Describing People Posted by on Apr 29, 2010 in Grammar

You can describe people with this formula : name + + body part + + adjective.

Here’s an example :

井上さんは耳が小さいです =  Inoue has small ears

(いおうえ/井上 = Inoue. さん = polite suffix. = particle. みみ/ = ear. = particle. ちいさい/小さい = small. です = is)

Now look at this sentence :

うさぎの耳は長いです = A rabbit has long ears

(うさぎ = rabbit. = possessive particle. みみ/ = ear. = particle. ながい/長い = long. です = is.)

The second sentence doesn’t follow the formula that I introduced in the beginning of the post.

Technically, you can describe people and things like the second sentence, but it’s much more natural for Japanese people to describe people using the formula of the first sentence than the second sentence.

Now take a look at this sentence :

鈴木先生は背が高いです = Mr. Suzuki is tall

(すずき/鈴木 = Suzuki. せんせい/先生 = (teacher) polite suffix. = particle. / = height. = particle. たかい/高い = tall/high. です = is.)

The adjective たかい can mean “high”, “tall”, or “expensive”. In the example used above, you can rule out the meaning “expensive” because the context tells us that height is invovled.

With the sentence below, it’s especially important not to translate the meaning literally :

中村さんは頭がわるいです = Mr. Nakamura is stupid

(なかむら/中村 = Nakamura. さん = polite suffix. = particle. あたま/ = head. = particle. わるい = bad/inferior. です = is)

If you were to translate this literally, it would mean, “Mr. Nakamura’s head is bad”. Sor far, we described people physically, but this time, the sentence is describing Nakamura’s intelligence, rather than the physical description of his head.

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  1. sanjay: