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Complete Guide to Japanese

posted by tae kim

Disclaimer: This is still a work in progress!

What is a complete guide to Japanese?

Despite what many are led to believe, learning Japanese is not significantly more difficult than
learning any other language. The truth is mastering any foreign language is quite an endeavor. If you
think about it, you are essentially taking everything you've learned in life and re-learning it in a
completely different way. Obviously, no single book can really claim to teach you everything about a
language including all the vocabulary a fluent adult commonly obtains during her life. So what do I
mean by a complete guide to Japanese?

Most Japanese textbooks only go over a small subset of what you need to learn Japanese, typically
covering a certain amount of grammar and vocabulary with a smattering of dialogues and readings.
However, mastering a language requires much more than just learning grammar and vocabulary.
What most Japanese textbooks fail to recognize is that they can't possibly hope to cover all the
necessary vocabulary and kanji (Chinese characters) to obtain full fluency. This guide fully
recognizes that it cannot teach you everything word by word and character by character. Instead, it
will give you a solid understanding of the fundamentals with a wide collection of dialogues and
examples. In addition, it will go over various techniques and tools to enable you to teach yourself.
Essentially, this book is a guide on how you can learn Japanese to complete fluency by
actually using Japanese in the areas of reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Another important distinction in the complete guide is that it does not try to hide or avoid more casual
but perfectly acceptable aspects of the language. Many textbooks often avoid styles of speech and
vocabulary you would normally use regularly with close friends, family, and acquaintances! In this
guide, you will be introduced to all aspects of the language based on real-world practicality and
usefulness; not on an artificial, filtered version of what others consider to be "proper" Japanese.
Resources and Tools

There are a large number of useful tools on the web for learning Japanese. Not only are there
excellent online dictionaries, which are often better than many print dictionaries, there are also great
tools and social networking sites for online collaboration and language study.

In order to fully utilize these online resources or if you're reading this book online, you'll need to setup
your computer to support Japanese.

You can see a full list of these resources and instructions on how to setup your computer at the
following link:


I'm currently writing this as quickly as possible without a lot of proofreading so there WILL be many
typos and mistakes for the first few revisions.


The Complete Guide is currently NOT licensed under a creative commons or any other license. I
might consider some kind of license when I finish the first draft.

posted by tae kim

The last and most notorious aspect of the Japanese written language is Kanji, which are Chinese
characters adapted for Japanese. Most words in Japanese are written in Kanji even though they are
still pronounced with the Japanese phonetic sounds represented by Hiragana and Katakana.

Stroke Order

When learning Kanji, it is very important to learn it with the proper stroke order and direction from the
beginning in order to avoid developing any bad habits. Japanese learners often think that stroke
order doesn't matter as long as the end product looks the same. However, what they don't realize is
that there are thousands of characters and they are not always meticulously written the way they
appear in print. Proper stroke order helps ensure the characters look recognizable even when you
write them quickly or use more cursive styles.

The simpler characters called radicals are often reused as components in larger characters. Once
you learn the radical stroke order and get used to the patterns, you'll find that it's not difficult to figure
out the correct stroke order for most Kanji.

One good general rule of thumb is that strokes usually start from the top-left corner toward the
bottom-right. This means that horizontal strokes are generally written from left to right and vertical
strokes are written from top to bottom. In any case, if you're not sure about the stroke order, you
should always verify by looking the character up in a Kanji dictionary.

Kanji in Vocabulary

There are roughly over 2,000 characters used in modern Japanese so you can imagine that
memorizing them one-by-one as you might for syllabaries such as Hiragana does not work very well.

An effective strategy for mastering Kanji is learning them with new vocabulary within a larger context.
This way, we can associate contextual information with the character in order to reinforce memory.
Remember that Kanji, ultimately, is used to represent actual words. So it is important to focus not so
much on the characters themselves but the words and vocabulary that include those characters.

In this section, we will learn how Kanji works by learning a few common characters and vocabulary.

Kanji Readings

The first Kanji we will learn is , the character for 'person.' It is a simple two-stroke character
where each stroke starts at the top. You may have noticed that the character as rendered by the font
is not always the same as the hand-written style below. This is another important reason to check the
stroke order.

Definition: person


Kanji in Japanese can have one or several readings. The reading for Kanji is split into two major
categories called kun-yomi and on-yomi. Kun-yomi is the Japanese reading of the character while
on-yomi is based on the original Chinese pronunciation.

Generally, Kun-yomi is used for words that only use one character. The actual word for "person" is
one example.

Example: - person

Kun-yomi is also used for native Japanese words including most adjectives and verbs.

On-yomi, on the other hand, is mostly used for words that originate from Chinese, which often use 2
or more Kanji. For that reason, on-yomi is often written in Katakana. We'll see more examples as we
learn more characters. With , one very useful example of an on-yomi is to attach it to names
of countries to describe nationality.


- American (person)
- French (person)

While most characters will not have multiple kun-yomi or on-yomi, the more common characters such
as will generally have a lot more readings. Here, I only list the ones that are applicable to the
vocabulary we learned. Learning a reading without a context within vocabulary will only create
unnecessary confusion so I do not recommend learning all the readings at once.

Now that you have the general idea, let's learn some more vocabulary and the Kanji used within
them. The stroke order diagrams with red highlights show you where each stroke starts.

1. - Japan
2. - book
Definition: sun; day


Definition: origin; book


1. - student
2. - teacher
Definition: academic


Definition: ahead; precedence


Definition: life


1. - tall; expensive
2. - school
3. - high school
Definition: tall; expensive



Definition: school


1. - small
2. - big
3. - elementary school
4. - middle school
5. - college; university
6. - elementary school student
7. - middle school student
8. - college; university student
Definition: small



Definition: middle; inside


Definition: large



1. - country
2. - China
3. - Chinese (person)
Definition: country



1. - Japanese language
2. - Chinese language
3. - English
4. - French
5. - Spanish
Definition: England

Definition: language


With only 14 characters, we've managed to learn over 25 words ranging from China to elementary
school student! Kanji is usually regarded as a major obstacle but as you can see, you can easily turn
it into a valuable tool if you learn it in the context of vocabulary.

Okurigana and changing readings

You may have noticed some words that end with Hiragana such as or . Because
those words are adjectives, the trailing Hiragana, called Okurigana are needed to perform various
conjugations without affecting the Kanji. The thing to watch out for is remembering exactly where the
Kanji ends and Hiragana begins. For example, you never want to write as .

You may have also noticed that the Kanji readings don't always match the reading in a particular
word. For example, is read as and not . Readings often go
through these small transformations to make pronunciation easier.

Ultimately, you'll want to check the reading for any new words you encounter. Fortunately, it has
become much easier to look up new Kanji thanks to online tools and electronic dictionaries. You can
find a tutorial on how to use these tools at the following link:

Different Kanji for similar words

Kanji is often used to make subtle distinctions or give a different shade of meaning for a word. In
some cases, it is very important to remember to use the correct Kanji for the correct situation. For
example, while the adjective for hot is , when used to describe the climate, you must write
it as . When you are describing a hot object or person, you must write it as

Definition: hot (for climate only)

Definition: heat; fever


In other cases, while there is generic Kanji that can be used for all situations for a given word, the
writer may use a more specialized version for stylistic reasons. The examples in this book will
generally use the generic and usually simpler Kanji. If you want to find out more about using different
Kanji for the same word, see the following
link: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/resources/learning_words

Home Complete Guide to Japanese Writing Systems and Pronunciation

Basic numbers and age

posted by tae kim

1 to 10

Learning the first ten numbers is a one good way to get started in learning any language. For
Japanese, it also allows us to get familiar with some basic and important Kanji. One thing to pay
attention to is the fact that 4 and 7 have two possible pronunciations. The more common ones are

s 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

11 to 99

As an added bonus, we don't need to learn any more numbers to count up to 99. The tens digit is
simply the number and ten. For example, two-ten is twenty, three-ten is thirty, etc. We will learn
higher numbers past 99 in a later chapter.


1. - 11
2. - 20
3. - 21
4. - 39
5. - 40
6. - 74
7. - 99

Counters and Age

Let's use the numbers we just learned to talk about our age. In Japanese, we must use counters to
count different types of things. The counter for counting age is . Because the Kanji
is rather difficult, it is also written as (though it's actually a completely different character)

Counters are simply attached to the end of the number. However, as we saw in the last section, Kanji
readings can often go through small changes to aid pronunciation. The following digits are read
slightly differently when used with the age counter. The age 20 is also a completely irregular reading.

Irregular readings

1. - 1 year old
2. - 8 years old
3. - 10 years old
4. - 20 years old


1. - 20 years old
2. - 21 years old
3. - 48 years old
4. - 70 years old

We will learn many more counters in a later chapter.

Home Complete Guide to Japanese Writing Systems and Pronunciation

Chapter summary and practice

posted by tae kim

We covered all the sounds in Japanese, how they are written in Hiragana and Katakana, and how
Kanji works. In addition, we also learned numbers up to 99 and how to count a person's age. Let's
apply what we learned to come up with a simple self-introduction. The best way to learn a language
is to regularly interact in that language and the only way to do that is to meet Japanese speakers so
a self-introduction is an ideal way to practice.

Learning the expressions

You only need a couple of fixed expressions for your simple self-introduction.

Shortened form of an expression originally meaning "I meet you for the first time". It's a
standard greeting similar in intent to "Nice to meet" or "How do you do?"
There is no easy direct translation but it means something along the lines of "please treat me
well" when used at the end of an introduction.

Telling people your name

If you haven't done so already, you'll need to decide on what to call yourself in Japanese. As we've
learned, Japanese has a relatively limited set of sounds so it's very likely that your name will need to
sound very different from its native pronunciation.

I would recommend asking your teacher or a Japanese speaker for help in converting your name to
the Katakana equivalent. You may even want to ask the first person you introduce yourself to.
If you want to give it a try on your own (like right now), you can try this tutorial on finding your name
in Japanese: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/resources/nameinjapanese

To say you are that name, you need only attach to the name. The pronunciation is usually
shortened to just "dess". We will learn more about in the next chapter.

Toggle Translations

(I am) [name].

(I am) Brown.
(I am) Alice Smith.

In Japan, the last name is given more weight so it is common to just go by your last name especially
in a more formal environment such as the classroom or workplace. When using the full name, the
last name always comes first for Japanese names. However, it can go either way for names from
countries where the order is reversed.

Putting it all together

Using the fixed expressions and the vocabulary we learned in the last section, we now have
everything we need for our simple self-introduction.

Below is a short list of potentially useful nouns to describe yourself for your self-introduction.Don't
forget that you need to add to the country for nationality.

1. - self-introduction
2. - college student
3. - working adult
4. - China
5. - South Korea
6. - Canada
7. - England
8. - Australia
9. - France
10. - Spain
11. - Brazil
12. - Mexico

Here's an example of a simple self-introduction.

Toggle Translations

Nice to meet you. (I am) Alice Smith.

(I'm) American. (I'm a) college student.
(I'm) 18 years old.
Please treat me well.

Other expressions

In addition to practicing your self-introduction, a good way to practice pronunciation is to use various
expressions for different scenarios. It's ok if nobody around you speaks Japanese. They'll
understand you're hard at work practicing.

1. - thank you (polite)

2. - sorry (polite)
3. - good-bye (notice the long vowel sound!
4. - used before eating a meal (lit: I humbly receive)
5. - used after finishing a meal (lit: It was a feast)
6. - used when leaving home (lit: I'm going and coming back)
7. - used as farewell for someone leaving the house (lit: Go and come
8. - used when returning home
9. - welcome home

Nouns and Adjectives

posted by tae kim

At the end of the last chapter, we used Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji to create a simple self-
introduction. In the process, we used to express state-of-being. In this chapter, we will learn
more about the state-of-being and how to use nouns and adjectives.
Home Complete Guide to Japanese Nouns and Adjectives

posted by tae kim

In English, the verb "to be" is used to describe what something is or where it is, for example: "He is a
student" and "He is at school". In Japanese, the two are described very differently. The state-of-being
we will learn is used to describe only what something is and not where it exists.

The state-of-being is very easy to describe because it is implied within the noun or adjective. There
is no need to use a verb nor even a subject to make a complete sentence in Japanese. Take for
example, a casual conversation among friends asking, "How are you?"

How are you? (casual)

- healthy; lively
Used as a greeting to indicate whether one is well

A: (Are you) well?

B: (I'm) fine.

Polite State-of-being

While the previous dialogue may be fine among close friends, you should use the polite form when
speaking to a teacher, a superior such as your boss, or people you're not very familiar with.

For nouns and adjectives, all that is required for the polite form is to add to the end of the
sentence. We did this in our simple self-introduction in the last section and because it's understood
by context that you are talking about yourself, there is no need to add a subject.

We can ask questions in the polite form by further adding to . The is a

question marker so a question mark is not necessary. Below is a simple greeting in the polite form.
How are you?

A: (Are you) well?

B: (I'm) well.

Practical Applications

Here's an example of a casual morning greeting between two classmates and a polite morning
greeting with the teacher.

Casual Morning Greeting

1. - Good Morning (casual)

Toggle Translations

Alice: Morning.
Lee: Morning.
Alice: (Are you) well?
Lee: (I'm) good.

Polite Morning Greeting

1. - teacher
2. - Good Morning (polite)
3. - a honorific prefix used for politeness and never used when referring to oneself

Toggle Translations

Teacher: Morning.
Smith: Good Morning!
Teacher: Are (you) well?
Smith: (I'm) well.

You can follow a similar model to practice greeting people in the morning. We'll learn the expressions
for afternoon and evening greetings in the next section.

Topic Particles
posted by tae kim

Context plays a powerful role in Japanese so one word sentences are perfectly fine for simple
question and answers. However, longer and more sophisticated sentences will consist of many
words that perform various grammatical roles. In Japanese, the grammatical role each word plays in
a sentence is defined by particles. Particles are one or more Hiragana characters that assign a
certain grammatical function to the word that comes before it. We'll see how this works by first
learning the topic particle.

Topic Particle

As mentioned previously, context is very important in Japanese and is often silently understood by
the situation. However, what you want to talk about may not always be obvious or you may want to
change the topic of the conversation. For that purpose, the topic particle is used to indicate
a new topic for the conversation.

Important note!

The topic particle while written as , is pronounced .


1. - this
2. - what
3. - that
4. - pen
5. - now
6. - a little (casual)
7. - busy
8. - movie
9. - likable (unlike English "like" is an adjective not a verb)

Toggle Translations

(As for) this, what is (it)?
(As for) that, (it's) a pen.
(As for) now, busy?
(As for) now, (I'm) a little busy.
(As for) movie(s), (do you) like? (lit: is likable?)
(I) like (them). (lit: Is likable.)


The topic particle is also used in the greetings for daytime and evening. The expressions were
originally full sentences with a topic meaning, "As for today/tonight, how is your mood?" but they
were eventually shortened to just "As for today" and "As for tonight".

1. - Good day (pronounced )

2. - Good evening (pronounced )

How are things lately?

1. - recent; lately
2. - how
3. - busy

Toggle Translations

Teacher: Good day.

Smith: Good day.
Teacher: (As for) lately, how (is it)?
Smith: Busy.

Inclusive Topic Particle

The particle used the same way as topic particle but adds the meaning of "as well" or

Suspiciously busy

1. - today
2. - tomorrow
3. - day after tomorrow
4. - yes (casual)
5. - truth; reality

Toggle Translations

Lee: As for today, (are you) busy?

Smith : Yeah, (I'm) busy.
Lee: What about tomorrow?
Smith: Tomorrow is also busy.
Lee: What about the day after tomorrow?
Smith: The day after tomorrow too.
Lee: Really?(lit: Is it true?)
Addressing People

Addressing other people directly

In Japanese, the word "you" is seldom used to refer to a person except in the case of
very close relationships. Most of the time, you will refer to people using their name
(last name is more polite than first) usually followed by a name-suffix. You have
probably already heard somewhere at some point. It is the polite name-
suffix used to refer to your social superiors, elders, or people you are unfamiliar with.
The most common name-suffixes are listed below.

- Polite name-suffix (gender-neutral)

- Casual name-suffix (generally for males)

- Casual name-suffix (generally for females)

If you're not sure which to use to address someone, with the person's last
name is generally the safest option. You can also always ask the person what they
prefer to be called by.

Always sleepy

1. - yes (polite)

2. - but

3. - sleepy

4. - that

5. - hardship; rough time; tough

6. - ok

7. - always

Toggle Translations

Teacher: Smith-san, (are you) well?

Smith: Yes, (I'm) fine.
Teacher: Lee-san, (are you) well?
Lee: Yes, (I'm) fine. But (I'm) sleepy.
Teacher: That's tough.
Smith: (It's) ok. Lee-san is always sleepy.

Talking about yourself

We already saw that it's usually understood implicitly by context when you're talking
about yourself. However, there are times you may still want to refer to yourself as a
topic to say, "As for me..." or "me too".

There are several options for referring to yourself depending on level of politeness
and gender.

List of different words meaning me, myself, and I

1. - polite, gender-neutral

2. - same Kanji as but this reading is

only used in very formal situations

3. - polite, masculine

4. - casual, very feminine

5. - very casual and masculine

How's the pizza?

1. - pizza

2. - tasty

3. - no (casual)

Toggle Translations

John: As for pizza, tasty?

Lee: No.
Alice: As for me, tasty.

This short conversation highlights a very important point. The topic only brings up the
general topic of the conversation and does not necessarily indicate the subject of any
one particular sentence. The last sentence would be very
strange if it meant "I am tasty". However, because "I" is only a general topic, from the
context of the entire conversation, we know that Alice is saying that as for her,
the pizza is tasty.

Addressing family members

We've already encountered the honorific prefix in . This prefix is
used in all sorts of words and comes from a Kanji which can be read as either
or . However, determining which reading to use is usually not an issue as this
Kanji is usually written in Hiragana.

Definition: honorable

Stroke Order


1. - money

2. - rice; meal

3. - tea

The reason we're looking at it here is because of how the honorific prefix is used to
refer to family members. The basic idea is to use the honorific prefix when referring
to somebody else's family. You would not use honorifics to refer to your own family
unless you are speaking to someone within your family. We will learn more about the
concept of inner and outer circle for honorifics in a much later chapter.

The list below is by no means complete and only covers the more common words for
the primary family members.

Family member chart

One's own family Someone else's family







Older Sister

Older Brother

Younger Sister




Smith's parents

1. - Yamada (surname)

2. - Asian (person)

3. - no

4. - but

5. - (one's own) mother

6. - Japanese (person)

7. - so

8. - father

9. - (one's own) father

10. - American (person)

11. (exp) - I see

Toggle Translations

Yamada: Smith-san, are (you) Asian (person)?

Smith: No. But, (my) mother is Japanese.
Yamada: Is that so? As for (your) father?
Smith: (My) father is American.
Yamada: I see.

Sentence-Ending Particles

Let's add some life to our sentences by using sentence-ending particles. These
particles are attached at the very end of the sentence to add an emotion or tone.
and sentence endings
and are two of the most frequently used sentence ending particles.

1. is used when the speaker is seeking agreement and

confirmation. It adds a tone similar to saying, "right?" or "isn't

2. is used when the speaker wants to point something out

or make something aware to the listener. It adds a tone similar
to saying, "you know?".

3. The two can be used together as .


1. - today

2. - hot (for climate/weather only)

3. - tomorrow

4. - busy

5. - ramen

6. - tasty, delicous

Toggle Translations

As for today, (it's) hot, isn't it?

As for tomorrow, (I'm) busy, you know.

As for ramen, (it's) tasty you know, isn't it?!

You look young for a teacher

1. - Tanaka (surname)
2. - no

3. - very

4. - young

5. - how old

6. - that

7. - secret

Toggle Translations

Smith: Nice to meet you. (I'm) Smith.

Tanaka: Nice to meet you. (I'm) Tanaka.
Smith: Tanaka-san, (are you) a student?
Tanaka: No, (I'm) a teacher.
Smith: Really?
Tanaka: It's true, you know.
Smith: (You) are very young, right? How old (are you)?
Tanaka: That's a secret.


We've already used some adjectives as the state-of-being but we have yet to describe a
noun directly with adjectives. In order to do this, we first have to learn the two
different types of adjectives in Japanese.

There are two types of adjectives called i-adjectives and na-adjectives.

Examples of i-adjectives
All i-adjectives end in .

1. - good

2. - cool; handsome

3. - busy

4. - fun

5. - hot

6. - cold

Examples of na-adjectives
All adjectives that do not end in are na-adjectives.

1. - likable

2. - healthy; lively

3. - quiet

Examples of na-adjectives that end in

Though most adjectives that end in are i-adjectives, there are a small number
of na-adjectives that end in . The examples below are some of the most
common na-adjectives that end in .

