Another Example of Fun Japanese

I was reading in a bilingual reader yesterday and came across this little gem:

私は英語で住所を書くことができません.私のために書いてもらえませんか。

Let’s break it down, shall we?

私は英語で住所を書くことができません.

I was pretty much fine with this one:

私は – I followed by the ever popular topic marker

英語で – in English

住所を – address – and this one is the reason I was only “pretty much fine” with it.  It took me several seconds of staring and head scratching to recognize this Kanji, even though it makes perfect sense when you compare it with 住んでいます.  Of course “address” starts off the same as “to live somewhere” right?

書く – to write

ことができません – to be unable to do something

So:  I cannot write the address in English.

That one was okay, so let’s tackle the next one:

私のために – for me.  This was a new construction for me, which is one more good reason to keep digging into this reader

書いて – the て form of 書く – to write

もらえません – this one, depressingly, baffled me at first, which is annoying because it shouldn’t have!

か – question marker

So let’s get back to もらえません.  This is clearly a version of もらいます – to receive, and the い being changed to え makes it “can receive”.  Actually, in this case, “cannot receive.”

Actually, given that it is in the form of a question, it is really more like, “won’t you be able to receive” or something like that.

This just keeps getting more and more complicated, doesn’t it?

And now we have to deal with the total construction 書いてもらえませんか。

Then I felt dumb.  て form + もらいます!  I learned that construction just a few chapters ago, but I hadn’t seen it since then.  Okay, I had never seen it using the potential form of もらいます and turned into a question, but so what?  It’s still the same basic form.

私のたみに書いてもらえませんか obviously means “Can you write it for me?”  as in “Are you able to write it for me?”  Sigh.  I should have recognized it right away, but at least I got it in the end.

Yet another good reason to stay consistent in your studies!

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4 thoughts on “Another Example of Fun Japanese

  1. 彼しのたみ should be 彼しのため, and 彼し means boyfriend! So the second sentence is ‘Could you write it for (the) boyfriend?’

    The most confusing part of the sentence is the ために. If that weren’t there, and instead it said 「彼しに…もらえませんか」then the meaning would change to ‘Could I have (the) boyfriend write it?’ because in もらう constructions the に particle marks the person GIVING (the subject is the one receiving, marked by は or が).

    So part of the sentence was left out because context should make it obvious. The full sentence would be something like「彼しのためにあなたに書いてもらえませんか」

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    • I really appreciate the effort your put into explaining that sentence, and I also feel really bad about it, because it was a typo. ごめんなさい。 The sentence, which I have now corrected, is actually 私のたみに書いてもらえませんか。

      Like

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