Special Expressions

I have decided to call this next section "Special Expressions" only because with the exception of the first few lessons, most of the grammar here applies to more specific areas than the grammar we have covered so far. These special expressions, while individually not vital, are, as a collection, necessary for regular everyday conversations. We are slowly entering the stage where we've built the toolbox and we now need to acquire the little tools that will make the toolbox complete. Now that we covered most of the base, it is time to look at all the little itty gritty bits. You are welcome to skip around the lessons, however; the examples will assume that you have gone over all previous sections.

Causative and Passive Verbs

We will now learn the last two major types of verb conjugations: causative and passive forms. These two verb conjugations are traditionally covered together because of the notorious causative-passive combination. We will now go over what all these things are and how they are used.

Causative Verbs


  1. あげる (ru-verb) - to give; to raise
  2. くれる (ru-verb) - to give
  3. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 - everything
  4. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  5. 着る 【き・る】 (ru-verb) - to wear
  6. 信じる 【しん・じる】 (ru-verb) - to believe
  7. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) - to sleep
  8. 起きる 【お・きる】 (ru-verb) - to wake; to occur
  9. 出る 【で・る】 (ru-verb) - to come out
  10. 掛ける 【か・ける】 (ru-verb) - to hang
  11. 捨てる 【す・てる】 (ru-verb) - to throw away
  12. 調べる 【しら・べる】 (ru-verb) - to investigate
  13. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) - to speak
  14. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) - to ask; to listen
  15. 泳ぐ 【およ・ぐ】 (u-verb) - to swim
  16. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】 (u-verb) - to play
  17. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) - to wait
  18. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) - to drink
  19. 直る 【なお・る】 (u-verb) - to be fixed
  20. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 (u-verb) - to die
  21. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) - to buy
  22. する (exception) - to do
  23. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  24. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  25. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  26. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  27. たくさん - a lot (amount)
  28. 質問 【しつ・もん】 - question
  29. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  30. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - job
  31. 休む 【やす・む】 (u-verb) - to rest
  32. その - abbreviation of 「それの」
  33. 部長 【ぶ・ちょう】 - section manager
  34. いい (i-adj) - good
  35. 長時間 【ちょう・じ・かん】 - long period of time
  36. 働く 【はたら・く】 (u-verb) - to work
  37. トイレ - bathroom; toilet
  38. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go

Verbs conjugated into the causative form are used to indicate an action that someone makes happen. Like Captain Picard so succinctly puts it, the causative verb means to "make it so". This verb is usually used in the context of making somebody do something. The really confusing thing about the causative verb is that it can also mean to let someone do something. Or maybe this is a different type of verb with the exact same conjugation rules. Whichever the case may be, a verb in the causative form can mean either making or letting someone do something. The only good news is that when the causative form is used with 「あげる」 and 「くれる」, it almost always means to "let someone do". Once you get used to it, surprisingly, it becomes quite clear which meaning is being used when.

  1. 全部食べさせた
    Made/Let (someone) eat it all.
  2. 全部食べさせてくれた
    Let (someone) eat it all.
Causative Conjugation Rules
Here are the conjugation rules for the causative form. All causative verbs become ru-verbs.
  • For ru-verbs: Replace the last 「る」 with 「させる」.
  • For u-verbs: Change the last character as you would for negative verbs but attach 「せる」 instead of 「ない」.
  • Exception Verbs:
    1. する」 becomes 「させる
    2. くる」 becomes 「こさせる」.
Sample ru-verbs
Plain Causative
食べ 食べさせる
信じ 信じさせる
起き 起きさせる
掛け 掛けさせる
捨て 捨てさせる
調べ 調べさせる
Sample u-verbs
Plain Causative
Exception Verbs
Positive Causative
する させる
くる こさせる


Here are some examples using the causative verb. Context will usually tell you which is being meant, but for our purposes we will assume that when the verb is used with 「あげる」 and 「くれる」(ください) it means "to let someone do" while it means, "to make someone do" when used without it.

  1. 先生学生宿題たくさんさせた
    Teacher made students do lots of homework.
  2. 先生質問たくさん聞かせてくれた
    Teacher let (someone) ask lots of questions.
  3. 今日仕事休ませてください
    Please let me rest from work today. (Please let me take the day off today.)
  4. その部長は、よく長時間働かせる
    That manager often makes (people) work long hours.

When asking for permission to let someone do something, it is more common to use the 「~てもいい」 grammar.

  1. トイレ行かせてくれますか。
    Can you let me go to the bathroom? (Sounds like a prisoner, even in English)
  2. トイレ行っていいですか。
    Is it ok to go to the bathroom? (No problem here)

A Shorter Alternative


  1. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  2. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  3. する (exception) - to do
  4. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  5. 同じ 【おな・じ】 - same
  6. こと - event, matter
  7. 何回 【なん・かい】 - how many times
  8. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  9. お腹 【お・なか】 - stomach
  10. 空く 【あ・く】 (u-verb) - to become empty
  11. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  12. くれる (ru-verb) - to give

There is a shorter version of the causative conjugation, which I will go over for completeness. However, since this version is mostly used in very rough slang, you are free to skip this section until you've had time to get used to the regular form. Also, textbooks usually don't cover this version of the causative verb.

The key difference in this version is that all verbs become an u-verbs with a 「す」 ending. Therefore, the resulting verb would conjugate just like any other u-verb ending in 「す」 such as 「話す」 or 「指す」. The first part of the conjugation is the same as the original causative form. However, for ru-verbs, instead of attaching 「させる」, you attach 「さす」 and for u-verbs, you attach 「す」 instead of 「せる」. As a result, all the verbs become an u-verb ending in 「す」.

Shortened Causative Form
  • This form is rarely used so you may just want to stick with the more traditional version of the causative form.
    • For ru-verbs: Replace the last 「る」 with 「さす」.
    • For u-verbs: Change the last character as you would for negative verbs but attach 「す」 instead of 「ない」.
    • Exception Verbs:
      1. する」 becomes 「さす
      2. くる」 becomes 「こさす


  1. 同じこと何回言わす
    Don't make me say the same thing again and again!
  2. お腹空いているんだから、なんか食べさしてくれよ。
    I'm hungry so let me eat something.

Passive Verbs


  1. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  2. 着る 【き・る】 (ru-verb) - to wear
  3. 信じる 【しん・じる】 (ru-verb) - to believe
  4. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) - to sleep
  5. 起きる 【お・きる】 (ru-verb) - to wake; to occur
  6. 出る 【で・る】 (ru-verb) - to come out
  7. 掛ける 【か・ける】 (ru-verb) - to hang
  8. 捨てる 【す・てる】 (ru-verb) - to throw away
  9. 調べる 【しら・べる】 (ru-verb) - to investigate
  10. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) - to speak
  11. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) - to ask; to listen
  12. 泳ぐ 【およ・ぐ】 (u-verb) - to swim
  13. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】 (u-verb) - to play
  14. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) - to wait
  15. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) - to drink
  16. 直る 【なお・る】 (u-verb) - to be fixed
  17. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 (u-verb) - to die
  18. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) - to buy
  19. する (exception) - to do
  20. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  21. ポリッジ - porridge
  22. 誰 【だれ】 - who
  23. 皆 【みんな】 - everybody
  24. 変 【へん】 (na-adj) - strange
  25. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  26. 光 【ひかり】 - light
  27. 速い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) - fast
  28. 超える 【こ・える】 (ru-verb) - to exceed
  29. 不可能 【ふ・か・のう】 - impossible
  30. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) - to think
  31. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  32. 教科書 【きょう・か・しょ】 - textbook
  33. 多い 【おお・い】 (i-adj) - numerous
  34. 人 【ひと】 - person
  35. 読む 【よ・む】 (u-verb) - to read
  36. 外国人 【がい・こく・じん】 - foreigner
  37. 質問 【しつ・もん】 - question
  38. 答える 【こた・える】 (ru-verb) - to answer
  39. パッケージ - package
  40. あらゆる - all
  41. 含む 【ふく・む】 (u-verb) - to include

Passive verbs are verbs that are done to the (passive) subject. Unlike English style of writing which discourages the use of the passive form, passive verbs in Japanese are often used in essays and articles.

