How do I know when I'm part of a sentence?

In a lot of sentences I see the translates states that you are part of the sentence. MY question is how do you know when you are part of a sentence? Like I really can’t tell. An example sentence that I got from a bunpro grammar point

Which they translate it to
I eat food with my mother at the restaurant.

Where in the sentence is the implication that I am part of the sentence? I see where mother is obviously but I can’t figure out how it involves me. There are a bunch of sentences like this and I just can’t figure it out. If anyone knows could you help me out, what am I missing


A lot of it comes down to the implication that the sentence gives off, unless otherwise stated you would assume you’re the subject here. I did a quick Google search and this seems to be pretty simple summary, although I’m sure there’s better explanations on YouTube.

The language is extremely contextual as you’ll come to learn along the way rather quickly. I’ll let a pro on here explain better but this a common thing people ask about, it’s extremely confusing at first! It’s kinda tough to explain, but you’re on the right path asking this

Oh I forgot to add, these one-off sentences can be confusing as there’s no prior context for the sentence. For example, the sentence prior could have said you and your mom spent the day together, then your example would make sense as you wouldn’t need the subject (yourself).


Isolated sentences can be terrible without an implied topic. This not how conversation works or even media. Join us in the translation thread where we get this same problem and have to cipher through it. :grin:

Regarding the sentence, と and context would put it together though who really knows who mama is having dinner with :scream:. I find Japanese understates topics though, which can be elegant in communication when understood (or lost otherwise). 空気を読む is a concept that come up often in cultural understanding, if I had guess has a grammar influence as well (no need to overstate if obvious).


If you are interested in a more in depth view, I suggest Jay Rubin’s book: Making Sense of Japanese (in particular, the chapter/section The Myth of the Subjectless Sentence).

The greatest single obstacle to a precise understanding
of the Japanese language is the mistaken notion that many
Japanese sentences don’t have subjects.

Wait a minute, let me take that back. Lots of Japanese
sentences don’t have subjects. At least not subjects that are
mentioned overtly within the sentence. The problem starts
when students take that to mean that Japanese sentences
don’t refer in any way to people or things that perform the
action or the state denoted by their predicates. The same
goes for objects. They disappear just as easily as subjects

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Every Japanese sentence has a subject, and without context it’s safe to assume that “I” is that subject, if it’s not explicitly stated.


Sometimes you will see the omitted subject of the sentence in parentheses denoting that it’s implied, like “(I) eat with mom at the restaurant”.

Cure Dolly is a little controversial for different reasons, but she has a video further explaining this:

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Here’s some rules of thumb that I use:

At very beginning level:
– If it’s a statement, it’s about the speaker.
– If it’s a question, it’s about the listener.

At higher levels:
– Some verbs tell you which way the action is going.
てあげる | Japanese Grammar SRS
てくれる | Japanese Grammar SRS
てもらう | Japanese Grammar SRS
– Even when something happens to you, it’s common to use passive voice. Instead of “the dog ate my food”, Japanese often say “my food was eaten by the dog”, putting me and my world as the subject.
Verb[passive] | Japanese Grammar SRS


Thank you I was trying to find something like that but I couldn’t word it correctly
Also I pee pee to but I don’t know if it was what I was born from. At least someone is willing to be the hero

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Okay I didn’t know if I wasn’t understanding something. I hadn’t really thought about an implication on context of a previous sentence. I will keep that in mind. So how does on say a sentence without implying themselves as a subject? Or is it just something you kinda figure out? Thanks

I am interested in learning it since if I understand that I will feel good

Is this the book that you are talking about? If so I will have to consider ordering it but I would have to get it online since my local book stores don’t have many resources on learning languages beyond spanish. Thanks!

I will give this channel a try, I like how it uses visual trains instead of the annoying grammar words because they always confuse me. I won’t ask how you found these videos though

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You can always imply it for clarity. Such as (サンタクロースは)レストランでお母さんとご飯を食べる。Something like this, no one would guess this context without a literal explanation. And if you wanted to put 私は for added clarity, it wouldn’t be wrong either.

But these BP examples are overly short and sweet for the grammar point で, so we have to use some imagination where the context is already obvious. And if not sure, we can always ask. I wouldn’t stress too much, more practice would make clear. Check out the new reading passages, I think it will give an idea how surrounding context doesn’t have overly state the topic or subject because it’s obvious.


Yes it is this book. I ordered mine used because there is no new editions (I think). Also the Internet Archive has a PDF version of it available. I’m not sure if what are the copyright issues with this version.

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