Japanese basic grammar topic Formal Expressions

Formal Expressions

What do you mean by formal expressions?

So far we have learned casual, polite, and honorific/humble types of languages. So what do I mean by formal expressions? I think we are all aware of the type of language I am talking about. We hear it in speeches, read it in reports, and see it on documentaries. While discussing good writing style is beyond the scope of this guide, we will go over some of the grammar that you will commonly find in this type of language. Which is not to say that it won't appear in regular everyday speech. (Because it does.)

Using である for formal state-of-being

Vocabulary

1.    我輩 わが・はい - I; we

2.    ねこ - cat

3.    夏目 なつ・め - Natsume (last name)

4.    漱石 そう・せき - Souseki (first name)

5.    お任せ お・まか・せ - leaving a decision to someone else

6.    表示 ひょう・じ - display

7.    混合物 こん・ごう・ぶつ - mixture, amalgam

8.    種類 しゅ・るい - type, kind, category

9.    以上 い・じょう - greater or equal

10.  純物質 じゅん・ぶっ・しつ - pure material

11.  混じりあう ま・じりあう (u-verb) - to mix together

12.  物質 ぶっ・しつ - pure material

13.  なに/なん - what

We have already learned how to speak with your friends in casual speech, your superiors in polite speech, and your customers in honorific / humble speech. We've learned 「だ」、「です」、and でございます to express a state-of-being for these different levels of politeness. There is one more type of state-of-being that is primarily used to state facts in a neutral, official sounding manner - である. Just like the others, you tack である on to the adjective or noun that represents the state.

Examples

·         吾輩は猫である
I am a cat. (This is the title of a famous novel by
夏目漱石)

Since I'm too lazy to look up facts, let's trot on over to the Japanese version of Wikipedia and look at some random articles by clicking on おまかせ表示.

·         混合物(こんごうぶつ, mixture)とは、2種類以上の純物質が混じりあっている物質である(Wikipedia - 混合物, July 2004)
An amalgam is a mixture of two or more pure materials.

To give you an idea of how changing the である changes the tone, I've included some fake content around that sentence.

1.    混合物は
混合物は、2種類以上の純物質が混じりあっている物質

2.    混合物は何ですか
混合物は、2種類以上の純物質が混じりあっている物質です

3.    混合物は何でしょうか
混合物は、2種類以上の純物質が混じりあっている物質でございます

4.    混合物とは
混合物は、2種類以上の純物質が混じりあっている物質である

Negative of である

Vocabulary

1.    ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

2.    それ - that

3.    不公平 ふ・こう・へい - unfair

4.    言語 げん・ご - language

5.    簡単 かん・たん (na-adj) - simple

6.    マスタ - master

7.    する (exception) - to do

8.    こと - event, matter

9.    出来る で・き・る (ru-verb) - to be able to do

10.  学生 がく・せい - student

Because the negative of ある is ない, you might expect the opposite of である to be でない. However, for some reason I'm not aware of, you need to insert the topic particle before ない to get ではない.

Examples

1.    それは不公平ではないでしょうか
Wouldn't you consider that to be unfair?

2.    言語は簡単にマスターできることではない
Language is not something that can be mastered easily.

Using である to sound official

·     Attach である to the verb or adjective that the state-of-being applies to.

·     Example: 学生学生である

·     For the negative, attach ではない to the verb or adjective that the state-of-being applies to.

·     Example: 学生学生ではない

·     For the past tense state-of-being, apply the regular past tenses of ある

Positive

Negative

学生である

is student

学生ではない

is not student

学生であった

was student

学生ではなかった

was not student

Complete conjugation chart for である

Sequential relative clauses in formal language

Vocabulary

1.    花火 はな・び - fireworks

2.    火薬 か・やく - gunpowder

3.    金属 きん・ぞく - metal

4.    粉末 ふん・まつ - fine powder

5.    混ぜる ま・ぜる (ru-verb) - to mix

6.    もの - object

7.    【ひ】 - flame, light

8.    付ける つ・ける (ru-verb) - to attach

9.    燃焼時 ねん・しょう・じ - at time of combustion

10.  火花 ひ・ばな - spark

11.  楽しむ たの・しむ (u-verb) - to enjoy

12.  ため - for the sake/benefit of

13.  企業内 き・ぎょう・ない - company-internal

14.  顧客 こ・きゃく - customer, client

15.  データ - data

16.  利用 り・よう - usage

17.  する (exception) - to do

18.  かれ - he; boyfriend

19.  行方 ゆく・え - whereabouts

20.  調べる しら・べる (ru-verb) - to investigate

21.  こと - event, matter

22.  出来る で・き・る (ru-verb) - to be able to do

23.  封筒 ふう・とう - envelope

24.  写真 しゃ・しん - photograph

25.  数枚 すう・まい - several sheets (flat objects)