Passive Conjugation Rules
All passive verbs become ru-verbs.
  • For ru-verbs: Replace the last 「る」 with 「られる」
  • For u-verbs: Change the last character as you would for negative verbs but attach 「れる」 instead of 「ない」.
  • Exception Verbs:
    1. する」 becomes 「される
    2. くる」 becomes 「こられる

Sample ru-verbs
Plain Passive
食べ 食べられる
信じ 信じられる
起き 起きられる
掛け 掛けられる
捨て 捨てられる
調べ 調べられる
Sample u-verbs
Plain Passive
Exception Verbs
Positive Passive
する される
くる こられる


  1. ポリッジ誰か食べられた
    The porridge was eaten by somebody!
  2. みんなだと言われます
    I am told by everybody that (I'm) strange.
  3. 速さ超えるのは、不可能だと思われる
    Exceeding the speed of light is thought to be impossible.
  4. この教科書多く読まれている
    This textbook is being read by a large number of people.
  5. 外国人質問聞かれたが、答えられなかった
    I was asked a question by a foreigner but I couldn't answer.
  6. このパッケージには、あらゆるものが含まれている
    Everything is included in this package.

Using passive form to show politeness


  1. どう - how
  2. する (exception) - to do
  3. 領収証 【りょう・しゅう・しょう】 - receipt
  4. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  5. 会議 【かい・ぎ】 - meeting
  6. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go

While we will go over various types of grammar that express a politeness level above the normal -masu/-desu forms in the next lesson, it is useful to know that using passive form is another more polite way to express an action. In Japanese, a sentence is usually more polite when it is less direct. For example, it is more polite to refer to someone by his or her name and not by the direct pronoun "you". It is also more polite to ask a negative question than a positive one. (For example, 「しますか?」 vs. 「 しませんか?」) In a similar sense, using the passive form makes the sentence less direct because the subject does not directly perform the action. This makes it sound more polite. Here is the same sentence in increasing degrees of politeness.

  1. どうする? - What will you do? (lit: How do?)
  2. どうします? - Regular polite.
  3. どうされます?- Passive polite.
  4. どうなさいます?- Honorific (to be covered next lesson)
  5. どうなさいますでしょうか?- Honorific + a lesser degree of certainty.

Notice how the same sentence grows longer and longer as you get more and more indirect.


  1. 領収証どうされますか?
    What about your receipt? (lit: How will you do receipt?)
  2. 明日会議行かれるんですか?
    Are you going to tomorrow's meeting?

Causative-Passive Forms


  1. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  2. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  3. 朝ご飯 【あさ・ご・はん】 - breakfast
  4. 日本 【に・ほん】 - Japan
  5. お酒 【お・さけ】 - alcohol
  6. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) - to drink
  7. こと - event, matter
  8. 多い 【おお・い】 (i-adj) - numerous
  9. あいつ - that guy (derogatory)
  10. ~時間 【~じ・かん】 - counter for span of hour(s)
  11. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) - to wait
  12. 親 【おや】 - parent
  13. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  14. する (exception) - to do

The causative-passive form is simply the combination of causative and passive conjugations to mean that the action of making someone do something was done to that person. This would effectively translate into, "[someone] is made to do [something]". The important thing to remember is the order of conjugation. The verb is first conjugated to the causative and then passive, never the other way around.

Causative-Passive Conjugation Form
The causative-passive verb is formed by first conjugating to the causative form and then by conjugating the result to the passive form.
  1. 食べ食べさせ食べさせられる
  2. かせ行かせられる


  1. 朝ご飯食べたくなかったのに、食べさせられた
    Despite not wanting to eat breakfast, I was made to eat it.
  2. 日本では、お酒飲ませられること多い
    In Japan, the event of being made to drink is numerous.
  3. あいつ二時間待たせられた
    I was made to wait 2 hours by that guy.
  4. 毎日宿題させられる
    I am made to do homework everyday by my parent(s).

A Shorter Alternative


  1. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  2. 立つ 【た・つ】 (u-verb) - to stand
  3. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  4. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) - to speak
  5. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  6. 廊下 【ろう・か】 - hall, corridor
  7. 日本 【に・ほん】 - Japan
  8. お酒 【お・さけ】 - alcohol
  9. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) - to drink
  10. こと - event, matter
  11. 多い 【おお・い】 (i-adj) - numerous
  12. あいつ - that guy (derogatory)
  13. ~時間 【~じ・かん】 - counter for span of hour(s)
  14. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) - to wait

Going along with the shorter causative alternative, you can also use the same conjugation for the causative-passive form. I won't cover it in too much detail because the usefulness of this form is rather limited just like the shorter causative form itself. The idea is to simply used the shortened causative form instead of using the regular causative conjugation. The rest is the same as before.

Shortened causative-passive form examples
First conjugate to the shortened causative form. Then conjugate to the passive form.
  1. 行か行かされる
  2. 立た立たされる

This form cannot be used in cases where the shorter causative form ends in 「さす」, in other words, you can't have a 「さされる」 ending.

Verbs that cannot be used in this form
Examples of verbs you can't use in this form.
  1. 食べ食べさす食べさされる
  2. さすさされる


  1. 学生廊下立たされた
    The student was made to stand in the hall.
  2. 日本では、お酒飲まされること多い
    In Japan, the event of being made to drink is numerous.
  3. あいつ二時間待たされた
    I was made to wait 2 hours by that guy.

Honorific and Humble Forms

Japanese can be roughly separated into three levels of politeness: casual, polite, and honorific/humble. So far, we have already gone over the polite forms using 「~です」 and 「~ます」. We will now cover the next level of politeness using honorific and humble forms. You will often hear this type of language in any customer/consumer type situations such as fast food counters, restaurants, etc. For now, the first thing to remember is that the speaker always considers himself/herself to be at the lowest level. So any actions performed by oneself are in humble form while actions performed by anyone else seen from the view of the speaker uses the honorific form.

Set Expressions


  1. する (exception) - to do
  2. なさる - to do (honorific)
  3. 致す 【いた・す】 (u-verb) - to do (humble)
  4. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  5. いらっしゃる - to be; to go; to come (honorific)
  6. おいでになる - to be; to go; to come (honorific)
  7. 参る 【まい・る】 (u-verb) - to go; to come (humble)
  8. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  9. おる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate) (humble)
  10. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to see
  11. ご覧になる 【ご・らん・になる】 - to see (honorific)
  12. 拝見する 【はい・けん・する】 - to see (humble)
  13. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) - to ask; to listen
  14. 伺う 【うかが・う】 (u-verb) - to ask; to listen (humble)
  15. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  16. おっしゃる - to say (honorific)
  17. 申す 【もう・す】 (u-verb) - to say (humble)
  18. 申し上げる 【もう・し・あ・げる】 (u-verb) - to say (humble)
  19. あげる (ru-verb) - to give; to raise
  20. 差し上げる 【さ・し・あ・げる】 (ru-verb) - to give; to raise (humble)
  21. くれる (ru-verb) - to give
  22. 下さる 【くだ・さる】 - to give (honorific)
  23. もらう (u-verb) - to receive
  24. いただく (u-verb) - to receive; to eat; to drink (humble)
  25. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  26. 召し上がる 【め・し・あ・がる】 (u-verb) - to eat; to drink (honorific)
  27. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) - to drink
  28. 知る 【し・る】 (u-verb) - to know
  29. ご存じ 【ご・ぞん・じ】 - knowing (honorific)
  30. 存じる 【ぞん・じる】 (ru-verb) - to know (humble)
  31. ござる - to be (formal)
  32. もう - already
  33. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - job
  34. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  35. 推薦状 【すい・せん・じょう】 - letter of recommendation
  36. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) - to write
  37. どちら - which way
  38. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  39. 私 【わたし】 - me; myself; I
  40. レポート - report
  41. 失礼 【しつ・れい】 - discourtesy

The difficult part of learning honorific and humble language is that there are a number of words that have separate verbs for honorific and humble forms. Anything that does not have its own special expression fall under the general rules of humble and honorific conjugations that we will cover next.

Honorific and Humble Verbs
Plain Honorific Humble
する なさる 致す
行く いらっしゃるおいでになる 参る
来る いらっしゃるおいでになる 参る
いる いらっしゃるおいでになる おる
見る ご覧なる 拝見する
聞く 伺う
言う おっしゃる 申す申し上げる
あげる 差し上げる
くれる 下さる
もらう いただく
食べる 召し上がる いただく
飲む 召し上がる いただく
知っている ご存知(です) 存じる

Honorific verbs with special conjugations

A number of these verbs do not follow the normal masu-conjugation rules and they include: 「なさる」、「いらっしゃる」、「おっしゃる」、「下さる」、 and 「ござる」 (which we will soon cover). For all masu-form tenses of these verbs, instead of the 「る」 becoming a 「り」 as it does with normal u-verbs, it instead becomes an 「い」. All other conjugations besides the masu-form do not change from regular u-verbs.

