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JLPT N3 Sentential Questions Walkthrough

N3 Sentential QuestionsThe N3 is still a bit of mystery despite being given a good year to marinate, it’s still treated as the ugly step-child. Well, I’m going to give it a little justice today by devoting this post to walking through a few of the N3 sentential questions or as I like to call them ‘scrambled sentences’.

Although, I agree that this is an interesting way to test sentence structure. I find ‘scrambled sentences’ to be a major pain, and so I hope to ease the pain of others by attempting to walk through some of these problems. I hope along the way I can relieve a few headaches and prevent a few pencils from being snapped in two.

By the way, in case you missed I went over N5 and N4 versions of these questions last week. If you are about to take either of those tests, you should definitely take a look over at that article for some more level-specific advice.

More Parts to Glue Together

The key to these questions is to glue the parts they give together. In order to do that, you need to know how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. This involves basic particle use of course, which is tested over extensively in the lower levels.

But starting with N3, you will start to see grammar ‘expressions’. The grammar at this level and the levels above are really just expressions that are often used in the language. You will not be learning any new ways to conjugate verbs thank goodness. Hopefully you have enough those already.

So, you will start to see more questions that involve you gluing or connecting pieces of expressions together rather than particles getting connected together.

Let’s take a crack at an example:

先週 ___ ___ _*_ ___ から、行ってみませんか。

1 ばかりの  2 レストランが  3 オーペンした  4 ある

This is a relatively straightforward example really. The first part ばかりの ends in the particle の which means it most likely needs to have a noun following it. The only two nouns it can connect to are レストラン and オーペン (yes, it’s noun pretending to be a verb by adding した at the end). Okay, just remember that for now.

Now, let’s look at レストランが. The が means it is the subject, which means we can either have an object, adverb, or a verb following it. We don’t have any objects (marked with an を, へ, に, etc…). We do have two verbs: オーペンした and ある. Of course, that still doesn’t get us anywhere because we still have two choices. See why these can be frustrating?

All right, let’s move on to part #3 – オーペンした. The した can’t go before ある but it can go in front of  ばかりの,  レストランが or から. Now we have three choices, dang it!

How about good ole ある? ある can only go after レストランが. Now, we got it! ある can’t go before ばかりの (it CAN be used in front of ばかりだ but that is a story for a different time). So, ばかりの has to go in front of noun (because of the possessive の particle). Does it go in front of レストランが? Mmm, well, it can take a verb in past tense, which there is オーペンした so, this would roughly translate to ‘just opened’ which makes sense. So, the ばかりの could go after  オーペンした. And with that you have your final piece of the puzzle:

先週 オーペンした ばかりの レストランが ある から、行ってみませんか。

(The restaurant just opened last week so, why don’t we check it out?)

Some Things to Look Out for

At this level, look out for ends to clauses like のに and が (meaning but). If you are reading through the test fairly quickly, you might over look these and mistake them for something else, like the が as a topic marker and not a conjunction.

Also, look for expressions and phrases using こと, もの and わけ. They will probably have a question about one of those on the test. Try to glue them together as best you can.

In the end, don’t waste too much time puzzling these buggers out. They aren’t worth that many points in the grand scheme of things so if you feel them eating up time, give it your best guess and move on.

Does this make your brain hurt?

What kinds of sentences or grammar points have you encountered with these types of questions that drove you nuts? Let me know in the comments below.

P.S. Do you get thrills from unscrambling sentences in Japanese? Hey, me too! Sign up for the newsletter!

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Photo by Justin Taylor

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Afoofoo November 20, 2011, 5:43 am

    The worst part about scrambled sentences is that whether they are easy or not, they still take up time :/ I’ve solved a few, and though I got them right, I’m worried about the time.

    Since we’re on the topic of scrambled sentences, do you mind if I ask a question? I was stuck on this:
    さすが _ _ * _ 3ヶ月先までいっぱいだ。
    (1。だけあって 2.店 3.人気のある 4.予約は)
    The answer is 1, but I can’t figure out the complete sentence orz 

    • Mac November 20, 2011, 11:34 am

      The unscrambled sentence would be:

      さすが人気のある店だけあって予約は3ヶ月先までいっぱいだ。

      だけあって can take a noun, na-adj, adj, and a verb before it. 店 is a noun and can’t go before 人気のある or 予約は so it must go before だけあって. 人気のある can not describe 予約は or 3ヶ月 so it has to go before 店. The only last part that doesn’t have a place is 予約は which doesn’t describe the 店 so it should go right before 3ヶ月 which is what it describes. Does that make sense?

      These sentences can be kind of fun if you get used to them. 🙂

      Thanks for the challenge!

      • Afoofoo November 20, 2011, 1:00 pm

        Yes, that does make sense! Thank you for going through the trouble! 😀 I’ve actually never come across だけあって. What does it mean…?

        • Mac November 21, 2011, 4:24 am

          It loosely means ‘befitting of…’ or ‘is appropriate…’ It is usually used in a satisfied way, something like ‘just as I thought…’ or ‘I expected that to be that way…’

          Are you studying for the N2 or N3? This grammar point appears in Kanzen Master N2 Grammar Book as well as the So-Matome N2 Grammar Book.

          It’s a little difficult to use, because it only works in certain situations. Tricky grammar!

          • Afoofoo November 23, 2011, 2:03 am

            Ah, that sounds right! Thanks again! 😀 I’ll look up some example sentences~

            I’m studying for N3. N2 is a bit too much for me at the moment D: There are so many grammar points I’ve never come across, it’s kind of fascinating. Good luck on your exam, it seems really hard!

  • Alex May 23, 2012, 5:47 am

    I believe you both mean ばかり, not ばから. And the -た ばかりの is a perfectly cromulent construction for “to have just (past verb)”. There are 14 matching examples in the WWWJDIC example search for the string たばかりの. Some examples: 封切られたばかりの映画はなんですか。 [T]
    What movies just opened? 彼女はその大学をでたばかりの教師だ。 [T]
    She is a teacher fresh from the university. 私が買ったばかりの車を君に見せるよ。 [T]
    I’ll show you the car I’ve just bought.

    • Mac May 24, 2012, 1:02 am

      Right you are, Alex! Thanks for pointing that out. That was a terrible mistake, maybe a type-o?

      Anyway, thanks for the correction. I fixed the article and comments.

  • Kronos May 28, 2012, 4:49 am

    Actually, when I tried to take the mock exam in JLPT site, 先週, オーペンしたばかりのレストランがあるから、行ってみませんか This one is the correct form (according to site’s correction)… how come?

    • Mac May 28, 2012, 5:50 am

      Right you are! Looking back at this, using オーペンしたばかりの would be more natural. Although a native told me the original sentence would work too. ばかり is used most often after the past tense of a verb and not before. Anyway, thanks for the correction!

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