In this post I’d like to discuss a grammar construct that I had not explicitly learned into fairly late in my Japanese studies. I saw it used often but until I researched it I didn’t understand it completely. The pattern is “[noun] + ga suru”.
First, before we talk about the combination of “ga” and “suru”, I want to look at what they mean separately.
“ga” has several purposes, but it is commonly used to describe the subject of a verb. I wrote about it in some detail in this post. To give a simple example as a refresher:
- 僕が勝った [boku ga katta]
- *I* won.
Here I have emphasized the “I” with asterisks to give some sense of the nuance of “ga”. On the other hand, saying “僕は勝った” would be more like “Oh me? I won”. In other words, it establishes me as the topic and then talks about that.
There are some other uses of が, for example:
- 〜が分かる [~ ga wakaru]: You would expect the “wo” particle (を) to be used here, but が is usually correct
- 〜が好き [~ ga suki]: “ga” is often used instead of “wo” with words like 好き and 嫌い
- 日本語が読める [~nihongo ga yomeru]: “ga” is often used with a potential verb instead of” wo”
- 〜するが [~suru ga] “ga” is often used after verbs to connect to something which follow, possibly with the nuance of “but”
As for “suru”, this verb is often used in a generic sense to mean “to do”, as in:
- どうする？ [dou suru?]
- What are you going to do?
Also, you see it very commonly used after nouns to turn them into verbs. For example:
- 勉強する [benkyou suru]: study
- 洗濯する [sentaku suru]: do the laundry
- 外食する [gaishoku suru]: eat out
So now we come to the combination of these, “~ga suru”. There are two primary meanings for this:
- A subject does an action (ex: 僕が勝った)
- Something is felt or sensed
Here are a few example sentences:
- 吐き気がする [hakike ga suru]: feel nautious
- 頭痛がする [zutsuu ga suru]: have a headache
- 寒気がする [samuke ga suru]: feel a chill
- (変な)味がする [hen na aji ga suru]: have a (weird) taste
- （いい）匂いがする [ii nioi ga suru]: have a (good) smell
- 物音がする [monooto ga suru]: hear a sound (or: “there was a sound”)
- (嫌な)予感がする[iya na yokan ga suru]: have a (bad) feeling/premonition, often used for negative feelings
- 〜気がする [~ki ga suru]: have a feeling that ~
The Japanese->Japanese dictionary describes this usage more technically as: (with my English translation below)
Spontaneously feeling the existence or occurrence of a certain condition or phenomenon.
(Also see the Japanese->English diction here with a few other examples)
Mini quiz: If 腰痛 (read as youtsuu or koshitsuu) means “back pain”, how would you say “my teacher has back pain”?