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  5. "He has three older brothers."

"He has three older brothers."


July 9, 2017



The most frustrating thing about these lessons is not being able to hear the the correct enunciation of a sentence I got wrong.


It's a bit late - but any time I get a sentence wrong, I click the 'discuss' link... and there is a 'play audio' button at the top of the discussion page that will read out the 'correct' answer.

Note: there have been one or two instances where the 'discuss' link goes to the wrong discussion... can't easily report them, so just check it's the same question on the discussion page :D


You are right, they should fix this.

I usually resort to copying and pasting the correct answer into Google's translate window for having it read to myself.


I also copy paste into Google Translate. For Kanji, I use the tool here: https://j-talk.com/convert it helps to break it down into hiragana (or katakana) characters as well.

I use Evernote to keep my various notes about grammar, vocab etc so this all helps me to have practice pages of the most important terms and concepts even when I am not in Duolingo. If I am waiting around for an appointment, walking the dog, riding somewhere, I can open up Evernote and review. It has been incredibly helpful to me.


They must have changed the pronunciation because they definitely have correct annunciation! I had no problem understanding and it was pronounced correctly


Also some people might be confused because Ne is pronounced like (nae) or (nay) or (neigh)

Ne=neigh Ni=knee

Ne is Not pronounced like (knee or in the english word need) So the confusion might be that: NE=nay Ni=knee

Japanese NE=nay-English

NE is pronounced nay, (rhymes with hay) and Ni is pronounced Knee (rhymes with see)

People might be seeing the NE and by accident automatically pronouncing it like the NE in the english word need. (Sounds like knee)

In Japanese NE is pronounced nae rhymes with hay


Does the number have to come after the noun?


Phrased in this way, yes. I think you could also say 三人のお兄さん, as with other counters.

That's simply how phrasing works with counters in Japanese - you can either use "[number+counter]の[noun]は/が[verb]", or "[noun]は/が[counter][verb]".


My instinct was to start this sentence 彼には, and this was accepted. What is the difference between saying 彼には and just 彼は? Are they interchangeable in this circumstance? I know that there are other circumstances where 彼には would not be appropriate but I'm curious if there is any difference in connotation here.


Inconsistent translation of oniisan as older brother or simply brother between questions.


You use different words when referring to your own family vs someone else's. In this case, it's あに for your own and おにいさん for someone else's.


Also, you will use あに when referring your brother to others, and use お兄さん when you call your brother directly

  • 164

In animes, I see everyone treating everyone with nichan and nechan. Are these related to 'brother' and 'sister'?


It's an issue of formality. Both "nii-chan" and "nee-chan" still mean brother and sister, respectively, but there's a difference in the nature of the relationship. The "-chan" honorific is incredibly informal, especially when used for anyone older than a child. They've removed the "o-" honorific prefix, which adds even more respect in a title.

So when you hear "nii-chan" or "nee-chan" in anime, you can generally assume it's a pretty close relationship or, depending on tone of voice, super condescending and disrespectful. (You usually hear it used in anime as the former though.)

Honorifics are great because they can tell you SO much about a relationship REAL quick.


I'm pretty sure that Duolingo has so far been presenting me with people-count sentences like this one without the "ga" or any particle -which surprised me at the time- so I'm a bit miffed it now required it for "correct".


Is が usually (/ always) used with いる / ある?


why do we have to use the formal word for "brothers"? I used "kyoodai", is it possible?


きょうだい can include both big brothers and little brothers, whereas お兄さん only has big brothers. If it wasn't for that, it would be OK.




I'm really struggling with the amount of different words there are for brother and sister. There's a least three for each (and I seem to keep getting them wrong). Not to mention the difficulties I'm having with he/she pronoun-type words as well. Duo has been great so far, but I really feel like I need a lot of outside help with this lesson group. It's been very discouraging.


No :( Don't be discouraged! I had some trouble too but you get used to it after a while. Here are some tips for remembering!

