Japanese Grammar Patterns

ん as the moraic consonant:

With the exception of the standalone and  complementary consonant, ん, Japanese consonants all appear with a succeeding vowel (ka, shi, chi, nu, he, mo). The special case, ん, is considered a moraic nasal because it counts as a single beat singularly and also a single beat when attached to another consonant to make a complex consonant (benri, tango, ginko).

i and u devoiced:

When the vowels i or u appear between voiceless consonants or at the end of a sentence, they are commonly devoiced, or unpronounced. Despite the nonpronunciation, the two syllables still take up a single mora of time for pronunciation.

Examples:

Ohayō gozaimasu = Ohayō gozaimas

Ashita = ashta

Long vowels:

Japanese short and long vowels directly shift the word in both pronunciation and definition. With the exception of the vowels e and o, all vowels are elongated by simply adding an extra following (aa, ii, uu). The vowel e is most commonly elongated by adding a following i, though there are a few authentic Japanese words that were historically and still are pronounced with ee instead of ei (onēsan, ē). Similarly, the vowel o is most commonly elongated  by adding a following u, though there are also a few authentic Japanese words that were historically and still are pronounced with oo instead of ou (ōkii, kōri).

Long consonants:

When a small っ (formally referred to as a sokuon 促音) appears before a consonant , that consonant is elongated. This is the romanized equivalent of double consonant letters (rippa 立派). *This usage should not be confused wherein the sokuon appears after a vowel to represent an interjection (あっ).

Pitch accent:

Japanese is considered a pitch-accent language because words and their definitions are dependent on articulation of pitch (sake meaning both salmon and alcohol). While this is a noteworthy distinction in the language, heavily influenced by region and culture, as with a majority of linguistic semantics, is predominantly influenced by conversational context.

X is Y. X は Y (です/だ)

X is not Y X は Y (では ありません/じゃありません/じゃない)

Questions

When asking a simple yes or no question in Japanese, simply add a か to the end of the sentence. When asking a who, what, when, where, why or how question, use the interrogative version of the same word in regular sentences. For a who question, use either the casual dare or the respectful donata.

Example(s):

Kono hito wa Jouji desu. = Kono hito wa dare desu ka?

Ano kata wa Jouji-sensei desu. = Ano kata wa donata desu ka?

For a what question, use nan.

Example:

Kore ha kabutomushi desu ne. = Korea ha nan desu ka?

Noun Modification (NOUN の NOUN)

To signify a relationship between two nouns, の is placed between them.

Example(s):

Watashi no konpyūtā = My computer

Amerika no sakkā chīmu = America’s soccer team

Daigakusei no Jouji Washington = University student Jouji Washington

こ – referential to something that is closer to the speaker

ぞ – referential to something that is closer to the addressee

あ – referential to something that is close to neither the speaker nor the addressee

ど – referential to something that is unknown

Example(s): Kore, zore, are, dore Koko, soko, asoko, doko Kono, sono, ano, dono

も as “also”

も is used to indicate the re-appearance or repetition or predicates, including verbs, adjectives, and nouns.

Example(s):

A-san wa eiyū desu yo.

B-san mo eiyū desu.

In some cases, it is necessary to have repeated usage of も.

Example(s):

A-san mo B-san mo eiyū desu.

に as location marker

に is used to indicate a location wherein a thing or person exists in.

Existential Verbs arimasu imasu irasshaimasu

Example(s):

King Kong wa World Trade Center no ue ni imasu.

When using the negative form, は is used instead of が.

Example(s):

Watashi no konpyūtā ni wa porn ha arimasen.

Affirmative and Negative Predicate

nanika (something) dareka (someone) donataka (something *respectful) – the affirmative predicates are used with the が particle (and not the  は particle because the は particle is the topic marker, which can only be used when the referred entity is known by both the speaker and the addressee).

Example(s):

Dareka ga imasuka?

nanimo (anything) daremo (anyone) donatamo (anyone *respectful) – the negative predicates never use the が particle

Example(s): Nanimo iwazu ni heya wo deta.

