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  5. "大学生です。"


Translation:I am a university student.

June 11, 2017



There is no indication of who the subject is in this sentence. While a good assumption would be that it refers to oneself, it is weird to assume in the context of a language app.


That's one thing we have to get used to in nihongo. Most of the context is assumed. :)


Actually, it's not just Japanese. We do something similar with English on a regular basis. Without noticing it much, casual text or chat often include an assumed topic/subject either based on the surrounding context or the previously established topic.

"Wish it would stop raining already."

"Need a towel?"

"So tired. Gotta rest for a bit."

"Can't be helped."

I wish ... Do you need ... I am so tired ... It can't be ...

I imagine most people aren't consciously aware of when they do this because it feels pretty natural. Even still, we're all aware of it enough to not use these shortened sentences in a lab research paper or an English assignment. In git commits? All the damn time, but not in prim and proper work.

Anyway, after that little epiphany, the concept of omitting an implied contextual topic makes a lot more sense. Just wanted to share that in case it can help someone else.


That's just how Japanese is, it's a very contextual language. When Japanese people speak, they most often do not identify the subject of the sentence. Teaching sentences like this is how it's done in actual classes, as well.


It's based on default interpretations. If a statement like this has no subject and no prior conversation topic to clear it out, then the subject (or topic) is "I" by default. If it's a question with no subject -and there's no context to make you think otherwise-, then the subject is "you" by default, unless it's something clearly related to the weather or something like that (e.g. 今日、雨です -kyou, ame desu- means today "it" is rainy and not "I" am rainy).


So im nkt stupid thinking that it meamt "its a high school student:?


College and University are almost the same isnt? For 大学, or do Japanese have different word for College and for University??


Yes, they're pretty much the same. However, there are other options for College, depending on context. If you're talking about (e.g.) the "College of Physics" as a synonym for "faculty/department of ~" then you could say しぜんか学部 ( がくぶ) but if it's more like a vocational school, it would be a せんしゅう学校 (がっこう) or せんもん*学校: "specialization school".


The TTS sounds like it's saying "dai-vaku" or even "dai-maku" with those kanji. Why is it the only "-gaku" word where I want hear a hard "g?"


I once tried to attend Japanese language course (hated it), teacher there (native speaker) explained that in Japan it's actually considered as beautiful or proper to pronounce ga-sound that way, as if they speaking through the nose.


May I ask why you hated taking that course?


Yes, the "g" sound in Japanese is a very nasal sound. If you're thinking it will be like an English "g" sound then you'll be disappointed. This can really be applied to any language though - when we wrote another language in English often or letters are not adequate to convey the actual sound because we most likely don't have that sound in English so the sound is conveyed using the "nearest" sounding "equivalent" in English. To use another example of this - this time from Spanish. The v as in voy a escuela in Spanish is more somewhere in between an English b and a v, but we don't have a letter/character to convey that sound.


I was told to say g's almost like you're closing off your nasal passage to breathe through your mouth. Takes practice to do quickly but i think that was the explanation that made the concept click for me. Maybe that will help someone else.


It's sort of the other way round. The [g] sound is a "plosive" consonant, which means that it briefly cuts off the air flow altogether, just as do [p], [t], [k], [b], and [d].

The alternative version - written in the International Phonetic Alphabet as [ŋ] - is not a "plosive" but a "nasal" consonant, like [n] and [m]. The sound [ŋ] is often written in English as "ng", as at the end of the word "sing". Unlike the plosives, you can sustain any of these nasal consonants, because although airflow through the mouth is closed off, air is coming out of the nose. This is how we hum.

You can try sustaining the final consonants in the words "sim", "sin", and "sing" - by "humming" them, so to speak - and hold your hand in front of your face to detect where the air is coming from.

See also the fascinating information on the following page:



This is awesome thank you so much for the clarification! Now i have a giant wiki rabbit hole to tumble into


Yeah. I just noticed too that it reads Something+学生 as more of "nga-ku-sei" instead just "ga-ku-sei"

  • 1203

that is tokyo dialect


... I am sorry, but shouldn´t it be - I am AN university student


It all depends on the sound, not the actual letter. Let's look at the word "hour". We say "an hour" because we pronounce "hour" like "our" and so we use the "an" even though "hour" doesn't start with a vowel. It's the opposite reason for why we use "a" for "university" - it starts with a vowel but doesn't make a vowel sound, "you-nih-ver-sih-tee." I hope this cleared things up for you :)


In this case, no. 'University' starts with a vowel, but since the pronunciation is like 'You-(niversity)' it's treated as starting with a consonant.


