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Friday, December 4, 2009

1級 Grammar 1-5:

We're doing our best to prepare for, and hopefully, to help you prepare for the 日本語能力試験1級, but please remember: 1級, by its very nature, consists of grammar that is difficult, highly nuanced, and most of the time, rarely used in regular conversations. That's why it's important that you use our posts as references, to be compared with other study sources. Before you leave a comment, please check the message posted here.

Thanks, and 頑張って!

1級 Grammar 1-5:

Technically we already posted 35 1級 grammar points a while ago, but we were kind of half-assing them. Now that we've got about another year of Japanese experience under our belts, and actually intend to take 1級 next year, we're going to start fresh. Bear with us while we get back up to speed.

1. ~あっての
... It's thanks to ~ that ... exists.
... would not be without ~.
... is nothing without ~.

This would be an excellent bit of grammar to incorporate into your going away speech since it is most commonly used in indicating appreciation or a indelible relationship between people or groups. "It's thanks to my family that I'm here today, I would be nothing without all of you helping me, etc." In AあってのB, B could not exist if A was removed from the equation.

Most of the examples I've come across use this to end sentences: 

The book does include one example where it's used to modify a subject, like so:

Ex. 読者の皆さんあってのデーリー四字である。ありがとうございます!また一緒に文法を勉強しましょう!

2. ~いかんだ ・ ~いかんによっては
based on ~,
depending on ~,
is up to ~ ~次第だ

You should recognize ~次第だ from 2級, and while these two points are very close in meaning, I think you use ~いかんだ to talk about specific results, not decisions. "Depending on the boss's evaluation, we may or may not adopt this policy." 'Depending on your test results, you may admitted to the hospital immediately." While it might be cool to use 次第 to say "Whether or not we go on a picnic next week depends on the weather," I don't think いかんだ or いかんによっては could be used there.

The book explains: in BはAいかんだ or AいかんによってはB sentences, B is a result that changes in accordance with the conditions of A.

In the picnic example, a picnic depends on the weather, but it's not a result of the weather. It's an independent entity. Adoption of a policy however, could not be done without the boss, or his or her evaluation. Admission to the hospital is one possible result of the medical test.

Ex. 面接の結果いかんによっては、転職はできるかもしれません。

3. ~いかんによらず ・ ~いかんにかかわらず
Regardless of ~,

This one is made a lot easier if you happen to remember that にかかわらず is a grammar point all by itself. See if you can remember what it means. If not, just click the link and browse around, but it should shed some light on this usage - in this case, it reverses いかん by itself. Also, as I imagine will be the case for a lot of 1級 grammar, it falls on the formal side of Japanese.

This was a grammar point I was told is so old and formal that today, it's pretty much only used used in a phrase that means "No refunds: 理由のいかんによらず、返金されない。" 

Ex. お父様の許可いかんによらず、結婚します。

4. ~うが ・ ~うが~まいが ・ ~うと~まいと
Even if A~, ...
Whether A or not A, ....

The ~う in the following few points means that you're using the volitional form of a verb there. In the case of ~うが, it means "Even if A happens," as in "Even if I get home late, I always pack my lunch for the next day before going to bed."
Whip out ~うが~まいが when the occurence or non-occurence of A is irrelevant to what comes next in the sentence. You can use it to say "We're gonna go to the movies, whether or not you come," but you can also use it to say things like "Whether you come or not, it doesn't matter to me."
What's tough about this point is the nuances of the construction: In the case of AうがAまいが, the first occurence of verb A will be the volitional form, whereas the second occurence will just be plain old dictionary form (like 行こうが行くまいが).

Also, do not confuse this with the extremely similar ~うか~まいか of 2級 past. The か one is used when you're wondering about whether A should or should not be done, whereas using が or と means that neither option is changes things.

Ex. どんなに遅くまで働こうが、部長は気づいてくれない。
Ex. 2 君は私のこと、愛してくれようがくれまいが、私は君のこと、ずっと愛する。

5. ~うにも~ない
can't do A even if you tried/wanted to do A.

For when there is something one would like to do, but can't since something is interfering. It has a pretty strong meaning, but seeing as one of the example sentences reflects on how a book is so difficult, you couldn't read it even if you tried, I'd say you can be a bit relaxed with it. Another note that Nirav reminded us of, the second occurence of the verb in this phrase should be in the potential form ( 食べられる、読める and the like).
FINALLY, it should be an external force that is preventing you from doing the thing you want to do.

Ex. (courtesy of Nirav!) 毎日新しい四字が書きたいけど、仕事やら学校やらで忙しいから書こうにも書けない。


Nirav said...

Ah, 1kyu. Although it's very true that many of these grammar patterns are so old that you'll just sound dumb trying to use them, some of them can really spice up your Japanese, whether spoken or written. The key is really mastering what they mean, and making sure that you understand the usage. Easier said than done, I know.

One of my personal favorites is number 4. It may help to think of it as somewhat similar to number 3, in the sense that it means something like "it doesn't matter what/if..."

I don't care if people say it can't be done. I'm going to pass 1kyu no matter what!

It's also important to make sure that you are conjugating correctly. The ようが part should be simple - its the non-formal volitional (行こう、しよう、来よう、書こう, 借りよう, etc.) The まい part is somewhat more complicated.

What I learned as "う"stem verbs (verbs whose dictionary forms end in う、つ、some る's、む、ぶ、ぬ、く、ぐ、 or す) are conjugated simply by adding まい to their dictionary form. Therefore:
死ぬまい、知るまい、etc, etc.

However, what I learned as る verbs (or verbs whose ます form is made by replacing る with ます), get the まい added to their ます stem. This includes all potential forms. Therefore:
知れまい、くれまい、行けまい、etc, etc. So Jeff - check your conjugation.

来る is technically conjugated こまい、but in reality you are MUCH more likely to hear 来るまい.

する is another weird one. In the context of grammar point 4, you are more likely to get するまい, but you may also get しまい. There is an explanation for this, but it's really its own entry.

Also, with respect to grammar point 5, you can also use it with endings that aren't necessarily negative potential forms, but have the same implication. For example:
As much as I want to go home, I've got no way to do so.

Just saying 帰れない would have essentially the same meaning, but this is slightly more nuanced.

Nirav said...

Just realized I wrote it backwards re: しまい and するまい。 You are more likely to hear しようがしまいが than しようがするまいが。

the_greatest_pip said...

chanto nihongo de comento wo kakou ni mo kaki you ga nai. ro-maji ha saiaku nan da yo na~. tonikaku,itsumo arigatou, guys. ashita minna ganbarou na.

the_greatest_pip said...

Well, how did that go for you guys? Did you murder it?