1. - clean; pretty

2. - distasteful

3. - luckily, fortunately

Describing nouns directly

You can easily describe a noun by placing the adjective directly in front of the noun.
For na-adjectives, you first need to add before you can attach the adjective to
the noun (hence the name).

1. - person

2. - when

3. - game

4. - object; thing

Toggle Translations

good person

lively; healthy person

pretty person

when busy

fun game

likable thing

You're so-so handsome

1. - Yamamoto (surname)

2. (i-adj) - new

3. (adv) - very

4. (adv) - so-so

5. - thank you (polite)

Toggle Translations

Smith: Is Tanaka-sensei a new teacher?

Yamamoto: That's right.
Smith: (She's) a very pretty person, isn't she?
Yamamoto: Is that so?
Smith: Ah, Yamamoto-sensei is so-so handsome too
Yamamoto: ...Thank you.

Male/Female Speech

As opposed to polite speech, which is mostly gender-neutral, casual speech has many
constructions that make it sound masculine or feminine to varying degrees. Of course,
you do not have to be a specific gender to use either masculine or feminine manners
of speech but you do need to be aware of the differences and the impression it gives to
the listener. The first example of this is how and are used in casual

The declarative is attached to nouns and na-adjectives to give it a more
declarative tone and make the state-of-being explicit. This is important in some
grammatical forms we will cover later. For now, we can use it in casual Japanese to
give a more definitive, confident, and somewhat masculine tone (though females often
use it as well). For males, in particular, it is important to use it before or
to avoid sounding too feminine.

Note: Only attach to nouns and na-adjectives. Never to i-adjectives.


1. - Japanese language

2. (na-adj) - skillful, good at

3. (i-adj) - fun

Toggle Translations

As for Japanese, (you're) good at it, aren't you?(feminine)

As for Japanese, (you're) good at it, aren't you?(masculine)

As for Japanese, (it's) fun, you know.(gender-neutral as
cannot be used for i-adjectives)
Comic 3

1. - Good Morning (casual)

2. (na-adj) - healthy; lively

3. (i-adj) - sleepy

4. - but

5. - already

6. - afternoon

7. - then abbr. of

8. - Good day

9. - Good night (expression for going to


Toggle Translations

John: Alice-chan, good morning.

Alice: Morning, how are (you)?
John: Sleepy.
Alice: But (it's) already afternoon, you know.
John: Is that so? Then, good afternoon.
Alice: Good afternoon.
John: Good night.
The homework is easy!

1. (n) - homework

2. (i-adj) - difficult

3. (na-adj) - easy

4. - umm

5. - probably; maybe

6. - which one; which way

Toggle Translations

Alice: As for homework, (is it) difficult?

John: It's easy!
Alice: Really?
John: Umm, (it's) probably difficult.
Alice: Which is it?

Because John is male, he decides to use with with the na-adjective

. However, regardless of gender, you cannot use with i-adjectives so
he says . is grammatically incorrect.

Noun properties

The particle has many different uses but one of the most basic usages is for
describing nouns with other nouns similar to how we described nouns with adjectives.
This is usually used to describe ownership, membership, property or any other
description that involves another noun.
It is important to remember the order the modification takes place. You don't want to
inadvertently say "name's me" when you meant to say "my name". If you're unsure of
the order, I recommend translating as "of" and reading it in reverse.


1. - me; myself; I

2. - name

3. - this

4. - car

5. - Japan

6. - pen

7. - desk

8. - up; above

9. - bag

10. - down; below

11. - teacher

12. - Japanese language

Toggle Translations

Name of me (my name) is Kim.

This car is car of Japan (Japanese car).

Pen is above of desk.
Bag is below of desk.

Tanaka-sensei is teacher of Japanese (Japanese teacher).

What's your first name again?

1. - first name (lit: bottom name)

2. - what

3. - why

4. - huh, eh

Toggle Translations

Lee: What is Smith-san's first name?

Smith: (It's) Alice.
Lee: Alice-chan, huh?
Smith: What is Lee-san's first name?
Lee: JaeYoon.
Smith: ...Lee-kun, huh?
Lee: Huh, why?

Noun replacement
The particle can also replace the noun entirely when it's understood by the


1. - red
2. - which

Toggle Translations

(I) like the red one.

Which one is Smith-san's?

Negative State-of-Being

Because the state-of-being is implied within nouns and adjectives, expressing the
negative is a bit different from English. The noun or adjective is conjugated directly to
say that [X is not Y]. Conjugating nouns and adjectives into the negative is done
through two simple rules.

There are only two exceptions to the rule for i-adjectives both involving the adjective
meaning "good". The words and (which is a combination
of another word with ) originally come from the
adjective . Though it is usually pronounced in modern
Japanese, all conjugations still derive from the original reading. You will
see similar examples later as we learn different types of conjugations.

Negative for nouns and adjectives

For nouns and na-adjectives: Attach to the end




For i-adjectives: Drop the at the end and replace with



Exceptions: conjugates from



Note: The negative form is very similar grammatically to i-adjectives. Similar to i-

adjectives, you must never use the declarative with the negative.


1. - salad

2. - steak

3. - not very (when used with negative)

4. - this

5. - book

6. (i-adj) - interesting

7. - this year

8. - winter

9. (i-adj) - cold

Toggle Translations

As for salad, don't like very much.

As for steak salad, (it's) not salad, you know.

As for this book, (it's) not interesting, you know.

As for this year's winter, (it's) not cold, is it?
That's not a good thing!

1. (n) - class; lecture

2. - not very (when used with negative)

3. (i-adj) - interesting; funny

4. - but

5. (i-adj) - difficult

6. - that

7. (i-adj) - good

8. (n) - matter; event

9. (adv) - not at all (when used with negative)

Toggle Translations

John: Yamamoto-sensei's class is not very interesting.

Alice: As for me, (it's) interesting.
John: But isn't it very difficult?
Alice: That's a good thing.
John: It's not good at all!

Negative Nouns/Adjectives in Polite Form

As before, all that's required for the polite form is to add to the end of the

I'm not an otaku!

1. (n) - hobby; interest

2. - what read as when used with

3. - computer (abbreviation of
or PC)

4. - game

5. (na-adj) - likable

6. - sports

7. - no (polite)

8. - otaku; geek; enthusiast

Toggle Translations

Yamamoto: What is your hobby, Lee-san?

Lee: Computers. (I) also like games.
Yamamoto: Do (you) like sports?
Lee: No, I don't like (it) that much.
Smith: Lee-san is an otaku.
Lee: I'm not an otaku

Identifying the unknown

identifier particle
With the topic particle, you have to know what you want to talk about ahead
of time. Obviously this will not always be the case. For example, if you wanted to
know what kind of food somebody liked, it would be impossible to ask if each kind
was his/her favorite using the topic particle saying "as for this" and "as for that". That
is what the particle is for: to identify or seek to identify an unknown.
1. - pizza

2. (na-adj) - likable

3. - what kind of

As for pizza, do (you) like it?

What kind of pizza do (like)? (Among all possibilities)

You can sometimes restructure your sentence to mean the same thing with and without
the particle.

1. (na-adj) - likable

2. - food

3. - what

As for food that (you) like, what is it?

As for food, what is it that you like? (Among all possibilities)

However, while the topic particle can only bring up a general topic of conversation,
the identifier particle plays a specific role in that it's identifying a particular thing
among other possibilities.

1. (i-adj) - busy

As for Smith-san, busy.

Smith-san is the one that is busy.
Which teacher do you like the most?

1. - which

2. - number 1; the best; the most

3. (i-adj) - cute

4. - second year; sophomore

5. - next year

6. - something to look forward to

7. - why

8. - class

9. - interesting

10. - difficult

Toggle Translations

Lee: As for John-san, which teacher do (you) like the most?

John: (I) like Tanaka-sensei.
Lee: That's so, isn't it? She is cute. But (she's) second-year teacher.
John: Looking forward to next year!
Alice: As for me, I like Yamamoto-sensei, you know?
John: Huh? Why?
Alice: Isn't (his) class interesting?
John: It's not interesting! It's difficult!
Alice: Is that so?

The one or thing that...

Though it doesn't work all the time, a simple trick to easily distinguish is to
translate it as "the one or thing that...". This way, it clearly illustrates the
particle as identifying a particular thing or person.

Tanaka-sensei is the one that (I) like.

Isn't (his) class the thing that is interesting?

Compound Sentences

Combining two sentences with "but"

You may remember we already used to mean "but" or "however". While
is always used at the beginning of a new sentence, there are two
conjunctions that also mean "but" and can be used to combine two sentences together
into one compound sentence, similar to English. The two conjunctions are
and . is fairly casual while is slightly more formal and
polite. (Note that this is completely different from the identifier particle we
learned in the last section.)


1. - today

2. - busy

3. - tomorrow

4. (na-adj) - free (as in not busy)

(I'm) busy but (I'm) free tomorrow.

(I'm) busy but (I'm) free tomorrow.
Note: If the first clause ends with a noun or na-adjective without any tense and you're
not using , you must add .


(I'm) free today but (I'm) busy tomorrow.





If the noun or na-adjective is already conjugated such as the negative

, you don't need to add .

(I'm) not free today but (I'm) free tomorrow.



Combining two sentences with "so"

You can combine two sentences with or to show a reason and
result but it's important to remember that the reason comes first. Therefore, it may be
helpful to remember the definition as "so" rather than "because" to match the order.
is slightly more polite and formal compared to .


1. - here

2. - noisy

(It's) noisy here so (I) don't like it very much.

(It's) noisy here so (I) don't like it very much.>

Note: Once again, If the first clause ends with a noun or na-adjective without anything
else such as or , you must add for
and for .


1. - here

2. - quiet

(It's) quiet here so (I) like it.





Once again, this only applies to nouns and na-adjectives that are not conjugated to
another tense.

(It's) not quiet here so (I) don't like it very much.



Combining two sentences with "despite"

Similarly, you can attach two sentences with to mean "despite" or "in spite
of". Similar to , you must attach when the first clause ends with a
plain noun or na-adjective.


1. - teacher

2. - very
3. (i-adj) - young

4. - this year

5. - (economic) recession

6. - Christmas

7. - customer

8. (i-adj) - few, scarce

9. (i-adj) - cute

10. (na-adj) - serious; diligent

11. - man

12. - friend

Toggle Translations

Despite the fact that Tanaka-san is (a) teacher, (she) is very

This year is recession so despite it being Christmas, customers
are few.

Although Alice is cute, because (she's) serious, (she has) few
male friends.

Leaving parts out

You can leave out either side of the conjunction if it's understood by context.


Toggle Translations

Smith: I don't like (it) here.

Lee: Why?
Smith: Because it's noisy.

If you leave the first part out, you still need to add , , or just
as if the first sentence was there.

1. - library

2. - here

3. - not very (when used with negative)

4. - likable

Toggle Translations

Lee: Despite the fact (it's) library, (It's) always noisy here, huh?
Smith: That's why I don't like (it) very much.

Other options would be the same as it would be with both sentences.



You can even leave out both parts of the conjunction as seen in the next dialogue.

So what?

Toggle Translations

Lee: I'm busy lately, you know?

Smith: So?
Lee: So (it's) tough, you know! But (I'm) finally free today so (I'm) happy!
Smith: Oh, is that so?

Listing multiple nouns

complete list particle

The particle is used to group multiple nouns together in a complete list.

The poor chicken family...

1. - rice dish with chicken and egg

(parent and child bowl)

2. - ingredient

3. - rice; meal

4. - onion

5. - soy sauce

6. - and then

7. - of course

8. - chicken

9. - egg

10. (i-adj) - bad feeling, gross,


11. (i-adj) - tasty

12. (na-adj) - poor, pitiful (as in to feel sorry for)

13. (i-adj) - interesting

14. (na-adj) - ok

15. - truth; reality

16. - parent

17. - child

Toggle Translations

Smith: What are the ingredients for Oyako-don?

Tanaka: Rice, onions, and soy sauce. And then, because it's "parent and child bowl",
chicken and egg, of course.
Smith: That's unpleasant, isn't it?
Tanaka: Is that so? But it's tasty, you know?
Smith: Don't you feel sorry (for them)?
Tanaka: Smith-san, (you're) interesting. (It's) not real parent and child so (it's) ok, you
Smith: But...

and partial list

and are also used to list multiple nouns together. The major
difference is that they imply that the list is not complete and is a sample among a
larger list. is merely a more casual version of .

I hate natto

1. - what kind

2. (n) - food
3. - candy

4. - cheese cake

5. - strawberry

6. - short cake

7. (i-adj) - sweet

8. (n) - thing

9. (n) - natto (fermented soybeans)

10. (na-adj) - dislike; hate

Toggle Translations

Yamamoto: As for Smith-san, what kind of food do (you) like?

Smith: Let's see. (I) like things like Japanese candy, cheese cake, and strawberry short
Yamamoto: (You) like sweet things, don't you?
Smith: (I) also like things that are not sweet, you know.
Yamamoto: How about natto?
Smith: As for natto, I hate it.

possible options
can be used with multiple nouns to list several possible options, essentially
meaning "or".

You're just like whatever, huh?

1. - exam
2. - when

3. - today

4. - tomorrow

5. - definitely, for sure

6. - then (casual)

7. - haphazard, whatever works

8. - next week

9. - as I thought

Toggle Translations

Alice: Exam is when?

John: Today or tomorrow.
Alice: It's not today for sure.
John: Then, (it's) tomorrow.
Alice: (You're) haphazard, huh?
Lee: Exam is next week, you know.
Alice: As I thought.

Explanations and expectations

In English, changing the order of words in the sentence can often change the tone as
well. For example, asking "Is he a student?" sounds very different from "He's a
student?" While the former is a very neutral question simply seeking a yes or no
answer, the latter expresses surprise that the person is in fact a student and is seeking
confirmation of that fact.
In Japanese, we saw that sentence order is very flexible due to how particles clearly
define the grammatical role of each word. So in order to express this kind of biased
question or answer, we add to the end of the sentence to show that we are
seeking or providing an explanation.

For nouns and na-adjectives, you also need to add before .


1. - he

2. - student

Is he (a) student?

He's a student? (Seeking explanation why he's a student)

In the second sentence, because the person is implicitly seeking an explanation for
why he's a student, it gives the impression that the speaker is surprised or considers
the fact that he may be a student to be unexpected.

Health is important too

1. - by the way

2. - why

3. - busy

4. - me, myself (polite, masculine)

5. - swim club

6. - eh, huh

7. - so

8. - but

9. - hobby; interests
10. - computer; PC

11. - game

12. - health

13. (na-adj) - important

14. - I see

Toggle Translations

Smith: By the way, Lee-kun, why are you busy?

Lee: Because (I'm in) swim club.
Smith: Eh? Is that so?
Lee: That's so but?
Smith: But isn't (your) hobby computers and games?
Lee: That's so but health is also important so.
Smith: I see.

Explanation for and

When the sentence has additional things following the such as or
, the is replaced with to make pronunciation easier. While
can still be used, it is considered to be old-fashioned.

What's the problem?

1. - otaku; geek; enthusiast

2. - um, er, excuse me

3. - not very (when used with negative)

4. (i-adj) - good; fine

5. - word; language

6. - yes (polite)

7. - no (polite)

Toggle Translations

Smith: Yamamoto-sensei, Lee-san is not an otaku because (he's in) swim club.
Yamamoto: Um, Smith-san, Otaku is not a very good word, you know.
Smith: Is that so? But Lee-san is not an otaku so isn't it fine?
Yamamoto: Smith-san...
Smith: Yes?
Yamamoto: No, never mind (lit: (it's) fine).

The phrase shows a very important way setting

expectations can enhance your abilities to express certain things. By setting the
expectation that it should be good and asking the opposite allows you to ask questions
like, "isn't it?". You can compare the difference in meaning by looking at the different
variations below. This is only to give you the general idea as you'll naturally get the
hang of it through the regular course of exposure to the language.

1. - Is it good? (neutral yes/no question)

2. - Is it not good? (neutral yes/no question)

3. - It's good? (seeking explanation as to why it's

4. - It's not good? (seeking explanation as to
why it's not good)

5. - It's good, isn't it?

6. - It's not good, isn't it?

Various degrees of explanation and expectation

It's important to note that this way of seeking explanation or expectation is not explicit
and can be more of a subtle nuance as opposed to directly asking for an explanation.
It's common to use for just about anything that's not completely neutral in
tone especially in casual speech. How strong the explanation or expectation is will
depend on the context and tone.

Example 1

A: Sorry, today is no good.

B: Ok then, is tomorrow busy? (neutral yes/no question)

Example 2

A: Sorry, tomorrow is no good.

B: Is tomorrow busy? (mild curiosity, low level of seeking explanation)

Example 3

A: Tomorrow is test, isn't it?

B: What? There's a test tomorrow?? (surprised expectation of no test and high level of
seeking explanation)

Example 4
A: Sorry, tomorrow is no good for certain.
B: Just why in the world is tomorrow no good?! (explicit demand for explanation)

Chapter summary and practice

In this chapter, we learned how to use nouns and adjectives to describe what
something is or isn't. Here is a simple list of examples using the various conjugations
we learned in this chapter.

Nouns and Adjectives Conjugation Examples

Positiv Positive
Negative Negative Polite
e Polite





Exception * *

* = exceptions

Questions using state-of-being

Now that we're familiar with the state-of-being, we can already ask and answer many
different types of questions that involve what something or someone is. This includes
asking simple yes/no questions or by using a question word.

Various ways to say yes or no

1. - yes (polite)

2. - yes (polite)

3. - no (polite)

4. - yes (casual)

5. - no (casual
Various question words

1. - what

2. - who

3. - when

4. - how

5. - what kind of

6. - why

7. - why (casual)

The word for "what" or is a bit tricky because it has two readings. When used
by itself, it is always pronounced . However, as we've already seen, when
used with it is read as . There are other cases when it is read as
as we'll see later.

As you begin to practice speaking Japanese, you can apply what we've learned in this
chapter to ask various ice-breaker questions.

Sample ice-breaker questions

1. - hobby; interests

2. - number 1; the best; the most

3. (na-adj) - likable

4. - Japan

5. - food

6. - English

7. (i-adj) - difficult

8. - class
9. (i-adj) - fun

10. music

What is your hobby?

What is your favorite food?

Do you like Japanese food?

Is English difficult?

Is class fun?

What kind of music do you like?

Try to come up with your own questions for your teacher, classmates, or conversation
Comic 4

1. - always

2. - box lunch

3. - (things are) that way

4. - mother

5. - cooking; cuisine; dish

6. (na-adj) - likable; desirable

7. - me, myself (polite, masculine)

8. (i-adj) - desirable

9. (sentence-ending particle) - casual and masculine version


10. - cafeteria

11. - food

12. - not very (when used with negative)

13. - what kind of

14. - steak

15. - sushi

16. - crab

17. (i-adj) - high; tall; expensive

18. - by the way

19. - lunch

20. - why
21. - ramen

22. (i-adj) - cheap

23. - I see

Toggle Translations

John: Alice-chan, (are you) always lunch box?

Alice: That's so. (My) mother likes cooking so.
John: I also want box lunch. (I) don't much like the cafeteria food.
Alice: What kind of food (do you) like?
John: (Things like) steak, sushi, crab...
Alice: (You) like expensive food, don't you. By the way, why is (your) lunch always
John: Because (it's) cheap.
Alice: I see!

Writing Practice
For writing practice, try writing a brief description about yourself. As always, make
sure to correct your work early to avoid developing any bad habits. You can either ask
a Japanese speaker or use http://lang-8.com/.

Here's a short list of words that might be useful.

1. - name

2. - elementary school

3. - middle school
4. - high school

5. - college

6. - first year; freshman

7. - second year; sophomore

8. - third year; junior

9. - fourth year; senior

10. - major

11. - interests; hobbies

12. - reading

13. - sports

14. - Japanese language

15. - desirable

16. - very

17. - a little

18. (i-adj) - interesting; funny

19. (i-adj) - difficult

20. (na-adj) - easy

21. - food

Introducing Alice Smith

For example, here's a short self description by Alice Smith.

1. - economy

2. - economics
3. - soccer

4. - by the way

5. - tempura

6. - pizza

Greetings from the author

Chapter summary and practice

In this chapter, we learned how to use nouns and adjectives to describe what
something is or isn't. Here is a simple list of examples using the various conjugations
we learned in this chapter.

Nouns and Adjectives Conjugation Examples

Positiv Positive
Negative Negative Polite
e Polite





Exception * *

* = exceptions
Questions using state-of-being
Now that we're familiar with the state-of-being, we can already ask and answer many
different types of questions that involve what something or someone is. This includes
asking simple yes/no questions or by using a question word.

Various ways to say yes or no

1. - yes (polite)

2. - yes (polite)

3. - no (polite)

4. - yes (casual)

5. - no (casual

Various question words

1. - what

2. - who

3. - when

4. - how

5. - what kind of

6. - why

7. - why (casual)

The word for "what" or is a bit tricky because it has two readings. When used
by itself, it is always pronounced . However, as we've already seen, when
used with it is read as . There are other cases when it is read as
as we'll see later.

As you begin to practice speaking Japanese, you can apply what we've learned in this
chapter to ask various ice-breaker questions.
Sample ice-breaker questions

1. - hobby; interests

2. - number 1; the best; the most

3. (na-adj) - likable

4. - Japan

5. - food

6. - English

7. (i-adj) - difficult

8. - class

9. (i-adj) - fun

10. music

What is your hobby?

What is your favorite food?

Do you like Japanese food?

Is English difficult?

Is class fun?

What kind of music do you like?

Try to come up with your own questions for your teacher, classmates, or conversation
Comic 4

1. - always

2. - box lunch

3. - (things are) that way

4. - mother

5. - cooking; cuisine; dish

6. (na-adj) - likable; desirable

7. - me, myself (polite, masculine)

8. (i-adj) - desirable

9. (sentence-ending particle) - casual and masculine version


10. - cafeteria

11. - food

12. - not very (when used with negative)

13. - what kind of

14. - steak

15. - sushi

16. - crab

17. (i-adj) - high; tall; expensive

18. - by the way

19. - lunch

20. - why
21. - ramen

22. (i-adj) - cheap

23. - I see

Toggle Translations

John: Alice-chan, (are you) always lunch box?

Alice: That's so. (My) mother likes cooking so.
John: I also want box lunch. (I) don't much like the cafeteria food.
Alice: What kind of food (do you) like?
John: (Things like) steak, sushi, crab...
Alice: (You) like expensive food, don't you. By the way, why is (your) lunch always
John: Because (it's) cheap.
Alice: I see!

Writing Practice
For writing practice, try writing a brief description about yourself. As always, make
sure to correct your work early to avoid developing any bad habits. You can either ask
a Japanese speaker or use http://lang-8.com/.

Here's a short list of words that might be useful.

1. - name

2. - elementary school

3. - middle school
4. - high school

5. - college

6. - first year; freshman

7. - second year; sophomore

8. - third year; junior

9. - fourth year; senior

10. - major

11. - interests; hobbies

12. - reading

13. - sports

14. - Japanese language

15. - desirable

16. - very

17. - a little

18. (i-adj) - interesting; funny

19. (i-adj) - difficult

20. (na-adj) - easy

21. - food

Introducing Alice Smith

For example, here's a short self description by Alice Smith.

1. - economy

2. - economics
3. - soccer

4. - by the way

5. - tempura

6. - pizza

Greetings from the author

Particles used with verbs

Before we can do much with verbs, we first need to learn some particles that are used
to describe how various parts of a sentence interacts with the verb.

Object Particle
The particle is used to designate the direct object of a verb.

Note: While is technically a w-consonant sound, it is pronounced the same as



1. - movie

2. - to see; to watch

3. - rice; meal

4. - to eat

5. - book
6. - to read

7. - hand

8. - paper

9. - letter

10. - to write

Watch movie.

Eat rice/meal.

Read book.

Write letter.

And/With Particle
We learned that we can list multiple nouns in the last chapter with the particle,
e.g., salt and pepper. We can also use the same particle to describe an action that was
done with someone or something.


1. - friend

2. - to play

3. - to talk

4. - relative

5. - to meet

Play with friend.
Talk with Lee-san.

Meet with relative.

Target Particle
The target particle is used to designate the target of an action whether it's a time or
location. It serves the purpose of many English prepositions such as "at", "in", "to",
and "on" as long as it indicates a target of an action.


1. - school

2. - to go

3. - tomorrow

4. - to come

5. - bus

6. - to ride

7. - to ask; to listen

8. - in front

9. - to stand

10. - friend

11. - to meet

Go to school.

As for relative(s), come tomorrow.
Ride on bus.

Ask/listen to teacher.

Stand in front of people.

Meet friend.

Context Particle
The context particle is used to describe the context or the means in which a verb takes
place. For example, if you're eating at a restaurant, since the restaurant is not a direct
target for eating, you wouldn't use the particle. Instead, you would use the
particle to describe the restaurant as the context in which eating is taking


1. - restaurant

2. - Japanese language

3. - to speak

4. - chopsticks

5. - movie theatre

6. - work

7. (i-adj) - busy

Eat at restaurant.

Speak in Japanese. (Speak by means of Japanese.)
Eat with chopsticks. (Eat by means of chopsticks.)

Watch movie at movie theatre.

Busy with work. (Busy by means of work.)

Directional Particle
The particle is similar in some ways to the particle. However, while
the particle indicates a target for just about any verb, is more
specifically used to indicate a direction of motion verbs such as "to go" or "to send".

Because the particle does everything does and more, this particle is
not used as often as the other particles. However, it is still beneficial to be at least
familiar with it.

Note: While is normally pronounced as "he", this particle is pronounced as


1. - letter

2. - to send

Go to school.

Send letter to Japan.

Existence Verbs

With the state-of-being that we learned in the last chapter, we could only describe
what someone or something is. In this section, we'll learn to express whether someone
or something exists and where.

There are two verbs that show existence for animate and inanimate objects.
(u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

(ru-verb) - to exist (animate)

Without getting caught up with the details, is generally used for things that
can move of their own volition such as humans or animals while is for
inanimate objects and abstract concepts such as time.


1. - where

2. - time

Where is Alice-chan? (lit: Alice-chan exists at where?)

Do (you) have time? (lit: Is there time?)

With some additional vocabulary, you can use these two verbs to describe the location
of anything or anyone.

1. - here

2. - there

3. - over there (farther away)

4. - above

5. - below

6. - right

7. - left

8. - front; before

9. - behind
10. - next to


1. - key

2. - table

3. - bank

4. - post office

Alice is behind (the) school. (lit: As for Alice, exists behind of

Key is above (the) table. (lit: As for key, exists above of table.)

Bank is next to post office. (lit: As for bank, exist next of post

Any cute girls there?

1. - tomorrow

2. - club

3. - to go

4. - to do

5. - conversation

6. - practice

7. - me; myself (masculine and very casual)

8. - homework

9. - a lot (amount)
10. - Japanese person

11. - cute

12. - woman

13. - child

14. - girl

15. - um; excuse me

16. - for the time being; just in case

17. - as expected (casual)

18. - to get irritated

Alice: There's Japanese club tomorrow, want to go? (lit: Tomorrow, Japanese club
exists but go?)

John: What do (you) do at Japanese club?

Alice: (You) do Japanese conversation practice.

John: I have a lot of homework so (I'm) good. (lit: As for me, a lot of homework exists
so good.)

Alice: Japanese people are also there, you know.

John: Is there cute girl(s)?

Alice: Um, just in case, I'm going too but?

John: Is that so? As I thought, I'm good.

Alice: So irritating.

Negative Form

Verb Types
In this section, we'll learn how to conjugate verbs to the negative form. However,
before we can learn any verb conjugations, we first need to learn how verbs are
categorized. With the exception of only two verbs, all verbs fall into the category
of ru-verb or u-verb.

All ru-verbs end in while u-verbs can end in a number of u-vowel sounds
including . Therefore, if a verb does not end in , it will always be an u-
verb. For verbs ending in , if the vowel sound preceding the is an
/a/, /u/ or /o/ vowel sound, it will always be an u-verb. Otherwise, if the preceding
sound is an /i/ or /e/ vowel sound, it will be a ru-verb in most cases.


1. - is an e-vowel sound so it is a ru-verb

2. - is an a-vowel sound so it is an u-verb

If you're unsure which category a verb falls in, you can verify which kind it is with
most dictionaries. There are only two exception verbs that are neither ru-verbs nor u-
verbs as shown in the table below.

Examples of different verb types

ru-verb u-verb exception

- to
- to see - to do

- to -
- to eat
ask; to listen to come
- to
- to sleep

- to - to
wake; to occur play

- to - to
think wait

- to - to
teach; to inform drink

- to come - to
out buy

- to - to
change go home

- to exist
- to exist (animate)

- to wear - to die

Negative Form
We can now learn the rules for conjugating the verb into the negative form based on
the different verb types. Be extra careful of which is one extra exception
verb for this conjugation only.

Negative form for verbs

1. For ru-verbs: Drop the and attach

Example: + =

2. For u-verbs that end in : Replace with

and attach
Example: + + =
3. For all other u-verbs: Replace the u-vowel sound with the a-
vowel equivalent and attach
Example: + =

4. Exceptions:



3. (exception for this conjugation only, not an

exception verb)

Negative form conjugation examples

ru-verb u-verb exception

You don't have a TV?

1. - hey

2. - recent; lately

3. - TV
4. - program (e.g. TV)

5. - how

6. (u-verb) - to think

7. - not at all (when used with negative)

8. (i-adj) - interesting; funny

9. (u-verb) - to understand; to know

10. (ru-verb) - to see

11. - why

12. - one's own home, family, or household

13. - lie; no way (casual)

14. - truth; reality

John: Hey, as for recent TV shows, how (do you) think? It's not interesting at all, huh?

Alice: (I) don't know. As for me, I don't watch TV so.

John: Huh? Why don't (you) watch it?

Alice: As for our house, there's no TV.

John: No way!

Alice: (It's) true.

John: ... No way!

Alice: (It's) true, you know.

Polite Verbs

Verb Stem
Before we can learn the conjugation rules for the polite verb form, we must first learn
how to create the verb stem. The verb stem is used in many different types of verb
conjugations including the polite form. Below are the rules for changing the verb to its

Verb stem conjugation rules

For ru-verbs: Drop the

Example: =

For u-verbs: Replace the u-vowel sound with the i-vowel

Example: + =




Verb stem examples

ru-verb u-verb exception

Polite Verb Form

Now that we know the rules to create the verb stem, it is very easy to conjugate the
verb to the polite form for both the positive and negative.

Polite and polite negative verb conjugation rules

1. Polite Positive: Attach to the verb stem

Example: + =

2. Polite Negative: Attach to the verb stem

Example: + =

Verb as a target
The verb stem can also be used to make it a target for another verb, typically a motion
verb such as "go" or "come". This is done by attaching the target particle to
the verb stem.


1. - lunch

2. - to eat

3. - to go

4. - me, myself

5. - to meet

6. - to come

7. - friend

8. - movie
9. - see, watch

Go to eat lunch.

Coming to meet me.

Go to watch movie with friend(s).

My family is in Korea

1. - everybody (polite)

2. - this year

3. - spring

4. - vacation

5. - what

6. - to do

7. - me, myself

8. - here

9. - part-time job

10. - family

11. (u-verb) - to meet

12. (u-verb) - to go

13. - South Korea

14. (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)

15. - airplane
16. - charge, cost, fare

17. - very

18. (i-adj) - tall; expensive

19. (u-verb) - to go home

20. - so

21. (na-adj) - tough, rough

Yamamoto: Everybody, what will (you) do at this year's spring vacation?

Lee: As for me, (I) will do part-time job here.

Yamamoto: (You) will not go to meet your family?

Lee: My family is in Korea so the plane ticket is very expensive. Therefore, (I) will
not go back home to Korea this year.

Yamamoto: Is that so? (It's) very tough, isn't it?

Desire and Volition

To want to do
In order to describe what someone or something wants to do, we must conjugate the
verb into the form. This is done by simply attaching to the
verb stem. One important thing to note is that this conjugation changes the verb into
essentially an i-adjective. This is because it's no longer an actual action but a
description of what one wants to do. Therefore, you can do all the same conjugations
on the form as any other i-adjectives.

1. - crab

2. (i-adj) - scary

(I) want to eat crab.

(I) want to go to Japan.

(I) don't want to watch (a) scary movie.

Volitional Form
We'll learn more about different uses of the volitional form later on but for now, we
can simply consider the volitional form to mean "let's" or "shall we" e.g., "Let's go
watch a movie." The rules for changing a verb into the volitional form is below.

Volitional form conjugation rules

1. For ru-verbs: Drop the and add

Example: = =

2. For u-verbs: Replace the u-vowel sound with the o-vowel

equivalent and
Example: + + =

3. Exceptions:

I'm bored

1. (sentence-ending particle) - casual and masculine version


2. - library

3. - study
4. - to do

5. - boring, dull

6. - then (casual)

7. (na-adj) - ok

8. - definitely, for sure

John: I have nothing to do lately. (lit: Lately, I'm free.)

Alice: Shall we study Japanese at the library?

John: That's boring.

Alice: Then, what do you want to do?

John: Shall (I) go to watch a movie maybe?

Alice: Are (your) studies ok?

John: Yeah, (it's) ok.

Alice: (It's) definitely not ok, you know.

Polite Volitional Form

The conjugation rules for polite version of the volition form is simple and only
requires adding to the verb stem.

Polite volitional form conjugation rules

For all verbs: Attach to the verb stem
= (let's eat)
= (let's go)
= (let's do)

It's a good idea!

1. - lesson

2. (ru-verb) - to begin

3. - weather

4. - class

5. - outside

6. - idea

7. - well then

8. (u-verb) - to go

Yamamoto: Let's begin today's lesson.

Smith: Teacher, because the weather is good today, let's do the class outside!

Yamamoto: That's a good thought. Shall (we) go outside?

Everybody: Yes!

Telling Time

In order to effectively describe when we want to do certain things and make plans,
we'll need to know how to describe time. Similar to the age counter we learned in the
very first chapter, we simply need to use the counters for hours and minutes.
- hour counter

- minute counter

Once again, there are a number of reading variations to pay careful attention to. These
readings are listed below.

Hour reading variations

Hour 4 o'clock 7 o'clock 9 o'clock



Minute reading variations

Minut How many

1 min 3 min 4 min 6 min 8 min 10 min
es minutes




Though there are words for AM and PM, military time is used more often in Japan.

1. - what hour; what time

2. - AM

3. - PM

4. - half

1. - 1:01

2. -
4:44 PM
3. - 10:30 AM

4. - 18:25
(6:25 PM)


1. - what hour; what time

What time is it now?

(It's) 2:30.

Days of the week

Below is a vocabulary list pertaining to days of the week. Combined with time, this
should be adequate for making plans in the near future. We will learn how to express
complete calendar dates in a later chapter.

1. - What day of week

2. - Monday

3. - Tuesday

4. - Wednesday

5. - Thursday

6. - Friday

7. - Saturday

8. - Sunday

9. - last week

10. - this week

11. - next week

12. - every week

13. - weekday

14. - weekend

Is it really late?

1. - everybody

2. - restaurant

3. - what time

4. - evening

5. - a little (casual)

6. (i-adj) - late

7. - everyday

8. - to sleep

9. (u-verb) - to be different

10. - ok

Lee: Everybody is going to eat at (a) Japanese restaurant next Friday, (do you) Alice-
chan want to also go?

Alice: What time are (you) going?

Lee: 8:30 night.

Alice: (It's) a little late, isn't it?

Lee: That's because Alice-chan (you) sleep at 10:00 every day.

Alice: That's not so!

Lee: Then it's fine as 8:30 right?

Alice: Fine! 8:30.

From and until

Two particles that often go together especially with time expressions are "from"
and "until" .


1. (particle) - from

2. (particle) - until

3. - aerobics

4. - class

5. - class

6. (u-verb) - to begin

7. - this

8. - company

9. (u-verb) - to work

10. - parents

11. - contact


Aerobic class is every Tuesday and Friday from 6:00 until

From what time is class start?

Until when do (you) want to work at this company?

(I) hear from (my) parents on every weekend. (lit: Contact
comes from parents every weekend.)

Question words and particles

Particles can be used with some question words to form other useful vocabulary. Let's
first learn or review all the various questions words.

1. - who

2. - what

3. - where

4. - how

5. - why

6. - which way

7. - which

8. - why (casual)

9. - why (formal)

10. - when

11. - how many

12. - how much

with question words
The following question words can be used with to include and/or exclude

1. - everybody or nobody when used with


2. - nothing when used with negative

3. - everywhere or nowhere when used with negative

4. - no matter what

5. - both ways

6. - always

Things aren't as consistent as one would hope however. For example, is

usually not used to mean "everything". And always means "always" for
both positive and negative forms. Other words can be used instead to express similar

1. - everybody

2. - everybody (polite)

3. - everything

4. - not at all (when used with negative)

5. - absolutely, unconditionally or never when

used with negative

with question words

The combination of two particles can be used with question words to
indicate "any".

1. - anybody

2. - anything
3. - anywhere

4. - anyhow

5. - any way

6. - any time

7. - any number of things

8. - any amount

with question words

The question marker can also be used with some question words to indicate "some".

1. - somebody

2. - something

3. - somewhere

4. - somehow

5. - one way (of the two)

6. - for some reason

7. - for some reason (casual)

8. - for some reason (formal)

9. - sometime

10. - some number of things

11. - some amount

Comic 5

1. - finally

2. - weekend

3. - this weekend

4. (na-adj) - free (as in not busy)

5. - somewhere slang for

6. (u-verb) - to play

7. (u-verb) - to go

8. - next week

9. - Japanese language

10. - test

11. (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

12. (na-adj) - ok

13. - yes (casual)

14. - probably; maybe

15. - then casual

16. - this

17. - word; vocabulary

18. - Kanji

19. - how

20. (u-verb) - to write

21. - depression
22. - dim, hazy

23. - hesitation

24. - that

25. (ru-verb) - to come out

26. - joke

John: (It's) finally (the) weekend. (Are you) free this weekend? Let's go somewhere to

Alice: There's (a) Japanese test next week but are (you) ok?

John: Yeah, probably ok.

Alice: Then how do (you) write this word in Kanji?

John: (I) don't know at all.

Alice: (It's) and and .

John: Is that coming out on (the) test?

Alice: (It's a) joke. (It) won't come out on the test.

Never mind, you guys are too weird

1. - hey (casual)

2. - today
3. - lunch

4. - somewhere slang for

5. - me, myself (polite, masculine)

6. - anything

7. - then (casual)

8. (i-adj) - tasty

9. - physical object

10. - obvious

11. - who

12. - everybody (casual)

13. - as usual, without change

14. (na-adj) - strange

15. - cafeteria

Alice: Hey, as for today's lunch, let's go somewhere to eat.

John: Right. What shall we eat?

Lee: I'm fine with anything.

Alice: Then, don't (you) want to eat something tasty?

John: That's obvious. Who wants to eat a thing not tasty?

Lee: I'm fine with anything.

John: Then, let's challenge (ourselves) today with something not tasty!

Alice: Everybody is strange as usual, huh? The cafeteria is fine for today as well.


We've already been using adverbs extensively without really paying much attention to
them because they are easy to use. They don't require any particles and they can
appear almost anywhere in the sentence. Below is a list of common and useful
adverbs, some of which we've already seen.

Useful adverbs

1. - always

2. - often

3. - usually

4. - sometimes

5. - rarely

6. - not at all (when used with negative)

7. - probably, maybe

8. - a lot (amount)

9. - a little (amount)

Creating adverbs from adjectives

There are many words that are not adverbs by themselves but are made into adverbs
from other adjectives. This is similar to how "ly" is added to many words in English to
make them into adverbs such as "quickly" or "slowly".
The rules for changing an adjective into an adverb is given below. As usual,
is conjugated from the original pronunciation. This is where the adverb we
just learned for "often" comes from.

Rules for changing adjectives into adverbs

For na-adjectives: Attach to the end





For i-adjectives: Replace the with


1. + =

2. + =


1. becomes

2. becomes


1. - room

2. (na-adj) - pretty; clean

3. - female

4. - voice actor/actress

5. (adv) - on purpose

6. - cute
7. (u-verb) - to speak

8. - tomorrow

9. - important

10. - exam

11. - tonight

12. (i-adj) - early

13. (ru-verb) - to sleep

Make room clean (lit: Do room cleanly).

Japanese female voice actresses often speak cutely on

Tomorrow, because there's an important test, going to sleep
early tonight

(Are you) really going to Japan next year?

Verb clauses

Now that we are familiar with both state-of-being and verbs, we can begin to look at
how to use verb clauses to construct more complicated sentences. As we have learned,
a complete sentence must end either in a real verb or state-of-being. This sentence can
also be used as a clause as a part of a larger sentence.

Remember also that the polite form only goes at the end of a complete sentence so a
verb clause used within a sentence must be in the plain form.
Verb clauses as adjectives
A verb clause can be used to describe a noun just like an adjective by attaching the
noun to the end of the clause. The highlighted areas show the clause that is being used
in a larger sentence.


1. - rice; meal

2. - when

3. - television

4. - book

5. (u-verb) - read

6. - head; mind

7. - height

8. (na-adj) - lovely

9. (i-adj) - tall

10. - personality

11. - gentle

When eating a meal, don't watch TV.

People that do not read books are not smart.

Tall people are lovely, huh?

Don't like people whose personality is not gentle.
For clauses that end in a na-adjectives, once again, we need to use to attach it
to a noun. As for nouns, there is no need to use a clause to modify a noun with another
noun as the particle allows us to chain any number of nouns.

1. - shape, form

2. (na-adj) - pretty; clean

3. - fruit

4. - luck

Fruit that has very pretty form is tasty.

As for second year Japanese students, luck is good.

I'm going alone

1. - this year

2. - spring vacation

3. - plan(s)

4. - sightseeing

5. - Mexico

6. - one person; alone

7. - intention

8. - together

9. - explanation, reasoning

Yamamoto: Tanaka-san, do (you) have some (kind of) plan this spring vacation?

Tanaka: Yes, (I) plan to go sightseeing to Mexico.

Yamamoto: That's nice. I want to go to Mexico too.

Tanaka: I intend to by myself...

Yamamoto: No, it's not the case that I want to go together with you in particular!

Verb clauses as nouns

Verbs clauses are different from nouns and are limited in many ways because you
cannot attach any particles to them. However, we just learned that verb clauses can act
as an adjectives. All we need to treat verb clauses as a noun is by attaching a generic
noun to the clause:

can also be used as a noun replacement. The difference is is a more

general statement while is specific to the context of the sentence.


1. - event, matter, generic happening

2. - cooking

3. - chopsticks

4. - rice; meal

5. (i-adj) - difficult, hard

6. - morning

7. - early

8. - to occur; to awake

9. (na-adj) - poor/weak at
(I) like cooking.

It is difficult to eat rice by way of chopsticks.

Not good at waking up early in the morning.
Comic 6:

1. - Japanese (language)

2. - teacher

3. - conversation

4. - practice

5. (exception) - to do

6. (na-adj) - free (as in not busy)

7. - when

8. - what kind

9. - matter; event

10. (na-adj) - likable

11. - (things are) that way

12. - movie

13. - to see; to watch

14. - tomorrow

15. - something

16. - plan(s)

17. (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

18. - yes (polite)

19. - me; myself; I (polite, masculine)

20. - to go

21. - question
22. (u-verb) - to understand

23. - no (polite)

24. - meaning

25. - what

Teacher: Smith-san, what kind of thing(s) do (you) like to do when (you're) free?

Smith: Let's see. (I) like to watch movie(s).

Teacher: Brown-san, do you have any plans tomorrow?

Brown: Yes, I also want to go see (a) movie.

Teacher: ? Do (you) understand my (the teacher's) question?

Brown: No, (I) don't understand.

Teacher: Do (you) not understand the meaning of ""?

Brown: What is "meaning"?

What do you like to do when you're free?

1. - this weekend

2. - particular

3. - bookstore

4. (i-adj) - bothersome
5. - me, myself (masculine, casual

6. (na-adj) - free (as in not busy)

7. - as I thought, as expected

Smith: Do you have some kind of plan this weekend?

John: Not particularly but?

Smith: How about going to Japanese bookstore with everybody?

John: It's too bothersome so I'm fine.

Smith: What do you like to do when you're free?

John: I like not doing anything.

Smith: As I thought.

Chapter summary and practice

In this chapter, we learned how to use and describe common activities using verbs. We
also learned how to make or suggest plans by using the and volitional
form. Finally, we learned the concept of verb clauses and how to use them to create
more complicated sentences.

Here is a short list of examples using the various conjugations we learned in this

Verb Conjugation Examples

Plain Negativ Polite Negative

e Polite



Verbs ending in

Exception *

Exception * * *

Exception * * *

* = exceptions

Future plans and routine activities

In this chapter, we learned how to use verbs to talk about things we do or do not do.
The verbs, by themselves, do not have a specific tense so they can be used to describe
activities in the future or an unspecified time.

With the grammar we learned in this chapter, we now know how to make plans with
other people and talk about what kind of things we do on a regular basis. Here is a
long list of vocabulary describing various times in addition to the ones we already
learned for days of the week. Though the vocabulary list is rather long, you'll notice
that it's mostly different combinations of the same Kanji such as for day.

1. - yesterday

2. - today

3. - tomorrow

4. - every day

5. - last month

6. - this month

7. - next month
8. - every month

9. - last year

10. - this year

11. - next year

12. - every year

13. - morning

14. - this morning

15. - every morning

16. - afternoon

17. - evening

18. - tonight

19. - tonight

20. - every night

21. - rice; meal

22. - breakfast

23. - lunch

24. - dinner

25. - spring

26. - summer

27. - autumn

28. - winter

29. - rest, vacation

What shall (we) do today?

What kind of food do (you) want to eat?

What shall we eat for lunch?

What do (you) usually do on weekends?

Do (you) have some kind of plan this winter vacation?

How (about) going to watch movie next weekend?

What do (you) like to do when (you're) free?

Writing Practice
If you have friends who speak Japanese, great! Next time you're making plans either
in an email or face-to-face, surprise your friend by using Japanese.

Otherwise, for your diary on paper or on Lang-8, you can talk about the kinds of
things you do and activities you enjoy. For example, here is a short self-description of
John Brown talking about the things he likes to do (or not).

I like sleeping the most

1. - hobby

2. - particularly

3. (ru-verb) - to sleep

4. - #1; the best; -est

5. - homework

6. - studies
7. (u-verb) - to speak

8. - Kanji

9. - pronunciation

10. - future

11. - as much as possible

12. (na-adj) - with ease; comfortable

13. - work; job

14. - a lot

15. - to work

16. - what one should do (lit: how do)

17. - when

Nice to meet you. My name is John Brown. As for (my) hobbies, there aren't any
particularly but (I) like sleeping the best. (I) don't like doing things like homework
and studying very much. But (I) like speaking in Japanese, you know. Because things
like Kanji and pronunciation are interesting. (I) want to go to Japan sometime. As for
in the future, (I) want to do a relaxing job as much as possible but everybody in Japan
works a lot so what should (I) do? As expected, (I) want to go when (I'm) a student.

Home Complete Guide to Japanese

Verb tenses and clauses
posted by tae kim

At the end of the last chapter, we learned about the concept of the verb clause. In this chapter, we
will learn more ways to utilize the verb clause along with the progressive and past tense.

Progressive Tense

The progressive tense in most cases indicate an action that is ongoing. Some simple
examples of the progressive tense is "I am watching a movie" or "I am eating". The
same tense is also used to describe an ongoing state resulting from the action such as,
"I am married". In order to learn the conjugation rule for this construction, we must
first learn the te-form, a very useful verb form that we will use in many different types
of grammar.

The te-form
The conjugation rule for ru-verbs and the exception verbs are fairly easy as you
simply need to append to the stem.

To change ru-verbs into the te-form

Drop the part of the ru-verb (same as the stem) and add




Conjugating a u-verb to the te-form is a bit more complex because we must break up
u-verbs into four additional categories. These four categories depend on the last
character of the verb. The list below has an example of a common verb with each
different ending.

1. (u-verb) - to speak

2. (u-verb) - to write
3. (u-verb) - to swim

4. (u-verb) - to drink

5. (u-verb) - to play

6. (u-verb) - to die

7. (u-verb) - to cut

8. (u-verb) - to buy

9. (u-verb) - to hold

10. (u-verb) - to go

The table below illustrated the four different categories and the conjugation rules for
each using the list above.

There is also one additional exception for this conjugation:

Te-form conjugations for u-verbs Exception Verbs

Ending Non-Past changes to... Te-form Non-Past Te-form

* exceptions particular to this conjugation

Progressive Tense
In order to change a verb to the progressive tense, we simply need to attach a verb we
already learned to the te-form. This is the ru-verb used to express existence
of an animate object. In this case, it is used simply as a grammatical construct to
express the progressive tense and has little to do with the original verb.

Using for progressive tense

To describe a continuing action, first conjugate the verb to the

te-form and then attach the ru-verb .




The beauty and simplicity of this construction is because it ends in the ru-verb
, any additional conjugations are the same as any other ru-verb, including the
polite form. This also applies to the past tense, which we will learn later.

Progressive Conjugation Examples

Positive Negative
Positive Negative
Polite Polite






* = exceptions

1. - that

2. - already

3. (u-verb) - to acquire knowledge

4. - pen

5. (u-verb) - to hold

6. - marriage

7. - dog

8. - cat

9. (u-verb) - to keep; to raise (pets in particular)

10. (u-verb) - to get fat

11. (ru-verb) - to get skinny

(I) know that already. (lit: In state of having acquired that
knowledge already.)

Do (you) have (a) pen? (lit: In state of holding (owning) pen?)

Are (you) married? (lit: In state of being married?)

Not doing anything.

Raising a dog.

Not raising a cat.
(The) cat is fat. (lit: Cat is in state of having gotten fat.)

(The) dog is skinny. (lit: Dog is in state of having gotten skinny.)

Where do you live?

1. (u-verb) - to reside at

2. - dormitory

3. (ru-verb) - to happen to see

4. - for a long time or distance

5. - east

6. - direction

7. - place

8. - that much

9. (i-adj) - far

10. - first year; freshman

11. (u-verb) - to choose

12. - #1; the best; -est

13. (i-adj) - late

Alice: Lee-kun, where are you residing at now?

Lee: (I'm) living in the dorm.

Alice: Is that so? (I) don't see (you) much, dorm of where?

Lee: The place that's at the far east direction.

Alice: Why are you living in such a far place?

Lee: (I'm) a freshman so (we're) the latest to select a place to live.

Shortened progressive form

The from can be dropped in more casual situations.


What are (you) doing?

What are (you) reading?

Don't own a dog.

Do (you) have (a) pen?

Past Verb Tense

Plain past tense verbs

The conjugation rules for the plain past tense are quite simple now that we've already
learn the rules for the te-form. This is because the plain past tense conjugation rules
are almost identical to the rules for the te-form. The only difference is to use
and in the place of and respectively.

Remember that the progressive tense always end in the ru-verb: . This
means you can use the same rules as any other ru-verbs to easily change the
progressive tense to the past progressive or negative past progressive.

Plain past verb tense conjugation rules

Past tense: Conjugate to the te-form and replace with
and with

eat ate

drink drank

eating was eating

Negative past tense: Conjugate to the negative and replace

the last with

eat not eat did not eat

drink not drink did not drink

eating not eating was not eating

When you don't understand, you should say so

1. (u-verb) - to know

2. (i-adj) - odd, strange, funny

3. - together

4. - study

5. (exception) - to do

6. - expected to be

7. (sentence-ending particle, casual) - I wonder

8. (casual) - sorry

9. - errand

10. (ru-verb) - to be late

11. - (one's own) mother

12. - sudden

13. - phone

14. - to say

15. (ru-verb) - to teach; to inform

16. (u-verb) - to understand

17. - properly

18. (ru-verb) - to convey

19. - should

20. - sigh

Alice: Where is Lee-kun?

John: Don't know.

Alice: That's odd. (We) are supposed to study here together but (I) wonder where (he)

Lee: Alice-chan, sorry. (I) was little late due to an errand.

Alice: What were you doing?

Lee: A phone call came suddenly from (my) mother. I told John, didn't (he) tell you?

John: Sorry, I didn't understand the thing (you) were saying so (I) didn't say anything
to Alice-chan.

Alice: (You) should properly convey when you didn't understand something, you

John: (I) understood.

Lee: Did (you) really understand?

John: Not really.

Alice: Sigh...

Polite past verbs

The rules for the polite past tense is similar to the other polite tenses and are all based
on the verb stem.

Polite past verb tense conjugation rules

Past tense: Attach to the verb stem




Negative past tense: Attach to the verb



Summary of conjugations

Positive Negative

Non-Past - go - don't go

Past - went - didn't go

Spring vacation is already over

1. - Yamamoto (surname)

2. - teacher

3. - Good day (pronounced )

4. - already

5. - completely, thoroughly

6. - Spring

7. - to become

8. - so

9. - spring vacation

10. - real

11. (i-adj) - early

12. (u-verb) - to end

13. - what
14. - to do

15. - carefree; at leisure

16. (u-verb) - to rest; to take a break

17. - particular

18. - that

19. (i-adj) - good

20. - properly

21. - vacation

22. (u-verb) - to take

23. (na-adj) - important

24. - class; lecture

25. - preparation

26. (na-adj) - various

Smith: Yamamoto-sensei, good afternoon!

Yamamoto: Smith-san, good afternoon. It already became thoroughly spring, hasn't it?

Smith: That's so, isn't it. Spring vacation really ended quickly.

Yamamoto: Is that so? What did (you) do in spring vacation?

Smith: (I) rested taking it easy so (I) didn't do anything in particular.

Yamamoto: That is good as well. (It's) also important to properly take rest so.

Smith: Yamamoto-sensei, what did (you) do for vacation?

Yamamoto: (I) was doing various things with class preparation.

Smith: (It's) important to properly take rest, you know.

Yamomoto: That's right.

State-of-Being Past Tense

Plain past nouns and adjectives

The conjugation rules for nouns and na-adjectives are identical once again for the past
tense. The rule is also the same for i-adjectives and negative forms as they both end in

As usual, and conjugations start from the original


Plain past state-of-being conjugation rules

For nouns/na-adjectives: Attach to the end




For i-adjectives/negative: Replace the with


1. + =

2. + =
3. + =

4. + =

5. + =

6. + =

Exceptions: conjugates from

1. =

2. =

Summary of plain nouns/na-adjective tenses

Positive Negative

- (is) student - is not student

- was - was not

student student

Summary of plain i-adjective tense

Positive Negative

Non-Past - (is) tall - is not tall

Past - was tall - was not tall

Looking forward to next year

1. - spring

2. - school term
3. - already; more

4. - soon

5. - to end

6. - finally

7. - real

8. (na-adjective) - various

9. - summer

10. - vacation

11. - look forward to

12. - certain, sure

13. - second-year, sophomore

14. - to become

15. - pluralizing suffix

16. - to be pleased

17. - class

18. - more

19. (sentence-ending particle) - casual and masculine

version of

20. - not at all (when used with negative)

21. - to listen

Alice: Spring term will also end soon, huh?

John: Finally. Cause it was really tough for various (things). Looking forward to
summer vacation!

Alice: It was rough sure but it was fun.

Lee: And then, we'll become second-year students, huh?

Jonn: That's right! And then, Tanaka-sensei will become our teacher.

Alice: What are you getting happy (about)? Tanaka-sensei's class is much more
difficult, you know.

Lee: Tanaka-sensei is cute, huh?

John: (She's) cute, huh!

Alice: Not listening at all...

Polite past nouns and adjectives

The polite form for past nouns and adjectives is similar to the plain past conjugation

Past state-of-being conjugation rules

1. For nouns/na-adjectives: Attach to the end



2. For i-adjectives/negative: Add to the plain past

1. + =

2. + =

3. + =

4. + =

5. +

6. +

3. Exceptions: Add to the plain past tense

1. =

2. =

Summary of polite nouns/na-adjective tenses

Positive Negative

- (is) student - is not student

- was - was not

student student

Summary of polite i-adjective tense

Positive Negative
- (is) tall - is not tall

Past - was tall - was not tall

Note that only applies to nouns and na-adjectives. Japanese learners have
a tendency to do the same for i-adjectives, for example but it is

How was your vacation?

1. - Mexico

2. - trip

3. - family

4. - that much

5. (i-adj) - far

6. - place

7. - fairly

8. - little while

Yamamoto: Tanaka-sensei, how was the trip of Mexico?

Tanaka: It was very good. Various (things) were interesting. Yamamoto-sensei also
wanted to go, right?

Yamamoto: Yes. But because (I have) family, it's fairly difficult to go to such a far

Tanaka: I already went so (I) won't go for a while.

Yamamoto: That's why (for reasons I already said), (I) didn't have intention of going
together with (you) Tanaka-sensei at all.

Verb sequences

In this section, we'll learn how to describe verbs that happen after, before, and at the
same time as another verb. To describe clauses that happen sequentially, we must first
learn all the te-form conjugation rules.

Te-form conjugation rules

For the progressive tense, we only needed to learn the conjugation rules for plain
verbs. However, nouns, adjectives, and the negative form can also be conjugated to
the te-form.

Te-form conjugation rules

1. Plain nouns and na-adjectives: Attach to the noun or


1. + =

2. + =

3. + =

2. I-adjectives and negative: Replace the last with


1. + =

2. + =

3. + =
3. Exceptions: As usual conjugates from

1. + =

2. + =

Sequence of actions
The te-form we learned at the beginning of this chapter is very versatile and has many
uses. In fact, the te-form alone is used to express a sequence of actions that happen
one after another. This will make your conversations smoother as it allows you to
connect multiple sentences instead of having many smaller, separate sentences that are
often too short.

1. - morning

2. (ru-verb) - to get up; to happen

3. - and then

4. - breakfast

Morning, (I) woke up. Then (I) ate breakfast. Then, (I) went to

Morning, (I) woke up, ate breakfast, and went to school.


1. - she; girlfriend

2. (i-adj) - gentle

3. - head

4. - popularity

5. - what should one do (lit: how do)

6. - drinking party
Because she is pretty, gentle, and smart, (she's) popular with

(You) don't do homework and what are you going to do?

Drinking party is not today, it's tomorrow.

Before and after

You can use and to describe an action as happening before or after
another action.

1. - front; before

2. - after


1. (ru-verb) - to sleep

2. - bath

3. (u-verb) - to enter

4. - here

5. (exception) - to come

6. - properly

7. - contact

8. (exception) - to do

9. - afternoon

10. - rice; meal

11. - lunch
12. (ru-verb) - to eat

13. - homework

14. (u-verb) - to swim

15. (i-adj) - dangerous

Take a bath before going to sleep.

(I) properly contacted (you) before (I) came here.

Did homework after eating lunch.

Swim after eating is dangerous.

Note: Be careful of the tense of the verb that comes before and .
is non-past while is always past tense.

Another way to describe an action is to use the te-form with . While similar
to , conveys a stronger and more immediate relation between
the two events, often used for situations where the previous action needs to be
completed for the next action to start.


1. - dinner

2. (u-verb) - to learn

3. (i-adj) - good

(I'll) do homework after (I) eat dinner.

As for Katakana, (it) is good to learn after learning Hiragana
Two simultaneous actions
You can express two actions that are taking place simultaneously by attaching
to the end of the stem of the first verb. The tense is determined by the main verb
at the end.

Using for concurrent actions

Change the first verb to the stem and append

1. +

2. +


1. - to speak

2. - manners

3. (i-adj) - bad

4. - dictionary

5. (u-verb) - to use

6. - sentence

7. (u-verb) - to write

8. (ru-verb) - to go through, to get across

Do homework while watching TV.

(It's) bad manners to speak while eating.

Wrote Japanese text while using dictionary but (it) didn't get
across at all.

Listing multiple verbs

Partial list of verbs
In the second chapter, we learned how to list multiple nouns using
and . Using the te-form, we now know how to list multiple verb
clauses similar to . However, in order to create a partial list of verbs similar to
and , we must use another construction described below.

Rule for creating partial list of verbs

Conjugate all the verbs to the past tense and attach to

each verb. Finally, add at the end.



Do things like eating and drinking.


1. (ru-verb) - to sleep

2. - beer

3. - sports

4. - walk, stroll

Like to do things like sleeping and reading book(s).

(I) did things like drink beer and watch tv.

Do (you) do things like sports and strolls?

Partial list of reasons

There may be more than one reason for something but and can
only connect two sentences. Once again, we can use the te-form to list multiple
reasons in one sentence. However, if we want to imply that the list is only several
among a larger list of potential reasons, we can add to the end of each verb

Note: You must add for plain nouns and na-adjectives.

Because she is pretty, gentle, and smart, (she's) popular with

Because she is pretty, gentle, and smart (among other
reasons), (she's) popular with everybody.


1. (i-adj) - hot (for climate/weather only)

2. - class

3. - pool

4. (ru-verb) - to get tired

5. (i-adj) - sleepy

Because today is hot (among other reasons) and there's also
no class so let's go to the pool.

(I'm) tired and sleepy (among other reasons), (I) don't want to
go anywhere today.

Just hanging out again

1. - music

2. - lie; no way

3. - same

Alice: What were you doing yesterday?

John: There was no homework and (I) was free (among other reasons) so (I) watched
TV and listened to music (among other things). What about (you) Alice-chan.

Alice: There was homework. (I) was doing that, you know.

John: No way!

Alice: What are you going to do?

John: (It's) ok. (I'll) do it while listening to class.

Alice: Same as always, huh?

Phrasing verb clauses

Quoting a phrase
The most straight-forward reason to phrase a verb clause is to quote somebody. A verb
clause can be phrased by adding to the end of the clause. For verb clauses that
end in an plain noun or na-adjective, we must add . A direct quote would use
the Japanese version of double-quotes: but you can also paraphrase.


1. (u-verb) - to say

2. - he

3. - she; girlfriend

Smith-san said "he/she is not coming today".
He always says (he/she) is busy.

She said (he/she) is free next week.

This grammar is also very useful for defining things and asking how one would say

1. - class

2. - conversation

3. - practice

4. - toilet; bathroom

5. - of course

6. - bathroom

7. - inside

8. - meaning

9. - well then, in that case

10. - difference

11. (u-verb) - to understand

12. - mostly

13. - context

14. - for example

15. - that kind of, such

16. (na-adj, noun) - stupid

17. - normal

Smith: Brown-san, where is the bathroom?

Brown: Of course, it's in the bathroom.

Yamamoto: Brown-san, in Japanese, toilet has the same meaning as bathroom.

Brown: Then, what do you say in Japanese for "toilet"?

Yamamoto: (You) also say for "toilet".

Brown: How do (you) understand the difference?

Yamamoto: In most cases, (you) understand by context.

sit on the bathroom

Brown: For example, how would (you) say "sit on the bathroom" in Japanese?

Smith: Normally, (you) don't say such a stupid thing.

Other verbs for phrasing thoughts

There are many other verbs that can be used with a phrased verb clause as you can see
in the following examples.

1. - college, university

2. - cafeteria

3. (i-adj) - tasty

4. (u-verb) - to think

5. - school

6. (particle) - until

7. - this

8. - train

9. (i-adj) - early, fast

10. (ru-verb) - to be late

11. - email

12. (u-verb) - to send

13. - cigarette

14. - to breathe in; to smoke

15. - promise

16. - study abroad

17. (ru-verb) - to decide

Do (you) think the college cafeteria is tasty?

(I) heard that this train is (the) fastest to school but (it's) not
fast at all.
3. !
(I) sent by mail that I'm going to be late tomorrow!

Promised not to smoke cigarettes.

Decided to go do study abroad to Japan next year.

In addition, this grammar also gives us another way to do introductions.

1. - Mariko (female first name)

2. - bulletin board, online forum

3. - English

4. - practice

5. - partner; other party

6. (u-verb) - to look for

7. - a lot

8. - together


Nice to meet you. I'm Alice Smith. It was written in the forum that you are looking for
a partner to practice English so I'm sending you this email. I'm currently studying
Japanese at an American university and thinking that I want to practice Japanese a lot.
How about studying together?

Smith Alice

Short, casual version of

The phrase is used so often and in so many ways that there is a shortened
casual version: .

1. (u-verb) - to play

2. (i-adj) - late

3. - to a greater degree

4. - to get studying done; to become informed (lit:

become study)

5. - rarely

6. - properly

7. - textbook

8. - me, myself (slang, masculine)

9. - to differ, to be different

John: Alice-chan is late, huh?

Lee: (She's) busy with study so (she) said (she's) not coming today.

John: What are (you) going to do, studying all the time? Despite the fact that (It's) said
that you'll get a lot more studying by practicing Japanese while playing with

Lee: I guess so. But, I think it's good to use textbook and study properly once in a

John: By saying that, you want to say (I) don't study at all?

Lee: That's not it!


"Have you ever done [X]?", you can ask a question of this nature quite literally by
using the noun for a generic event: and .


Have you ever gone to Japan? (lit: Is there an event (where
you) went to Japan?)

(I) have never sung song at Karaoke. (lit: There is no event
(where I) sang song at Karaoke.)


(I) had never eaten okonomiyaki but (I) finally ate (it) when (I)
went to Japan.
(lit: There was no event (where I) ate okonomiyaki but finally
ate when went to Japan.)



Thank you for the email. I wrote that I wanted to practice English but I don't have
much self-confidence yet so I will write the reply in Japanese. I live in a place called
Kawaguchi-shi north of Tokyo. Have you ever gone to Tokyo? There are a lot of
people and it's a very busy place. And then, there are lots of tasty restaurants. Have
you ever eaten things like Okonomiyaki and Monjayaki? Monjayaki is famous in

As for Smith-san, are you living in America? As for me, I have not yet been to
America but I'm thinking I want to go sight-seeing to places like New York and LA.
That's why I'm studying English but it's pretty difficult and there's still a lot of things I
don't understand.

Let's work hard together and study!


Transitive and Intransitive

A transitive verb is one that requires an agent to complete the verb while
an intransitive verb is complete in itself and doesn't require a direct object. In
Japanese, it is important to distinguish between these two types of verbs because
intransitive verbs cannot take a direct object (the particle). Below is a sample
list of common transitive and intransitive verbs and examples of how the particles
change depending on which type of verb is used.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Transitive Intransitive

to start to begin
(ru-verb) (u-verb)

to bring to to come to an
(ru-verb) an end (u-verb) end

to drop to fall
(u-verb) (ru-verb)

(u- (ru- to come out;

to take out
verb) verb) to leave

to insert to enter
(ru-verb) (u-verb)

to open to be opened
(ru-verb) verb)

to close to be closed

to be
(ru-verb) to attach (u-verb)

to erase to disappear
verb) (ru-verb)

(u- to be
to extract
verb) (ru-verb) extracted


Start conversation with a person (you) don't know.
Movie begins soon.

Finally finished homework.

Homework finally ended.

What happened?

Tanaka: What happened? (lit: What is it that existed?)

Suzuki: This cup fell.

Tanaka: It isn't that Suzuki-san (you) dropped it?

Suzuki: No, I didn't do anything, you know.

Tanaka: Then, is it that this cup fell by itself?

Suzuki: It was already fallen before I came here so (I) don't know.

Tanaka: No, (I) saw Suzuki-san (you) dropping that cup, you know.

Polite Negative Forms

The conjugations we have learned so far for the negative and past tense are just one of
several. In this section, we are going to look at an alternate way to conjugate to the
negative for the polite form.

Negative Verbs with

For verbs, we learned the four conjugations for the polite form as shown
by the example below. For the two negative forms highlighted in the table, instead of
using the form, we can instead append to the plain negative
forms similar to nouns.

Summary of conjugations

Positive Negative

Non-Past - go - don't go

Past - went - didn't go

Conjugation rules for verbs with

For negative: Conjugate to the negative and append .






For negative past: Conjugate to the negative past and

append .





Have you not been to Tokyo?

(I) ate lunch already so (I'm) not hungry.

Did (you) not see a black dog around here?

Negative Noun/Adjectives with

Because is the negative of the verb , we can replace the
and part of noun and adjectives with and

Conjugation rules for nouns/adjectives with


For nouns and na-adjectives: Append and then

for the negative or for the
negative past.





For i-adjectives: Replace the last with at the end

and attach for negative and
for negative past.




Exceptions: conjugates from






I don't want to hear your excuse(s).

That's not a place to play, you know.


(I) went to that restaurant last week but (it) wasn't very tasty.

Differences between and for negative

Using for the negative is primarily for spoken Japanese only and is used to
soften the negative aspect in conversations. On the other hand, the and
conjugations sound a bit stiff and formal and is more suitable
for written Japanese. It also sounds more assertive so it would appropriate for settings
such a news report, an announcement, or any formal occasion.

Chapter summary and practice

In this chapter, we learned the progressive and past tense for both positive and
negative verbs. We also learned the te-form for the progressive tense as well a number
of other uses.
Here is a list of examples using the various conjugations we learned in this chapter.

Te-form Conjugation Examples

Plain Te-form Negative Te-form



Exception * *








-ending (u-verb)



Exception *

Exception * *

Exception * *

* = exceptions
Past Conjugation Examples

Negative Polite
Plain Past Negative
Past Past




* * * *












Exception *

Exception * * *

Exception * * *

* = exceptions

Conjugation practice
We learned many conjugation rules in this chapter which you'll need to practice until
they are almost instinctive both for speaking and listening. I recommend using flash
cards to practice conjugation rules using a mix of every type of verb, adjective, and

Here are some suggestions and examples of how you might want to make your own
cards. The important thing is to focus your cards on areas you are weak at and to make
sure you are comfortable with conjugating any word in any tense at a moment's

Front side Back side

- to buy - to buy


negative past

Front side Back side

- to buy - to buy


polite past
polite negative

polite negative past

Front side Back side

- to buy - to buy
was buying

not buying

wasn't buying

Front side Back side

- to buy - to buy
want to buy
wanted to buy

not want to buy

didn't want to buy

To get a good representation, you should use at least these common verbs, nouns, and

1. - student

2. - teacher

3. (na-adj) - healthy; lively

4. (na-adj) - likable

5. (na-adj) - distasteful

6. (na-adj) - clean; pretty

7. (i-adj) - big

8. (i-adj) - small
9. (i-adj) - good

10. (i-adj) - cool; handsome

11. (ru-verb) - to see

12. (ru-verb) - to eat

13. (ru-verb) - to wear

14. (u-verb) - to cut

15. (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)

16. (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

17. (u-verb) - to talk

18. (u-verb) - to write

19. (u-verb) - to go

20. (u-verb) - to swim

21. (u-verb) - to drink

22. (u-verb) - to play

23. (u-verb) - to die

24. (u-verb) - to use

25. (exception) - to come

26. (exception) - to do

Telling stories
Conversation is often made up of narratives whether it's about events happening
around us or what people think and feel. In this chapter, we've learned many
grammatical structures that allow us to talk about what's happening and what people
are thinking and saying.
A good way to practice what you learned in this chapter is to talk or write about
anything on your mind whether it's something interesting that happened recently,
somebody you've recently met, or what your plans are for the future. Below is a very
small list of things you can write and talk about.

1. - matter; event

2. - oneself

3. (u-verb) - to think

4. (ru-verb) - to feel

5. - recent; lately

6. (ru-verb) - to occur; to awake

7. (i-adj) - interesting

8. - Japanese (language)

9. - study

10. - reason

11. - future

12. (exception) - to do

Thing(s) oneself is thinking and feeling lately (among other

Interesting thing(s) that happened recently.

Reason why (you) thought (you) want to study Japanese.

Thing(s) (you) want to do in the future.
The Numeric System

Numbers starting from 100

We already learned all the numbers up to 99 in the first chapter. We will now learn the
numbers 100 up to 10 quadrillion. If you need a quick review, here are the first 10

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10




Here are the additional units for numbers starting from 100.

Numerals 100 1,000 10,000 10^8 10^12



Note: Units larger than require another preceding number and cannot be used
by themselves. For example, does not mean 10,000, you need to add a one:

Because the Japanese numeral system is based on units of four not three, the same
units get repeated once you get past 10,000 until you get to 100,000,000. In other
words, numbers are organized as 1,0000, 1,0000,0000, 10^12, 10^16 and so on.

You'll need to pay careful attention to reading changes for some sound combinations.
The chart below outlines the numbers that are pronounced slightly differently.

Numerals Kanji Reading






Large numbers are rarely written in all Kanji as you can imagine something like
would be difficult to read. You will usually see a
combination of numbers and Kanji or just numerals altogether.

1. 1,234 - 1,234

2. - 53,000

Other numbers
Several ways to say zero and other types of numbers are listed below.
meaning "circle" is similar to how we use "O" (the letter) in things like phone
numbers, room numbers, and addresses.

1. - zero

2. - zero

3. - circle; zero

4. - suffix for room numbers

5. X - negative X

6. - period; dot; decimal point

7. X.Y XY - X.Y

8. X Y - Y/X (Y of X parts)


1. - room 203
2. 23.5 - twenty three point five

3. - fourth (1/4)

4. - negative five

It's so confusing!

John: Oh already! (I) don't understand Japanese numbers at all!

1 million
Alice: It's certainly difficult, isn't it? Because in Japanese (you) count by units of four,
I just add four, divide by three, and change (it) into (the) English number. For
example, is 2 plus 4 and (it's) six so it becomes 1 million.

John: No, (I) don't understand at all! Lee-kun, it isn't difficult?

Lee: Korean is the same as Japanese so (it's) easy, you know.

John: That's cheating!

Dates and Time

Dates are similar to using counters, one each for year, month, and day.

- year counter

- month counter

- day counter

The year counter is pretty straight-forward, as there are no reading variations.

However, there are variations for months and a whole bunch of exceptions for days of
the month. The two lists below show all the months in a year and the days of the
month. Special readings or variations are appropriately marked.

Months of the year

Month Kanji Reading

What month













Days of the month

Day Kanji Reading

What day






























For completeness, here are all the days in the week.

1. - What day of week

2. - Monday

3. - Tuesday

4. - Wednesday

5. - Thursday

6. - Friday

7. - Saturday

8. - Sunday

Date formats
The date format employed in Japan is the same international date format used in many
other parts of the word: year, month, day in that order. Once again, it is common to
use numerals to make it easier to read.
You may encounter another calendar native to Japan based on the reign of each
emperor when filling out public documents. Basically, the year starts over from 1
called at the beginning of each new reign along with the
name of the era. For example, the era began in 1989, therefore, the year
2009 would be . If you live in Japan, it would be beneficial to remember
the current year and your birthday in the Japanese calendar. Below are the eras going
back about 100 years. You can also search online for convenient converters or charts
with each year.

1. - Heisei era (1989/1/8-)

2. - Showa era (1926/12/25-1989/1/7)

3. - Taishou era (1912/7/30 - 1926/12/25)

4. - The first year of an era until the end of

that year (12/31)





Thursday, April 1st, 2010




We already covered how to tell time in a previous chapter so here's a brief review.

1. - hour counter

2. - minute counter
3. - AM

4. - PM

5. - half

Hour reading variations

Hour 4 o'clock 7 o'clock 9 o'clock



Minute reading variations

Minut How many

1 min 3 min 4 min 6 min 8 min 10 min
es minutes





1. - 1:01

2. -
4:44 PM

3. - 10:30 AM

Time spans
We need to learn a couple more counters to express a span of time versus a fixed date
or time. This counter is attached to a date or time to express a length of that time.

- span of time

- a span of week(s)
- a span of month(s)

While these counters are pretty straight-forward, there are a number of reading
variations. In particular, while usually means the first of the month and read
as , it can also mean a span of one day when read as .

- 1st of the month

- span of one day

- span of one week

- span of one month

- span of ten months


1. - span of two days

2. - span of three weeks

3. - span of two months

Various amounts

Now that we learned how to use numbers and express date and time, it would be a
good time to review how to express various amounts. Most amounts can be expressed
with just vocabulary, many of which we've already seen. Below is a list of just some
of the vocabulary used to describe various amounts.

1. - a little

2. - a little (casual)

3. - a lot

4. (i-adj) - few

5. (i-adj) - many
6. - not yet

7. - already; more

8. - a little more

9. - a lot more

10. - a long time

11. - this much

12. - that much

13. - that much (over there)

14. - about

Expectation of more
There are two particles that are used to express the word "only": and
. Just like every other particle, these particles attach to the end of the word that
they apply to. The primary difference with is that it must be used with the
negative and emphasizes the lack of something.


1. - meat

2. - tonight

Eat only meat.

Not eat anything but meat.

Let's go just the two of us tonight. (lit: As for tonight, let's go
by way of only two people.)

(I) only have 500 yen.
Too much of something
An excess of something is expressed with the ru-verb
which means, "to pass" or "to exceed". There are several rules for attaching this verb
to adjectives and other verbs. As is a regular ru-verb, all subsequent
conjugations are the same as any other ru-verb.

Using to indicate it's too much

Verbs: Change the verb to the stem and attach




Na-adjectives: Attach



I-adjectives: Remove the last and attach

As always, conjugates from




Negative verbs and adjectives: Replace the last from

with and then attach



1. - yesterday

2. (u-verb) - to drink

3. - hangover

4. - head

5. (i-adj) - painful

6. - amount

7. (i-adj) - many

8. - a lot more

9. (i-adj) - small

10. - size

11. (u-verb) - to request; to order

12. - diet

13. - to do

14. (i-adj) - good

15. (ru-verb) - to eat

(I) drank too much yesterday and (my) head hurts with

The amount is too much so (I) ordered a much smaller size.

Doing (a) diet is fine but (you're) not eating too much (too
much of not eating).
Comic 9:

1. - Japan

2. - women's clothing

3. also - place where things are sold

4. - say; well; errr

5. - this

6. - how much

7. - today

8. (na-adj) - special

9. - sale

10. - counter for yen (Japanese currency)

11. (u-verb) - to become

12. - already; further

13. - a little

14. (i-adj) - big

15. - size

16. (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

17. - sorry (polite)

18. - me; myself; I

19. - not very (when used with negative)

20. - counter for story/floor

21. - children's clothing

22. - for the time being; just in case

23. - adult

Teacher: Excuse me, how much is this?

Store Clerk: (It) is 4,800 yen by sale today only.

Teacher: Is there size that a little smaller?

Store Clerk: Sorry, there is no other size but this.

Teacher: (It's a) little too big, isn't it? As for my size, there isn't much, is there?

Store Clerk: There is (a) children's clothing section on the 4th floor but...

Teacher: Just so you know, (I AM an) adult so...

On a diet

1. - stomach

2. (u-verb) - to empty

3. - why

4. - yet; still

5. - hour counter

6. - today

7. - breakfast
8. (ru-verb) - to eat

9. - lunch

10. - yesterday

11. - evening

12. - dinner

13. - diet

14. - to do

15. - a lot

16. - normal

17. (u-verb) - to say

18. (ru-verb) - to begin

19. - when

20. (particle) - until

21. - intention

22. - already

23. - tomorrow

24. (ru-verb) - to stop; to quit

25. - span of one day

26. - to ask; to listen

27. - event, matter, generic happening

28. (ru-verb) - to get skinny

29. - obvious

Alice: (I'm) hungry. (lit: stomach has emptied)

John: Why? It's still 2 o'clock, you know.

Alice: (I) didn't eat anything but breakfast today.

John: Why didn't (you) eat lunch?

Alice: Last night, (I) ate too much dinner so (I'm) on a diet.

John: Normally, (you) don't say you're on a diet after you ate a lot yesterday.

Alice: That's why I just started.

John: (You) intend to be on a diet until when?

Alice: (It's) no good already. (I) will quit from tomorrow.

John: (I've) never heard of a one day only diet.

Alice: (I) wonder if that's why (I) don't lose weight?

John: Obviously.


In order to make a comparison, you have to define either side of the comparison using
and/or . defines the direction the comparison is
leaning toward while defines the side it's leaning away from. The important
thing to remember is that is a noun while is a particle. Another
particle often used in making comparisons is , which describes the extent of


1. - direction; side

2. (particle) - rather than

3. (particle) - extent of

4. - which way

5. - dog

6. - cat

7. - English (language)

8. - Japanese (language)

9. (i-adj) - difficult

10. (u-verb) - to think

Which do (you) like more, dog or cat? (lit: Dog and cat, which
side is (the) one (you like)?)

Like dog more than cat. (lit: Like the side of dog rather than

Hate dog more than cat. (lit: Hate the side of dog rather than

Don't like cat as much as dog. (lit: Don't like cat to extent of
Which do (you) think is harder, English or Japanese? (lit:
English and Japanese, which side is harder (you) think?)

Cats or Dogs

Alice: Which do (you) like more, dog or cat

Lee: I like both. (lit: Like either way also.)

John: Isn't dog better. Because (they're) smarter than cats.

Alice: But dog(s) are tougher to take care of and don't (you) think cat(s) are cuter?

John: (I) think both are tough to take care of and as for me, I think dogs are much
more cute.

Alice: Why do (you) hate cat(s) that much?

John: (I'm) not saying (I) hate (them)!

Alice: (I'm) sure, when (you) were a child, something bad occurred with a cat, huh?

John: No, not really...

Alice: Anyway, (I) have never met a person that hates cat(s) to the extent of John-san.

John: Like I said, (I) don't hate (them).

Using for directions
In the last section, we learned how to use to make comparison. We can also
use to describe how to do something. This is done by attaching to the
verb stem. However, in this usage, the reading is not . The result
is used as a regular noun (it may help to translate it as "way of doing...").

In addition, is also used to refer to a person politely.


1. - person (honorific)

2. - way of doing ~

3. - hotel

4. (ru-verb) - to teach; to inform

5. - (train) station

6. (u-verb) - to understand

7. - sushi

8. - Chinese food

9. (u-verb) - to be popular, to come into fashion;

10. - now

11. - chopsticks

12. (u-verb) - to use

13. - American (person)

14. (i-adj) - few (in numbers)

(Are you) not going to teach (tell) that person the way to go to
the hotel?
Do (you) know the way to the train station?


Given now where things like sushi and Chinese food is
common, Americans who know how to use chopsticks is not
few (in number).

Using for instructions

Another way to describe how to do something is by using the phrase
. is a more casual version of the verb ("to do") so the phrase
literally means "how do and". It's used just like the regular te-form to express a
sequence of actions as we learned in the last chapter. Because also
means "why", is more common.


How do (you) go about making curry?
(lit: You do curry how and then make?)

How do (you) write (a) Japanese address?