Plain ます-form Past ます-form Negative ます-form Past-negative ます-form
なさる なさます なさました なさません なさませんでした
いらっしゃる いらっしゃます いらっしゃました いらっしゃません いらっしゃませんでした
おっしゃる おっしゃます おっしゃました おっしゃません おっしゃませんでした
下さる 下さます 下さました 下さません 下さませんでした
ござる ござます ござました ござません ござませんでした

Examples of honorific form

We can now begin to see that 「ください」 is just a special conjugation of 「下さる」 which is the honorific version of 「くれる」. Let's look at some actual examples. Since these examples are all questions directed directly to someone (second person), they all use the honorific form.

  1. アリスさん、もう召し上がりましたか。
    Alice-san, did (you) eat already?
  2. 仕事なさっているんですか。
    What are you doing at work?
  3. 推薦状書いてくださるんですか。
    You're going to give me the favor of writing a recommendation letter?
  4. どちらからいらっしゃいましたか。
    Where did you come from?
  5. 今日は、どちらいらっしゃいますか。
    Where are you going today?

Examples of humble form

The following examples are all actions done by the speaker so they all use the humble form.

  1. はキムと申します
    As for me, (people) say Kim. (I am called Kim.)
  2. 書いたレポート見ていただけますか。
    Will I be able to receive the favor of getting my report looked at?
  3. 失礼致します
    Excuse me. (lit: I am doing a discourtesy.)

Other substitutions


  1. こちら - this way
  2. 私 【わたし】 - me, myself, I
  3. 部屋 【へ・や】 - room
  4. ござる - to be (formal)
  5. お手洗い 【お・て・あら・い】 - bathroom
  6. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  7. ビル - building
  8. ~階 【~かい】 - counter for story/floor
  9. いい (i-adj) - good
  10. よろしい (i-adj) - good (formal)
  11. 悪い 【わる・い】 (i-adj) - bad
  12. すいません - sorry (polite)
  13. ごめん - sorry (casual)
  14. ごめんなさい - sorry (polite)
  15. すみません - sorry (polite)
  16. 申し訳ありません 【もう・し・わけ・ありません】 - sorry (formal)
  17. 言い訳 【い・い・わけ】 - excuse
  18. 恐れ入ります 【おそ・れ・い・ります】 - sorry (formal)
  19. 恐縮です 【きょう・しゅく・です】 - sorry (formal)
  20. ~様 【~さま】 - honorific name suffix
  21. ~さん - polite name suffix
  22. お客様 【お・きゃく・さま】 - customer (formal)
  23. 神様 【かみ・さま】 - god (formal)

In addition to these set expressions, there are some words that also have more polite counterparts. Probably the most important is the politer version of 「ある」, which is 「ござる」. This verb can be used for both inanimate and animate objects. It is neither honorific nor humble but it is a step above 「ある」 in politeness. However, unless you want to sound like a samurai, 「ござる」 is always used in the polite form: 「ございます」.

By extension, the politer version of 「です」 is 「でございます」. This is essentially the masu-form conjugation of 「でござる」, which comes from 「である」 literally meaning, "to exist as" (to be covered much later).


  1. こちらは、部屋です
    Over here is my room.
  2. こちらは、部屋ございます
    This way is my room.
  1. お手洗いこのビル二階あります
    The bathroom is on the second floor of this building.
  2. お手洗いこのビル二階ございます
    The bathroom is on the second floor of this building.

Other examples include 「いい」, which is more formally expressed as 「よろしい」. There are also six different ways to say, "I'm sorry" (not counting 「悪いね」 or slight inflection changes like 「すいません」).

Successively politer expressions for apologizing:

  1. ごめん
  2. ごめんなさい
  3. すみません
  4. 申し訳ありません。 (申し訳 is the humble form of 言い訳)
  5. 恐れ入ります
  6. 恐縮です。

In addition, the politest suffix for names is 「」, one level above 「さん」. You won't be using this suffix too often in actual speech even if you speak to that person in honorific/humble speech. However, expect to use it when writing letters even to people you are somewhat familiar with. Also, service people such as cashiers or waitresses/waiters will normally refer to the customer as 「お客様」. Of course, royalty and deities are always accompanied by 「」 such as 「神様」.

Honorific and Humble Conjugations


  1. お酒 【お・さけ】 - alcohol
  2. お茶 【お・ちゃ】 - tea
  3. お金 【お・かね】 - money
  4. 音読み 【おん・よ・み】 - Chinese reading
  5. 意見 【い・けん】 - opinion
  6. ご飯 【ご・はん】 - rice; meal
  7. 訓読み 【くん・よ・み】 - Japanese reading
  8. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - job
  9. お好み焼き 【お・この・み・や・き】 - okonomiyaki (Japanese-style pancake)
  10. お土産 【お・みやげ】 - souvenir
  11. 返事 【へん・じ】 - reply
  12. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  13. 見える 【み・える】 (ru-verb) - to be visible
  14. なる (u-verb) - to become
  15. もう - already
  16. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) - to go home
  17. 店内 【てん・ない】 - store interior
  18. 召し上がる 【め・し・あ・がる】 (ru-verb) - to eat; to drink (honorific)
  19. 二重敬語 【に・じゅう・けい・ご】 - redundant honorific
  20. 下さる 【くだ・さる】 - to give (honorific)
  21. 少々 【しょう・しょう】 - just a minute; small quantity;
  22. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) - to wait
  23. こちら - this way
  24. ご覧下さい 【ご・らん・くだ・さい】 - please look (honorific)
  25. 閉まる 【し・まる】 (u-verb) - to close
  26. ドア - door
  27. 注意 【ちゅう・い】 - caution
  28. よろしい (i-adj) - good (formal)
  29. 願う 【ねが・う】 (u-verb) - to wish; to request
  30. する (exception) - to do
  31. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) - to ask; to listen
  32. こと - event, matter
  33. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  34. すみません - sorry (polite)
  35. 千円 【せん・えん】 - 1,000 yen
  36. 預かる 【あず・かる】 - to look after; to hold on to;
  37. 致す 【いた・す】 (u-verb) - to do (humble)

For all other verbs without set expressions, there are conjugation rules to change them into honorific and humble forms. They both involve a common practice of attaching a polite prefix 「」. In Japanese, there is an practice of attaching an honorific prefix 「」 to certain (not all) nouns to show politeness. In fact, some words like 「お酒」、 「お茶」、or 「お金」 come with this prefix so often that it's become practically the word itself. In general, 「」 is written in hiragana as either 「ご」 for words read as 音読み (e.g. ご意見ご飯) or 「お」 for words read as 訓読み (e.g. お金、 お仕事). In fact, you may have been using this prefix already without realizing it like 「お好み焼き」 or 「お土産」. There are some exceptions to this rule such as 「お返事」. Luckily since 「」 is rarely written in kanji, identifying the exceptions should not really be a problem.

Honorific Form

The honorific form of verbs that are not among the set honorific expressions given above can be formed in two different ways.

Honorific Conjugation 1: お + stem + に + なる

This kind of makes sense if you think of it as a person becoming the honorific state of a verb. All subsequent conjugations follow the normal rules of conjugating the u-verb 「なる」. To be honest, this type of sentence formulation is rarely used.

  • 先生見えなりますか。
    Have you seen the teacher?

Honorific Conjugation 2: お + stem + です

  1. もう帰りですか。
    You're going home already?
  2. 店内召し上がりですか。
    Will you be dining in?

Service people want to be extra polite so they will often use this type of "double honorific" conjugation or 二重敬語 (in this case, the honorific 「召し上がる」 combined with the honorific conjugation). Whether it's necessary or grammatically proper is another story.

Using 「ください」 with honorifics

You can also use 「下さい」 with a honorific verb by replacing 「になる」 with 「ください」. This is useful for when you want to ask somebody to do something but still use a honorific verb.

Yet another often-used expression.

  • 少々待ちください。- Please wait a moment.

Similarly, with 「ご覧なる」, you simply replace 「になる」 with 「ください」.

  • こちらご覧下さい
    Please look this way.

This works for other nouns as well. For example, riding the trains...

  • 閉まるドア注意下さい
    Please be careful of the closing doors.

Humble Form

Humble verbs are formed in the following fashion.

Humble Conjugation: お + stem + する

You've probably already heard the first example many times before but now you know exactly where it comes from.