かれ (彼) is He. Notice how the Kanji looks like a little man (without a head :D oh no)

かのじょ (彼女) is She. Just like He, but we have an extra rib (that's a myth btw)

Now for siblings, there are four. I remember them like this:

あに (兄) and あね (姉) = Brother and sister

But these are a bit rude, so I can make them more polite by adding お- at the start. Like how we do this to sound polite about bathtubs (お風呂) and tea (お茶) too! :D Then I also want to add -san at the end which makes these even more polite (which is especially important when I'm talking about someone else's family):

あに = おにいさん (ani = oniisan) あね = おねえさん (ane = oneesan)

Now the pesky Kanjis:

いもうと (imouto/younger sister) = 妹 This one is easy - it looks like a girl wearing a dress

おとうと (otouto/younger brother) = 弟 See the horns? Because young boys are little devils

Again, I could add -san here to show respect :)

And the older sibling Kanjis:

あね (姉) or おねえさん (お姉さん) Looks just like little sister, but older (you can tell by her muscles!)

あに (兄) or おにいさん (お兄さん) Like a block head on two shoulders, because my older brother is definitely a blockhead!

I am also just a student so please do correct me if I have made a mistake :) These are just how I remember them, I hope this can help you too!


Forgot to add:

の (no) is a possessive particle, so when you see this:

かれの (or 彼の) かのじょの (or 彼女の)

It changes the meaning from:

彼 (he) to 彼の (his) 彼女 (she) to 彼女の (her)


Why it is かれは instead of かれの?


かれの means "his", so to use that instead of かれは would mean "His 3 older brothers" instead of "He has 3 older brothers".


The subject of the sentence is "he," not "his older brothers." I think you would have to change the verb from "having" to "being" 3 people. Is that right?


I thought ~います was "there exists", so expected 「かれのお兄さんが三人います」 to work as "there are three older brothers of his" :o)


いる does mean "to exist", but to describe possession in Japanese, you use the form (roughly literal) "As for X, Y exists" or "Xは Yがいる". So, this sentence reads literally as "As for him, three older brothers exist."


So why does の exist at all, then?

[this is what's called a rhetorical question, because you seemed to be telling me that possession is only indicated with XはYがいます :-P]

[editing for clarity] So anyway, in my fevered imagination, I was trying to work out how to say "three brothers exist" and thought "かれのきょうだい" would be the way to go, and ... well, I was curious.


For when you indicate possession by a determiner modifying a noun, or by a proper noun possessing something. So, whenever you translate "his, her, its, my, your, our," etc. E.g., "my older brothers are funny", "I read your book", "Dr. Takata's friend lives here", "the tiger's coat is smooth", and so on. This "As for X, Y exists" structure is only when you're translating "X has Y".


The subject is "he" only in the English sentence, not in Japanese. The topic is "he" in Japanese (what the sentence is about) and the subject is "three older brothers" (those doing the action of existing).


は indicates the topic of the sentence -> "Xは" = "In regard to X". の indicates possession -> "XのY" = " Y of X". "XのYは" = "In regard to the Y of X"

  • 164

Ok.... I've inverted the "ga" and "wa" particles:

  • かれおにいさん三人います vs. かれおにいさん三人います

Why is that? Isn't "he (かれ)" not the subject of the sentence?

(If you'd like to be certain that I saw your answer, please write "danmoller" anywhere in the answer. Thanks a lot).


'He' is the subject of the English sentence "He has three older brothers", but most definitely not the subject of the Japanese sentence. The Japanese literally translates to "As for him, three older brothers exist." 'Him/he' is the topic of the sentence here, meaning that which the sentence is about, and takes the particle -は; 'older brothers' is the subject of the verb 'exist' (います), meaning that which does the action of existing, and takes the particle -が.


I've read somewhere to think of が not as the subject marker but as an "identifier", and it often helps. Like in this sentence, "he" is the topic and "brothers" is the thing he has three of. Hope it made sense.


Somewhat literal translation: (As) For him, there are three big brothers. He is not the subject in the Japanese sentence because the verb is いる = to be/exist.


"He" is definitely the subject of the sentence, in both English and in Japanese (かれ).


I'm confused with the uses of the particles "wa" and "ga" in this sentence. Shouldn't He be the subject here? Or is it like this because the older brothers are the ones doing the action of... existing?


It's the latter. 'He' is the subject of the English sentence "He has three older brothers", but not of the Japanese sentence, which is literally, "As for him, three older brothers exist." "He" gets the topic particle -は because it's what the sentence is about; but "older brothers" gets the subject particle -が because they are doing the action of existing.


Thank you, Sean! Japanese is such a different language, its structures are so interesting! So, in a sentence where we have two "topics" or "objects" (I don't know how to call it... potential subjects?) the subject is going to be the latter one or not necessarily?