How do (you) go from Tokyo station to Shinjuku station?
Comic 10:

1. - sorry; pardon me

2. - here

3. - the best; no. 1

4. (i-adj) - close

5. - train station

6. (u-verb) - to go

7. - way of doing ~

8. (u-verb) - to understand

9. - Japanese (person)

10. - Japanese (language)

11. (na-adj) - ok

12. - this abbr. of

13. - map

14. - counter for number of places

15. (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

16. - which way

17. - direction

18. - pronunciation

19. (i-adj) - bad

John: Excuse me, do you know the way to go to (the) station closest from here?

Japanese person: Sorry, no English

John: Japanese is ok so there's two train stations on this map, right? Which is closer?

Japanese person: I'm sorry.

John: (I) wonder, is my pronunciation bad?

Alice: Teacher, (I) heard that in Japan street(s) don't have street names attached but is
(it) true?

Teacher: Yes. In Japan, only large roads have names attached (to them).

Alice: With that, how do (you) find (an) address?

Teacher: Most people use (places like) train station(s) and convenience store(s), make
places that become landmark(s) into clue(s) and find (it).

Alice: With that way of doing (things), don't (you) get lost a lot?

Teacher: (You'll) soon get used to (it), so (it's) ok.

Alice: (By) saying "get used to", (you mean) to what?

Teacher: To getting lost.

Alice: Huh?

Chapter summary and practice

In this chapter, we learned how to work with numbers and amounts. Numbers, dates,
and counting is a fairly tricky thing to master with all the various readings and
exceptions so it's something that will require quite a bit of practice to master.

Here is a list of simple questions you can ask or answer to practice various dates and

1. - date

2. - what month

3. - what date

4. - birthday

5. - how many; how old (often used with honorific


6. - what time

7. - store

8. (particle) - from

9. (particle) - until

10. (u-verb) - to open

11. - family

12. - how many people

What is today's date?
What month, what day is tomorrow?

When is (your) birthday?

How old (are you)?

What time is it now?

From what time to what time is (the) store open?

As for (your) family, how many people?

Shopping and other activities involving amounts

All the work we did in this chapter to learn how to use numbers, count, and compare
amounts will come in handy when dealing with money in Japan. If you are planning to
visit Japan, you'll be able to get a lot of practice for this chapter by shopping, dining,
and generally getting around.

Yen, the Japanese currency, is roughly equivalent to a penny so 100 yen is around one
US dollar.


1. - electronic

2. - dictionary

3. - how much?

4. - Japanese currency counter

5. - a little (casual)

6. (i-adj) - high; expensive

7. (i-adj) - cheap

8. - this way

9. - model

10. - how

11. (u-verb) - to be different

12. - Chinese (language)

13. - study

14. (u-verb) - to enter

Alice: How much is this electronic dictionary?

Store clerk: (It's) 30,000 yen.

Alice: (It's a) little too expensive, isn't it? Is there (one) that is a little more cheap?

2 5
Store clerk: This model is 25,000 yen.

Alice: How is (it) different with this?

Store clerk: (Are you) studying Chinese? That also has Chinese (in it) so (it's a) little
more expensive.

Alice: For the purpose of studying Japanese, which (do you) think is better?

Store clerk: Let's see. This model has only English but (there's) more example
sentences and words so (I) think this model is better.

Alice: Is that so? Then (I) will go with this one.


1. - Narita (city name)

2. - airport

3. - ticket

4. - how much

5. - station

6. - person

7. - express

8. - Japanese currency counter

9. - already; more

10. - a little

11. (i-adj) - cheap

12. (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

13. - normal

14. - train

15. - which way

16. - direction

17. - early; fast

18. - of course
19. - about how much

20. - approximately, around

21. - student

22. - discount

23. - unfortunate

24. (exp) - to decide on something (lit: to do toward)

Lee: How much is (a) ticket until Narita airport.

Station person: Narita Express is 3,000 yen.

Lee: Is there none that is a little more cheap?

Station person: Regular train ticket is 1,500 yen.

Lee: Which is faster?

Station person: Of course, (the) express is faster.

Lee: By about how much faster?

Station person: About 30 minutes.

Lee: ...Is there (a) student discount?

Station person: It's unfortunate, but there isn't.

Lee: Then, (I) will do regular train.

Expressing potential

Potential Form
The potential form describes the feasibility of an action. The rules for changing a verb
into the potential form is given below. All verbs in the potential form become ru-

Rules for conjugating to potential form

For ru-verbs: Replace the with


1. =

2. =

For u-verbs: Replace the u-vowel sound with the e-vowel

equivalent and attach .

1. =

2. =






1. - Kanji

2. (u-verb) - to read
3. - tomorrow

4. - work

5. - today

6. (u-verb) - to drink

7. - event

8. - preparation

9. (particle) - until

10. (ru-verb) - to be able to do

Can (you) read Kanji?

Tomorrow is work so can't drink very much today.

Can (you) do preparations for (the) event by tomorrow?

For ru-verbs, you can drop the from . For example, the potential
form can also be expressed as instead of
. However, you should practice with the full conjugation as the shorter form is
more casual.


1. - bus

2. - hour counter

3. (ru-verb) - to come out

4. (ru-verb) - to occur; to awake

5. - feeling
6. (i-adj) - bad

7. - not very (when used with negative)

1. 7 5
Bus is leaving at 7 so (are you) able to wake up at 5?

Don't feel good (lit:feeling is bad) so can't eat very much today.

Events that are possible

Another way to express potential is to use the noun for a generic event:
and . This is used to describe an event that is possible and is more
generic than conjugating the verb directly to the potential form.


1. - here

2. - cigarette

3. (ru-verb) - to be able to do

4. - to breathe in; to smoke

5. - matter; event

6. - this

7. - TV

8. - program (e.g. TV)

9. - not yet

10. - internet

11. (ru-verb) - to see

Able to smoke cigarette here?
Not able to watch this TV show on the internet yet.

As you can see from the examples, this pattern is used to describe what is possible (or
not) in general rather than for a specific person or thing.

Other potential verbs

1. - to be visible

2. - to be audible

3. - able to exist

The potential form of and and

respectively are only used to describe the ability to see and hear, not whether
something is visible or audible. Japanese has two separate verbs to describe the latter:
and . The examples below show the difference between
the ability or capability to see/hear versus what is visible/audible.


1. - behind

2. - screen; image; picture

3. - PC, computer

4. (i-adj) - old

5. (i-adj) - late; slow

6. - video

7. - me; myself; I

8. - voice

9. - radio

10. - net, network, internet

Can (you) see the screen from the back? (lit: Is the screen
visible from the back?)

Computer is old and slow so not able to see video. (lit: Because
computer is old and slow, not capable of seeing video.

Can (you) hear my voice? (lit: Is my voice audible?)

(You) can listen to radio on (the) net as well? (lit: Able to hear
radio on (the) net as well?)

Another verb to pay attention to is , which cannot be conjugated to the

potential form. Instead, to express that something can exist, you must use the verb
. This verb is very curious in that can either be read as
or but if conjugated, it must always be read as . You may wonder how
often one talks about the ability to exist. In practice, this word is primarily used to
describe whether a situation or event can occur.


That could happen. (lit: That can exist.)

That could happen. (lit: That can exist.)

That can never happen. (lit: That can't exist.)

1. (na-adj) - important

2. - Kanji

3. - homework
4. (u-verb) - to use

5. - not at all (when used with negative)

6. (u-verb) - read

7. (i-adj) - skilled; delicious

8. (u-verb) - to write

9. - as much as possible

10. - practice

11. - me, myself (slang, masculine)

12. (u-verb) - to copy

13. - Japanese language

14. - a lot (amount)

15. - besides, moreover

16. - in the first place, originally

17. - you (slang)

18. (ru-verb) - to show

19. - oneself

20. - when

21. - secretly

22. - intention

23. - already; expression of exasperation

24. (ru-verb) - to believe

John: Alice-chan, what (are you) doing?

Alice: Homework.

John: What is this? (Are you) using Kanji? (I) can't read (it) at all.

Alice: (I) can't write Kanji well yet so (I'm) using Kanji as much as possible and

John: I don't use Kanji at all so (I) can't copy Alice-chan's homework, you know.

Alice: Japanese uses a lot of Kanji so (it's) good to practice as much as possible.
Besides, (I) won't show you (my) homework to you in the first place. (You) can't do
(your) homework by yourself?

John: (My) intention was to secretly copy (it) when Alice-chan is not there.

Alice: (I) can't believe it.

Various degrees of certainty

There are various vocabulary words that can express various degrees of certainty,
some of which is listed below. But beyond memorizing additional vocabulary, we also
need to learn a number of sentence endings that also indicate various degrees of

1. - absolutely, without a doubt

2. - surely
3. - probably, perhaps, more likely than not

Indicating a fair amount of certainty

You will often hear at the very end of the sentence during, for instance,
a weather forecast. It is used to express a fair amount of certainty when used with a
flat intonation.


1. - evening

2. - rain

3. (u-verb) - to precipitate

4. - tomorrow

5. (ru-verb) - to be sunny

At night, (it will) likely rain.

Tomorrow (will) likely be sunny.

In casual situations, when expressed with a rising intonation, it is used to seek

agreement similar to . However, while is used for what the speaker
believes to be generally agreeable, can be more assertive and
opinionated. is another more masculine version of the casual usage of


1. (u-verb, exp) - to be in time for

2. (u-verb) - to say

3. - time

4. (u-verb) - to exist
5. - yet; still

6. - ok

(I) said won't make it in time, didn't I?

There's time so (it's) probably still ok.

Indicating a possibility
is another sentence ending that expresses a neutral possibility
with about 50% level of confidence. It is simply the and particles
combined with the potential negative form of (literally meaning "can't
know even if..."). This means that it conjugates just like any other negative ru-verb.


1. - tomorrow

2. (i-adj) - late

3. (u-verb) - to become

4. - other

5. - store

6. - direction

7. (i-adj) - cheap

Might be late tomorrow.

Another store may be cheaper.

For casual situations, this grammar can be shortened to just .

1. - door
2. - key

3. (ru-verb) - to hang; to lock

4. (ru-verb) - to forget

5. - cake

6. - yet; still

7. (u-verb) - to remain; to be left

Oh, (I) might have forgot to lock the door!

There might be some cake left still, you know.

Expressing wonder/doubt
We can use or with the question marker to
question whether something is actually true. This is often used to express doubt or


1. - this

2. (i-adj) - good

3. - as was expected; really? (in questions)

4. - puzzle; riddle

5. (ru-verb) - to be solved; to come untied

6. - person

7. (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)

Was it ok like this (I wonder)?
Will there be someone who can solve this riddle?

For casual situations, we can attach to the end of a sentence.


1. - she; girlfriend

2. - why

3. - that sort of; that extent

4. - soon

5. - to lose temper slang from

Was ok like this (I wonder)?

Why does she lose (her) temper that soon (I wonder)?

Recalling a memory
The sentence-ending particle is used to describe something you're trying to
recall such as a vague memory or something you recently forgot.


1. - that (over there); huh?

2. - key

3. - where

4. (u-verb) - to put, to place

5. - he; boyfriend

6. - name

7. - what
Huh? Where did (I) place (the) key(s)?

What was his name again?

1. - cooking

2. (na-adj) - unskilled, bad at

3. - expression for coming back home (I'm home)

4. - mother (polite)

5. - shopping

6. (ru-verb) - to go out

7. - when

8. (u-verb) - to go home

9. (exception) - to come

10. - just now

11. - house

12. (ru-verb) - to come out

13. - counter for hours; o'clock

14. - approximately, around

15. - (things are) that way

16. - stomach

17. (u-verb) - to become empty

18. - father (polite)

19. - something

20. (u-verb) - to make

21. (na-adj) - simple

22. - object

Alice: I'm home. What about Mom?

Dad: (She) went out for shopping.

Alice: When is (she) coming back home?

Dad: (She) just left (the) house so (she'll) probably come back home around 9:00.

Alice: Is that so? Ah, (I'm) hungry!

Dad: Then shall dad make something?

Alice: Dad, (you're) bad at cooking, right?

Dad: (I) might be able to make something simple, you know?

Alice: Is that so (you think)?

Appearances and hearsay

We often make deductions based on appearances and observations. In this section, we

will learn how to describe what things appear to be based on our own and other
people's observations.
Appearance or manner
The noun is the most generic word used to describe an appearance
or manner of a state or action.


1. - she; girlfriend

2. - student

3. - movie

4. - to see; to watch

5. (na-adj) - likable

6. - friend

7. - already

8. (u-verb) - to go home

She appears to be (a) student.

(It) appears (you) like to watch movie(s).

Looks like friend went home already.

Outward appearance (casual)

may, at times, sound somewhat formal and stiff. For casual situations, you
can substitute for to describe what something/someone looks
like or appears to be.

at first glance, looks identical to meaning "want to see".

You could even say it has a similar meaning as an outward appearance is how one
wants to see something. However, the key difference is that while all verbs in the
form such as conjugate as an i-adjective, this
acts like a noun same as .

1. - tomorrow

2. - rain

3. - this

4. - stuffed toy

5. - dog

6. - this morning

7. - head

8. - yet; still

9. - cold (illness)

10. (u-verb) - to pull

11. - he; boyfriend

12. - wife (polite)

13. (i-adj) - to a great extent

14. (i-adj) - cute

Tomorrow looks like rain, you know.

Doesn't this stuffed toy look like (a) dog?

(My) head hurt this morning as well so it looks like (I) still have
a cold.

His wife is apparently amazingly cute, you know.
Guessing from observation
In English, "seems like" or "looks like" is also used to made an educated guess. In
Japanese, this is expressed by appending to the verb or adjective with the
following rules. The resulting word becomes a na-adjective.

1. (ru-verb) - to fall

2. - cup

3. (u-verb) - to precipitate

4. - rain

5. (na-adj) - free (as in not busy)

6. (na-adj) - tough, hard time

7. (i-adj) - tasty

8. (i-adj) - fun

9. (exception) - to come

Rules for guessing outcome using

Verbs: Conjugate to the stem and append


- Looks like cup is about to fall

- Seems like it's going to rain

Na-adjectives: Append

Seems free (not busy)
Seems tough/rough

I-adjectives: Drop the last and append

Exception: For (seems

(Based on guessing) looks tasty.

Seems fun.

Negative forms: Replace the last with and


Seems like (he/she) will not come.

(Based on guessing) looks not tasty.


1. - this

2. - very

3. - rainy season

4. (na-adj) disagreeable; unpleasant

5. (sentence-ending particle) - casual and masculine version


6. - today

7. - she; girlfriend

8. - child
9. (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)

10. - job

11. (exception) - to do

12. - homework

13. (na-adj) - simple

14. - tomorrow

15. - exam

16. - problem

17. (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

This looks very tasty!

(I) dislike rainy season. (It) looks like it's going to rain today
too, you know.

Doesn't (she) seem to be very free because she has no kids
and doesn't do (a) job?

All (the) homework was easy so (there) doesn't seem to be any
problems for tomorrow's test.

Expressing hearsay
In order to express what something appears to be based on what one heard from other
people, we append (or ) to the verb clause. At first glance,
this grammar looks very similar to the previous grammar, however, the grammar rules
are different. Also, this grammar must end in or (for polite speech).

1. - tomorrow

2. (na-adj) - pretty; clean

3. (i-adj) - busy

4. (u-verb) - to go

Rules for expressing hearsay using

Nouns and Na-adjectives: Add the declarative to the

clause then attach or .

(I) hear (it's) tomorrow.

(I) hear (she) is pretty.

All other cases: Attach or to the


(I) hear (he's) busy.

(I) hear (she) doesn't want to go.


1. - he; boyfriend

2. - Japanese (language)

3. - fluent

4. - snow

5. (ru-verb) - to go out

6. - next week

7. - end of term
8. - exam

9. - everybody

(I) hear he is fluent in Japanese.

(I) hear that his wife is very pretty.

(I) hear that (it will) snow tomorrow.

(I) hear that (he) doesn't want to come out because (it's)

(I) hear that everybody is busy with the final exam(s) next

Appearance from hearsay or behavior

is another grammatical expression that expresses either hearsay or
behavior. When used to express hearsay, unlike from the previous
section, it can be used to express impressions from non-specific hearsay rather than
something specific that was said. Simply attach to the end of the clause
to express hearsay or behavior. It conjugates just like a regular i-adjective.

Examples of hearsay

1. - this year

2. (i-adj) - new

3. (ru-verb) - to be able to do

4. - amusement park

5. (i-adj) - big

6. - very
7. (i-adj) - fun

8. - baby

9. - post-natal

10. - several months

11. - mother's milk

12. (ru-verb) - to raise, to rear

13. - #1; best; first

14. (i-adj) - good

It seems (based on hearsay) that (the) new amusement park
that was built this year is very big and fun.

(I) heard that it's best to raise baby by breast milk for few
months after birth.

Examples of behavior

1. - promise, arrangement, appointment/li>

2. - time

3. (ru-verb) - to be late

4. - he; boyfriend

5. - that (over there) abbr. of

6. - child

7. - very

8. - firmly; reliable; steady;

9. (exception) - to do
10. - child

11. - man

12. (u-verb) - to say

13. - person

14. (u-verb) - depending on

15. - meaning

16. (u-verb) - to be different

(It's) not like him to be late to the promised time.

That child is very reliable and doesn't act like a child.

"Acting like a man" will probably have different meanings
depending on the person.

Slang expression for similarity

A casual way to express similarity is to attach to the word that reflects
the resemblance. Because this is a very casual expression, you can use it as a casual
version for the different types of expression for similarity covered above
. It conjugates just like a regular i-adjective.


1. - today

2. - rain

3. - umbrella

4. (u-verb) - to hold

5. - recent; lately
6. (i-adj) - cold

7. - a little

8. - common cold

9. - man

Today seems like (it's going to) rain so (I) brought (an)

Lately, (it's) cold and seems like (I have a) cold.

Isn't Alice a little manly?

1. - exchange student

2. (u-verb) - to ask; to listen

3. (i-adj) - new

4. (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)

5. - Japanese person

6. - woman; girl

7. - child

8. - serious (slang)

9. (i-adj) - cute

10. - real

11. - that

12. - what kind

13. - person

14. - yet

15. (u-verb) - to meet

16. - lunch break

17. - a little

18. - hey

19. - what

20. - story

21. (exception) - to do

22. - (not) particularly; nothing (slang)

23. - relation

24. (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

25. - Kaori (first name)

26. - yesterday

27. (u-verb) - to speak

28. - very

29. - soon

30. - getting along well with

31. (u-verb) - to become

32. - besides; moreover

33. - me; myself; I

34. - how
35. (u-verb) - to say

36. - meaning

37. - no (casual)

38. - she; girlfriend

39. - man

40. (na-adj) - likable; desirable

41. - that kind of, such

42. - matter; event

43. - first meeting

44. (u-verb) - to understand

45. - but

46. - (things are) that way

47. (ru-verb) - to see

48. - feeling

49. (i-adj) - light; non-serious

50. (na-adj) - absolutely, unconditionally

51. - type

52. - me; myself; I (casual masculine)

53. - misunderstanding

54. - dummy

55. - no (polite)
56. - genuine,

John: (Did you) hear? (It) seems like there's (a) new exchange student. (I) hear (she's
a) Japanese girl! (Apparently she's) really cute, you know.

Lee: Really? That's big news, isn't it? I wonder what kind of person (she) is?

John: (I) haven't met (her) yet but let's talk (to her) a little bit at lunch break.

Alice: Hey, what are (you) talking about?

John: Nothing in particular. Nothing that concerns Alice-chan.

Lee: Did Alice-chan meet (the) new exchange student?

Alice: What? (You're) talking about Kaori-san? (I) talked (to her) a little bit yesterday.
She's girly and very cute girl. (Someone you) can quickly become friendly with kind
of feeling? Moreover, what (do you) mean it has nothing to do with me?

John: No, it's nothing. Kaori-san, was it? What kind of boy does it seem she'll like?

Alice: Huh? (You) wouldn't know that kind of think on (a) first meeting, right? Let's
see. By the look of things, boy(s) that don't take anything seriously like John will
definitely not be (her) type, most likely.

John: Hey, aren't (you) misunderstanding the kind of person I am?

Lee: That's right, Alice-chan. John is like a dummy, that's all.

Alice: No, (he's a) genuine idiot.


There are several different ways to try something in Japanese including making an
effort toward something, making an attempt at something, and trying something out to
see what happens.

Striving for a goal

In order to express "try" as striving toward a goal, we use the same we
learned in the last section to describe the manner or appearance of the way we want to
act. In this case, we use the verb (meaning "to do") and the target
particle to do toward the manner or appearance of the verb clause.


Try not to smoke cigarettes.
(lit: Do toward manner of not smoking.)

Trying not to eat sweet things.
(lit: Doing toward manner of not eating sweet things).

Was trying to exercise a lot more but soon gave up.
(lit: Was doing toward manner of doing more exercise but soon
gave up.)

