Grammar · Japanese

Word Order in Japanese: Adverbs #1

In Japanese, the word order is somewhat flexible and not as important as it is in English. As for adverbs, though there are some “common” word order patterns, they are often flexible. It depends on the speaker’s preference: how much you want to put a stress on them and to which word they have more relevance.

I’ve been thinking about this topic since yesterday and came up with several points.
Please note that what I’m going to write is not according to any experts or textbooks of the Japanese language, but is just based on a native speaker’s personal sense of the language.

OK, here we go:

The basic rules of the word order of adverbs

  1. Adverbs cannot appear at the end of the sentence.
  2. Frequency precedes amount.
  3. Adverbs should appear closer to the word(s) it is modifying.

The first rule is very easy.
A verb or a predicator must come at the end of the sentence in Japanese, so you can’t put any other elements after that, unless you want to add something that you forgot to say. In that case, you need to use a punctuation mark after the predicator to show that the following word is just a supplemental detail.
e.g. わたしはテニスをしました、きのう。(I played tennis yesterday.)

As for the second rule, think of the sentence 私はときどき少し公園で走ります。(わたしは ときどき すこし こうえんで はしります。= I sometimes run in the park a little.)
The word “ときどき” indicates the frequency, how often you do it, and “すこし” shows the amount, how much you do it at a time. You can change their positions as in the picture below. As you can see, ときどき always comes before すこし.


This entry is getting a little long, so I’ll continue this topic in another entry (here!).
Hope you stay tuned! 😉

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