In the case of the particle に succeeding a predicate, it occurs before the negative も but after the affirmative に

Example(s): Doko ka ni nuigurumi ga arimasuka?

Are there stuffed animals somewhere?

Doko ni mo arimasen yo.

No there are none anywhere.

NOUN X and NOUN Y と is a particle that connects X and Y. と can only be used when and if X and Y are nouns.

昨日、鶏肉とご飯を食べました

Kinō, toriniku to gohan o tabemashita

よ as final particle

よ is used at the end of a sentence to proclaim new information.

Example(s):

A: どこでもコンビニを見つけられませんでした

Doko demo konbini o mitsukeraremasendeshita

B: 実はコンビニがあそこがあるよ

Actually, there’s one right there

よ is most commonly used in formal speech, as it can on occasion make the speaker seem assertive with the continual stream of new information.

ます form

The ます form is used in polite speech and can be an indication of a present state or future and habitual activity.

Present: Ima Togashi-sensei wa doko ni irasshaimasuka?

Ima Togashi-sensei wa studio ni irasshaimasu.

Future: Ashita nani wo shimasuka?

Ashita, Hunter x Hunter wo mimasu.

Habitual: Manga wo yoku yomimasuka?

Hai, manga wo yoku yomimasu.

を as object marker

As in English, transitive verbs in Japanese are not only linked to a subject but also a direct object. While the subject is indicated by は or が, the director object is indicated by を.

Anime wo mimasu.

Manga wo yomimasu.

In many cases, such as negative clauses, the を is modified to another particle, such as は , or dropped entirely.

Example(s):

Nani ka chuumon shimasuka?

Iie, nani mo nomimasen.

お and ご as word beautifiers

The characters お and ご are commonly added as prefixes to words to symbolize either the speaker’s respect to the person for whom the beautifier is used or a respect towards the cultural significance of something. For example, the お in お名前 is used to address the conversation partner with respect and as such should never be used in lieu of the standard 名前 when addressing yourself. In its own respect, as a beautifier, the prefix  お present in words such as お寿司, お金 and お茶 relay the speaker’s conscious value towards these entities. The  ご in ご専門 and the ご in ご飯 have the same effect of respect and beautification respectively (though in the case of ご飯, the pronunciation of 飯 alone is never actually used). Another point to consider is that in not applying the beautifier to such words, you can adversely convey that you do not value these entities. It can become contentious what impression that may give off, particularly with entities such as money. What’s best to keep in mind is the context of the conversation and the culture of the language itself. While it may be admirable to denounce the value of money in Western societies (though even in Western societies, the tone of the speaker and the impression he or she gives off is highly influenced by the context of the conversation), modern Japanese society has gone as far as appropriating values of wealth, commerce and fortune in their mythology, folklore and religion, deeming these all highly sought after and respected qualities in their own right. Relatively, the お beautifier is mainly used with native Japanese words, and the ご beautifier is generally used with Chinese loan words, while neither are used with European loan words.

で as a location marker

Where as the particle に is used in conjunction with existential verbs to indicate the subject’s state of being, the particle で is used in conjunction with action verbs to indicate the location in which the action was performed.

Example(s):

Heya de anime wo mimasu.

で as an instrument marker

When で is used as an instrument marker, it indicates by what means an action occurs.

Example(s):

Nihongo de tegami wo kakimasu.

Kuruma de Akihabara ni ikimasu.

Hashi de osushi wo tabemasu.

*A special case in which the で is dropped is in the presence of the verb 歩いて, or to walk. As opposed to Aruite de konbini e ikimasu, Aruite conbini e ikimasu is the correct grammar.

 

へ and に as  destination markers

The two particles へ and に are interchangeable particles used when referring  to something moving from one location to another. In these cases, the へ is pronounced as え. When used subsequent to interrogatives such as どこ(doko) and どこか (dokoka), these particles are not dropped.

Example(s):

家(へ/に)帰ります。

Uchi ni kaerimasu .

明日、どこか(へ/に)行くつもりですか?

Are you planning on going somewhere tomorrow?

