1) jon-san ga kuruma o shoyuushi-te i-ru
John SUB car OBJ possess-PART be-PRES
‘John has a car.’
2) jon-san ga inu o mot-te i-ru
John SUB dog OBJ hold-PART be-PRES
‘John has a dog.’
Japanese verbs do not recognise the difference between present and future form. There is no verbal conjugation which translates as ‘I will do this.’ The ‘plain’ form of the verbs shoyuusuru and motsu cannot be used to express present states. In order to do this, as seen in (1) and (2), the verb must be changed into its –te form and have the verb ‘to be (animate)’ – iru (いる) attached. This form indicates a continuous state of being – ‘I have, and I continue to have…’
The sentence structure to be used when using shyoyuusuru and motsu to describe possession is
5) NP1 ga NP2 o Verb-te iru
Possessor Subject-marker Possessee Object-marker Verb-te iru
6) jon-san/hon wa Osaka ni i-ru/ar-u
John/book SUB Osaka NI be-PRES
‘John/The book is in Osaka.’
When the verb is used following an object marked with ga and a subject marked with ni (に), the translation becomes ‘to have’. For example
7) jon-san ni kuruma ga ar-u
John NI car OBJ have-PRES
‘John has a car’.
To arrive at this translation, the particle ni is read, in this context, as ‘in/at’, the place where something is at the present. So at first, the translation for (7) may be considered ‘a car is at John/in John’s presence’. In order to reach the translation ‘to have’, Tsujioka presents these two examples:
8)*heya ni otoko ga ar-u
Room NI man OBJ be-PRES
‘There is a man in the room.’
9) jon-san ni musuko ga ar-u
John NI son OBJ be-PRES
‘John has a son’
Sentence (8) is grammatically incorrect, as aru is used in reference to an animate object. The use of musuko with aru, however, is allowed, as some kinship terms may use the ‘animacy-insensitive’ form of aru. It can then be said that there are two translations of aru/iru – ‘to be’ and ‘to have’.
Unlike shoyuusuru and motsu however, iru/aru can express relationship as well as ownership, as seen in (9) where John does not physically own his son. Rather, it is a statement expressing the relationship.
10) *jon-san ni pinku no kami ga ar-u
John NI pink GEN hair OBJ be-PRES
‘John has pink hair.’
This appears to be the only restraint, other than the animate/inanimate restrictions, and its solution will be discussed in the next section. The sentence structure for iru/aru possessive sentences is
11) NP1 ni NP2 ga Verb.
Possessor NI Possessee OBJ Verb
12) NP1 ga NP2 o shi-te i-ru
Possessor SUB Possessee OBJ do-PART be-PRES
Suru translates as ‘do’, using the form seen in (12), shi-te iru, translates as ‘doing’. This is constructed in the same manner as shyoyuushi-te iru and mot-te iru;
As with the Shoyuu/motsu sentences, suru possessive sentences only express ownership and not relationships (as the possessee must be inalienable, as aforementioned):
14) jon-san ga pinku no kami o shi-te i-ru
John SUBJ pink hair GEN OBJ do-PART be-PRES
‘John has pink hair.’
15) *kono hon wa jon-san ni zokushi-te i-ru
This book SUB John NI belong-PART be-PRES
‘This book belongs to John.’
This sentence is grammatically incorrect. Zokusuru can only be used when describing affiliation, such as in (16):
16) jon-san wa ANU ni zokushi-te i-ru
John SUB ANU NI belong-PART be-PRES
‘John belongs to/is affiliated with the ANU.’
This verb is included in this list in order to describe the difference in translation meanings.
(20)watashi no te
me NO hand
21) jon no kuruma
John NO car
In this way, no may modify an unlimited number of nouns, for example
22) watashi no inu no beddo…
me NO dog NO bed…
‘My dog’s bed… ‘
In the same way, this noun-no-noun structure also indicates relationships between the possessor and uncontrollable possessees. For example,
23)watashi no okasan
me NO mother
24) jon no ani
John NO big brother
'John's big brother'
The possessee can be pronominalised by replacing it with either mono (もの), which translates as ‘one’, as in ‘John’s one’, or Ø (0 particle). Japanese often omits proper nouns and subjects once they have already been mentioned in a conversation, and which are then understood through context. In the following sentences, desu (です) the copula translates as ‘is’,
25)kore wa jon no mono desu
this SUB John NO one COP
‘This is John’s one.’
26) kore wa jon no Ø desu
this SUB John NO Ø COP
‘This is John’s.’
There is a slight difference in meaning between the two pronouns. As Hirakouji states, mono-pronominalisation refers to the possessee as an objectively viewed object, while Ø-pronominalisation conveys the speaker’s subjective attention to the object and inclusive contrast, and cannot appear in the ordinary focus position. Hirakouji presents the following examples (in (28), the first no is used to nominalise the preceding clause) to demonstrate how Ø-pronominalisation cannot be used in the ordinary focus position (27 is incorrect):
27)*kore wa merii no Ø desu ga, are wa jon Ø desu
this SUB Mary NO Ø COP but, that SUB John Ø COP
‘This is Mary’s, but that is John’s.’
28)watashi ga hoshii no wa merii no Ø desu
me SUB want NOM OBJ Mary NO Ø COP
‘What I want is Mary’s.’
The phrase structure when using no as a possessive particle is indicated in (29). The phrase constitutes a noun phrase.
29)([NOUN (possessor)] no [NOUN (possessee)])
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