In the previous one was "中学生 た ち" I said "They're middle school students" the duolingo said that I made a mistake. The correct one was only "middle school students" implying that I should ignore the subject and translate literally. Okay. Then came "大学生 で す" and I said "University stutend" that would be the translation to the letter, omitting the subject of the sentence, but the duolingo, seems to be angry with me, because I did not err and never started to contradict for me to make mistakes, because for him the correct answer NOW is "i am a university student"

Did I annoy someone?


Just to add to the answer pile ;)

です means "is something", as in describing a thing (it's called the copula if you want to look up the concept). So 大学生 です means "is university student". That's it!

Except in English we're not supposed to do that, you're meant to have a subject in the sentence. Who or what "is university student"? It's ambiguous in the Japanese sentence (and it can be in other languages too, like Spanish) but in English we're forced to be specific

You'll know who the speaker is talking about through context, and unless you know otherwise they're probably talking about themselves. So Duo wants you to assume that in these situations, and translate to "I am..." or whatever. If the sentence is clearly talking about another person, you'd change it

中学生たち doesn't have a です, or any other verb - it's literally just middle school student + plural suffix
ねこ - cat
ねこです - (I'm a) cat

  • 1203

correct, except that desu is not actually a real verb and you can drop it and it will have the same meaning, just ruder


If it ends with です then it is a sentence, with subject (even if it is an implied subject in Japanese, English requires a subject to consider it a sentence) if it is just a noun then it isn't a sentence and so you don't have to generate a sentence for it.

です is used to say something is something else, in polite speech at least, so if it has です then there has to be another component to the statement. Especially since duo is basically equating です with to be/is/am/are.


You didn't translate です. In some of the other translations that I pursue your referring to there is no です present and so it is accurate to translate the word as is eg. 中学生たち - middle school students, 大学生たち - University students. In these instances there is no verb. These word are nouns. By themselves there is no sentence. But as soon as です is added it changes from a lone noun to a sentence. I think that is probably the issue here.


です basically means "[someone] is/are" here. No です for the first phrase means it's just "middle school students", no "they are" there. です being part of the second phrase means "is/are" needs to be part of the phrase, for example "He is a university student."


"It's a university student" should be accepted!! Reported.


It should not be accepted bc in Japanese they try not to say "I/watashi" so much and only if necessary and here it is not necessary it's implied. So if you said "it's a university student" it would look/ translate differently.


so when owl asks you neko desu you should answer i'm a cat


Can't I translate this sentence as "This is a college student"? Duo corrects me to "He", so I wonder why as gender isn't indicated?


"This is" is usually used as a kind of display indicator in English, if that makes any sense at all. If you go to a museum, the sign might say "This is an ancient sword" or something, and if there are college students being displayed at a museum, I don't think it's a very good museum.


Can someone please explain 'たち' to me? I've spotted the pattern of when Duo does and doesn't want me to use it but I don't really understand what it means


It's a plurality marker. You can add it as a suffix to a 'person' to make it a group of 'people'. E.g. 学生 = student, 学生たち = students.


I will ask an english question: why a university and not an university. I know my english is not at the best but the rule is not to write 'an' in front of 'a e i u o' ?

  • 1203

The rule is not if the word starts with a vowel when written down, but if it starts with a vowel when pronouced. If you listen to "university", you can hear that it starts with a Y sound (as in yuversity). That is a palatal approximant and thus a consonant. (a Y is not always a consonant, just look at the last Y in university, which is actually an I (ee) sound)

It's the same thing with "hour", you actually pronounce it like "our", so you write "an hour".

flish32 has already answered this question multiple times below. The reason they are downvoted is because it's not related to Japanese. You should go to some English forum with questions like this.


offtopic guys

I am not native english speaker so can someone explain me why where is an "a" word before the university (shouldn't it be "an")?


"an" is used before words that start with a phonetic vowel. For example, you can say "an elementary" because "e" it's the first sound of the next word, while you would say "a university" because while "u" it's a vowel, when you pronounce the word it comes out as "juniversiti", so in reality the first sound you make is "ju".


1-大学, 2-大学校, 3-大校, Could someone tell me the difference between those and in wich one i can put 生 to refer to a student, please?


大 dai often used with something big or great ie dai kaiju radon, so great school = university

学校 is school

大校 is used in chinese for a military rank, so this one is irrelevant

学 is study, so 学校 is school, 学生 is student

大学校 great school (uni) 大学生 great student (of university)


No context. And the only answer is You're university students?


No, "I am a college student" is also correct, as would be (I assume) several other answers


I answered "I am a collage student" (because one of the tip translations was college), but it said it was wrong and only accepts "I am a university student" :( I feel like that's a bit flawed.


Make sure you're spelling it right,
college is higher education, but collage is an artform


Ah yes, good point. My bad, I may have made a spelling error!


I am a college student. He is a college student. She is a college student.


It is assumed you are talking about yourself, if it ends in. "Ka" you are talking to someone in front of you,


The translation makes sense to me. If there was a ka after desu, then it would translate to "are you a college student?" The 私は is not necessary, With the ka added it infers あんたは。


The "correct" solution given was "He is a college student" So which is right? Both? Then why isn't "It is a college student" correct?


It is for inanimate things, students are human. かれ is for he, かのじょう (hope I spelt that correctly) is for female As there is no indiction of he or she, then it is I am for yourself.


Would it be incorrect to add "Watashi wa" to the beginning or is it redundant or something?


大学 basically translates as The big Learn.


I already answer "I am a university student" but i got wrong answer


The hints literally used the word college yet I still got it wrong?


What was your full answer? "I am a college student" is also accepted, you may have had a typo somewhere you missed


I used 'an' instead of 'a' before university is it wrong?


Yes, the "an" vs "a" rule is about the sound rather than the actual letter,
Since the "U" in "University" actually makes a "Yu" consonant sound it takes "a" instead.


...the pronunciation was wrong for me and so were the hints so I ended up getting it wrong. I even checked 3 times with my family and Japanese friends... Besties ): that was my last heart


What did it sound like and what were the hints? The text strings & audio is updated occasionally, and sometimes they clearly mess up. Recently, the term 「おさけ」 in the hiragana lessons had its audio missing for over a month. It didn't need updating, so I'm not sure how the regression occurred. Point is, it can happen. You can always flag the problematic exercise (immediately after you get it marked incorrect) with tags like "my answer should have been accepted," "audio sounds incorrect," and/or "hints are missing or incorrect." Posting about it here won't get the attention of any admins or language maintainers - you must report it through official channels. However, if I see the same issue you describe, I'll flag it as well. Feedback is recorded when you flag, so it may not be sent to maintainers immediately. Still, it's the only built-in option we have.


It should be an not a


As has been discussed many times on this page, "a university" is correct.

the "an" vs "a" rule is about the sound rather than the actual letter, Since the "U" in "University" actually makes a "Yu" consonant sound it takes "a" instead.

It all depends on the sound, not the actual letter. Let's look at the word "hour". We say "an hour" because we pronounce "hour" like "our" and so we use the "an" even though "hour" doesn't start with a vowel. It's the opposite reason for why we use "a" for "university" - it starts with a vowel but doesn't make a vowel sound, "you-nih-ver-sih-tee." I hope this cleared things up for you :)

"A university student" is correct: the 'a' or 'an' rule about words starting with consonants or vowels is about which sound a word start with, rather than the actual letter.
see https://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/a-an.htm

[deactivated user]

    We say college, not university. Even if it is a university.


    I wrote "its a college student", which should technically be correct, right?


    It's a bit less common to say so may not be on the answer list yet,
    But also make sure you're using the correct form of "it's/its".
    "Its" is the possessive "belonging to it" which wouldn't be correct here,
    "It's" is the contraction of "it is" which should be accepted and can be reported if it isn't.


    It shouldn't be "AN university student"?


    Correct, it should not be "an".
    As explained several times on this page "A university" is the proper spelling, as the article is based on sound not the actual letter.


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