 

と as “and” or “with” and 一人で as “by oneself”

As with the Noun と Noun form, と in this pattern similarly suggests a company between or amongst things.  と commonly occurs with 一緒に, which means “together”. 一人で means a person is doing something by him or herself.

Example(s):

昨日、ジョージ と一緒にアイスクリームを食べました。

Ashita, George to issho ni ice cream wo tabemashita.

一人で秋葉原に行きます。

Hitori de Akihabara ni ikimasu.

 

Xから Yまで

This pattern is applicable to measures of both time and space, in which the first particle からindicates the beginning and the second particle まで indicates the end.

Example(s):

私は今日九時から三時までクラスがあります。

Watashi wa kyou, kyuuji kara sanji made class ga arimasu.

汽車はカリフォルニアからニューヨークまで行きます。

Kisha wa California kara New York made ikimasu .

 

Pre-ます Form + ましょう as “Let’s VERB” or “Shall we VERB”

Verbs in this conjugation form are interpreted as a suggestive “shall we” or “let’s” meaning. In some cases, the ましょう form may seem too assertive; this is mediated by the more polite question form, ましょうか.

Example(s):

アニメを見ましょうか。

Anime wo mimashouka? (Shall we watch some anime?)

パーティーに行きましょう!

Party ni ikimashou! (Let’s go to the party!)

 

Verbal Nouns

Some nouns can be used as verbs simply by following them with the basic verb する, which means to do. Generally, they can be used with or without the を particle in between the noun and する; but if a direct object is involved, there cannot be two を particles in the same clause so one must be omitted. The easiest way to do this is to drop the を between the noun and the する but in many cases, the を corresponding to the direct object can be dropped instead.

Example(s):

テニスの練習をします。

Tennis no renshuu wo shimasu.

テニスを練習します。

Tennis wo renshuu shimasu.

 

ね as a final particle

The particle ね commonly appears at the end of a sentence in rising intonation. Its common purpose is request an expression of agreement towards one’s own statement. Conversely, it can also be used to express that you agree with the preceding statement by evoking somewhat of a rhetorical tone.

Example(s):

明日は試験ですね。

Ashita wa shiken desune. (Tomorrow is the test, isn’t it?)

いいですね。

Iidesune.  (That’s nice, isn’t it?)

そうですね。

Soudesune. (That’s right, isn’t it?)

 

に as an object marker

As opposed to the object marker を, the object marker にis used with certain verbs to induce a sense of directionality. It is commonly used with verbs when they involve interaction with other people.

Example(s):

明日友達 に会います。

Ashita tomodachi ni aimasu. (I am meeting my friend tomorrow)

私は自転車に乗った。

Watashi wa jitensha ni notta. (I rode a bicycle.)

 

Past Tense Form

In  past-tense of a verb in polite form is a matter of taking the ます-form of the verb and changing the ます into ました.  Similarly, the past-tense polite form of です is でした.

The negative form of the polite past-tense instead changes the ます of the ます-form into ませんでした and です into either ではありませんでした or  じゃありませんでした.

Example(s):

昨日新しいワンピースを見ましたか?

Kinou atarashii One Piece wo mimashitaka? (Did you watch the new One Piece yesterday?)

いいえ、みませんでした。。。

Iie, mimasendeshita. .. (No, I did not…)

 

Dictionary Form

The dictionary form of verbs is the most basic conjugation form of verbs (or perhaps it can be considered as the only form that isn’t a conjugation, thus making it the most basic form) and is the form that verbs appear in dictionaries, thereby aptly naming them so.

The dictionary form parallels the ます-form in that they are of the same grammatical nuance but are used depending on casualness and politeness, respectively.

 

Dictionary Form VERB + つもりです as “I intend/plan to VERB”

This construct is primarily used to express one’s own intentions. Given that conveying someone else’s intent ions is considered presumptuous it is accordingly considered impolite to use this grammar pattern for a second or third-person subject. In some cases, it is acceptable to use the pattern in interrogative form with a second-person subject, given that the speaker is considerably familiar with the said addressee.

Example(s):

日本語を習うつもりです。

Nihongo wo narau tsumori desu. (I plan  to learn Japanese.)