  1. よろしく願いします
    I properly make request.
  2. 先生聞きしたいことありますが。
    Teacher, there's something I want to ask you.
  3. すみません待たせしました
    Sorry, I made you wait (causative form).
  4. 千円から預かりいたします
    We'll be holding on [from?] your 1000 yen.

You'll hear something like example 4 when, for example, you need to get change after paying 1000 yen. Again, the 二重敬語 where 「する」 has been converted to the humble 「致す」 form when it's already in the お+stem+する humble form. Some Japanese people complain that this makes no sense and that 「から」 should really be 「を」.

Making honorific requests


  1. 下さる 【くだ・さる】 - to give (honorific)
  2. いらっしゃる - to be; to go; to come (honorific)
  3. なさる - to do (honorific)
  4. おっしゃる - to say (honorific)
  5. する (exception) - to do
  6. いらっしゃいませ - please come in (formal)
  7. いらっしゃい - please come in
  8. ありがとうございました - thank you (polite)
  9. また - again
  10. 越す 【こ・す】 - to go over
  11. どうぞ - please
  12. ゆっくり - slowly

We learned how to make polite requests using 「~ください」 in a previous section and we just looked at how to use honorific verbs with requests as well. However, there is yet another way to make requests using honorific verbs. This grammar only applies to the honorific verbs with special 「~ます」 conjugations that we just covered. This includes 「下さる」、「いらっしゃる」、「なさる」、and 「おっしゃる」. I've never actually seen this used with 「おっしゃる」, but it is grammatically possible.

Making requests for honorific actions
  • Conjugate the honorific verb to the special masu-conjugation and replace the last 「す」 with 「せ」
    1. 下さ下さいま下さいま
    2. いらっしゃいらっしゃいまいらっしゃいま
  • An abbreviated and less formal version of this is to simply remove the 「ます」 after conjugating to the special masu-form
    1. 下さ下さいます下さい
    2. いらっしゃいらっしゃいますいらっしゃい

Now you finally know where grammar such as 「なさい」 and 「してください」 actually came from. Let's look at a few quick examples.


You'll probably hear this one a million times every time you enter some kind of store in Japan.

  • いらっしゃいませ
    Please come in!

However, a middle-aged sushi chef will probably use the abbreviated version.

  • いらっしゃい
    Please come in!

Some more examples...

  1. ありがとうございましたまた越しくださいませ
    Thank you very much. Please come again.
  2. どうぞ、ごゆっくりなさいませ
    Please take your time and relax.

Unintended Actions

This is the first of many useful tools that will become essential in your day-to-day conversations. We will now learn how to express an action that has taken place unintentionally often with unsatisfactory results. This is primarily done by the verb 「しまう」. Let's look at an example.


  1. 康介 【こう・すけ】 - Kousuke (first name)
  2. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  3. やる (u-verb) - to do
  4. しまう (u-verb) - to do something by accident; to finish completely

Kousuke: Did you do homework?

Alice: Oh no! (I screwed up!)

Using 「しまう」 with other verbs


  1. しまう (u-verb) - to do something by accident; to finish completely
  2. その - that (abbr. of それの)
  3. ケーキ - cake
  4. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 - everything
  5. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  6. 毎日 【まい・にち】 - everyday
  7. キロ - kilo
  8. 太る 【ふと・る】 (u-verb) - to become fatter
  9. ちゃんと - properly
  10. 痩せる 【や・せる】 (ru-verb) - to become thin
  11. 結局 【けっ・きょく】 - eventually
  12. 嫌 【いや】 (na-adj) disagreeable; unpleasant
  13. こと - event, matter
  14. する (exception) - to do
  15. ごめん - sorry
  16. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) - to wait
  17. 金魚 【きん・ぎょ】 - goldfish
  18. もう - already
  19. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 (u-verb) - to die

When 「しまう」 is used in this sense, it is normal to attach it to the te-form of another verb to express an action that is done or happened unintentionally. As is common with this type of grammar, the tense is decided by the tense of 「しまう」.

  1. そのケーキ全部食べてしまった
    Oops, I ate that whole cake.
  2. 毎日ケーキ食べて2キロ太ってしまいました
    I ate cake everyday and I (unintentionally) gained two kilograms.
  3. ちゃんと食べないと、痩せてしまいますよ。
    If you don't eat properly, you'll (unintentionally) lose weight you know.
  4. 結局ことさせてしまった
    In the end, I (unintentionally) made [someone] do something distasteful.
  5. ごめん待たせてしまって
    Sorry about (unintentionally) making you wait!
  6. 金魚もう死んでしまった
    The goldfish died already (oops).

Using the casual version of 「~てしまう


  1. しまう (u-verb) - to do something by accident; to finish completely
  2. 金魚 【きん・ぎょ】 - goldfish
  3. もう - already
  4. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 (u-verb) - to die
  5. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) - to go home
  6. いい (i-adj) - good
  7. 皆 【みんな】 - everybody
  8. どっか - somewhere (abbr. of どこか)
  9. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  10. そろそろ - gradually; soon
  11. 遅い 【おそ・い】 (i-adj) - late
  12. なる (u-verb) - to become
  13. また - again
  14. 遅刻 【ち・こく】 - tardiness
  15. する (exception) - to do
  16. ごめん - sorry
  17. つい - just (now); unintentionally
  18. お前 【お・まえ】 - you (casual)
  19. 呼ぶ 【よ・ぶ】 (u-verb) - to call

In casual speech, the 「~てしまう」 is often substituted by 「~ちゃう」 while 「~でしまう」 is substituted by 「じゃう」. Both 「~ちゃう」 and 「~じゃう」 conjugate just like regular u-verbs.

  1. 金魚もう死んじゃった
    The goldfish died already.
  2. もう帰っちゃっていい
    Is it ok if I went home already?
  3. みんなどっか行っちゃったよ。
    Everybody went off somewhere.
  4. そろそろ遅くなっちゃうよ。
    It'll gradually become late, you know.

There is yet another very colloquial version of 「~てしまう」 and 「~でしまう」 where it is replaced by 「~ちまう」 and 「~じまう」 respectively. Unlike the cuter 「~ちゃう」 and 「~じゃう」 slang, this version conjures an image of rough and coarse middle-aged man.

  1. また遅刻しちまったよ。
    Darn, I'm late again.
  2. ごめんついお前呼んじまった
    Sorry, I just ended up calling you unconsciously.

Another meaning of 「しまう


  1. しまう (u-verb) - to do something by accident; to finish completely
  2. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  3. やる (u-verb) - to do

You may have noticed that 「しまう」 has another definition meaning "to finish something completely". You may want to consider this a totally separate verb from the 「しまう」 we have covered so far. Occasionally but not usually, 「しまう」 will have this meaning rather than the unintended action.

  • 宿題やってしまいなさい
    Finish your homework completely.

Special Expressions with Generic Nouns

We've already learned how to use generic nouns in order to modify nouns. Now we will go over some special expression used with generic nouns.

Using 「こと」 to say whether something has happened


  1. こと - event, matter
  2. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  3. 徹夜 【てつ・や】 - staying up all night
  4. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  5. する (exception) - to do
  6. 一人 【ひとり】 - 1 person; alone
  7. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  8. パリ - Paris
  9. お寿司 【お・す・し】- sushi
  10. 食べる 【たべ・る】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  11. 日本 【に・ほん】 - Japan
  12. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  13. 観る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to watch
  14. ヨーロッパ - Europe
  15. いい (i-adj) - good
  16. そう - (things are) that way
  17. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  18. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to see
  19. ~度 【~ど】 - counter for number of times

When you combine 「こと」, the generic word for an event with 「ある」, you can talk about whether an event exists or not.


  1. 徹夜して宿題することある
    There are times when I do homework while staying up all night.
  2. 一人行くことありません
    I never go by myself.

Using the past tense of the verb with 「こと」, you can talk about whether an event has ever taken place. This is essentially the only way you can say "have done" in Japanese so this is a very useful expression. You need to use this grammar any time you want to talk about whether someone has ever done something.


  1. パリ行ったことありますか。
    Have you ever gone to Paris?
  2. お寿司食べたことある
    I've had sushi before.
  3. 日本映画観たことないの?
    You've never seen a Japanese movie?
  4. ヨーロッパ行ったことあったらいいな。
    It would be nice if I ever go to Europe.
  5. そういうのを見たことなかった
    I had never seen anything like that.
  6. 一度行ったことないんです。
    I've never gone, not even once.

