も Particles, も Problems, Part I

This is gonna get redundant if I keep saying it, but Japanese particles tend to be very versatile.

も is no exception.

For example, も can be used to say something like "also" or "too:"

 A: 
デスノート見たことある?
デスノート みた こと ある?
Have you ever seen Death Note?
Literally: "Death Note + saw + thing + there is?"



 B: 
うん、漫画読んだ。
うん、 まんが も よんだ。
Yeah, I read the manga, too.
Literally: "yeah, + manga + も + read."



Let's pretend that I didn't slip in a grammar point we haven't covered yet — putting こと(が)ある after a past tense plain-form verb to say "have VERB-ed" — and instead zoom in on that も.

When we're saying that something was "also" done, we can use the particle も. In cases in which we might use the particle を (i.e. with a  transitive verb), it gets replaced by も:

漫画読みました。
まんが を よみました。
I read the manga.
Literally: "manga + を + read."



漫画読みました。
まんが も よみました。
I also read the manga. // I read the manga, too.
Literally: "manga + も + read."


 



Sometimes, instead of "also," the nuance we'll get from も is close to the word "even" in English:

 A: 
日本の食べ物は好きですか?
にほん の たべもの は すき です か?
Do you like Japanese food? // Do you like the food in Japan?
Literally: "Japan + の + food + は + liked + です + か?"



 B: 
大好きです。納豆好きですよ。
だいすき です。 なっとう も すき です よ。
I love it. I even like natto. // I love it. I like natto, too.
Literally: "loved / greatly liked + です. + natto + も + liked + です + よ."


 



What I really want to talk about in this lesson, however, is how も changes the meaning of question words.

Check this out:

何 → 何も
なに → なにも
what → nothing



誰 → 誰も
だれ → だれも
who → nobody; no one



どこ → どこも
where → nowhere



A few examples:

何もしたくない。
なにも したくない。
I don't want to do anything.
Literally: "nothing + don't want to do."
Note #1: In casual language, people often say なんも instead of なにも.
Note #2: ~ たくない is the negative ending of ~ たい (want to ~).



誰も来なかった。
だれも こなかった。
Nobody came.
Literally: "no one / nobody + didn't come."



どこも開いてないね。
どこも あいてない ね。
Everywhere's closed, huh? // Nowhere's open, huh?
Literally: "nowhere + isn't being open + ね."
Note: As we see here, when it is in the present progressive (~ている) tense, the verb 開く (あく // to open [e.g. of an automatic door]) can mean "to be open (e.g. of a store, window, etc.)."



An important thing to note about all of our example sentences above: The verbs are negative.

It sounds strange to put a positive verb with "question-word + も."

Saying 誰も来た (だれも きた) does not mean "Everyone came." In fact, it's not even a sentence. You can't say it.

Instead, you would need to say みんな来た (みんな きた), "Everyone came."


 



While we're on the topic of question words working with も, we should mention that いつ (when) is an exception. いつも does not mean "never;" it means "always:"

いつ → いつも
when → always



あの人はいつも遅刻する。
あの ひと は いつも ちこく する。
He's always late. // She's always late.
Literally: "that + person + は + always + being late + does."



So how do we say "never," then?

Uh... it's a bit complicated, and we don't really have space to discuss it here, but I'll mention a few useful words you'll see in sentences expressing the idea of "never:"

全然 (ぜんぜん), which we sometimes translate as "(not) at all."
決して (けっして), which is sometimes translated as "never," "by no means," or "not in the least."
一回も (いっかいも), literally meaning "one time + も," which means something like "not even once."
~たこと(が)ない, which is the verb ending when saying "have not VERB-ed."

Anyway, a lesson for another day. We'll cover this stuff eventually...




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