Negativeない Form VERB + つもりです as “I intend/plan not to VERB”

Example(s);

今日、学校に行かないつもりです。

Kiyou, gakkou ni ikanai tsumori desu. (I’m planning on not going to school today.)

 

Pre-ます Form VERB + ませんか as “(Won’t you/Would you like to) VERB?”

This construct is predominantly used to make a suggestion towards some activity or to invite someone to engage in some activity, however in some cases it can be quite literally interpreted as a genuine negative-form question, such as , “昨日、ワシントン-先生はテレビでいらっしゃいませんか。(Wasn’t Washington-sensei on television yesterday?)”. This form is very similar to the ましょう-Form because both make efforts towards insisting upon a certain action, but this form can be interpreted as less assertive.

Example(s):

クラスの後でクレープを食べにショッピングセンターに行きませんか。

Kurasu no ato de crepes wo tabe ni shopping center ni ikimasenka? (Would you like to go to the shopping center after school to eat crepes?)

 

 

Xは Yがあります as “X has Y”

Example(s):

私は今授業があります。

Watashi wa ima jyugyou ga arimasu. (I have class right now.)

 

 

CLAUSE Xから CLAUSE Y as “because of CLAUSE X, CLAUSE Y”

The particle から is placed at the end of the first clause to connect it as the reasoning behind the second clause. This is a reversal of the English “CLAUSE X because CLAUSE Y” in that it’s the first clause that is the cause, not the effect. It is possible to present the two clauses in reverse order, similar to English convention, by splitting the phrase into two separate sentences, with から appearing at the very end, after the second sentence. When used this way, the second sentence is interpreted as an afterthought.

Example(s):

私のコンピュータが壊れたから今夜ゲームをプレイすることはできません。

Watashi no computer ga kowareta kara konya game wo play suru koto wa dekimasen. (I can’t play games tonight because my computer broke.)

 

 

どうしてですか as “Why is that?”

This expression can be interpreted as somewhat of a critical interrogation, making the speaker susceptible to seeming too assertive or standoffish.  The common response to this expression usually ends with  から, which translates to “because”.

明日パーティーにいくことは出来ません。

Ashita party ni iku koto ha dekimasen. ( I can’t go to the party tomorrow.)

Yーさん: えーー、どうしてですか。

Ehh, doushitedesuka? (Ehhh, how come? )

Xーさん: 塾があります。

Juku ga arimasu. (I have cram school.)

 

 

NOUN X や NOUN Y など as “NOUN  X, NOUN Y, (and the like/and so forth/among other things/etc.)”

Example(s):

今年新しいカメラや靴やバックパックなどを買いたい。

Kotoshi atarashii camera ya kutsu ya backpack nado wo kaitai. (I want to buy a new camera, shoes, and backpack this year.)

 

もう as “already” and まだ as “yet”

Example(s):

あらあら、もう十一時ですね。

Ara ara, mou jyuu ichiji desune. (My oh my, it’s already eleven o’clock isn’t it?)

いいえ、まだです。

Iie, mada desu. (No, not yet.)

or alternatively:  いいえ、まだ九時ですよ。

Iie, mada kyuuji desuyo. (No no, it’s still nine o’clock.)

 

 

Verb Conjugation: Negativeない Form

Theない Form is the casual form of negative speech. To form the Negativeない  Form for う-verbs, drop the final i of the Pre-ます Form and change it to an a, adding  ない right after. If the Pre-ます Form  ends with i without a preceding consonant, the Negativeない  Form additionally acquires the consonant w.

Example(s):

ikimasu → ikanai

nomimasu → nomanai

aimasu → awanai

kaimasu → kawanai

The Negativeない Form ofる-verbs  is a simple change from their ます Form in that it is a simple transformation of the ます into ない.

Example(s):

taberu → tabenai

mimasu → minai

The verb いらっしゃる in its ます Form いらっしゃいます defies the general guideline of conjugation in that the Negative ない Form isいらっしゃらない instead of the expectedいらっしゃわない. Given this, the Dictionary Form of verbs could be considered a more reliable base form when conjugation to different forms.