Not necessarily, and word order is more flexible in Japanese since nouns and pronouns are given their roles by the particles attached to them, rather than their place in the sentence, although it's generally more natural for the topic to come first.


さんじん× さんにん○





more about the ~人 counter here:



I think Duolingo exclusively needs to release a lesson just on working of particles.


How about 彼の兄は三人います。


Same question here. Is the honorific required?


This question appears to only accept the kanji for three.


Why is it not かれのおにいさんが三人います?


It's such a cool feeling when these sentences start to make sense


Agreed - Hearing the correct enunciation is a problem!


I though Onii San is a singular form. Shouldn't it be Kyoudai on this case then?


Can someone help me with what to use for: His, Her, Thier, They


What about かれは兄が三人います,is it wrong?


I put 彼は三人お兄さんがいます which was accepted as a correct answer. Can someone help explain the difference between what I said and what they convey as the correct answer?


Ok, I'm struggling a little with combining particles with the counting. Why does the が come before the count rather than after it? Like, why is it not お兄さんが三人 rather than お兄さん三人が?


That's simply how phrasing works with counters in Japanese - you can either use "[number+counter]の[noun]は/が[verb]", or "[noun]は/が[counter][verb]".


I'm confused, the translation given above is "かれはおにいさんが三人いま", isn't that what LittleHobbit13 wants? Is that not correct? Or does he just have a superfluous "not" in his question which makes it the opposite of what he wanted to ask?


If you leave it out, you're either being rude or you're very close with both him and your listener. Most of the time, it'd be considered just rude because it's not your brother you're talking about.


Why does the います necessary, instead of just ます?


います is the verb "to exist/to have" (for animate objects, like people).

ます itself is just the ending verbs get when they get conjugated to the non-past polite form. Your question would be like saying, "Why do I have to use たべます for 'eat' instead of just ます?"

The い isn't just a random letter put there for politeness or anything. It is a core part of the word that must be there or else you're saying an entirely different word.


Why do they use います instead of です? I still don't know when to use each of these.


います means 'exist, to be (somewhere)' Like "The cat is here."

です means 'to be (something)' Like "A cat is an animal."


Can I say 彼のお兄さんは三人です?


I was asking the same question. Why is no one answering you?


yes, you can say it like that, but I'm pretty sure it sounds unnatural unless there is a reason to phrase it like that. If you are just telling how many brothers does 彼 has as this new information to the listener, then the duolingo one sounds more natural.


Hmm... Why does the translation keep giving the phrase 'Kare wa oniisan ga san nin imasu' instead of 'Kare no...'? Won't the 'no' particle be appropriate here?


Kare wa = As for him, ...

Still learning, but here's how I've seen it explained. The main use of the は (wa) particle is to identify the subject of the sentence. Here's how I translate sentences with は in my head:

わたしはアメリカ人です = As for me, I am American.

は let's your audience know that what came before it is the subject, what you're talking about. I use "As for ____, ... " to help make sense of what the subject is and to figure out if I should use はwhen going from English to Japanese.

Hope that was right! And I hope it helps!


Makes sense to me! の Isn't used because you're not saying "his older brothers are three of them," you're saying, "as for him, three older brothers." So the possessive の isn't really used here.


It's slightly confusing to me too, but the way I understand it is we are talking about this "him" and how many brothers there are, rather than him having or owning three brothers.


Why does the い have to come before the ます?


Because います means basically "to exist." So to break down the sentence literally it would be something like:

かれ - He, は - particle, おにいさん - older brother, が - particle, 三人 - three persons/people, います - exist


The 'correct solution' starts with かれは However the provided tiles do not offer that sequence or selection of possibilities


にいさは三人がいます ^?


かれ は おにさん が 三人 います.


Duolingo's error highlighting sucks terribly. I made a mistake near the end of my input, and also didn't use an お for "he"'s brother (which is near the beginning of the input). So, when telling me what I did wrong, it should underline errors based on the type of answer it accepted: one without the お.

But the answer with お is used to calculate underlining for errors, making it all wrong and offset by one!!!

Whoever committed this code should be shamed, and after a proper shaming they should fix it. I know it isn't easy or fun, but if it was, it wouldn't be called software development.


Why is it 彼はお兄さん and not 彼のお兄さん?


Oh crap just checked and somebody else has already asked this question (and gotten downvoted for it)


where i use ga and where wa?? i am really confused.


please tell me where to use ga and where to use wa


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