Changing word order in a sentence

Marcospartout

New Member
Spanish
Hi!
I came across these two sentences:

いすの上にねこがいます。(there is a cat on the chair)
本はテーブルの上にあります。(the book is on the table)

And I thought...they say almost the same thing but with another word order. Can I rewrite the second sentence into "テーブルの上に本があります"? Is it still correct?

Thank you.
 
  • Flaminius

    hedomodo
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    The word order in Japanese is relatively free. Yes, you can say, "テーブルの上に本があります" without making the sentence ungrammatical or changing the meaning fundamentally. You must, though, always place the verb (or a group of words constructed around the verb) at the end of the sentence.
     

    Marcospartout

    New Member
    Spanish
    The word order in Japanese is relatively free. Yes, you can say, "テーブルの上に本があります" without making the sentence ungrammatical or changing the meaning fundamentally. You must, though, always place the verb (or a group of words constructed around the verb) at the end of the sentence.
    Okay, thank you!
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    いすの上にねこがいます。(there is a cat on the chair)
    本はテーブルの上にあります。(the book is on the table)
    I agree with the above reply, but will add that there is a subtle difference between the two sentence constructions. In the second one we have a は, which tells us that we are going to talk about the subject of that particle (本 in this case). That is, it sort of puts emphasis on the subject. This sentence might be used in a context where people are talking about the book. Such as in reply to "Where is the book?"

    By contrast, in the first sentence we don't have that emphasis, and are merely describing the situation. If we changed it to 猫は椅子の上にいます, then we would again be emphasizing the subject. What about the cat?, etc. This sentence would translate to "the cat is on the chair," but the meaning is sort of like "as for the cat, it's on the chair," if you see what I mean.
     

    Marcospartout

    New Member
    Spanish
    I agree with the above reply, but will add that there is a subtle difference between the two sentence constructions. In the second one we have a は, which tells us that we are going to talk about the subject of that particle (本 in this case). That is, it sort of puts emphasis on the subject. This sentence might be used in a context where people are talking about the book. Such as in reply to "Where is the book?"

    By contrast, in the first sentence we don't have that emphasis, and are merely describing the situation. If we changed it to 猫は椅子の上にいます, then we would again be emphasizing the subject. What about the cat?, etc. This sentence would translate to "the cat is on the chair," but the meaning is sort of like "as for the cat, it's on the chair," if you see what I mean.
    Yes, I understand what you mean. So the same goes for the rephrased second sentence, right?
    テーブルの上に本があります。 (there is a book on the table) we're merely describing the situation and the book is no longer the subject we want to emphasize in the sentence.
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    So the same goes for the rephrased second sentence, right?
    テーブルの上に本があります。 (there is a book on the table) we're merely describing the situation and the book is no longer the subject we want to emphasize in the sentence.
    Así es la cosa.
     
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