Achieving an action
If you use the same grammar as before but with the verb (meaning "to
become") instead of , we can describe reaching the state of the verb.

(It) became so that (I) don't smoke.
(lit: Become manner of not smoking.)

(I) exercised every day so (it) became so that (I) won't get fat

(I) lived in Japan for two years so (I) became able to speak

Making an attempt
The volitional form can also be used to describe an attempt or effort to do a single
action. In this case, we use the volitional form followed by and the verb
("to do").


Dog always tries (attempts) to eat people's food.

Even though (it's a) holiday, (my) parents don't try (make an
effort) to go anywhere so (it's) boring.
Comic 11 -

1. (u-verb) - to know

2. (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)

3. - job

4. (exception) - to do

5. - school

6. (u-verb) - to go

7. - people

8. - NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training)

9. (u-verb) - to say

10. (ru-verb) - to believe

11. - (things are) that way

12. - why; how

13. (u-verb) - to look for

14. (i-adj) - envious, jealous

15. - lifestyle

16. (ru-verb) - to be able to do

17. - money

18. (u-verb) - to need

19. - no (casual)

20. (na-adj) - likable; desirable

21. (u-verb) - to become

22. - object

Alice: Did (you) know. (I) hear (that you) call people (who) don't do things like go to
work or go to school NEET.

John: (I) can't believe it!

Alice: That's right. I wonder why (they) don't try to look for (a) job?

John: (I'm) jealous! Why are (they) able to do that kind of lifestyle? Don't (you) need
things like money?

Alice: No, I don't think NEET is something (you) become because (you) like it.

A third way to express trying (not as a goal or effort) is to do something as an
experiment. For example, trying out something for the first time. This grammar is
expressed by changing the verb to the te-form and attaching the verb ("to


Try asking teacher question.

Tried eating Japanese food.

Alice: Tanaka-sensei, (I) have something I'd like advice on (lit: there is a consulation).

Tanaka: Yes, what is it?

Alice: Lately, (I) feel like (my) Japanese isn't improving very much but what should I

Tanaka: Alice-san's Japanese is improving, you know. But, let's see. How about trying
to do much more conversation practice? (I) think (you) can become so that (you) can
speak much more skillfully by doing (a) lot of conversation practice.

Alice: That's so, isn't it. But (my) classmates don't try to speak Japanese outside of
class at all.

Tanaka: That's bad, isn't it? How about making Japanese friends online?

Alice: That is a good idea, isn't it? I will try making friends online and try to do much
more conversation in Japanese.

Tanaka: By the way, who is slacking off on (their) studies?

Alice: What? That is umm...

Unintended Actions

Sometimes we do things that we didn't mean to and there are a couple ways we can
express actions that we did not intend to take.
We can use the noun for intention to express what was or wasn't


1. - intention; plan

2. - afterwards

3. - shopping

4. (exception) - to do

5. (u-verb) - to go

6. - evening

7. (ru-verb) - to go out

8. (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

9. - worry; concern

10. (u-verb) - to need

11. - teacher

12. (ru-verb) - to teach; to inform

(I) intend on going to do shopping later.

(I) don't intend on going out at night so (you) don't need (to)

(I) didn't intend on telling the teacher, you know.

You can have no intention using and as the last example

sentence shows. However, in order to describe something unintended (accidental), we
need to use verb:.
Using for unintended actions
The verb has two main definitions: 1) to finish; to do something
completely and 2) for something unintended to happen. The latter definition is used
for situations when you did something you didn't mean to do. To use this with other
verbs, attach to the te-form of the verb.


Oh no! (I) forgot to bring (my) homework!

There's nothing you can do about something that already
happened (unintentionally).

(I) can't resist so (I) unintentionally end up buying (it).

Casual version of
In casual speech, the can be substituted by while
is substituted by . Both and
conjugate just like regular u-verbs.


(I) already ordered (oops) so what should (we) do?

(I) called my girlfriend by my ex-girlfriend's name (by

(I) can't forget something that I already learned
(unintentionally) right?

There is also a much less common casual version of and

that sounds much more rough and coarse and is usually only used by older
males. This version replaces and with
and respectively. The result is conjugated the same as any u-


Did (you) forget to contact (me) again?

Sorry, (I) read your email (by accident).

Kaori: Nice to meet you! (You're a) student of Japanese, right? (I'm) called Kaori.

John: Ni, nice to meet. I'm John. Why did (you know) I'm (a) Japanese student?

Kaori: (I) happened to (unintentionally) see you taking Japanese class. How many
years have (you) been studying Japanese?

John: Um, about 2 years?

Kaori: (That's) amazing. (You) can talk this much even though (you've) only been
studying 2 years?

John: No, (I) think I'm not that good yet...

(It's) not like that. (You) are really good. Things turned out so that I will help (the)
Japanese teacher from time to time while (I'm) here so let's get along (lit: please treat
me well). Oh, class is going to start soon (unintended). See you later.

Lee and Alice are walking in the hallway.

Lee: (I) hear Kaori-san is going to help our class's teacher?

Alice: That's right. (It) seems she wants to be helpful to everybody.

Lee: (She's) very kind, isn't she?

Alice: That's right. She's very kind to everybody so seems like boys will
(unintentionally) misinterpret (it) so (I'm) worried.

Lee: (It's) ok. That kind of type isn't in our class, right? Huh? John, what are (you)
doing spacing out in the hallway?

John: (I) may have met (an) angel.

Alice: Huh? What was that?


There are four ways to express conditional in Japanese, each with a slightly different
meaning and used in different situations.

General Conditional
The most generic conditional without any assumptions or embedded meanings is the
conditional. The conjugation rules for the conditional is below.

Conjugation rules for

For verbs: change the last /u/ vowel sound to the /e/ vowel
sound and append

1. =

2. =

3. =

For i-adjectives and negatives ending in : drop

the last and append

1. =

2. =

3. =

For nouns and na-adjectives: append





If (you) call early, (you) can make (a) reservation easily.

If tomorrow is not busy, won't (you) to go to watch movie?

If (he/she) is (a) nice person, (I) think (we) can become friends.

Past Conditional
The past conditional is created by adding to the past tense form of a verb,
noun, or adjective. The full form is but the is usually omitted.
This form can also used in the past tense to describe something that was unexpected
instead of a condition.

Past conditional conjugation rule

Change the noun, adjective, or verb to its past tense and append


1. =

2. =

3. =

4. =

5. =


If (you) are busy today, let's meet tomorrow.

If (you) didn't want to go, why did (you) say (you) wanted to

When (I) returned home, (the) dog was scattering around (the)

Contextual conditional
The contextual conditional is used by appending to a noun, verb, or
adjective. The full form is but the is usually omitted.

This conditional is used to describe something in a given context. Often, there is no

actual conditional, ie "Well, if that's the case, then..." or "Given that..."
Contextual conditional usage rule
Append to the noun, verb, or adjective

1. =

2. =

3. =

4. =


If everybody is saying (they) don't want to go, I won't go as

If (you're) referring to Alice-chan, (she) went home already, you

If (you're) referring to (the) story of (what) happened
yesterday, (I) already heard from Tanaka-san.

If (you're) not busy, why can't you meet (me)?

Natural consequence
The natural conditional is used by appending for verbs and i-adjectives or
for nouns and na-adjectives.

This conditional is used to describe things that happen as a natural consequence with
very high certainty ie, "If you do X, Y will certainly happen." It can also be translated
as "when" in addition to "if".

Natural conditional usage rule

Append to the noun, verb, or adjective
For nouns/na-adjectives: Append

1. =

2. =

For verbs/i-adjectives and negatives ending in

: Append

1. =

2. =

3. =


If (we) don't go now starting now, (we) won't make the train.

If he's free, (he) always plays game(s).

If (you) eat that much, (you'll) get fat for sure.

Examples of different scenarios

It's not often obvious nor easy to explain when you would use one type of conditional
over another. The best way to master conditionals is by learning from many examples
over time. To help you get started, below are a few examples to illustrate some
scenarios where some conditionals are more appropriate then others. However, keep
in mind, that no version is necessarily incorrect as it can depend on the context and
the message the speaker is trying to convey.
- student

If (you) are (a) student, (you) can use student discount.
(Generic conditional, no assumption whether you a student)

If only (he/she) was (a) student of here, (I) would be able to
meet again soon.
(Same as generic conditional but used for the past tense)

If (he/she) is a student, (I) thought (he/she) would study more
but (he/she) doesn't at all.
(He/she is a student, ie "since he is a student...")

If (you) are (a) student, ramen here is 400 yen.
(Stating a fact)

- busy

If (you're) not busy, let's go see (a) movie.
(Generic conditional with no assumption of whether you're
busy or not)

If (you're) that busy, why (did you) take a nap?
(Same as generic conditional but used for the past tense)

If (you're) that busy, let's talk tomorrow.
(It's known that the person is busy ie "given that you're

If (I) become busy with work, (I) always want to eat junk food.
(Predetermined outcome, ie "when busy...")
- understand

If (you) understand (the) formula, (the) test is simple.
(Generic conditional that can be applied to anybody)

If (I) know the time and place, (I'll) send email to everybody.
(Used to express what happens after, ie "once (I) know...")

If (you) don't understand my feeling(s), there is no need to talk
(The person doesn't seem to understand, ie "since you don't

If (you) don't know (the) phone number, (you) can't contact
(him/her/them), right?
(Expressing almost 100% certainty)

Phrasing questions

When we want to talk about a question in a larger sentence, we can treat the sentence
as a phrase by using the question marker.


Do (you) know when Tanaka-san is coming?

(I'm) agonizing whether I should go to Japan next year for
study abroad.

When it's a yes/no question, you can append an optional to represent

the other choice.


1. - to be troubled over something, to agonize

over a decision
2. - study abroad

Do (you) know whether Tanaka-san is coming tomorrow or not?

(I'm) agonizing whether I should go to Japan next year for
study abroad or not.

Whether (I) want to go to Japan or not, (I) don't know.
Comic 12 -

1. - she; girlfriend

2. - girlfriend

3. - both sides

4. - meaning

5. (u-verb) - to hold

6. (na-adj) - too much, unnecessary, excess

7. (i-adj) confusing, misleading

8. - context

9. - general; substantially

10. (u-verb) - to understand

11. - besides; moreover

12. - which (way)

13. - other party

14. (u-verb) - to ask; to listen

15. - confirmation

16. (ru-verb) - to be able to do

17. - (things are) that way

18. - that sort of

19. - question

20. - short for (informal)

21. - eventually; in the end


John: holds both meaning of "she" and "girlfriend" so (it's) unnecessarily


Alice: Wouldn't (you) mostly understand by context? Moreover, if (you) don't

understand, (you) can confirm by asking the other (person) which (it is), right?

John: That's so, isn't it? If (I) ask is she/girlfriend she/girlfriend, (I) will understand,
won't (I)?

Alice: By that kind of question, (you) won't know which is which in the end, right?

Chapter summary and practice

In this chapter, we learned how to deal with uncertainty in various ways. I'm sure we
can all think of many situations where things are not 100% certain. Common
scenarios include talking about the weather, news, and the future.

Below is a list of sample topics you can write about or discuss with your conversation
partner (either in casual or polite form as appropriate).

How many languages can (you) speak?

Is there something (you) would like to try doing before (you)

Something very embarrassing (you) did inadvertently.

What would (you) do if (you) were a millionaire?
If (you) could grant any one wish, what (would you) wish for?

Distinguishing similar grammar

In this chapter, we learned many different ways to say similar things. In teaching, it's
convenient to group similar concepts and cover them together. However, when it
comes time to use them in practice, it can create confusion as learners try to decide
which grammar to use and get caught up in trying to find the difference between
similar concepts.

Let's take a look at some examples and why one grammar is more appropriate over
others in various situations. It's important to keep in mind that there is often no one
right answer as it really depends on what you want to say exactly.

Like, it's not like I like it like that

"Like" is a word in English that has many usages and can even be overused. With
words like this, it's natural that other languages have many different types of grammar
that all translate to the same word in English. Therefore, we need to learn to make
distinctions that we usually don't think about.

Is it an impression of the future or guess (with some

uncertainty)? Use .

This looks tasty! (haven't tasted yet)

It doesn't seem to be here but (I'll) look one more time.

Seems like fun (impression). I wonder if I should go too?

Is it based on hearsay? Use or . Use

the former if it's an impression based on general hearsay and
the latter if heard from a specific person.

(I) heard (in general) that that store is pretty cheap.
(I) heard (from someone) that yesterday was very rough.

Is it resembling behavior ie "acting like a..." or trigger an

emotion? Use .

What's the matter? (It's) not like you. (behavior).

That dress is very cute! (triggers feeling of cuteness)

Is it a resemblance in appearance or manner? Use ,

(polite/formal), or (slang). This is also more
generic and can be in other situations without the connotations
of other grammar.

Looks like tomorrow is rain.

It appears our team is having a hard fight so what should
(we) do?

Don't those clothes look a bit manly?

Are you trying hard enough?

We learned several grammar that all mean "try" but with difference nuances such as
"try" vs "attempt". While they are often interchangeable, the difference is mostly due
to how much effort is exerted.

Is it a light effort, experimentation, or just trying something

new? Use te-form.

I'll give it a shot.

Try eating this. It's tasty!
Try opening the door.

Is it an attempt with concerted effort or setting about to do

something (just before actually starting)? Use volitional +

Attempted to open the door (such as forcing it open).

When (I) set out to talk to him/her, (the) phone suddenly

Is it a goal or an attempt to reach a certain state such as

behavior? Use

Try not to make a big sound, ok?


Lately, (I've) been trying to be more social but (I'm) bad
at conversation and (it's) pretty hard.

In that case, when and/or if then...

The conditionals are extremely tricky because of the 4 different types and all the
various conjugations. We already looked at some examples using various scenarios.
To further simplify things, let's start by looking at the conditionals that are most
distinctive and easy to separate.

Is it a supposition ie, "if that's the case..."? Use .

is very formal so usually just .

Well in that case, (I) guess (it) can't be helped.

Is it a natural consequence ie, "when not if"? Use . Also,

casual speech often uses just because it's the shortest.
If you mean (the) supermarket, if (you) turn right at that
corner, (it's) right there.

With no glasses, (you) can't see anything, right?

Did it already happen? Use . is very

formal so usually just .

When (I) woke up this morning, (a) pimple was attached
to (my) face.

Is it a generic "if" statement? Use . These are

usually pretty interchangeable though there are some very
slight differences.

If (I) have more money, (I) could buy various things I

If (I) had more money, (I) could buy various things I want.


Things of no consequence
The expressions "even if", "regardless", or "no matter" are used when something is of
no consequence to something else. In Japanese, the same notion is expressed by
combining the te-form with the inclusive particle.


1. - Tokyo

2. - where

3. (u-verb) - to go
4. - very

5. (u-verb) - to become crowded

6. - mood; intent

7. (exception) - to do

8. - how many number of times

9. (u-verb) - to ask; to listen

10. - answer

11. - same

12. - college

13. (i-adj) - good

14. - job

15. (u-verb) - to be found

16. - this abbr. of

17. - part-time job

18. - student

19. (ru-verb) - to be able to do

As for Tokyo, (it) feels like it's crowded wherever (you) go.

Answer is the same no matter how many times (you) ask.

Will (I) find (a) good job even if (I) don't go to college?

Can (I) do this part-time job even if (I'm a) student?
Asking for permission
We can also ask for or grant permission by saying it's ok or fine even if we do a
certain action using the same grammar.


Is it fine even if (I) go to the toilet?

Older sister said it's fine to eat (it).

Even if it's late, it's fine until next week.

As for identification, it is ok even if it's (a) student id?

Things we don't have to do

If we say it's ok or fine even if we don't do something by using the negative form, it
means we don't have to do it.


Don't have to do anything.
lit: (It's) good even if (you) do nothing.

Tomorrow is (a) holiday, so (you) don't have to come, you
lit: Because tomorrow is (a) holiday, (it's) ok even if (you) don't

Required actions

We learned how to say we don't have to do something in the last section but we did
not cover how to talk about things that have to be done. Because of the way it's
phrased in Japanese, the grammar for saying something has to be done is completely
different than the grammar for saying something doesn't have to be done.
First, let's look at how to express something that one must not do.

Things that one must not do

Things that one must not do are expressed by using one of the three words:
and . These are all negative expressions (the first
two is actually using the negative form) meaning that something won't do or is no
good. Conjugating these expressions are simple if we know where they originate

1. (ru-verb) - can work; can make it; lit: can go potential

form of

2. (u-verb) - to become

3. (na-adj) - no good

While we can use and by themselves as shown in the

examples below cannot be used by itself.


Is using cell phone here bad?

That's wrong/bad/no good.

Telling (your) parents is what was no good.

We can use either of the three words with verbs to say that action is no good or in
essence, "one must not do the action" by using the following rule.

How to say: Must not [verb]

Take the te-form of the verb, add the (wa) particle and
then attach either or .




Men must not enter here, you know.

People who drank alcohol must not drive cars.

(You) must not teach students bad words, you know.

Things that must be done

In order to say that something must be done, we say not doing something is bad by
using the previous grammar we just learned but with negative verbs. You can also use
two of the conditionals we learned in the last chapter. This grammar may be a bit
confusing at first because we need to use double negatives to say one must do

How to say: Must [verb]

1. Negative te-form + (wa) particle +

2. Negative verb + (conditional) +

3. Negative verb + conditional +

art by Josh Khoo
Comic 13

1. - teacher

2. - toilet; bathroom

3. - to go

4. (i-adj) - good

5. - again

6. (na-adj) - no good

7. (na-adj) - futile

8. (i-adj) - short

9. - interval (between)

10. (n) - homework

11. (ru-verb) - to be able to do

John: Teacher, can (I) go to the bathroom?

Teacher: (You) have to go again?

Alice: (It's) useless, you know. (You) can't do something like homework in (the) short
interval of going to the bathroom.


(You) have to take this medicine 3 times a day.
(I) have to do homework by tomorrow.

Even though (it's) still early, do (you) have to go home?

Casual variatons
There are a couple of casual variations of the grammar we just learned listed below.

Casual shortcuts for required actions

1. Replace with

2. Replace with


Men must not enter here, you know.

Even though (it's) still early, do (you) have to go home?

Things can get quite lengthy with the double negative required to describe an action
that must be done. When using the casual variations with the negative, you can also
omit the part of the grammar. This also applies to
the conditional.


(I) have to study more.

(I) have to do homework by tomorrow.

3. .
(I) have to go home already.

Giving and receiving

Giving and receiving whether it's objects or favors is a bit more complicated in
Japanese because you need to be aware of the social status between the giver and the
receiver. Basically, there are two words for giving and one word for receiving listed


1. (ru-verb) - to give; to raise

2. (ru-verb) - to give

3. (u-verb) - to receive

In this section, we'll look at examples of when to use which words for giving and

Using to give "upwards"

The word , which also means to "raise" is used when giving upwards to a
person of a higher social status. The important thing to remember is that the speaker
is always below everybody else. As a result, when the speaker is giving something to
somebody else, he/she must always use . In other words, when you,
yourself, is giving something, you must always use .


(I'll) give this to (you).

I gave (my) younger brother (the) present yesterday, you know.

I bought (the) drink so (I'm) not going to give it (to you).

Using to give "downwards"

The word is used to give downwards to a person of a lower social status.
Once again, because the speaker is at the bottom, everything given to the speaker will
always use . In other words, everything given to you must be expressed
with .

(Are you) giving that to (me)?

(My) boyfriend didn't give my anything on my birthday!

Can (you) give (me) a little more time?

Using to receive
There is only one word for receiving something so you don't have to worry about
which one to use.


(I) received (a) ticket from friend.

Because (I'm) already (a) high school student, (I) couldn't
receive (the) New Year's gift.

Comic 14 -
White Day is a holiday a month after Valentine's day where men who received
chocolate are expected to return the favor by giving gifts.
art by Josh Khoo

1. - tomorrow

2. - Valentine's (Day)

3. - what

4. - chocolate

5. (ru-verb) - to give; to raise

6. - duty; obligation

7. (ru-verb) - to give

8. (u-verb) - to receive

9. (i-adj) - happy

10. - no (casual)

11. (adv) - 1) not at all (negative), 2)

entirely, completely

12. - so

13. - White Day

14. (i-adj) - lovely; splendid

15. - return gift; return favor

16. - enjoyment, pleasure

17. (exp) - to look

forward to

18. - a little

19. (u-verb) - to wait

John: Tomorrow is Valentine, isn't it?

Alice: So? (I'm) won't give (you) chocolate.

John: Not even obligatory chocolate?

Alice: (You) won't be happy to get (an) obligatory chocolate, right?

John: No, (I'll) be totally happy, you know?

Alice: Is that so? Ok, (I) will be looking forward to (a) splendid return gift on White
Day, then.

John: Huh? Wait a moment. What's White Day?