 

 

Pre-ます Form VERB + に  + (行く/来る/帰る) as “go/come/return to VERB”

Example(s):

クラスの後でクレープを食べにショッピングセンターに行きませんか。

Kurasu no ato de crepes wo tabe ni shopping center ni ikimasenka? (Would you like to go to the shopping center after school to eat crepes?)

私 は友達と会いにレストランに行った。

Watashi wa tomodachi to ai ni restaurant ni ita. (I went to the restaurant to meet with my friends.)

 

 

Dictionary Form VERB + ことが出来る as “can/be able to VERB”

Example(s):

土曜日に図書館で会うことが出来ますか。

Doyoubi ni toshokan de au koto ga dekimasuka? ( Can you meet at the library on Saturday?)

 

 

Plain Form + のです/んです as an explanation

 

 

は as the negative scope marker

The particle は is used in negative sentences to make for much more natural grammar. Additionally, it implies a contrastive counterpart to the negative scope, in that despite the sentence being negative, there is an unmentioned and implicit positivity.

ゲームを買いましたか。

Game wo kaimashita? (Did you buy the game?)

いいえ、ゲームは買いませんでした。(This implies that the speaker bought something else of perhaps more importance.)

Iie, game ha kaimasendeshita. (No, I didn’t buy the game.)

 

 

Answer to Negative Yes-No Questions

Unlike in English, in which the answer to both affirmative questions and negative questions are the same, in Japanese, responses are based upon the exact question not the answer.

明日に会うことが出来ますか。

Ashita au koto ga dekimasuka? (Can you meet tomorrow?)

はい,出来ます。

Hai, dekimasu. (Yes I can.)

or alternatively: いいえ、出来ません。

Iie, dekimasen. (No, I cannot.)

明日に会うことが出来ませんか。

Ashita au koto ga dekimasenka? (Can’t you meet tomorrow?)

はい, 出来ません。

Hai, dekimasen. (That’s right, I can’t.)

Or alternatively: いいえ、出来ます。

Iie, dekimasu. (No, I can .)

 

 

Adjectives

Grammatically speaking, there are two kinds of adjectives in Japan, い-adjectives andな-adjectives.

い-adjectives

The Plain Form of い-adjectives ends with the い character, and this form, as should be expected, expresses the adjective in the present tense. In polite speech, です is added after the adjective; and in  casual speech, the adjective stands alone.

Example(s):

新しい (atarashii) – new

面白い (omoshiroi) – interesting, amusing

楽しい (tanoshii) – fun

素晴らしい (subarashii) – wonderful, great

い-adjectives – Negative Form

For the Negative Form of い-adjectives, the い in the Plain Form is dropped, in order to derive what is called the stem form, and either くありません or くないですis added at the end. As should be apparent, くありません is more polite than くないです. A more casual variation can also be achieved by dropping the  です in くないです.

Example(s):

可愛くない (kowaikunai) – not cute

面白くありません (omoshirokuarimasen) – uninteresting

悲しくないです   (kanashikunai desu) – not sad

When い-adjectives  are used to modify nouns, the Plain Form is used, without です.

Example(s):

面白い人 (omoshiroi hito) – interesting person

美しい音楽 (utsukushii ongaku) – beautiful music

な-adjectives

For the most par t, な-adjectives do not end with the character い but there are some particular exceptions, such as the words きれい、きらい、とくい、and ゆうめい. な-adjectives require the です at the end of the sentence to form a sentence.

Example(s):

このパーティーは賑やかですね。

Kono party wa nigiyaka desune. (This party is lively, isn’t it?)

この図書館特には静かですからとても好きです。

Kono toshokan toku ni ha shizuka desu kara totemo suki desu. (I like this library a lot because it is particularly quiet.)

な-adjectives – Negative Form

To form the Negative Form of な-adjectives, all instances of です are dropped and either ではありません or じゃありません or じゃないです is added at the end. As per the norm, ではありません is the most polite of the three, and other more casual variations can be formed by dropping instances of polite speech such as です.