26.  入る はい・る (u-verb) - to enter

27.  手紙 て・がみ - letter

28.  添える 【そ・える (ru-verb) - to garnish; to accompany (as a card does a gift)

29.  この - this abbr. of これの

30.  ファイル - file

31.  パスワード - password

32.  設定 せっ・てい - setting

33.  開く ひら・く (u-verb) - to open

34.  ~際 【~さい - on the occasion of

35.  それ - that

36.  入力 にゅう・りょく - input

37.  必要 ひつ・よう - necessity

38.  ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

In the Compound Sentence lesson, we learned how to use the te-form of verbs to express multiples sequential actions in one sentence. This practice, however, is used only in regular everyday speech. Formal speeches, narration, and written publications employ the verb stem instead of the te-form to describe sequential actions. Particularly, newspaper articles, in the interest of brevity, always prefer verb stems to the te-form.

Examples

1.    花火(はなび)は、火薬と金属の粉末を混ぜたものに火を付け、燃焼時の火花を楽しむためのもの
Wikipedia - 花火, August 2004
Fireworks are for the enjoyment of sparks created from combustion created by lighting up a mixture of gunpowder and metal powder.

2.    企業内の顧客データを利用、彼の行方を調べることが出来た
Was able to investigate his whereabouts using the company's internal customer data.

For the 「~ている forms, the stem becomes 「~てい but because that doesn't fit very well into the middle of a sentence, it is common to use the humble form of いる which you will remember is おる. This is simply so you can employ おり to connect relative clauses instead of just 「い」. It has nothing to do with the humble aspect of おる

1.    封筒には写真が数枚入っており、手紙が添えられていた
Several photos were inside the envelope, and a letter was attached.

2.    このファイルにはパスワードが設定されており、開く際にはそれを入力する必要がある
A password has been set on this file, and it needs to entered when opening.

 

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Basic grammar

  • 1 :Addressing People
  • 2 :Adjective Practice Exercises
  • 3 :Adjectives
  • 4 :Advanced proximity of actions
  • 5 :Advanced Topics
  • 6 :Advanced Volitional
  • 7 :Adverbs and Sentence-ending particles
  • 8 :Basic Grammar
  • 9 :Casual Patterns and Slang
  • 10 :Causative and Passive Verbs
  • 11 :Compound Sentences
  • 12 :Conditionals
  • 13 :Covered by something
  • 14 :Defining and Describing
  • 15 :Desire and Suggestions
  • 16 :Essential Grammar
  • 17 :Expressing amounts
  • 18 :Expressing must or have to
  • 19 :Expressing State-of-Being
  • 20 :Expressing the minimum expectation
  • 21 :Expressing time-specific actions
  • 22 :Expressing various levels of certainty
  • 23 :Formal expressions of non-feasibility
  • 24 :Formal Expressions
  • 25 :Giving and Receiving
  • 26 :Hiragana
  • 27 :Honorific and Humble Forms
  • 28 :Hypothesizing and Concluding
  • 29 :Introduction to Particles
  • 30 :Introduction
  • 31 :Kanji
  • 32 :Katakana
  • 33 :Leaving something the way it is
  • 34 :Making requests
  • 35 :More negative verbs
  • 36 :Negative Verb Practice Exercises
  • 37 :Negative Verbs
  • 38 :Noun-related Particles
  • 39 :Numbers and Counting
  • 40 :Other Grammar
  • 41 :Other uses of the te-form
  • 42 :Particles used with verbs
  • 43 :Past Tense
  • 44 :Past Verb Practice Exercises
  • 45 :Performing an action on a relative clause
  • 46 :Polite Form and Verb Stems
  • 47 :Potential Form
  • 48 :Relative Clauses and Sentence Order
  • 49 :Review and more sentence-ending particles
  • 50 :Saying something is easy or difficult to do
  • 51 :Showing signs of something
  • 52 :Special expressions with generic nouns
  • 53 :Special Expressions
  • 54 :Tendencies
  • 55 :The Question Marker
  • 56 :The Writing System
  • 57 :Things that happen unintentionally
  • 58 :Things that should be a certain way
  • 59 :Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
  • 60 :Trying something out or attempting to do something
  • 61 :Using suru and naru with the ni particle
  • 62 :Using yoru for comparisons and other functions
  • 63 :Various ways to express similarity and hearsay
  • 64 :Verb Basics
  • 65 :Verb Practice Exercises