, which is often, but not necessarily, the grammatical subject. In "The cat was chased by the dog", ONE way (not the only one) of putting it into Japanese would be NEKO WA INU GA OIMASITA, for which the nearest literal equivalent in English would be something like "As to the cat, the dog chased it" - "the dog" being the subject.


You know, I think I've learnt more in these comment sections that I have in this course.


Does anyone know how the usage of が works here?


が signifies an indirect object. In English, a generic sentence is structured Subject (は)+ Verb + Direct Object(を) + Indirect Object(が), but the order is switched around in Japanese, and sometimes the Subject and/or Direct Object are only implied, which makes this one of the more frustrating things to learn. Sentences using ありますare exceptions, so I will start by using a simpler sentence to demonstrate the object/indirect object rule, then finish with an explanation for the above sentence.

In the sentence "I eat apples", "I" is the subject, "eat" is the verb and "apples" is the direct object--direct objects receive the action. Notice the order is S + V +D/O. In Japanese, the sentence would be "わたしはリンゴを食べます” . Notice the order is reversed: S + D/O +V. Since Japanese is a highly contextual language, it can be assumed that the speaker is the subject, so the わたしは can be dropped without changing the meaning of the sentence. わたしはリンゴを食べます and リンゴを食べます would BOTH be translated as "I eat apples" in English, as the literal translation "Eats apples" would be confusing to an English speaker without a subject to specify who is eating them.

Now to add an indirect object: "I eat apples for breakfast". Indirect objects answer the question for whom or for what reason the direct object is being acted upon. Why do you eat apples? For breakfast. The sentence in Japanese would read わたしはあさごはんがリンゴを食べます. The sentence structure is S + I/O + D/O + V. But again, the subject can be dropped: あさごはんがリンゴを食べます.

Now to return to the original sentence 本が本だなに一さつあります/ "There is (exists) one book on the bookshelf". The verb "to exist/be" is the metaphorical black hole that warps all the standard rules of grammar. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most common verbs and so taught very early in language classes, often before the idea of an object or complex sentence is ever introduced. Basically, "to exist" is neither an active nor passive verb. Existence is not performed by anyone or on anyone. A subject performs an action, so in the sentence above "book" cannot be the subject. It also cannot be a direct object, because a direct object has the verb performed upon it. Therefore, in Japanese grammar rules, "book" here defaults to an indirect object and so is signified by が. (Also, "bookshelf" is a location, not an object and is therefore modified by に). Interestingly, you CAN say "I am." in English and have "I" be the subject performing existence. It just reflects a difference in philosophical conception.


That is completely wrong. が marks the SUBJECT of a verb. は marks the topic which is often, but not always, the same as the subject. Indirect objects are marked by に. In this sentence 本 is the subject of the verb あります.


This is incorrect. Ga can mark the subject of a sentence.

If the subject is also the topic, wa is used. If the subject and the topic are different, ga is used.

It can be confusing at first but eventually it will make sense.


I think it indicates that 本 is the subject


It's the same as when we were making statements saying "There are 3 chairs in the room" and so forth. Same construction, different counter.


As a Japanese speaker from a young age, this question frustrates me. Why such unnecessary emphasis on it being a book? If we use their format, 本棚に一冊あります feels much more natural. Of course it's a 本, that's what goes on a 本棚!


Thank you for showing me that the counting words (like 一冊) can also be used without a noun to it :-)


In this sentence, the pronunciation of 1冊 is wrong. It should be "issatsu (いっさつ)" instead of "ichi satsu".


I got the word bubble version of this exercise and the little "tsu" that would double the consonant after it was nowhere to be found and left me totally confused.


What's wrong with 本は本棚の上に一さつあります ? (I guess that ue ni is unnecessary but why is it wrong)


I would think that it is wrong because 上 is more like "above" or that it would imply that it is "on top" of the bookshelf rather than on the shelves. But also it may have to do with how you typed the counter for one book. It should look like 一冊「いっさつ」(issatsu). Sometimes Duolingo can be picky about that.


さつ ("SA-TSU", or "SATSU") is not "saz" in Duolingo pronunciation


When you hold a conversation, You notice they don't put emphasis on 'u' part of 'su' and 'tsu'. So you may hear 's' or 'ts' so satsu may sounds like sats


For another question i did 七冊本が本棚にあります and it counted it right, but here i did 一冊本が本棚にあります and it counted it wrong. Consistency please!


本棚の上に本が一冊あります To someone that knows Japanese better, this may sound silly, but I believe this can work. Can anyone tell me if I'm right?


Why is 上 omitted? As in 本棚の上に. Is it just assumed it goes on the bookshelf?


I'm not fluent in Japanese yet, but I would think that the reason is that 上 means more like "above" or that it implies that the book would be "on top" of the bookshelf instead of on it's shelves.


Why is 本がーさつ本だなにあります wrong?


TL;DR: The word order you used can lead to misinterpretations? Maybe?

The grammatical order is:
{ [ 本だなに ( 一さつ本が ) ] あります }
{[on the shelf (one book)] exists*}

本が一さつ本だなにあります does not immediately make sense although it can, if I base on a sentence example from the Tanaka Corpus indicating 本が一冊棚から落ちた as "A book fell from the shelf" -- I dunno if this is correct because Tanaka Corpus is a collection of sentences which may have or haven't been grammar-checked.

Anyway, basing on that example, if we do a breakdown by what you mean:

{ [ ( 本が一さつ ) 本だなに ] あります }
{[(one book) on the shelf ] exists}

and that's correct, if we base on the example from TC.

But if it's in this order, it can be misinterpreted as:
{ [ 本が (一さつ本だなに) ] あります }
{[book (on one bookshelf)] exists}
*There is a book on one bookshelf.