Example(s):

静かじゃないです ( shizukajyanai desu) – not quiet

特別ではありません (tokubetsu de ha arimasen) – not special

The reason な-adjectives are called な-adjectives is because of the な character added at the end when used to modify nouns. This construct is similar to the のcharacter needed by nouns when they are used to modify other nouns.

Example(s):

素敵な髪型 (suteki na kamigata) – splendid hairstyle

親切な人 (shinsetsu na hito) – kind person

い-adjectives are considered the more authentic Japanese adjectives of the language because they involve a more direct conjugation, as opposed to な-adjectives that are very comparative to nouns in that they require the sentence-finalizing です and have more separated conjugations. In consideration to this, the form of な-adjectives is much more accommodating to the entry of foreign words into the Japanese language. A common observation of this that one can make is with many modern English loan-words, the な character follows; and historically speaking, most な-adjectives are Chinese loan-words.

Example(s):

シャイな (shy na)  – shy

トロピカルな  (tropical na) – tropical

 

Multiple Adjectives

When combining two adjectives in order to describe something, one must take notice of which category each adjective falls into, い-adjectives or な-adjectives.

ADJ 1 “and” ADJ 2

When an い-adjective is used first, its stem form is added with くて.

Example(s):

楽しくて賑やか (tanoshikute nigiyaka) – fun and lively

When a な-adjective is used first, its stem form is added with a much simpler で.

Example(s):

綺麗で明るい (kirei de akarui) – beautiful and bright

ADJ 1 “but” ADJ 2

When using multiple adjectives to convey alternating connotation, as in both positive and negative impressions, the conjunctive particle が is used in lieu of くて and で.

Example(s):

私の家庭教師は優しいですが厳しいです。

Watashi no kateikyoushi wa yasashii desuga kibishii desu. (My tutor is nice but strict.)

When the second adjective used is subjective on behalf of the speaker, the first adjective used is understood as the preemptive reason for such judgment.

 

 

は-が Sentence Construction

Because the Japanese language has separate markers for the  topic and the subject of a sentence,                                                                                                  the particles は and が, it allows for a unique grammatical construction of sentences.

The general outline for the は-が sentence construction is TOPIC は, SUBJECTが DESCRIPTOR. For simplicity’s sake, the direct translation of this format could be interpreted as , “Regarding the topic TOPIC, SUBJECT is DESCRIPTOR.”

Example(s):

カリフォルニアは家賃がすごく高いです。

California ha yachin ga sugoku takai desu. (In California the rent is very expensive.)

ジョージ·ワシントンは性格が素晴らしいです。

George Washington ga seikaku ga subarashii desu. (Regarding George Washington, his personality is wonderful.)

Multiple descriptors can also be used with this format.

Example(s):

私の学校は先生が親切で,食べ物は美味しくて、 キャンパス がきれいです。

Watashi no gakkou ha sensei ga shinsetsu de, tabemono ga oishikute, campus ga kirei desu.

 

 

X でYがある as “There is Y in/at X”

In this construct the で particle signifies that Y is an activity instead of a thing that occurs in or at X.

Example(s):

公園でリレーレースがあります。

Kouen de relay race ga arimasu. (There is a relay race happening at the park.)

外で喧嘩がある。

Soto de kenka ga aru. (There is a fight going on outside.)

 

Adverbs

In Japanese, adverbs are commonly used in conjunction with the particle に but there also exists a set of even more common adverbs which do not use the particle に at all. These are the common degree verbs.

とても– very

Example(s):

この宿題はとても難しいです。

Kono shukudai ha totemo muzukashii desu. (This homework is very hard.)

携帯電話はとても便利ですね。

Keitai denwa ha totemo benri desune. (Cellphones are really convenient, aren’t they?)

すごく- very (casual, used more for conversation)

Example(s):

この帽子はすごく綺麗ですがすこし高いです。

Kono boushi ha sugoku kirei desuga sukoshi takai desu. (This hat is very pretty but it’s a little expensive.)

すこし(少し) – a little

Example(s):

この帽子はすごく綺麗ですがすこし高いです。

Kono boushi ha sugoku kirei desuga sukoshi takai desu. (This hat is very pretty but it’s a little expensive.)

