benkyou o shimasu vs. benkyoushimasu

edited January 15 in Japanese

A student of mine asked me recently about the difference between べんきょうを します benkyou o shimasu and べんきょうします benkyoushimasu. Both phrases mean "to study".

In Japanese, there are many expressions which are in the form of Xを します X o shimasu "to do X".

Here are some examples:

べんきょうを します benkyou o shimasu

"to study" (lit. "to do a study")

りょうりを します ryouri o shimasu

"to cook" (lit. "to do cooking")

そうじを します souji o shimasu

"to do cleaning"

せんたくを します sentaku o shimasu

"to do laundry"

でんわを します denwa o shimasu

"to make a phone call" (lit. "to do a phone")

けんかを します kenka o shimasu

"to fight" (lit. "to do a fight")

うんてんを します unten o shimasu

"to drive (a car)" (lit. "to do a drive)

かいものを します

kaimono o shimasu

"to shop" (lit. "to do shopping")

(continue to the next post)

Comments

  • Many of the expressions in the form of Xを します X o shimasu such as the above have the alternative form, which is Xします Xshimasu. The meaning is unchanged. For example, you can say either うんてんを します unten o shimasu or うんてんします untenshimasu to mean "I drive".

    However, if you want to mention the direct object, such as "a red car" in "I drive a red car" in Japanese, you can’t use うんてんを します unten o shimasu because you can’t use the particle を o more than once in one clause.

    あかい くるまを うんてんします Akai kuruma o untenshimasu

    "I drive a red car."

    --> Good, because there is only one を o.

    *あかい くるまを うんてんを します Akai kuruma o unten o shimasu

    --> Bad, because there are two instances of を o.

    So, going back to the original question about べんきょうを します benkyou o shimasu and べんきょうします benkyoushimasu,
    if you want to mention what you study, such as Japanese and math, then
    you have to use べんきょうします benkyoushimasu. Otherwise you can use either
    one to mean "to study".

    きのう にほんごを べんきょうしました。Kinou nihongo o benkyoushimashita.

    "I studied Japanese yesterday."

    --> Good, because there is only one を o.

    But do not say,

    *きのう にほんごを べんきょうを しました。Kinou nihongo o benkyou o shimashita.

    --> Bad, because there are two instances of を o.

  • edited January 15

    Note: It is completely fine to say にほんごのべんきょうをしました Nihongo no benkyou o shimashita "I did a study of Japanese" because にほんご nihongo is marked by の no instead of を o.

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