Choosing the right words for giving and receiving

Choosing the right words for giving and receiving can be a bit confusing at first so lets
look at a few ways to help you decide which word to use for giving and receiving.

Deciding between giving and receiving

In English, giving and receiving is simply a difference of viewpoint. For example, "I
received a present from John" means practically the same thing as "John gave me a
present" The same applies for Japanese as shown in the examples below.

(I) received present from John.

John gave (me) present.
Translated to English, both sentences essentially mean "John bought present for me".
While the viewpoint is reversed, essentially they are saying the same thing.

We don't have to worry about which word to use for receiving because there is only
one. So let's look at how to decide which word to use for giving.

Giving from the speaker's point of view

The easiest and most common scenario is when you, yourself is the one giving or
receiving. As previously mentioned, because the speaker is always at the bottom,
he/she will always use to give to others and when others
give to the speaker.

Are (you) giving (it) to me?

I'm giving (it) to you?

Using the same logic, it's safe to say the following will always be incorrect regardless
of the social status of the other person.



Giving from 3rd person's point of view

The only scenario left is when both the giver and receiver is different from the
speaker. This is the only ambiguous scenario where either or
can be used. Basically, the speaker must choose which viewpoint he/she wants
to look at the situation from.

For example, let's say you wanted to know if gave a present. If you
were asking , you would use because you are looking at it from
's perspective as the giver.


If you were asking , you would use because you are looking at it
from 's perspective as the receiver.

In summary, deciding which word to use in this scenario can be described in two

1. Pick a perspective either as the giver or receiver

2. Use if from giver's perspective or if from

receiver's perspective (same as if you were the giver)

Doing favors for others

We can use the three words we just learned for giving and receiving with other verbs
to express the action as a favor. This construction is used to make requests and do
things for others.

Giving and receiving favors

In order to use one of the three words we learned for giving and receiving with
another verb, first change the verb to the te-form and then attach the word for giving
or receiving to the end of the verb.


(I'm) not smart so (the) teacher explained (it) specially for me.

(I) don't have money so will (you) treat me to lunch for me?

If (you) want this, (I will) buy (it) for you, you know.

(I'm) in the middle of something now so can you call (me)

Requesting to not do something

In order to express the negative, ie to give the favor of not doing the action, change
the verb to the negative, attach , then the word for giving or receiving.

Can you not say strange thing(s) all of a sudden?

(I'm) studying so can you not do noisily for me?

This month's family finance is tight so can (I) receive favor of
not using money for a while?

Father: Hey, Alice!

Alice: What?
Father: Can you close that window (for me)?
Alice: (You) went out of your way to call with loud voice to (receive favor of) closing
window in front of (your) eyes? Not to mention, from (a) separate room.
Father: Let me (give you favor of) teaching good thing. That when you have kids one
day, you can do this kind of thing.
Alice: Is it so good to push around your own child like that?
Father: Push around... (you've) started saying some strange things once (you) started
learning Japanese. (You're) not learning strange Japanese from the other students,
Alice: ...That I'm pretty sure is not the case.

Making firm requests

While we learned how to ask for favors in the last section, in this section we'll learn
various ways to make firmer requests in the form of a statement.

Using to make a firm request

is a polite way to make a firm request for something. It
can also be used with the te-form of a verb to request an action. It can be written in
either Kanji or Hiragana though it's more common to use Hiragana when combined
with a verb.


Please give me that pen.

Please use that pen.

Negative verb with

In order to ask to not do something, take the negative of the word, attach , then
attach similar to the rule we learned in the last section.


Please don't use (a) pen.

(I'm) changing so please don't come in.

Casual version of
is a polite expression so in order to say the same thing for casual
situation, we can simply drop entirely.

Please use that pen.

Please don't use (a) pen.
Using for casual requests
can be used instead of for casual speech. While
can be used by anyone, it does have a slight feminine and childish


Give me that pen.

Use that pen.

Making suggestions

We just learned various ways to make a request. Now, we are going to look at some
ways to make suggestions or recommendations.

How about it?

The simplest way to make a suggestion is by using the word "how": . We
already learned the grammar we need to do this with the particle.


How about meeting at 5:00?

How about trying to confer with (the) teacher?

Another very similar pattern is to use the conditional to ask, "how about if".


How about if (we) meet at 5:00?

How about if (you) try to confer with (the) teacher.
It's better to do this
Another option is to use a comparison to say it's better to do one thing versus
the alternative. Using the past tense of the verb in this pattern makes the suggestion
more particular to the situation at hand and hence makes it sound a bit stronger.


It's better (for you) to go to hospital. (You should go to the

It's better to go to hospital.

(My) knee hurts but is (it) better to go to the hospital?

Asking for suggestions

We just learned how to ask if it's better to do one thing by using a comparison with
. We can also ask for suggestions on what to do by using the conditional and
as shown in the examples below.


I should go at 9 o'clock?
lit: If (I) go at 9 o'clock, is (it) good?

What should (I) do?
lit: If (I) do how, will (it) be good?

What should (I) start listening from for Jazz?
lit: As for Jazz, if (I) start listening from what, is (it) good?

Causative and passive verbs

Causative Verb Form

The causative form gets its name because it causes something to happen either by
making or letting somebody do the action. While it may seem odd to have the exact
same verb form for two very different uses, we'll find that it's not hard to tell which is
intended when given the proper context. Below are the rules for conjugating a verb to
the causative form. All verbs in the causative form are ru-verbs.

Rules for causative form conjugation

For ru-verbs: Replace the last with .


1. =

2. =

For u-verbs: Change the last character as you would for

negative verbs but attach instead of .

1. =

2. =

3. =




Let me do it too.

Don't make me surprised. (Don't scare me.)

(It's) not good to forcibly make (someone) drink alcohol, huh?

(You're) were already here? Sorry (I) made (you) wait.

Passive Verb Form

The passive form is used to change the verb into a passive voice. A verb in the passive
form is always a ru-verb. The conjugation rule for ru-verbs is the same as the rule for
potential form. However, it's not really hard to tell them apart given enough context.

Rules for passive form conjugation

For ru-verbs: Replace the last with .


1. =

2. =

For u-verbs: Change the last character as you would for

negative verbs but attach instead of .

1. =

2. =
3. =





If (my) older sister finds out, (I) don't know what will be done
(to me).

(I) don't want to be thought of as (a) strange person.

Doesn't it feel like (we're) being watch by someone from just a
while ago?

Even if I'm told, "Don't go", (it's a) promise so (I) have to go,
you know.

Using Causative and Passive together

The causative and passive conjunctions can be used together to describe being made
to do something. The rules are simple, you simple need to conjugate the verb to the
causative and then conjugate the resulting ru-verb to the passive form.


Don't (you) hate being made to wait?


As a child, (I) was made to eat various things so (I) don't have
a lot of likes/dislikes.
(You) say (you) were made to do (it) but in the end, (it) was for
your benefit, right?
Comic 16 -
art by Angela Lee

1. (n/na-adj) - fool; stupid

2. - Japanese language

3. (ru-verb) - to think

4. - this

5. - homework

6. - not at all (when used with negative)

7. (u-verb) - to understand; to know

8. (u-verb) - to say

9. - grammar

10. (u-verb) - to use

11. - example sentence

12. (ru-verb) - to teach; to inform

13. - then; so; well

14. - this

15. - how

16. - a long time

17. - together

18. (u-verb) - to exist (animate)

19. - romantic

20. - something

21. - sexual harassment

22. (ru-verb) - to give

23. - well then

24. M - slang for masochist

25. (u-verb) - to become

26. - honesty; honestly

27. - polite, gender-neutral

28. (ru-verb) - to stop; to quit

John: Don't get this homework at all. Can (you) teach (me) an example sentence (that)
uses grammar?

Alice: Ok, how about this? Let me be together with you forever. Romantic, isn't it?

John: Ok, what about "I was made to be together with you forever"?

Alice: Sounds like (you're) being sexually harassed.

John: Ok then, what about "Please let me be made to be with you forever"?!

Alice: (It's) turning out like something masochist.

John: Ok ok, what about "She won't let me be made to be with her forever"??!

Alice: Honestly, I starting to not understand it either. Why don't (you) stop thinking
about stupid Japanese?

Making commands

In this section, we will learn the command form, which as the name suggests, is used
to issue commands to others.

Using for polite command

is the "polite" way to tell others what to do. It's used by attaching
to the verb stem.

It's polite grammatically but it doesn't change the fact that you're ordering others
around, which is not very polite generally. It's most commonly used by parents or
other authority figures toward children.


Hurry up and prepare to go out.

Please properly keep the promised time.

In casual speech, the can also be shortened to just


Hurry up and prepare to go out.

Please properly keep the promised time.
Comic 15 -
art by Josh Khoo

1. - woman; female

2. (u-verb) - to make a request

3. (na-adj, n) polite

4. - sorry (polite)

5. - this

6. - a little (casual)

7. (ru-verb) - to see

8. (i-verb) - cold (to the touch); coldhearted

9. - so

10. (u-verb) - to help

11. (ru-verb) - to give; to raise

12. - feeling, mood

13. - at all, entirely

14. (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

15. (u-verb) - to understand

16. (na-adj) - likable

17. (exception) - to do

18. budding, having a crush

19. - say; well; errr

20. - senior (at work or school)

21. (u-verb) - to carry, to transport

22. (u-verb) - to receive

23. - thing

24. (na-adj) - no good

25. - threat, coercion

26. - oh my

27. - where

28. - to go

29. (u-verb) - to keep company

with, to go out with

30. (ru-verb) - to give

31. - otherwise, or else


Toggle Translations

Sorry. Can you look at this a bit?

I see. Seems like you have absolutely no feeling of wanting to help. (I) got it. Go
ahead and do as (you) please.

Umm... senpai. There's something I want you to move but... is it bad?

Oh my, where (are you) going? Can (you) accompany (me) for a bit, or else...

Wanting others to do something

We can use the i-adjective , which means "desired" or "wanted" with
verbs to say you want somebody to do something. This is done by first conjugating
the verb to the te-form, then attaching or to the end of the
verb. The result remains an i-adjective.


(I) want (you) to go to (the) post office but (is it) ok?


(I) don't really understand what (you are) saying so please tell
me what (you) want (me) to do clearly.

Command Form
This command form is quite rude so you should use it with caution (if at all). As we
learned just in this chapter, there are many other more polite ways to make a request.

Command form conjugation rules

1. For ru-verbs: Replace the last with

Example: + =

2. For u-verbs: Replace the last u-vowel sound with the e-vowel
Example: + =

3. Exceptions:


3. (exception for this conjugation only, not an

exception verb)

Negative Command
In order to command others to not do an action, simply attach to the end of the


(It's a) secret so don't tell anybody.

Don't do something unnecessary.

Do NOT confuse this negative command with the shortened form of

we just learned. The latter is using the stem of the verb while the negative command
uses just the dictionary form.

Eat this.

Don't eat this.

Sit here.

Don't sit here.

Chapter summary and practice

In this chapter, we covered may different ways to express various levels of necessity
in our actions. We can now talk about required and optional activities, ask for
permission, make requests, and more. This is useful for navigating through the rules
and manners of society, especially one with a very different culture like Japan.
Another common application of what we learned in this chapter is to talk about your
duties and responsibilities either at work, home, or school.

We also learned how to give and receive things or favors. This is particularly useful
for talking about gift-giving and getting assistance on various things. In particular, the
section on making suggestions will allow you to ask for advice on how to best way to
do things such as studying Japanese.

Below are a list of sample topics you can write about or discuss with your
conversation partner (either in casual or polite form as appropriate).

What kind of things do you have to do at work or school?

How (do you) think (I) should study Japanese?

At what kind of times do (you) receive or give presents in one's own country?

Common patterns in slang

Casual speech patterns and slang in any language is rich, diverse, and constantly
evolving so it's difficult to really pin down "rules" on how to learn it. It's best to pick
it up by ear as you gain experience with conversation practice. For the beginner
however, it can be quite confusing to read or hear slang that can't be found in the

In this section, we'll take a look at some patterns in order to understand many common
types of slang.

Using vs for questions

One common area of confusion is whether to use or to ask questions
in casual speech. Previously, we learned that is used to ask for or give
additional explanation. This is the same for both polite and casual speech.


Do (you) have time from now?
Do (you) have time from now?

(Why do) you have time from now?

(Why do) you have time from now?

on the other hand, is very different when used in casual speech from what
we're used to in polite speech. It's often used to either confirm something, make a
rhetorical question, or show disbelief or doubt. In order words, it's rarely a real
question at all. It's also more rough and masculine in tone.


Like I would know that kind of thing!

Is it really ok with this?

Ah well, whatever, (it's) fine.

It's already late so shall (we) go home soon?

In conclusion, if you want to ask an actual question in casual speech, you'll most
likely want to use either or just a rising intonation.

Shortening /r/ sounds to

Many sounds get shortened or slurred together in slang just like any other language.
For Japanese, the /r/ sounds in particular often get slurred into . This is
definitely a useful pattern to be aware of as it will make sense of a lot of words you
wouldn't normally find in a dictionary.


1. from
(I) don't get really get it.
2. from
Hey, can (you) move from there a bit?

3. from
Whatcha doing?

Other states using te-form

We learned how to express the progressive form by using the verb with the
te-form of the verb. In this section, we'll learn some other verbs we can use with the
te-form to describe other kinds of states. When using these verbs in this fashion, it is
customary to use Hiragana instead of Kanji.

Using to express an action already set

Till now, we have been using quite frequently with the te-form to express a
progressive action. The other verb for existence: can also be used with the
te-form, though the meaning is completely different.

Appending after the te-form of another verb is used to indicate the state of
the verb as already completed. For example, you could use this grammar to ask what
is written in a book as it describes a completed state of being written as opposed to
"writing" or "wrote". It also carries a nuance that the action was done as preparation
for something else though it's not as explicit as the grammar we'll
learn next.


What is it that's written in that book?

(I) already made (the) reservation so (there's) no need to

Are headache medicine(s) placed in this store?

Because by itself described state after an action was completed, the

past tense described that state as being in the past, for example to imply that the state
is no longer true, invalid, or contradictory.

It was written in the mail, let's meet up at this station, you

The pudding (I) was placed in (the) refrigerator... No way (you)
ate (it), right?

Using to prepare for the future

While the previous grammar we learned can carry a nuance of
preparation, it could only be used for completed actions. We can use the verb
("to place"), to describe an action specifically to prepare for something else. In
addition, unlike , it can be used to described other tenses besides the
past tense.


(I'm) going now so please leave me some desert.

Holidays are from tomorrow so (you) should withdraw cash.

(I'm) placing (the) key here so please don't forget it, ok?

In casual speech, can be shortened to .


(I'm) placing (the) key here so please don't forget it, ok?

If/since (you're) riding (a) boat, (it's) better

Using motion verbs with the te-form

The verbs "to go" and "to come" and respectively can be used with
the te-form of another verb to add a motion. This can either be a physical motion (eg
to hold and bring something) or an abstract direction/trend (eg plans for the future
going forward).


How (do you) plan to live from here on out and not work?

What should (I) bring to the Nabe party tomorrow?

Noisy! Ah, (my) head has come to become hurting.

Easy or difficult actions

We already know how to describe things as easy or difficult regular adjectives such as
or but in this section, we'll learn another way to describe an
action as easy or difficult.

Easy actions
To describe an action as easy, attach to the verb stem. The result is
treated just like an i-adjective.


This wine is easy to drink.

Is this computer easy to use?

Please explain in a easy to understand way.

Difficult actions
Similarly, to describe a difficult action, we can attach to the verb stem.

This textbook is (a) little hard to understand.

(It's) ok even if (it's a) little expensive so (it's) better that (it's)
hard to break.

If (you) don't have (a) sharp steak knife, steak is hard to eat.

We can also use either or to express difficulty, which have

the following differences in nuance and usages.

1. is the most generic version.

2. , which comes from (painful), is more


3. is mostly limited to emotions and thoughts.

All three are attached to the verb stem and the result becomes just like an i-adjective.


(The) cellphone's screen is dark and hard to read.

These shoes are cute but (it's) hard to walk so (I) don't wear
(them) much.

(It) may be hard to believe but (it's a story) that's true.

More amount expressions

We already learned some grammar dealing with amounts in chapter 5. In this section,
we'll learn some other useful expressions dealing with various amounts.
Expressing nothing but with
has many different usages some of which we'll cover later. For example,
it can have the same meaning as or . However, in
conversational Japanese, it's often used to describe an abundance ie, "it's nothing
but...". It comes after a noun or adjective just like a particle and the result becomes a


Workplace is nothing but good people.

If (you) do nothing but work, (you) will lose sight of important


(I've) been eating nothing but meat lately so (I'm) trying to eat
more vegetables.

In casual Japanese, it can also be shortened to just or .


Nothing but lies!

Why is (your) address book nothing but girls?

Expressing degree with

is used to convert an adjective into a scale or degree. For example, changing
the adjective for "tall" to "height".

Rules for using with adjectives

The result becomes a regular noun.

I-adjectives: Replace the last with



Na-adjectives: Append to the end





What's the height of (the) tallest building in the world?

If you compare the level of sensitivity of hearing of dogs to
humans, it is far above.

As for shoe(s), don't (you) think ease of walking is more
important than looks?

Expressing an excess with

The particle can be used with an amount to describe something that's


(I) called you even three times yesterday!

Once (I) went to America, (I) gained even 5 kilograms.

(I) was made to wait even 30 minutes by that guy!
Using and together
The conditional and can be used together to express, "the more
something, the more something else." This is essential a fixed sentence pattern.

Using and to express "the more it is the more..."

Conjugate to the conditional, then repeat the phrase


The more fun it is the more...

The easier it is the more...

The more you look the more...


The more fun (it) is, the more it feels like time is passing
(lit: If (it's) fun, to the extent that (it's) fun, feels like time is
passing quickly.)

As for recipe(s), the easier (it) is, the better it is, isn't it?
(lit: If recipe is simple, to (the) extent that (it's) simple, (it's)
better, isn't it?)

The more (I) look, the more beautiful (she is).
(lit: if (I) look, to the extend that (I) look, beautiful.)

Recent actions

In this section, we are going to learn some ways to express actions that just happened.
While one option is to use various adverbs such as , we will learn
grammar that can be applied to the verb.

1. - just now

(I) just arrived at the airport.

Expressing what just happened with

In the previous section, we learned one usage of with nouns and
adjectives to describe an abundance. We can also attach it to the end of the past tense
of verbs to an action just completed.

Using for actions just completed

Append to the past tense form of the verb. The

result becomes a regular noun.





(I) just ate lunch so (I'm) full.

Using words (I) just learned and practice conversation.

(I) just bought it, despite that (it's) already broken, how

(I) just moved so (I) don't know what's where at all.

Same as the previous section, can be shortened to or

for casual conversations here as well.

(You) just started going out and (you) already split up?

I just got back home now.


In this section, we'll learn ways to describe situations where things don't happen.

Express "without doing" with

We learned how to chain sequences of events using the te-form of the verb a few
chapters back so we already know how to say, "I didn't do this and that." However, it
is not the same as saying, "I did this without doing that." For the latter, we need to use
a different grammar.

Using to express "without doing"

Append to the negative form of the verb






Are (you) going to sleep without brushing (your) teeth?

Is there (a) method where (it) can be done without paying (the)
handling charge?

(I) wonder what that person is doing every day, without even
You may have noticed we already used this form when we learned how to ask other to
not do something. This is the more generic usage of the same conjugation.

Can you not eat that?
lit: Can you give (me the favor) without eating that?

Please don't eat that.
lit: Please give (me the favor) without eating that.

Went out without eating anything.

Express "without doing" with

is another type of negative form of the verbs used mostly for more formal
contexts and some expressions. It's also often used with the target particle to
express the same thing as we just learned. The conjugation rule is mostly
the same as the regular negative form except is attached at the end instead of
. However, unlike the regular negative form, there is no exception for
as it follows the same rule as all other u-verbs and becomes .

Rules for conjugating to negative

1. For ru-verbs: Replace the last with

Example: + =

2. For u-verbs that end in : Replace with

and attach
Example: + + =

3. For all other u-verbs: Replace the u-vowel sound with the a-
vowel equivalent and attach
Example: + =

4. Exceptions:



To think (he) went home without saying anything, (it's) rude,
isn't it?

Is there (a) way to get by without paying (the) processing fee?

(I) can't help but check (my) email again and again in (a) day.
lit: (I) can't exist without checking email numerous times in (a)

Expressing a lack of change

is a noun used to express leaving something as is without making any


Is it fine just like this?

What happens if (you) sleep with contacts left on?

Yumiko-chan, (you're) fine like that (just the way you are).

Making your case

Using to reach a conclusion

Expressing a hypothetical

Expressing "supposed to"

Using to describe an expectation

Using to describe actions one should do

Trends and signs

Chapter summary and practice