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Ima, denwa-wo shite-iru hito-ga Tian-san-desu

SOUNDING NATURAL IN JAPANESE

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Ima, denwa-wo shite-iru hito-ga Tian-san-desu. (That person talking on the phone is Mr. Tian.)

Situation 1: Mr. Yamada asks Ms. Tamachi who Mr. Tian is.

山田:あのう、ティエンさんはどの方ですか。

田町:今、電話をしている人がティエンさんです。

Yamada: Anō, Tian-san-wa dono kata-desu-ka?

Tamachi: Ima, denwa-wo shite-iru hito-ga Tian-san-desu.

Yamada: Excuse me, which gentleman is Mr. Tian?

Tamachi: That person talking on the phone is Mr. Tian.

Today we will introduce the proper use of the particle が. X が is used to mark the subject of the sentence (= X) when it is newly introduced. となりにきれいな女(おんな)の人(ひと)が引っ越(ひっこ)してきた (A beautiful woman moved in next door). In the pattern of X が Y, X is the information that the speaker wants to focus on, as in Ms. Tamachi’s remark. When a question word such as どの (which), いつ (when) or どこ (where) is the subject of the sentence, it is marked by が. Example:「どの日(ひ)が都合(つごう)がいいですか。」「あさってがいいです。」 (“What day is good for you?” “The day after tomorrow is convenient”).

Situation 2: At home, little Mariko looks at the window and finds it is snowing.

まり子: あ、雪が降っている!

Mariko: A, yuki-ga futte-iru!

Mariko: Oh, it’s snowing!

X が is also used when the speaker describes what he/she sees or hears or a natural phenomenon, as in 鳥(とり)が鳴(な)いています (A bird is singing).

Situation 3: Ms. Gray finds a small illustration in a document, and shows it to Ms. Tamachi.

田町: これはセレさんが描いた絵よ。

グレイ: へえ、セレさんって、絵が上手なのね。

Tamachi: Kore-wa Sere-san-ga kaita e-yo.

Gray: Hē, Sere-san-tte, e-ga jōzuna-no-ne.

Tamachi: This is an illustration that Sere drew.

Gray: Really?! He’s good at drawing.

The subject in the part that explains a noun is marked by が as in セレさんが描(か)いた絵(え), not セレさんは描いた絵. Similarly, in the part that expresses reason, such as (Xから, Xので); conditions, such as (Xたら, X ば); or time (Xとき), the subject is marked by が. Example: お金(かね)があったら、車(くるま)が買(か)いたいです (If I had money, I’d buy a car).

Bonus Dialogue: At the train station, Mr. Sere and his younger university friend Ms. Kita are chatting after a party.

北: 今(いま)、婚活(こんかつ)しているんですけど、いい人(ひと)がいませんか。

セレ: どんな人がいいの?

北: そうですね。元気(げんき)でおもしろくてやさしい人がいいです。

セレ: じゃ、ぼくの友(とも)だちに、三田(みた)くんという人がいるんだ。もし北さんがいいと思(おも)ったら、紹介(しょうかい)するけど。 [携帯(けいたい)の写真(しゃしん)を見(み)せる] この人が三田くんだよ。条件(じょうけん)にぴったりだよ。

北: その人、結婚(けっこん)したら、家事(かじ)や育児(いくじ)を分担(ぶんたん)してくれるでしょうか。

セレ: 三田くんはずっと実家(じっか)に住(す)んでいるから、今はやっていないけど。

北: ああ、そういう人は、お母(かあ)さんに何(なん)でもやってもらっているから、結婚しても家事をしない人が多(おお)いらしいですね。あ、電車(でんしゃ)が来(き)た。じゃ、私(わたし)、失礼(しつれい)します。

セレ: うーん、今は家事と育児ができないと、結婚がむずかしいんだなあ。

Kita: I’m hunting for a marriage partner now. Do you know any nice guys?

Sere: What kind of person do you like?

Kita: Well, I like cheerful, humorous and gentle people.

Sere: Then, I have a friend named Mita. If you like, I’ll introduce him. (Shows a photo on his smartphone.) He’ll be just right.

Kita: Would he share the household chores and child rearing if he married me?

Sere: He’s been living in his parents’ house, so he hasn’t done that yet.

Kita: Oh, I heard that kind of guy has his mom to do everything for him, so he won’t do housework after marriage. Oh, here comes the train. Sorry, I have to leave.

Sere: Hmm … Nowadays, it’s difficult for a man who can’t do household chores and child rearing to marry.