Using 「ところ」 as an abstract place


  1. 所 【ところ】 - place
  2. 早い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) - fast; early
  3. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  4. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  5. 今 【いま】 - now
  6. ちょうど - just right; exactly
  7. いい - good
  8. 彼 【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  9. 優しい 【やさ・しい】 (i-adj) - gentle; kind
  10. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  11. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 - class
  12. 終わる 【お・わる】 (u-verb) - to end
  13. これ - this
  14. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go

ところ」() is usually used to indicate a generic physical location. However, it can also hold a much broader meaning ranging from a characteristic to a place in time.


  1. 早くきて映画ちょうどいいところだよ。
    Come quickly. We're at the good part of the movie.
  2. 優しいところあるよ。
    His personality has some gentle parts too.
  3. 授業終ったところです。
    Class has ended just now.
  4. これから行くところでした。
    I was just about to go from now.

Using 「もの」 as a casual feminine way to emphasize


  1. 物 【もの】 - object
  2. どうして - why
  3. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  4. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 - class
  5. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)

The generic object noun 「もの」 can be used as a casual and feminine way of emphasizing something. This is identical to the explanatory feminine emphasis expressed by the 「の」 particle. Just like the explanatory 「の」 particle, the 「の」 is often changed into 「ん」 resulting in 「もん」. Using 「もん」 sounds very feminine and a little cheeky (in a cute way).


  • どうしてこなかったの?
    Why didn't (you) come?
  1. 授業あった
    (I) had class. [feminine explanatory]
  2. 授業あったもの
    (I) had class. [feminine explanatory]
  3. 授業あったもん
    (I) had class, so there. [feminine explanatory]

Various degrees of certainty

In general, Japanese people don't assert themselves of something unless they are absolutely sure that it is correct. This accounts for the incredibly frequent use of 「~と思う」 and the various grammatical expressions used to express specific levels of certainty. We will go over these expressions starting from the less certain to the most certain.

Using 「かもしれない」 to express uncertainty


  1. 多分 【た・ぶん】 - perhaps; probably
  2. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  3. 観る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to watch
  4. 彼 【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  5. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  6. それ - that
  7. 面白い 【おも・し・ろい】 (i-adj) - interesting
  8. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  9. 退屈 【たい・くつ】 - boredom
  10. 食堂 【しょく・どう】 - cafeteria
  11. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  12. 雨 【あめ】 - rain
  13. 試合 【し・あい】 - match, game
  14. 中止 【ちゅう・し】 - cancellation
  15. なる (u-verb) - to become
  16. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  17. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  18. ~回 【~かい】 - counter for number of times
  19. こと - event, matter
  20. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  21. あそこ - over there
  22. 代々木公園 【よ・よ・ぎ・こう・えん】 - Yoyogi park
  23. もう - already
  24. 逃げる 【に・げる】 (ru-verb) - to escape; to run away

「かもしれない」 is used to mean "maybe" or "possibly" and is less certain than the word 「多分」. It attaches to the end of a complete clause. For noun and na-adjective clauses, the declarative 「だ」 must be removed. It can also be written in kanji as 「かも知れない」 and you can treat it the same as a negative ru-verb (there is no positive equivalent) so the masu-form would become 「かもしれません」. In casual speech, it can be abbreviated to just 「かも」. There is also a very masculine version 「かもしれん」, which is simply a different type of negative verb.

Expressing uncertainty with 「かもしれない」
  • Simply attach 「かもしれない」 or 「かも知れない」 to the clause
    1. 映画観たかもしれない
    2. 学生かもしれない
    3. それ面白いかもしれない
  • Noun and na-adjective clauses must not use the declarative 「だ」
    1. 先生かもしれない → 先生かもしれない
    2. 退屈かもしれない → 退屈かもしれない
  • It can be abbreviated to just 「かも」 in casual speech
    1. 面白いかもしれない面白いかも


  1. スミスさんは食堂行ったかもしれません
    Smith-san may have gone to the cafeteria.
  2. 試合中止なるかもしれないね。
    The game may become canceled by rain, huh?
  3. この映画一回観たことあるかも
    I might have already seen this movie once.
  4. あそこ代々木公園かもしれない
    That might be Yoyogi park over there.
  5. もう逃げられないかもしれんぞ。
    Might not be able to escape anymore, you know.

Using 「でしょう」 to express a fair amount of certainty (polite)


  1. 多分 【た・ぶん】 - perhaps; probably
  2. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  3. 雨 【あめ】 - rain
  4. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  5. これ - this
  6. どこ - where
  7. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  8. 休む 【やす・む】 (u-verb) - to rest
  9. いただく (u-verb) - to receive; to eat; to drink (humble)

「でしょう」 is used to express a level of some certainty and is close in meaning to 「多分」. Just like 「~です/~ます」, it must come at the end of a complete sentence. It does not have any other conjugations. You can also replace 「~ですか」 with 「~でしょうか」 to make the question sound slightly more polite and less assuming by adding a slight level of uncertainty.


  1. 明日でしょう
    Probably rain tomorrow too.
  2. 学生さんでしょうか。
    Are (you) student?
  3. これからどこ行くでしょうか?
    Where (are you) going from here?

If you want to sound really, really polite, you can even add 「~でしょうか」 to the end of a 「~ます」 ending.

  • 休ませていただけますでしょうか。- May I receive the favor of resting, possibly?

Using 「でしょう」 and 「だろう」 to express strong amount of certainty (casual)


  1. 遅刻 【ち・こく】 - tardiness
  2. する (exception) - to do
  3. 時間 【じ・かん】 - time
  4. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  5. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  6. これ - this
  7. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  8. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  9. 掃除 【そう・じ】 - cleaning
  10. 手伝う 【て・つだ・う】 (u-verb) - to help, to assist
  11. くれる (ru-verb) - to give
  12. そう - (things are) that way
  13. どこ - where
  14. もう - already
  15. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) - to sleep
  16. 家 【1) うち; 2) いえ】 - 1) one's own home; 2) house
  17. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) - to go home

The casual equivalent of 「でしょう」 is surprisingly enough 「でしょう」. However, when you are speaking in a polite manner, the 「でしょう」 is enunciated flatly while in casual speech, it has a rising intonation and can be shortened to 「でしょ」. In addition, since people tend to be more assertive in casual situations, the casual version has a much stronger flavor often sounding more like, "See, I told you so!"

Example 1

A: Ah! We're going to be late!

B: That's why I told you there was no time!

Example 2

A: You're going to eat from now aren't you?

B: So what if I am?

Example 3

A: You're going to help me clean, right?

B: Huh? Is that so?

「だろう」 means essentially the same thing as 「でしょう」 except that it sounds more masculine and is used mostly by males.

Example 4

A: Where is Alice?

B: Probably sleeping already.

Example 5

A: You're going home already, right?

B: That's right.

Expressing Amounts

This lesson will cover various expressions used to express various degrees of amounts. For example, sentences like, "I only ate one", "That was all that was left", "There's just old people here", or "I ate too much" all indicate whether there's a lot or little of something. Most of these expressions are made with particles and not as separate words as you see in English.

Indicating that's all there is using 「だけ」


  1. りんご - apple
  2. これ - this
  3. それ - that
  4. 食べる 【たべ・る】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  5. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  6. 歌 【うた】 - song
  7. 歌う 【うた・う】 (u-verb) - to sing
  8. その - that (abbr. of それの)
  9. 人 【ひと】 - person
  10. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable; desirable
  11. 販売機 【はん・ばい・き】 - vending machine
  12. 五百円玉 【ご・ひゃく・えん・だま】 - 500 yen coin
  13. 小林 【こ・ばやし】 - Kobayashi (last name)
  14. 返事 【へん・じ】 - reply
  15. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  16. 準備 【じゅん・び】 - preparations
  17. 終わる 【お・わる】 (u-verb) - to end
  18. ここ - here
  19. 名前 【な・まえ】 - name
  20. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) - to write
  21. いい (i-adj) - good

The particle 「だけ」 is used to express that that's all there is. Just like the other particles we have already learned, it is directly attached to the end of whichever word that it applies to.


  1. りんごだけ
    Just apple(s) (and nothing else).
  2. これそれだけ
    Just that and this (and nothing else).

When one of the major particles are also applied to a word, these particles must come after 「だけ」. In fact, the ordering of multiple particles usually start from the most specific to the most general.

  1. それだけは食べないでください
    Just don't eat that. (Anything else is assumed to be OK).
  2. このだけを歌わなかった
    Didn't sing just this song.
  3. そのだけが好きだったんだ
    That person was the only person I liked.

The same goes for double particles. Again 「だけ」 must come first.

  • この販売機だけでは五百円玉使えない
    Cannot use 500 yen coin in just this vending machine.

