Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The particles "ga" and "kedo", a way to imply your interlocutor


The particles が (ga) and けど (kedo) are often used with the meaning of "but" (just in case you wonder, "ga" is more polite than "kedo" and should be used in formal conversations). For example:
この映画が見たかったけど、時間がなかった。
(kono eiga ga mitakatta kedo jikan ga nakatta)
I wanted to see this movie but I did not have time for it.

But those particles can also be used for something else, something typically Japanese, and this is where things get a bit more complicated. For example:
歯が痛いので、先生に診てもらいたいのですが。
(ha ga itai no de, sensei ni mite moraitai no desu ga)
One of my teeth is hurting so I would like the dentist to examine it but.
Here, the particle "ga" cannot be translated into but as people would simply wonder... but what ?
The meaning is not to bring something new in the sentence that has an opposite meaning from what has been said earlier. The meaning is to indicate that what is being said directly implies the other person. Here for example, you would like the dentist to examine your teeth, so you are expecting the person you are talking to, to do something about it (give you an appointment with the dentist, make a note for the dentist, etc...). I believe the particles "ga" and "kedo" will then simply disappear in the translation. "One of my teeth is hurting so I would like the dentist to examine it". Or we would be more straight forward with what we want "One of my teeth is hurting, could I get an appointment with the dentist ?", "could the dentist have a look at it ?".

The proper way to answer a sentence finishing by "ga" or "kedo" is to acknowledge it (meaning you understand you are supposed to do something about it).
For example:
かしこまりました。少々お待ちください。
(kashikomarimashita. shoushou o machi kudasai)
Of course, could you please hold the line a little bit ?
Or less politely (between friends):
わかりました。ちょっと待ってください。
(wakarimashita. chotto matte kudasai)
Ok, let me see.

Those sentences are generally quite easy to recognize as Japanese people will accentuate the particle "ga" or "kedo" and pause a little bit.

If someone talks to you, ends up his/her sentence with "ga" or "kedo" and you have no idea what you are supposed to do, you should simply ask what you have to do:
私はどうすればよろしいですか。
(watashiha dou sureba yoroshii desu ka)
What am I supposed to do ?

That's it for the particles "ga" and "kedo". Hope you enjoyed it. Don't hesitate to leave a comment...

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