Tanaka, the project leader, sees Emily getting ready to leave the office.
Tanaka： 帰 かえ るの？ Kaeru no? So, are you going home?
Emily： いえ、相撲 すもう を見 み に行い くんです. Ie, Sumou o mi ni iku n desu. No, Actually I’m going to see sumo.
Tanaka：すもう？ Sumou? Sumo?
Emily：ええ、初めてなんです。 Ee, hajimete na n desu. Yes, it’s my first time. (So, I’m excited.)
Tanaka：楽 たの しいだろうね。 Tanoshii darou ne. Must be fun!
Emily： 写真 しゃしん 、いっぱい撮 と ってきます。Shashin ippai totte kimasu. I’ll take many pictures there.
kaeru かえる 帰る go home, return
no の it’s the case that… See 8-2-1
kaeru no かえるの？ 帰るの？ So you are going home?
mi ni iku みにいく 見に行く go to see See 8-2-2
hajimete はじめて 初めて first time
darou だろう probably (Plain form of deshou) See 8-2-3
shashin しゃしん 写真 photo
ippai いっぱい a lot
toru とる 撮る take
Plain Form + n desu
How to form it: This pattern is made to add /~n desu/ or /~no desu/ (more formal) to the plain form of an adjective, noun, or verb. Note that for a noun sentence, you need to insert na before n desu.
Adjective: Takai n desu. It’s expensive. (That’s why.)
Verb: Kaeru n desu. I’m going home. (That’s why.)
Noun: Ame na n desu. It’s raining. (That’s why.)
To make an informal style sentence, change /~n desu/ to /no/.
Adjective: Takai no. It’s expensive. (That’s why.)
Verb: Kaeru no. I’m going home. (That’s why.)
Noun: Ame na no. It’s raining. (That’s why.)
The ~ n desu can be added to the Negative forms and Past forms as well. (These forms of verbs will be introduced later.)
The meaning: The /n/ in the /~n desu/ pattern refers to the situation, circumstance, or case, namely how thing are. So, this pattern is often translated as ‘It’s that...’, ‘ It’s the case that…’ or ‘The thing is ….’ It provides an explanation or background information regarding the situation or to present a new interpretation or explanation of that situation.
In the dialogue above, the project leader sees Emily getting ready to leave. She wants to confirm that Emily is in fact going home by saying Kaeru no? She asks to validate her interpretation of what she sees. In response, Emily corrects the leader’s interpretation by using the /~ n desu/. Emily further explains that it’s her first time to see Sumo. Without the ~n desu pattern, this conversation would lack mutual empathy, and might sound mechanical or distant.
How to use it: For a learner of Japanese, the biggest challenge posed by this pattern is probably to figure out when to use it and when NOT to use it. You cannot decide this on the basis of when the English equivalent of this pattern is used or is not used in spoken English. In English you probably do not always say, “It’s that…” when you give an explanation, as seen below.
A: Let’s go out tonight.
B: Sorry. I have homework.
It is not a viable strategy, though tempting, to use the ~n desu pattern all the time, or conversely to completely dismiss it. Misuse can cause social awkwardness and in some cases more serious consequences. Why?
Remember this pattern indicates that the speaker is aware of something in the situation and her statements reflect this awareness. Thus, not using this pattern where it is expected may indicate that the speaker is indifferent or insensitive, or failed to “read the air”. Paying attention to others and anticipating their needs is highly valued in Japan, probably more so than in some other cultures. Failing to do so may have more negative significance when speaking Japanese. Consider the following examples.
a) At a restaurant, you see something unusual on your plate. You are not sure if it’s a decoration or whether you can eat it. Kore, taberu n desu ka? ‘So, do you eat this?’ (Is that why it’s here?) is an appropriate question. On the other hand, the same sentence without ~n desu--Kore tabemasu ka-- lacks any indication of your being confused. Thus it may give your fellow diner an impression that you are offering the item to her.
b) A co-worker returned from taking a test. You want to know how it went. Muzukashikatta desu ka? ‘Was it hard?’ is a simple question and appropriate. On the other hand the sentence with /~n desu/ --Muzukashikatta n desu ka? –would indicate that you see something wrong. It may be interpreted as if the co-worker looks distraught or unhappy
c) You want to turn down the food you are offered. Compare the following.
Amari suki ja nai desu. -- Informing about your food preference
Amari suki ja nai n desu. -- Explaining why you do not want the food
While both sentences presents the same information, the first one does not necessarily connect the statement with your not accepting the food. The second sentence does. A similar difference can be observed between the following.
Ame desu. ‘It’s raining.’ --Informing about the weather
Ame na n desu. ‘It's raining, so…’ --Explaining why
How is the ~n desu pattern different from the ~ kara pattern? The ~kara pattern specifically provides THE reason for something, while the ~n desu pattern draws attention to a factor in the situation, thus is softer and more vague. The speaker can stay appropriately ambiguous, and asks the listener to get it.
In the examples c) above, the ~kara pattern might be an option.
Amari suki ja nai desu kara. ‘Because I don’t like it very much.’
Ame desu kara. ‘Because it’s raining.’
However, these sentences explicitly give the reasons. The ~n desu pattern, on the other hand, is more subtle and appealing for empathy. In responding to these indirect explanations, it is common to show your understanding by saying, Aa sou na n desu ka. ‘Oh, that explains it’ rather than Aa sou desu ka ‘Is that so?’
[Purpose X ] ni iku ‘go to do X’
In Lesson 6, we learned that the /X ni iku/ means ‘go to X’ and X stands for the goal of the movement presented by verbs such as iku, kuru, and kaeru. Therefore X is usually a location. When X is NOT a location, this pattern usually means ‘go to do X’ and X stands for the reason for going. The purpose X is presented by two kinds of items: action nouns and verb stems.
1. Action nouns such as benkyou ‘study’, renshuu ‘practice’ kaimono ‘shopping’
Tokyo ni kaimono ni ikimasu I’ll go to Tokyo for shopping.
Toshokan ni benkyou ni ikimashita. I went to the library to study.
2. Verb stems = the ~masu form without ~masu
Koohii o kai ni ikimasu. I’ll go to buy coffee.
Tomodachi ni ai ni kaerimasu. I’ll go back to see my friends
MBA o tori ni kimashita. I came to get an MBA.
Nani o shi ni iku n desu ka. What are you going there to do?
Plain Form + deshou / darou
Darou is the plain form of deshou ‘probably’. However, some female speakers tend to avoid using darou in the sentence final position, and use deshou instead even in a casual conversation.
Both deshou and darou follow the plain form of adjectives, nouns, and verbs.
Takai deshou. Takai darou. It’s probably expensive.
Ame deshou. Ame darou. It will probably rain.
Kuru deshou. Kuru darou. She will probably come.
Like deshou, when darou is used alone, it means ‘Isn’t it?’ or ‘Didn’t I tell you so?’