ちょっと– a little (casual, used more for conversation)

私の弟はちょっとうるさいです。

Watashi no otouto ha chotto urusai desu. (My little brother is a little nosiy.

すこし and ちょっと are commonly used as euphemistic expressions in that they do not provide clear subjections on the speaker’s behalf. Due to this, すこし and ちょっと are more naturally used in negative statements to soften what may be a harsh statement if otherwise expressed forthrightly. When used in the positive form, they express the connotation that the albeit positive, the characteristic may have not met expectations.

ぜんぜん – not at all

Example(s):

彼女は全然可愛くなかった。

Kanojo wa zenzen kawakunakatta. (She wasn’t cute at all.)

あまり – not really

Example(s):

私はあまり上手じゃない。

Watashi wa amari jyouzu jyanai. (I am not very good.)

ぜんぜん and あまりare only used in negative-form sentences.

 

 

が as “but/however”

Example(s):

遊園地に行きましたが楽しみませんでした。

Yuenchi ni ikimashitaga amari tanoshimimasendeshita. (I went to the amusement park but I didn’t really have fun.)

私はパーティーに行きたいが忙しい。

Watashi wa party ni ikitai ga isogashii. (I want to go to the party but I’m busy.)

 

X (どう/いかが)ですか as “How is X?”

どうですか and いかがですか are used to inquire about one’s opinion about something. いかがですか is the more formal version of this construct.

Example(s):

勉強はいかがですか。

Benkyou wa ikaga desuka. (How are your studies?)

昨日の試験はどうでしたか。

Kinou no shiken wa doudeshitaka? (How was yesterday’s test?)

 

 

XはどんなYですか as “What kind of Y is X?”

Example(s):

ジョージ·ワシントンの友人はどんな人ですか。

Jouji Washington, what kind of person is your friend?

 

 

こちら/そちら/あちら as “this/that way”

The set of words こちら/そちら/あちら are used to mean directions such as “here” and “there”, but they are commonly used as a polite way to refer to people. It is not appropriate to use any of these expressions to refer to oneself because of this implicit politeness.

こちらはジョージ·ワシントンです。

Kochira wa George Washington desu. (This is George Washington.)

あちらはどなたですか。

Achira wa donate desuka. (Who is that person over there?)

あちらはジョージ·ワシントン2ですよ。

Achira wa George Washington ni desuyo. (That’s George Washington 2.)

 

 

Verb Conjugation: て-Form

To conjugate る-verbs into the て-Form, drop the る from the dictionary form and replace it with a て.

Example(s):

教える (おしえる) → 教えて (おしえて)

食べる (たべる)  → 食べて (たべて)

The two irregular verbs that disregard this guideline are:

来る (くる) → 来て (きて)
する → して

To conjugate う-verbs that end with す into the て-Form, drop the す from the dictionary form and replace it with a して.

Example(s):

殺す (ころす) → 殺して (ころして)
話す (はなす) → 話して (はなして)

To conjugate う-verbs that end with う or つ into the て-Form, drop the う or つ from the dictionary form and replace it with a って.

Example(s):

使う (つかう) → 使って (つかって)
歌う (うたう) → 歌って (うたって)
待つ (まつ) → 待って (まって)
持つ (もつ) → 持って (もって)

To conjugate う-verbs that end with く into the て-Form, drop the く from the dictionary form and replace it with a いて.

Example(s):

書く (かく) → 書いて (かいて)
聞く (きく) → 聞いて (きいて)

To conjugate う-verbs that end with ぐ into the て-Form, drop the く from the dictionary form and replace it with a いで.

Example(s):

泳ぐ (およぐ) →  泳いで (およいで)

To conjugate う-verbs that end with ぬ or ぶ or む into the て-Form, drop the ぬ or ぶ or む from the dictionary form and replace it with a んで.

Example(s):

死ぬ (しぬ) → 死んで (しんで)
遊ぶ (あそぶ) → 遊んで (あそんで)
読む (よむ ) → 読んで (よんで)

To conjugate う-verbs that end with る into the て-Form, drop the る from the dictionary form and replace it with a って.