With minor particles such as 「から」 or 「まで」, it is difficult to tell which should come first. When in doubt, try googling to see the level of popularity of each combination. It turns out that 「からだけ」 is almost twice as popular as 「だけから」 with a hit number of 90,000 vs. 50,000.

  • 小林さんからだけは返事来なかった
    A reply has not come from only Kobayashi-san.

Unlike some particles, you can directly attach 「だけ」 to verbs as well.

  1. 準備終わったから、これから食べるだけだ。
    Since the preparations are done, from here we just have to eat.
  2. ここ名前書くだけでいいですか?
    Is it ok to just write [my] name here?

Using 「のみ」 as a formal version of 「だけ」


  1. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  2. 乗車券 【じょう・しゃ・けん】 - passenger ticket
  3. 発売 【はつ・ばい】 - sale
  4. 当日 【とう・じつ】 - that very day
  5. 有効 【ゆう・こう】 - effective
  6. アンケート - survey
  7. 対象 【たい・しょう】 - target
  8. 大学生 【だい・がく・せい】 - college student

A particle that is essentially identical both grammatically and in meaning to 「だけ」 is 「のみ」. However, unlike 「だけ」, which is used in regular conversations, 「のみ」 is usually only used in a written context. It is often used for explaining policies, in manuals, and other things of that nature. This grammar really belongs in the advanced section since formal language has a different flavor and tone from what we have seen so far. However, it is covered here because it is essentially identical to 「だけ」. Just googling for 「のみ」 will quickly show the difference in the type of language that is used with 「のみ」 as opposed to 「だけ」.

  1. この乗車券発売当日のみ有効です。
    This boarding ticket is only valid on the date on which it was purchased.
  2. アンケート対象大学生のみです。
    The targets of this survey are only college students.

Indication that there's nothing else using 「しか」


  1. これ - this
  2. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  3. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to see
  4. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  5. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 (i-adj) - busy
  6. 朝ご飯 【あさ・ご・はん】 - breakfast
  7. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  8. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 - everything
  9. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) - to buy
  10. ううん - no (casual)
  11. 何【なに】 - what
  12. もらう - to receive
  13. 頑張る 【がん・ば・る】 (u-verb) - to try one's best
  14. こう - (things are) this way
  15. なる (u-verb) - to become
  16. 逃げる 【に・げる】 (ru-verb) - to escape; to run away
  17. もう - already
  18. 腐る 【くさ・る】 (u-verb) - to rot; to spoil
  19. 捨てる 【す・てる】 (ru-verb) - to throw away

I carefully phrased the title of this section to show that 「しか」 must be used to indicate the lack of everything else. In other words, the rest of the sentence must always be negative.

  • これしかない
    There's nothing but this.

The following is incorrect.

  • これしかある
    (Should be using 「だけ」 instead)

As you can see, 「しか」 has an embedded negative meaning while 「だけ」 doesn't have any particular nuance.

  1. これだけ見る
    See just this.
  2. これだけ見ない
    Don't see just this.
  3. これしか見ない
    Don't see anything else but this.


  • 今日忙しくて朝ご飯しか食べられなかった
    Today was busy and couldn't eat anything but breakfast.

Notice that unlike 「だけ」, it is necessary to finish off the sentence.

  • 全部買うの?
    You're buying everything?
  1. ううんこれだけ。
    Nah, just this.
  2. ううんこれしか買わない
    Nah, won't buy anything else but this.
  3. ううんこれしか
    (Wrong, the sentence must explicitly indicate the negative.)

While the major particles always come last, it turns out that 「しか」 must come after 「から」 and 「まで」. A google search of 「からしか」 beats 「しかから」 by an overwhelming 60,000 to 600.

  • アリスからしか何ももらってない
    I didn't receive anything except from Alice.

You can also use this grammar with verbs.

  1. これから頑張るしかない
    There's nothing to do but try our best!
  2. こうなったら逃げるしかない
    There no choice but to run away once it turns out like this.
  3. もう腐っているから、捨てるしかないよ。
    It's rotten already so there's nothing to do but throw it out.

「っきゃ」, an alternative to 「しか」


  1. これ - this
  2. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) - to buy
  3. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  4. こう - (things are) this way
  5. なる (u-verb) - to become
  6. もう - already
  7. やる (u-verb) - to do

「っきゃ」 is another version of 「しか」 that means essentially the same thing and works exactly the same way. Just substitute 「しか」 with 「っきゃ」 and you're good to go. This version is a bit stronger than 「しか」 in emphasis but it's not used nearly as often so I wouldn't worry about it too much. I briefly cover it here just in case you do run into this expression.


  1. これ買うっきゃない
    There's nothing but to buy this!
  2. こうなったら、もうやるっきゃない
    If things turn out like this, there nothing to do but to just do it!

Expressing the opposite of 「だけ」 with 「ばかり」


  1. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  2. おばさん - middle-aged lady
  3. 嫌 【いや】 (na-adj) disagreeable; unpleasant
  4. 崇 【たかし】 - Takashi (first name)
  5. ~君 【~くん】 - name suffix
  6. 漫画 【まん・が】 - comic book
  7. 読む 【よ・む】 (u-verb) - to read
  8. かっこ悪い 【かっこ・わる・い】 (i-adj) - unattractive; uncool
  9. 彼 【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  10. 麻雀【マー・ジャン】 - mahjong
  11. 直美 【なお・み】 - Naomi (first name)
  12. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】 (u-verb) - to play
  13. 最近 【さい・きん】 - recent; lately
  14. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - job

「ばかり」 is used to express the condition where there's so much of something to the point where there's nothing else. Notice this is fundamentally different from 「しか」 which expresses a lack of everything else but the item in question. In more casual situations, 「ばかり」 is usually pronounced 「ばっかり」 or just 「ばっか」. For example, let's say you went to a party to find, much to your dismay, the whole room filled with middle-aged women. You might say the following.

  • だよ!おばさんばっかりじゃないか?
    What the? Isn't it nothing but obasan?

Or perhaps a little more girly:

  • いやだ。おばさんばっかり
    Eww. It's nothing but obasan.


  • 漫画ばっかり読んでてさ。かっこ悪い
    Takashi-kun is reading nothing but comic books... He's so uncool.

It is quite common in casual speech to end midsentence like this. Notice 「読んでて」 is the te-form of 「読んでいる」 with the 「い」 dropped. We assume that the conclusion will come somewhere later in the story.

  1. 麻雀ばかりです。
    He's nothing but mahjong. (He does nothing but play mahjong.)
  2. 直美ちゃん遊ぶばっかりでしょう!
    You're hanging out with Naomi-chan all the time, aren't you!
  3. 最近仕事ばっかだよ。
    Lately, it's nothing but work.

Saying there's too much of something using 「すぎる


  1. 過ぎる 【す・ぎる】 (ru-verb) - to exceed; to pass
  2. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  3. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) - to drink
  4. 太る 【ふと・る】 (u-verb) - to become fatter
  5. 静か 【しず・か】 (na-adj) - quiet
  6. 大きい 【おお・きい】 (i-adj) - big
  7. 面白い 【おも・しろ・い】 (i-adj) - interesting
  8. もったいない (i-adj) - wasteful
  9. 情けない 【なさ・けない】 (i-adj) - pitiable
  10. 危ない 【あぶ・ない】 (i-adj) - dangerous
  11. 少ない 【すく・ない】 (i-adj) - few
  12. 佐藤 【さ・とう】 - Satou (last name)
  13. 料理 【りょう・り】 - cooking; cuisine; dish
  14. 上手 【じょう・ず】 (na-adj) - skillful
  15. また - again
  16. お酒 【お・さけ】 - alcohol
  17. 気 【き】 - mood; intent
  18. つける - to attach
  19. 気をつける - (expression) to be careful
  20. トランク - trunk
  21. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) - to enter
  22. 罠 【わな】 - trap
  23. 時間 【じ・かん】 - time
  24. 足りる 【た・りる】 (ru-verb) - to be sufficient
  25. 何【なに】 - what
  26. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) - to be able to do
  27. 彼 【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  28. 彼女 【かの・じょ】 - she; girlfriend
  29. 昨晩 【さく・ばん】 - last night
  30. こと - event, matter
  31. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 - not at all (when used with negative)
  32. 覚える 【おぼ・える】 (ru-verb) - to memorize
  33. それ - that

すぎる」 is a regular ru-verb written 「過ぎる」 meaning, "to exceed". When 「すぎる」 is attached to the end of other verbs and adjectives, it means that it is too much or that it has exceeded the normal levels. For verbs, you must directly attach 「すぎる」 to the stem of the verb. For example, 「食べすぎる」 means "to eat too much" and 「飲みすぎる」 means "to drink too much". For adjectives, you just attach it to the end after you remove the last 「い」 from the i-adjectives (as usual). One more rule is that for both negative verbs and adjectives, one must remove the 「い」 from 「ない」 and replace with 「さ」 before attaching 「すぎる」. There is no tense (past or non-past) associated with this grammar. Since 「すぎる」 is a regular ru-verb, this grammar always results in a regular ru-verb.

