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Intrinsically Intricate

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Compound Sentences

In this section, we will learn various ways to combine multiple simple sentences into one complex sentence. For example, we will learn how to chain separate sentences together to express multiple actions or states. In other words, if we have two simple sentences with the same subject, "I ran" and "I ate", we will learn how to group them together to mean, "I ran and ate." We will also learn how to do this with adjectives and nouns. (Ex: He is rich, handsome, and charming.)

Expressing a sequence of states

It is very easy to combine a chain of nouns and adjectives to describe a person or object. For example, in English if we wanted to say, "He is X. He is Y. He is Z." since all three sentences have the same noun, we would usually say, "He is X, Y, and Z." In Japanese, we can do the same thing by conjugating the noun or adjective. The last noun or adjective remains the same as before.
How to chain nouns and adjectives together


(1) 部屋は、きれい静かとても好き
- My room is clean, quiet, and I like it a lot.

(2) 彼女は、学生じゃなくて先生だ。
- She is not a student, she is a teacher.

(3) 田中さんは、お金持ちかっこよくて魅力的ですね。
- Tanaka-san is rich, handsome, and charming, isn't he?

As you can see, the 「で」 attached to 「お金持ち」 obviously cannot be the context particle 「で」 here because there is no verb. It might be helpful to think of 「で」 as merely a substitution for 「だ」 that can be chained together.

Expressing a sequence of verbs with the te-form

In a similar fashion, you can express multiple actions. It is usually interpreted as a sequence of event. (I did [X], then I did [Y], then I finally did [Z].) There are two forms: positive and negative. The tense of all the actions is determined by the tense of the last verb.
How to chain verbs together
  1. Positive: Conjugate the verb to its past tense and replace 「た」 with 「て」 or 「だ」 with 「で」. This is often called the te-form even though it could sometimes be 'de' .
  2. Negative: Same as i-adjectives, replace 「い」 with 「くて」.
Sample conjugations
Past TenseTe-form
食べ 食べ
行っ 行っ
遊ん 遊ん
飲ん 飲ん
食べな 食べなくて
行かな 行かなくて
しな しなくて
遊ばな 遊ばなくて
飲まな 飲まなくて


(1) 食堂行って昼ご飯食べて昼寝する
- I will go to cafeteria, eat lunch, and take a nap.

(2) 食堂行って昼ご飯食べて昼寝した
- I went to cafeteria, ate lunch, and took a nap.

(3) 時間ありまして映画見ました
- There was time and I watched a movie.

Expressing reason or causation using 「から」 and 「ので」

You can connect two complete sentences using 「から」 to indicate a reason for something. The two sentences are always ordered [reason] から [result]. When the reason is a non-conjugated noun or na-adjective, you must add 「だ」 to explicitly declare the reason in the form of 「(noun/na-adjective)から」. If you forget to add the declarative 「だ」 to 「から」, it will end up sounding like the 「から」 meaning "from" which was first introduced in Particles 2.


(1) 時間なかったからパーティーに行きませんでした
- There was no time so didn't go to party.

(2) 友達からプレゼント来た
- Present came from friend.

(3) 友達だからプレゼント来た
- Present came because (the person is) friend. (This sentence sounds a bit odd.)

Either the reason or the cause can be omitted if it is clear from the context. In the case of polite speech, you would treat 「から」 just like a regular noun and add 「です」. When you omit the reason, you must include the declarative 「だ」 or 「です」.

田中さん) どうしてパーティー行きませんでしたか。- Why didn't you go to the party?
山田さん) 時間なかったからです。- It's because I didn't have time.

一郎) パーティー行かなかったの?- You didn't go to the party?
直子) うん、時間なかったから。- Yeah, because I didn't have time.

(1) 時間なかった。- I didn't have time.
(2) だからパーティー行かなかったの? - Is that why you didn't go to the party?

Notice that 山田さん and 直子 could have used the explanatory 「の」 to express the same thing. In other words, 山田さん could have also said, 「時間なかったのです」 or 「時間なかったんです」 while 直子 could have said 「時間なかったの」 (we'll assume she wants to use the more feminine form). In fact, this is where 「ので」 possibly came from. Let's say you want to combine two sentences: 「時間なかったのだ」 and 「パーティー行かなかった」. Remember we can treat the 「の」 just like a noun so we can use what we just learned in the first section of this lesson.

(1) 時間なかったのだ+パーティー行かなかった
(2) 時間なかったのでパーティー行かなかった

In fact, 「ので」 is almost interchangeable with 「から」 with a few subtle differences. 「から」 explicitly states that the sentence preceding is the reason for something while 「ので」 is merely putting two sentences together, the first with an explanatory tone. This is something I call causation where [X] happened, therefore [Y] happened. This is slightly different from 「から」 where [Y] happened explicitly because [X] happened. This difference tends to make 「ので」 sound softer and slightly more polite and it is favored over 「から」 when explaining a reason for doing something that is considered discourteous.

(1) ちょっと忙しいのでそろそろ失礼します
- Because I'm a little busy, I'll be making my leave soon.
(「失礼します」, which literally means "I'm doing a discourtesy", is commonly used as a polite way to make your leave or disturb someone's time.)

Reminder: Don't forget that the explanatory 「の」 requires a 「な」 for both non-conjugated nouns and na-adjectives. Review Particles 3 to see why.

