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Explaining Japanese Grammar After the Birth in the Christmas Story, Part 1

We seem to go so slow when we do Japanese, but I decided today that perhaps we can do two verses instead of one. We have already gone through all the grammar in the story of the birth of Jesus in the first chapter of Matthew. Next, we will go on into chapter 2, when the wise men come from the east seeking the star. Since I explain each little piece of Grammar, you will get your grammar review as I am explaining as well as get new grammar. Let’s get started on Matthew chapter 2, verses 1 & 2.

マタイによる福音書 2:1 ベツレヘムで お 生まれなった とき、見よう、東 から きた はがせたちが エルサレムに ついていった、2. ”ユダヤ人の 王として お 生まれになった 方は、どこに お られますか。私たち 東の方で その ほしを 見たので、その 方を おかみにきました。

ベツレヘム(Bethlehem)Photo by Haley Black on Pexels.com

ベツレヘム= Bethlehem. This is in katakana, the alphabet they use for writing foreign words. Transliterated, letter by letter, it is “be-tsu-re-he-mu.” As you can see, even if you know katakana, it is still hard to relate the way the Japanese write the word in what they call “romaji” (our alphabet) to the way we say it. In essence, we have to get used to their pronunciations, and also learn words from other foreign languages written in Japanese.

で = This is a post position particle that, here, means “in” or “at.” If it is written in “romaji,” “de.” If you remember, in other blogs, I have told you that in Japanese, the vowels of the romaji (the Roman alphabet) sound like Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, or Italian vowels. This means で is pronounced “deh.”

お (king)Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

お = “king.” This written in romaji is “o,” and it is pronounced “oh.”

イエスは うまりました. (Jesus was born.)

生まれりなった = “was born.” If you remember from before, I told you that this kanji: 生 is the kanji that means “life.” It is pronounced differently according to how it is used. うまります (umarimasu) means “is born” in simple present tense and future tense. That 生 is pronounced “u” here. There are two ways I know of to say “was born”: うまりました (umarimashita) and うまりなった (umarinatta). When you have a small つ (tsu), you don’t pronounce the つ (tsu). You put a double letter on the beginning of the next word, so た (ta) becomes (tta) and you put more emphasis on that た than normal.

とき = time or when. In this came, it means “when.” It is pronounced in romaji as “toki.” This means that everything that we have talked about so far is a “when clause.”

見よう(look!)Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

見よう- “look!” or “behold!” If you see the kanji 見, it is usually pronounced “mi.” 見ます(mimasu) is how you say “look, looks, see, sees, will look, will see, going to see, or going to look.” 見る (miru) means “to see” or “to look.” 見よう(miyou) or 見よ (miyo) mean “look!” or “behold!”

京へいます。(He is in Tokyo.)Photo by Alexander Wendt on Pexels.com

東から = “from the east.” 東 is pronounced in hiragana 東 (higashi) and means “east.”  から (kara) means “from” or “because,” but it this case, it means “from.” から is a post postion particle here.

東からきました。(They came from the east.)Photo by Tomáš Malík on Pexels.com

きた= “came.” きた (kita) is a past tense used inside of the sentence that comes from 来る (kuru) which means “to come.”  きます (kimasu) means “come, comes, or will come.” きました (kimashita) is the polite form of “came” usually used at the end of the sentence. きますand きました are in Tokyo ben, or Tokyo dialect. Tokyo dialect is considered the most polite and can be used all over the country. However, that doesn’t mean they will use it, but if you want to study the most important dialect to be sure everyone can understand you, Tokyo ben (dialect) is what you need to learn.

はがせたち can also mean professors or bosses.Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

はがせたちが =”wise men.” The part toward the end, たち (tachi) tells you there are multiple people. This is an important syllable to understand. ひと (hito) means “person.”  ひとたち (hitotachi) means “people.” こども(kodomo) means “child.” こどもたち(kodomotachi) means “children.” わたし(watashi) means “I.” わたしたち(watashitachi) means “we.” There are many more words like this. はがせたちが (hagasetachi) means “important bosses.” が (ga) is the post position particle that puts emphasis on はがせたち.が can be used to denote a subject or an object.

エルサレム (Jerussalem)Photo by Haley Black on Pexels.com

エルサレムに = “at Jerusalem.” エルサレム (erusaremu) is katakana for “Jerusalem.” に is a post postion particle that means either “to” or “at.” That means this is a prepositional phrase.

ついて 言った = “said about.” ついて (tsuite) means “about.” 言is the kanji that means “say,” “talk,” “word, or language.” Where ever you see 言, it may not be pronounced the same, but it will have the same basic meaning. Here, 言った(itta) means “said.” Again, that つ (tsu) is small, so it is not hear, but the “t” sound on た(ta) is doubled. 言ったis past tense. This is the form that is used inside the sentence. 言う (i-u) means “to say.” 言ます(imasu) means “say, says, or will say).  いました (imashita) is the form you should used on the end of the sentence if you want to be polite, and it is in Tokyo ben.