Using 「すぎる」 to indicate there's too much of something
  • For verbs: First change the verb to the stem and attach 「すぎる」.
    1. 食べ食べすぎる
    2. 太りすぎる
  • For na-adjectives: Attach 「すぎる」. For i-adjectives, remove the last 「い」 first before attaching 「すぎる」.
    1. 静か静かすぎる
    2. 大き大きすぎる
  • For negative verbs and adjectives: Replace the last 「い」 from 「ない」 with 「さ」 and then attach 「すぎる
    1. 食べな食べな食べなさすぎる
    2. 面白くな面白くな面白くなさすぎる
  • I-adjectives that end in 「ない」 which incorporate the negative 「無い」 such as 「もったいない」(勿体無い) or 「情けない」(情け無い) follow the third rule.
    1. もったいなもったいなもったいなさすぎる
    2. 情けな情けな情けなさすぎる
  • Most regular i-adjectives such as 「危ない」 or 「少ない」 follow the regular rule (rule 2).
    1. 危な危なすぎる
    2. 少な少なすぎる


  1. 佐藤さん料理上手で、また食べ過ぎました
    Satou-san is good at cooking and I ate too much again.
  2. お酒飲みすぎないように気をつけてね。
    Be careful to not drink too much, ok?
  3. 大きすぎるからトランク入らないぞ。
    It won't fit in the trunk cause it's too big, man.
  4. 静かすぎるかもしれないよ。
    It's too quiet. It might be a trap, you know.
  5. 時間足りなさすぎて何もできなかった
    Due to too much of a lack of time, I couldn't do anything.
  6. には、彼女がもったいなさすぎるよ。
    She is totally wasted on him (too good for him).

It is also common to change 「すぎる」 into its stem and use it as a noun.

A: Man, I don't remember anything about last night.

B: That's drinking too much.

Adding the 「も」 particle to express excessive amounts


  1. 昨日【きのう】 - yesterday
  2. 電話 【でん・わ】 - phone
  3. ~回 【~かい】 - counter for number of times
  4. する (exception) - to do
  5. 試験 【し・けん】 - exam
  6. ため - for the sake/benefit of
  7. ~時間 【~じ・かん】 - counter for span of hour(s)
  8. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 - study
  9. 今年 【こ・とし】 - this year
  10. キロ - kilo
  11. 太る 【ふと・る】 (u-verb) - to become fatter

When the 「も」 particle comes after some type of amount, it means that the amount indicated is way too much. For instance, let's look at the next example.

  • 昨日電話三回したよ!
    I called you like three times yesterday!

Notice that the 「も」 particle is attached to the amount "three times". This sentence implies that the speaker called even three times and still the person didn't pick up the phone. We understand this to mean that three times are a lot of times to call someone.

  1. 試験のために三時間勉強した
    I studied three whole hours for the exam.
  2. 今年十キロ太っちゃった
    I gained 10 whole kilograms this year!

Using 「ほど」 to express the extent of something


  1. 程 【ほど】 - degree, extent
  2. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  3. 天気 【てん・き】 - weather
  4. それ - that
  5. 暑い 【あつ・い】 (i-adj) - hot
  6. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) - to sleep
  7. 時間 【じ・かん】 - time
  8. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  9. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 (i-adj) - busy
  10. 韓国 【かん・こく】 - Korea
  11. 料理 【りょう・り】 - cooking; cuisine; dish
  12. 食べる 【たべ・る】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  13. おいしい (i-adj) - tasty
  14. なる (u-verb) - to become
  15. 歩く 【ある・く】 (u-verb) - to walk
  16. 迷う 【まよ・う】 (u-verb) - to get lost
  17. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 - study
  18. 頭 【あたま】 - head
  19. いい (i-adj) - good
  20. ハードディスク - hard disk
  21. 容量 【よう・りょう】 - capacity
  22. 大きい 【おお・きい】(i-adj) - big
  23. もっと - more
  24. たくさん - a lot (amount)
  25. 曲 【きょく】 - tune
  26. 保存 【ほ・ぞん】 - save
  27. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) - to be able to do
  28. 航空券 【こう・くう・けん】 - plane ticket
  29. 安い 【やす・い】 (i-adj) - cheap
  30. 限る 【かぎ・る】 (u-verb) - to limit
  31. 文章 【ぶん・しょう】 - sentence; writing
  32. 短い 【みじか・い】 (i-adj) - short
  33. 簡単 【かん・たん】 (na-adj) - simple
  34. 良い 【よ・い】 (i-adj) - good

The noun 「ほど」(程) is attached to a word in a sentence to express the extent of something. It can modify nouns as well as verbs as seen in the next example.

  1. 今日天気それほど暑くない
    Today's weather is not hot to that extent.
  2. 寝る時間ないほど忙しい
    Busy to the extent that there's no time to sleep.

When you use this with conditionals, you can express something that translates into English as, "The more you [verb], the more..." The grammar is always formed in the following sequence: [conditional of verb] followed immediately by [same verb+ ほど]

  • 韓国料理食べれば食べるほどおいしくなる
    About Korean food, the more you eat the tastier it becomes.

The literal translation is, "About Korean food, if you eat, to the extent that you eat, it becomes tasty." which essentially means the same thing. The example uses the 「ば」 conditional form, but the 「たら」 conditional will work as well. Since this is a general statement, the contextual 「なら」 conditional will never work. The decided 「と」 conditional won't work very well here either since it may not always be true depending on the extent of the action.

  1. 歩いたら歩くほど迷ってしまった。
    The more I walked, the more I got lost.
  2. 勉強すればするほどよくなるよ。
    The more you study, the more you will become smarter.

You can also use this grammar with i-adjectives by using the 「ば」 conditional.

  1. iPodは、ハードディスク容量大きければ大きいほどもっとたくさん保存できます
    About iPod, the larger the hard disk capacity, the more songs you can save.
  2. 航空券安ければ安いほどいいとは限らない
    It's not necessarily the case that the cheaper the ticket, the better it is.

For na-adjectives, since you can't use the 「ば」 conditional you have to resort to the 「なら」 conditional. Because it sounds strange to use the 「なら」 conditional in this fashion, you will hardly ever see this grammar used with na-adjectives. Since 「ほど」 is treated as a noun, make sure you don't forget to use 「な」 to attach the noun to the na-adjective.

  • 文章は、短ければ短いほど、簡単なら簡単なほどよいです。
    The shorter and simpler the sentences, the better it is.

Using 「~さ」 with adjectives to indicate an amount


  1. 高い 【たか・い】 (i-adj) - high; tall; expensive
  2. 低い 【ひく・い】 (i-adj) - short
  3. 穏やか 【おだ・やか】 (na-adj) - calm, peaceful
  4. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  5. ビル - building
  6. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  7. 犬 【いぬ】 - dog
  8. 聴覚 【ちょう・かく】 - sense of hearing
  9. 敏感 【びん・かん】 (na-adj) - sensitive
  10. 人間 【にん・げん】 - human
  11. 比べる 【くら・べる】 (ru-verb) - to compare
  12. はるか - far more
  13. 上 【うえ】 - above

We will now learn how to add 「さ」 to adjectives to indicate an amount of that adjective. For example, we can attach 「さ」 to the adjective for "high" in order to get "height". Instead of looking at the height, we can even attach 「さ」 to the adjective for "low" to focus on the amount of lowness as opposed to the amount of highness. In fact, there is nothing to stop us from using this with any adjective to indicate an amount of that adjective. The result becomes a regular noun indicating the amount of that adjective.

Adding 「~さ」 to adjectives to indicate an amount
  • For i-adjectives: First remove the trailing 「い」 from the i-adjective and then attach 「さ」
  • For na-adjectives: Just attach 「さ」 to the end of the na-adjective
    1. 穏やか穏やか

The result becomes a regular noun.


  1. このビル高さですか?
    What is the height of this building?
  2. 聴覚敏感人間比べると、はるかだ。
    If you compare the level of sensitivity of hearing of dogs to humans, it is far above.