(1) 学生ので、お金ないんです。
- Because I'm a student, I have no money (lit: there is no money).

(2) ここ静かので、とても穏やかです。
- It is very calm here because it is quiet.

(3) ので、友達会う時間ない
- That's why there's no time to meet friend.

Just like how the explanatory 「の」 can be shortened to 「ん」, in speech, the 「ので」 can be changed to 「んで」 simply because it's easier to slur the sounds together rather then pronouncing the / o / syllable.

(1) 時間なかったんでパーティー行かなかった
- Didn't go to the party because there was no time.

(2) ここ静かんでとても穏やかです。
- It is very calm here because it is quiet.

(3) なんで友達会う時間ない
- That's why there's no time to meet friend.

Using 「のに」 to mean "despite"

Grammatically, 「のに」 is used exactly the same way as 「ので」. When used to combine two simple sentences together, it means "[Sentence 1] despite the fact that [Sentence 2]." However the order is reversed: [Sentence 2]のに[Sentence 1].


(1) 毎日運動したのに全然痩せなかった
- Despite exercising every day, I didn't get thinner.

(2) 学生のに彼女勉強しない
- Despite being a student, she does not study.

Expressing contradiction using 「が」 and 「けど」

Used in the same manner as 「から」 and 「ので」, 「が」 and 「けど」 also connect two sentences together but this time to express a contradiction. Just like 「から」 the declarative 「だ」 is required for nouns and na-adjectives. And just like 「から」 and 「ので」, the reason or cause can be left out.


(1) デパート行きました何も欲しくなかったです。
- I went to department store but there was nothing I wanted.

(2) 友達聞いたけど知らなかった
- I asked (or heard from) a friend but he (or I) didn't know.

(3) 今日だけど明日忙しい
- I'm free today but I will be busy tomorrow.

(4) だけどまだ好きなの。
- That may be so, but it is that I still like him. (explanation, feminine tone)

It may seem odd but 「聞く」 can either mean "to listen" or "to ask". You may think this may become confusing but the meaning is usually clear within context. In (2)、 we're assuming that the friend didn't know, so the speaker was probably asking the friend. Yet again we see the importance of context in Japanese because this sentence can also mean, "I heard from a friend but I didn't know" since there is neither subject nor topic.

Similar to the difference between 「から」 and 「ので」, 「が」 has a softer tone and is slightly more polite than 「けど」. Though this isn't a rule as such, it is generally common to see 「が」 attached to a 「~ます」 or 「~です」 ending and 「けど」 attached to a regular, plain ending. A more formal version of 「けど」 is 「けれど」 and even more formal is 「けれども」, which we may see later when we cover formal expressions.

Unlike the English word for contradiction such as "but" or "however", 「けど」 and 「が」 do not always express a direct contradiction. Often times, especially when introducing a new topic, it is used as a general connector of two separate sentences. For example, in the following sentences, there is no actual contradiction but 「が」 and 「けど」 are used simply to connect the sentences. Sometimes, the English "and" becomes a closer translation than "but".

(1) デパート行きましたいいたくさんありました
- I went to the department store and there was a lot of good stuff.

(2) マトリックス見たけど面白かった
- I watched the "Matrix" and it was interesting.

Expressing multiple reasons using 「し」

When you want to list reasons for multiple states or actions you can do so by adding 「し」 to the end of each subordinate clause. It is very similar to the 「や」 particle except that it lists reasons for verbs and state of being. Again, for states of being, 「だ」 must be used to explicitly declare the state of being for any non-conjugated noun or na-adjective. Let's look at some examples.

(1) どうして友達じゃないんですか?- Why isn't him/her friend (seeking explanation)?
(2) 先生だし年上だし・・・。- Well, he's/she's the teacher, and older...

(1) どうして好きなの?- Why (do you) like him?
(2) 優しいかっこいい面白いから。- Because he's kind, attractive, and interesting (among other things).

Notice that 「優しくてかっこよくて面白いから。」 could also have worked but much like the difference between the 「と」 and 「や」 particle, 「し」 implies that there may be other reasons.

Expressing multiple actions or states using 「~たりする」

This is the verb version of the 「や」 particle. You can make an example list of verbs among a possible larger list by conjugating each verb into the past tense and adding 「り」. At the end, you need to attach the verb 「する」. Just like the 「や」 particle, the tense is determined by the last verb, which in this case will always be 「する」 (since you have to attach it at the end).

You can also use this with the state of being to say that you are a number of things at various random times among a larger list. Similar to regular verbs, you just take the noun or adjective for each state of being and conjugate it to the past state of being and then attach 「り」. Then finally, attach 「する」 at the end.

Rules for stating a list of verbs among a larger list using 「~たりする」

(1) 映画見たり読んだり昼寝したりする。
- I do things like (among other things) watch movies, read books, and take naps.

(2) この大学授業簡単だったり難しかったりする
- Class of this college is sometimes easy, sometimes difficult (and other times something else maybe).

As you can see, the tense and negative/positive state is controlled by the last 「する」.

(3) 映画見たり読んだりした
- I did things like (among other things) watch movies, and read books.

(4) 映画見たり読んだりしない
- I don't do things like (among other things) watch movies, and read books.

(5) 映画見たり読んだりしなかった
- I didn't do things like (among other things) watch movies, and read books.

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This page has last been revised on 2006/3/16
Clarified 「よくて」 exception to rules (2006/3/16)