*The distinction between regular る-verbs and う-verbs that end with る is that when these verbs are conjugated into the ます-form, る-verbs drop the る to replace it with a ます (たべる  → たべます) while う-verbs that end with る drop the る to replace it with a リます (がんばる  → がんばります).

Example(s):

頑張る (がんばる) → 頑張って (がんばって)
作る (つくる) → 作って (つくって)

The common verb 行く (いく) is another irregular verb in that its て-Form is 行って (いって).

 

 

て-Form VERB + 下さい as “Please do VERB” and て-Form VERB + 下さいませんか as the more polite “Would you please do VERB?”

Example(s):

写真を取って下さいませんか。

Shashin wo totte kudasaimasenka. (Would you please take a photograph?)

静かになってください。

Shizuka ni natte kudasai. (Please quiet down.)

To change the context of this construct into requesting a negative action, replace the て-Form of the verb with the ない-Form of the verb followed by a で.

Example(s):

写真を取らないで下さい。

Shashin wo toranaide kudasai. (Please do not take photographs.)

うるさくならないで下さいませんか。

Urusaku naranaide kudasai. (Would you please not become noisy?)

 

て-Form VERB + いる as “am VERBing”

Example (s):

コンピューターを使っています。

Computer wo tsukatte imasu. (I am using the computer.)

ジョージ·ワシントンは寝ている。

George Washington wa nete iru. (George Washington is sleeping.)

 

 

まだ as “still”

When まだ appears in an affirmative sentence, it takes on the meaning “still” instead of “yet.”

まだ早いから帰ることは出来ないよ。

Mada hayai kara kaeru koto wa dekinai yo. (It’s still early so we can’t go home yet.)

 

 

X (どう/いかが)ですか as “How about X?”

In addition for asking for one’s opinion about something, this construct can be used to offer one something.

コーヒーはどうですか。

Coffee wa doudesuka. (How about some coffee?)

 

 

XはYが(好き/嫌い)です as “X (likes/hates) Y”

This construct derives from the TOPIC は SUBJECT が DESCRIPTOR form in that it is slightly altered to convey TOPIC は OBJECT が DESCRIPTOR.

Example(s):

ジョージ·ワシントンは犬 が好きです。

George Washington wa inu ga suki desu. (George Washington likes dogs.)

ジョージ·ワシントンは犬 が大好きです。

George Washington wa inu ga daisuki desu. (George Washington loves dogs.)

*An interpretation of the first example that provides for a more vivid interpretation of the construct semantically is, “In regard to George Washington (for George Washington), dogs are liked.”

ジョージ·ワシントンは辛い食べ物が嫌いです。

Jouji Washington wa karai tabemono ga kirai desu. (George Washington hates spicy food.)

ジョージ·ワシントンは辛い食べ物が大嫌いです。

Jouji Washington wa daikarai tabemono ga kirai desu. (George Washington really hates spicy food.)

 

 

XはYが(上手/下手/とくい)です as “X is(good/bad/good) at Y”

This construct is grammatically identical to the XはYが(好き/嫌い)です because it also derives from the TOPIC は SUBJECT が DESCRIPTOR form. Notice that both 上手 and とくい are both used to described goodness at an activity; the distinction is that while 上手 is used as someone else’s objective judgement, とくい is considered as a subjective analysis. When describing what you think to be your own talents, it is best to use とくい in order to convey that this is your subjective opinion that others might no agree with and not come off as extremely assertive of your skill.

Example(s):

私はビデオゲームがとくいです。

Watashi wa video game ga tokui desu. (I am good at video games.)

あなたは日本語が上手です。

Anata wa nihongo ga jyouzu desu. (You are good at Japanese.)

私は積極的な活動が下手です。

Watashi wa sekkyokutekina katsudou ga heta desu. (I am poor at proactive activities.)

 

 

Nominalization/Gerunds

In order to change verbs into their respective noun phrases, simply take the Dictionary Form of the verb and add の or こと right after it.

Example(s):

食べる → 食べること
飲む → 飲むこと
作る → 作るの
する → するの

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