Let’s put verse one together: “When the king was born in Bethlehem, wise men came from the east and said…”

Verse 2:

ユダヤ人の = belonging to a person from Judah.” ユダヤ(yudaya) is in katakana, and it means “Judah.” 人 is a kanji pronouned(じん) (jin) in hiragana and means “person.” の (no) is a post postion particle that is a possessive.

ユダ人のお (king of the Jews)Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

ユダヤ人のおとして- “become the king of the Jewish people.” I have already explained ユダヤ人の, but I added it here to make it make more sense. 落として (otoshite) means (o-king), (to-a post postion particle that is like quotation marks), (shite- comes from suru.) する(suru) means “to do,” “to make,” or in this case “to become.”

おうまれになった かた (the person born king)Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

お うまれになった 方は = “The person born king.” お (o) means “king.” うまれになった (umareninatta) means “born,” and it seems to be a past participle of the verb used as an adjective here. 方is the kanji for かた (kata) which means “person.” は is normally pronounced “ha,” but not here. Here, it is pronounced “wa” and is a post position particle meaning this is the subject. 

どこに お られますか = “where is the king located?” Just the word どこ (doko) means “where.” に (ni) is a post position particle that means “to” or “at,” and sometimes other things too. お (o) means “king.” られます(raremasu) means “is located.” か (ka) on the end of a verb makes it a question.

わたしたち = “we.” わたし (watashi) means “I.” たち (tachi) tacked on the end makes it “we.

私たちはひ東からきました。(We came from the east.)Photo by Murat Şahin on Pexels.com

東の方で = “in the eastward direction.” 東(ひがし)(higashi) means “east.” の (no) can either be a post position particle that is a possessive or one that makes the proceeding noun into an adjective. In this case. it makes 東into an adjective. 方(ほう)(hou) means “direction.” で (de), here, means “in.”

そのほしをみました (We saw that star.)Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

その ほしを = “that star.” その* (sono) means “that.” それ (so-re) also means “that.” The different between the two is that それ, with the proper post position particle (は orが)can be the subject of the sentence. However, その needs a noun after it. The noun after その here is ほし (hoshi) which means “star.” This word is easy to get mixed up with ほしい (hoshii) which is a noun for “want,” so be careful. を (wo) is a post postion particle that makes その ほし (sono hoshi) into the direct object of the sentence.

見たので = “since we saw.” 見た(みた)(mita) means “saw.” It is past tense of みる(miru) which means “to see” or “to look.” Simple present tense and future tense is みます(mimasu). The past tense you want to use at the end of the sentence is みました (mimashita). ので (no-de), here, is used as “since” or “because.”

その方を = “That person.” I explained その (sono) above.* 方(かた)(kata) means “person.” を(wo) is the post position particle meaning そのかた (sono kata) is the direct object.

私たは おかみにきました。(We came to worship him.) Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

おかみにきました。= “came to worship.” きました (kimashita) is past tense of (kuru) which means “to come.” Present tense and future tense is きます (kimasu). お (o) on the front of a word meaning you are giving respect. かみ(kami) means “God.” に (ni) is a position particle that can mean “at,” “to,” or “in order to” or a few more things at times. This means that おかみに (okamini) means “in order to respect or worship God.” きました (kimashita) is in a form that is used at the end of the sentence, so this is the main verb of the sentence.

Let’s put verse two all together: “Where is the newborn king that is to become the king of the Jews? We came from the east because we saw a star, and have come to worship that king.”

This really seems convoluted to try to write a Japanese sentence in English. However, I think you got some really important kanji and important vocabulary in this passage. Here are some helpful verbs we encountered:

来る (くる) (kuru) – to come.

きます(kimasu) – come, comes, will come.

きました (kimashita) – came, at the end of a sentence.

きった (kitta) – came, inside of a sentence.

見る(みる)(miru) – to see or to look

みます (mimasu) – look, looks, will look, see, sees, will see

みました (mimashita) – looked, saw, at the end of a sentence.

見た (みた)(mita) – looked, saw. in the middle of a sentence.

みよう(miyo-u) – “look!” “Behold!”

生まれる(うまれる)(umareru) – to be born

うまれります(うまれります)(umarerimasu) – is, am are born, will be born, used at the end of the sentence.

生まれた(うまれた)(umareta) – was born, used inside the sentence.

うまれりました (umarerimashita) – was born, used at the end of the sentence.

言う(いう)(I-u) – to say

言ます(います)(imasu) – say, says, will say, used at the end of the sentence.

言った(いった)(itta) – said, used in the middle of the sentence.

いました。(imashita) – said, used at the end of the sentence.

いいです(iidesu) – it is good

いる (iru) – “to be” (used only for a person, not for inanimate things) or “to have.”

います- is, am, are, will be, used only for people, and “has” or “have” or “will have.”

が あります。(ga arimasu)- “ga” is a post position particle used often before this verb that puts emphasis on what it follows, either subject or object. “arimasu” means “is, are, will be, have, has, will have,” and is used for inanimate objects. あります(arimasu) also means “there is” or “there are.”

です(desu)- is, am, are, will be. You can’t use a post position particle before it.

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