Today I would like to simply explain about one basic Japanese concept, “from big to small ”. It is easier to understand this with examples, so let’s have a look at them.
When we say a date in Japanese, it would be “2012nen 4gatsu 11nichi suiyobi” (2012, April 11, Wednesday). The order goes like this. “year →month →day →day of the week”. The concept of big to small is here.
If you would like to go even smaller, you could say “2012nen 4gatsu 11nichi suiyobi gogo 8ji 30pun” (2012, April 11, Wednesday, 8:30pm).
Also, when we say an address, it would be “Tokyo-to Minato-ku Azabu 1chome, 1ban 1go”. The order goes from “prefecture →city/ward →town →small area →house number” following the rule of big to small.
When you introduce yourself, you would say, “watashi wa ABC kaisha no eigyo-bu no Yamada desu.” (kaisha: company, eigyo-bu: sales department). So, it starts from company →department →your name. We think of a company as the biggest thing and I am a small thing inside it. And, you can link each one with the particle “no”. You can use as many “no” particles as you like.
How would you translate next English sentences.
1. I went to a restaurant in Shibuya. (Shibuya is a town in Tokyo.)
わたしは しぶやに レストランに いきました。(watashi wa shibuya ni restaurant ni ikimashita.)This translation is not correct. The restaurant is located in a town called Shibuya. So, we consider Shibuya as a bigger thing and a restaurant as a smaller thing. Therefore, the next sentence is correct.
1. わたしは しぶやの レストランに いきました。(watashi wa shibuya no restaurant ni ikimashita.)
2. I had a drink at the bar in that restaurant.
2. わたしは そのレストランの バーで のみました。(watashi wa sono restaurant no bar de nomimashita.)
3. Let’s meet at a café in front of the station.
3. えきの まえの カフェで あいましょう。 (eki no mae no cafe de aimasho.)
The biggest thing is the station. The second biggest is the area in front of the station. And, the café is the smallest thing because it is in this area. A Japanese sentence is like the following:
4. The cheese cake at that café is good.
4. あのカフェの チーズケーキは おいしいです。 (ano cafe no cheesecake wa oishii des.)
Can you understand this, too?
It is not necessary to translate “in” or “at” to “ni” or “de”. Put “from big to small ” in your mind and use it as a clue when you make Japanese sentences.
*If you don’t know how to use the blue letters “ni” and “de” in the following sentences, please read my post dated on July 9, 2011.
わたしは しぶやの レストランに いきました。
Watashi wa shibuya no resutaurant ni ikimashita.
わたしは そのレストランの バーで のみました。
Watshi wa sono restaurant no bar de nomimashita.
えきの まえの カフェで あいましょう。
Eki no mae no café de aimasho.