337 - て (descriptive connector)

If you already read Dennis's awesome lesson on the て-form of verbs, then today's lesson should be very easy for you.

He explained how using a verb in て-form can connect two clauses, much like the conjunction "and" can make a compound sentence in English:

コンビニへ行って、飲み物を買った。
コンビニ へ いって、 のみもの を かった。
I went to the convenience store and bought a drink.
Literally: "convenience store + へ + go (and) + drink + を + bought.

The usage we're looking at today is just slightly different. Different for one major reason:

We're (primarily) using the て-form of i-adjectives, na-adjectives, and nouns.

An example:

私の犬はかしこくて、フレンドリーです。
わたし の いぬ は かしこくて、 フレンドリー です。
My dog is smart and friendly.
Literally: "I + の + dog + は + clever (and), + friendly + です."
Note: I've noticed that a lot of Japanese people say "clever" in English when most people I know would have said "smart." I've always wondered if it's because かしこい gets translated to "clever" so often. Note also that sometimes you'll see かしこい with it's intimidating kanji, 賢い.

In the English translation, we don't have a compound sentence:

My dog is smart and friendly.

But we could form a compound sentence if we wanted to:

My dog is smart, and he is friendly.

This second sentence is closer to the Japanese. It's closer because the Japanese sentence has two standalone sentences:

#1
私の犬はかしこい。
わたし の いぬ は かしこい。
My dog is smart.
Literally: "I + の + dog + は + clever."

#2
(私の犬は)フレンドリーです。
(わたし の いぬ は) フレンドリー です。
My dog is friendly.
Literally: "(I + の + dog + は) + friendly + です."

#1-2
私の犬はかしこくて、フレンドリーです。
わたし の いぬ は かしこくて、 フレンドリー です。
My dog is smart and friendly.
Literally: "I + の + dog + は + clever (and), + friendly + です."

Technically we could put any sentence in the #2 slot, but today we're looking at the extremely common practice of putting a clause that has some kind of connection to the #1 clause. Often #2 will adopt the "subject" of #1, as in this sentence:

彼の髪は短くて、黒い。
かれ の かみ は みじかくて、 くろい。
His hair is short and black.
Literally: "he + の + hair + は + short (and), + black."

As we saw in the last basics lesson, an i-adjective can form an entire sentence by itself. Thanks to clause #1, we know that the topic of our sentence is "his hair," so just by saying one word, we can form a full sentence:

黒い。
くろい。
His hair is black.

I refer to this unspoken subject (usually gathered from context) the "subzero pronoun." I mentioned it in this lesson: [NDL #307] - Basics: です.


Conjugation

If you want to see how to conjugate verbs in て-form, please check this lesson.

For i-adjectives, we drop off the い, then add くて, like this:

かしこ → かしこくて
→ 黒くて

(Are you wondering, Hey, where's the hiragana for 黒くて?! Since we saw earlier that 黒い is くろい, I was thinking it wouldn't be too much to ask that you deduce 黒くて is くろくて. Maybe try not to lean on phonetic guides so much, as it will deter your long-term improvement in reading comprehension.)

For na-adjectives and nouns, just put で after the word:

豊か(ゆたか // abundant
私(わたし // I

豊か

Note that in this case it is OK to think of this で as the て-form of です and/or だ.


An example with a na-adjective:

アイスランドは自然が豊かで、美しい国です。
アイスランド は しぜん が ゆたかで、 うつくしい くに です。
Iceland is a beautiful country with abundant nature.
Literally: "Iceland + は + nature + が + abundant (and), + beautiful + country + です."


An example with a noun:

そっちが私の、こっちがあなたのです。
そっち が わたし の で、 こっち が あなた の です。
That one is mine, and this one is yours.
Literally: "that one (=that way) + が + I + の + で (and), + this one (=this way) + が + you + の + です."

Wait a sec. Where's the noun before で?!

Well, you know how we can drop the "subjects" of sentences in Japanese? We can also drop nouns if they are understood from context. For example, if the sentence preceding the one above was, "Is this my water or yours?" ...then it would be unnecessary to say:

そっちが私の、こっちがあなたのです。
そっち が わたし の みず で、 こっち が あなた の みず です。
That water is mine, and this water is yours.
Literally: "that way + が + I + の + water (and), + this way + が + you + の + water + です."

It's clear we're talking about the waters, because the listener just asked about them. So we don't need to say 水 (みず // water). We are already marking the unspoken word 水 with the particle の.

そっちが私の、こっちがあなたのです。
そっち が わたし の で、 こっち が あなた の です。
That one is mine, and this one is yours.

Mastering the many ways that の can swallow words in sentences, making them unspoken, can be a bit tricky. But once you master it, your Japanese will flow much more smoothly.


Why can't we use verbs with this usage of て-form?

Actually, we can use verbs. I was looking at a grammar book of mine regarding this topic, and they made no mention of using verbs for loosely connecting clauses as we are in the above sentences. But there's nothing wrong with using verbs for similar sentences:

夕食を食べ過ぎて、お腹が苦しい。
ゆうしょく を たべすぎて、 おなか が くるしい。
I ate too much for dinner, and now my stomach hurts.
Literally: "dinner + を + eat too much (and) + stomach + が + painful / difficult."

怪我人が出ないで、ほんとうによかったです。
けがにん が でないで、 ほんとう に よかった です。
I'm glad that no one was hurt. // It's a good thing no one was hurt. // We're lucky no one was hurt.
Literally: "injured person + が + did not appear (and) + truly + was good + です."

That's it for this one. ^^




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