冊 (さつ) is a counter for books only. Placing いっさつ(の) before a noun will usually make いっさつ modify the next word; in this case it's 本だな and that will make the sentence wrong.


of thats so, why is 一冊本が本だなにあります wrong?


I think there are two ways to refer to numbered items: To write the number before its noun, the particle の is placed between count and noun. So based on your example, it should be 一冊 の本が = one (volume of) book. Otherwise, 本が一冊 puts the counter after the noun and the particle の isn't required (book, one volume). I think that is why your statement is wrong.


Idk. Maybe the app wants 本一冊 (also correct)? I've submitted a report. Japanese is still in Incubation Phase 3, anyway (https://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/en/ja/status). It's not yet labeled "complete" so I guess that means that issues can still arise and it's still not 100% complete (https://support.duolingo.com/hc/en-us/articles/204761884-To-Beta-and-beyond-What-are-the-course-progress-phases-) and that the moderators and contributors will still keep revising lessons that they have received feedback in.


I think because tecnically the placement of the referred to item takes precedence over a descriptor of that item in Japanese sentence structure. I might be wrong, though.


Okay... 'There are seven books on the bookshelf' can be '七冊本が本棚にあります' (this is what I've inputted), but it counted it wrong as I input '一冊本が本棚にあります' for this question...


What does さつ mean?


Think of it like "volume". It is a counter for books. Japanese uses it whenever there is a number and the word book.

We use counters with words like paper. I want 3 sheets of paper. Sheet would be a counter. Japanese just uses them all the time.


I wrote: "本だなに一冊本がありまる" and it worked. That's like saying: "on the bookshelf, one book, it exists"


Could someone explain to me why 一冊 doesn't convey the idea of the book existing by itself? Why does 本 need to be there too?


冊 doesn't just refer to books. 一冊 can be literally translated to "one copy" or "one volume," so it can refer to books but also things like magazines.


Can someone explain why 本棚の上に本が一冊あります isn't accepted?


Why is 本棚の上に本が一冊ありますwrong??


I'm not fluent in Japanese yet, but I would think that the reason is that 上 means more like "above" or that it implies that the book would be "on top" of the bookshelf instead of on it's shelves.


What's wrong with 本は本だなに一さつがあります ?


why do we use 一冊 and not 一つ


Counting works differently in Japanese. You use different endings for different items and things. 一冊 (issatsu) is used for counting books. And possibly other things, but I haven't progressed that far yet


what is the difference between ga and ha


が and は are particles that mark a noun as the subject or topic of a sentence (which in English is indicated by the position of the noun in the sentence). が is for when the noun is being used in the sentence only because it could not be understood by implication - simply to state what the subject of the sentence is. は is used if the noun is explicitly stated for some sort of emphasis, like to contrast it with something else. For example, in a sentence like "Your hair looks nice" with no emphasis, meaning simply that it looks nice, が would mark 'your hair' as the subject. But in a sentence like "Your hair looks nice" with emphasis on 'your hair', implying by contrast that the rest of you is a mess, は would be used to mark 'your hair' as the topic of the sentence. (When used as a particle, は is pronounced wa rather than ha.)


Please allow 本棚 and 一冊 in this answer


So I got 本棚に一さつ本があります correct but would like to know how it differentiates in terms of meaning to the given answer and if so which would be considered more 'correct' or suitable depending on context


Is 一さつ here read as いちさつ or いっさつ?


一冊 is read as いっさつ (issatsu)


Why is 本棚に本の一冊があります wrong? Should it by 一冊の本 instead?


yeah, 「本棚に一冊の本があります」it's probably accepted.


So it pinged me for not writing 上 when it was on the desk, and now I'm being pinged for adding 上 when it's on the bookshelf? I understand that can make sense but that is a fustrating way to teach


This sentence doesn't focus on the location of the books, just the amount of books on the bookshelf. In Japanese, the more words you use, the more awkward a sentence will be, so you can leave the 上 as it is either implied or could be wrong because the books could also be in the bookshelf.


Why is it not implied to put things on top of tables? Why did they make us use 上 for that when the phrase we are translating does not say specifically "on top of" but rather "on"?


本棚 is both "bookshelf" and "bookcase" which can be either a single shelf or a series of shelves.
The only location a book can be on a shelf is sitting on top of the shelf itself, it cannot be inside a shelf so there is no need to specify "on/above".
With a bookcase, you can be on or in the bookcase, meaning to be on one of the shelves in the shelving structure. ('on' and 'in' are used pretty interchangeably here in English though 'in' is a bit more proper in this case)

If it is 上 the bookcase it would mean on top of the whole book case structure or in the upper section of a bookcase's shelves, not just on the shelves in general.

With a desk (the other Duo question about book location) the book can be inside the desk in the drawer or the shelves, under the desk, on the desk, so the word 上 "above/on top of" is used to clarify its location in relation to the desk.


See...when I think of the word "bookshelf," I picture a piece of furniture with multiple shelves. Like you said, a book could either be on one of the shelves or on top of the entire piece of furniture...so my initial thought when looking at this was that clarity is still necessary. I've heard a Japanese speaker say "水の中に" when asking if something was in water. I feel like that should be implied also, because...unless you're specifically talking about something that is known to float, most objects sink into water. All and all this is just starting to become frustrating.


and why this is wrong here 一冊本が本棚にあります。 but okay in the previous one


So maybe its just me, but I feel like this stuff about books should have been moved to another lesson. Duolingo got me into the habit of using "上" whenever the translation states that a particular object is "on" something...but now they fault me for doing so...and according to the comments, its because of implication. Duolingo didn't tell me that. You all did.


Well I did say うちの本棚は小さいです。


Is it wrong to write "本棚で本が一冊あります"?

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