Similarity or hearsay

In Japanese there are many different ways to express likeness or similarity depending on appearance, behavior, or outcome. When learning these expressions for the first time, it is difficult to understand what the differences are between them because they all translate to the same thing in English. This lesson is designed to study the differences between these expressions so that you can start to get a sense of which is appropriate for what you want to say.

Expressing similarity with よう


  1. ここ - here
  2. 誰 【だれ】 - who
  3. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  4. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  5. 観る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to watch
  6. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  7. 静か 【しず・か】 (na-adj) - quiet
  8. あの - that (over there) (abbr. of あれの)
  9. 人 【ひと】 - person
  10. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to see
  11. 気 【き】 - mood; intent
  12. する (exception) - to do
  13. 彼 【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  14. 雰囲気【ふん・い・き】 - atmosphere; mood
  15. ちょっと - a little
  16. 怒る 【おこ・る】 (u-verb) - to get angry
  17. 聞こえる 【き・こえる】 (ru-verb) - to be audible
  18. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  19. 起こる 【おこ・る】 (u-verb) - to happen
  20. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say

We've already briefly gone over 「よう」 and learned that 「よう」 means an appearance or manner. We can use this definition to say that something has an appearance or manner of a certain state. This word can be used in many ways to express similarity. The simplest example is by directly modifying the relative clause. When the sentence ends in 「よう」, you must explicitly express the state-of-being by adding 「だ」, 「です」, or 「でございます」.

  1. ここには、誰もいないよう
    Looks like no one is here.
  2. 映画観たようです
    Looks like (he) watched the movie.

When directly modifying nouns or na-adjectives, you must use the 「の」 particle for nouns or attach 「な」 to na-adjectives.

  1. 学生ようだ。
    Looks like it's a student.
  2. ここ静かようだ。
    Looks like it's quiet.

Notice that example 1 does not say that the person looks like a student. Rather, the declarative 「だ」 states that the person appears to be a student. On a side note, you can't say 「おいしいようだ」 to say that something looks tasty. This is like saying, "This dish apparently is tasty," which can actually be kind of rude.

You can also use it as a na-adjective to describe something that appears to be something else.

  1. あの見たよう気がした。
    Had a feeling like I saw that person before.
  2. 学生よう雰囲気ですね。
    He has a student-like atmosphere.

Finally, we can attach the target particle to say things like, "I heard it like that" or "I said it like...".

  1. ちょっと怒ったよう聞こえた
    Was able to hear it like (she) was a little mad.
  2. 何も起こらなかったよう言った
    Said (it) like nothing happened.

Using 「みたい」 to say something looks like something else


  1. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to see
  2. 犬 【いぬ】 - dog
  3. もう - already
  4. 売り切れ 【う・り・き・れ】 - sold out
  5. 制服 【せい・ふく】 - uniform
  6. 着る 【き・る】 (ru-verb) - to wear
  7. 姿 【すがた】 - figure
  8. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  9. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  10. ピザ - pizza
  11. お好み焼き 【お・この・み・や・き】 - okonomiyaki (Japanese-style pancake)
  12. 見える 【み・える】 (ru-verb) - to be visible

Another way to express similarity which is considered more casual is by using 「みたい」. Do not confuse this with the 「たい」 conjugation of 「見る」. The main difference is that this 「みたい」 can be attached directly to nouns, adjectives, and verbs just like particles which i-adjectives like 「~たい」 obviously can't do.

Using 「みたい」 to say something looks like something else
  • Attach 「みたい」 to the noun that bears the resemblance. 「みたい」 conjugates like a noun or na-adjective and not an i-adjective.

Conjugation Example with 「
Positive Negative
Non-Past みたい
looks like a dog
doesn't look like a dog
Past だったみたい
looked like a dog
didn't look like a dog


  1. もう売り切れみたい
    Looks like it's sold out already.
  2. 制服着ている姿みると、学生みたいです。
    Looking at the uniform-wearing figure, (person) looks like a student.

The implied meaning here is the person wearing the uniform is not really a student because he/she only looks like a student. This is different from example 3 from the previous 「よう」 section which implied that the person appears to be (but might not be) a student. Again, we also can't say 「おいしいみたい」 to say that something looks tasty because it implies that, in actuality, the food might not be so good.

Don't forget that 「みたい」 does not conjugate like the 「~たい」 form or i-adjectives.

  • このピザお好み焼きみたくない
    (みたい conjugates like a na-adjective.)
  • このピザお好み焼きみたいじゃない
    Doesn't this pizza looks like okonomiyaki?

「みたい」 is a grammar used mostly for conversational Japanese. Do not use it in essays, articles, or anything that needs to sound authoritative. You can use 「よう」 instead in the following fashion.

  1. もう売り切れよう
    It appears that it is sold-out already.
  2. このピザお好み焼きよう見える
    This pizza looks like okonomiyaki.

Guessing at an outcome using 「~そう」


  1. いい (i-adj) - good
  2. バランス - balance
  3. 崩れる 【くず・れる】 (ru-verb) - to collapse; to crumble
  4. 一瞬 【いっ・しゅん】 - an instant
  5. 倒れる 【たお・れる】 (ru-verb) - to collapse; to fall
  6. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  7. 辺り 【あた・り】 - vicinity
  8. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  9. 漬物 【つけ・もの】 - pickled vegetable
  10. おいしい (i-adj) - tasty
  11. これ - this
  12. 結構 【けっ・こう】 - fairly, reasonably
  13. やはり/やっぱり - as I thought
  14. 高い 【たか・い】 (i-adj) - high; tall; expensive
  15. お前 【お・まえ】 - you (casual)
  16. 金髪 【きん・ぱつ】 - blond hair
  17. 女 【おんな】 - woman; girl
  18. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable; desirable
  19. もう - already
  20. ~時 【~じ】 - counter for hours
  21. なる (u-verb) - to become
  22. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  23. ただ - free of charge; only
  24. 試合 【し・あい】 - match, game
  25. その - that (abbr. of それの)
  26. 人 【ひと】 - person
  27. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  28. かわいい (i-adj) - cute
  29. かわいそう (i-adj) - pitiable
  30. 犬 【いぬ】 - dog

The problem with English is that the expression, "seems like" has too many meanings. It can mean similarity in appearance, similarity in behavior or even that current evidence points to a likely outcome. We will now learn how to say the third meaning: how to indicate a likely outcome given the situation.

Just like the grammar we have learned so far in this lesson, we can use this grammar by simply attaching 「そう」 to the end of verbs, and adjectives. However, there are four important different cases. Actually, I just noticed this but the conjugation rules are exactly the same as the 「~すぎる」 grammar we learned in the last section. The only difference is that for the adjective 「いい」, you need to change it to 「よさ」 before attaching 「そう」 to create 「よさそう」.

Rules for conjugation
  1. Verbs must be changed to the stem.
  2. The 「い」 in i-adjectives must be dropped except for 「いい」.
  3. いい」 must first be conjugated to 「よさ」.
  4. For all negatives, the 「い」 must be replaced with 「さ」.
  5. This grammar does not work with plain nouns.

1. Verb must be changed to the stem.

For ru-verbs, remove the 「る」

  • バランス崩れて一瞬倒れそうだった。
    Losing my balance, I seemed likely to fall for a moment.

For u-verbs, change the / u / vowel sound to an / i / vowel sound

  • この辺りありそうだけどな。
    It seems likely that it would be around here but...

2. The 「い」 in i-adjectives must be dropped.

In the next example, the 「い」 has been dropped from 「おいしい」.

  • この漬物おいしそう!
    I bet this pickled vegetable is tasty! (This pickled vegetable looks good!)

Exception: The only exception to this rule is the adjective 「いい」. When using this grammar with 「いい」, you must first change it to 「よさ」.

  • これ結構よさそうだけど、やっぱり高いよね。
    This one also seems to be good but, as expected, it's expensive, huh?

Nothing needs to be done for na-adjectives.

  • お前なら、金髪好きそうだな。
    Knowing you, I bet you like blond-haired girls.

3. For all negatives, the 「い」 must be replaced with 「さ」.

The negative of 「来る」 is 「こない」 so when used with 「~そう」, it becomes 「こなさそう」.

  1. もう10時なったから、来なさそうだね。
    Since it already became 10:00, it's likely that (person) won't come.
  2. これただ試合じゃなさそうだ
    This isn't likely to be an ordinary match.

Identical to the 「~すぎる」 grammar, i-adjectives that are derived from the negative 「~ない」
like 「もったいない」 or 「情けない」 also follow this rule as well (which would be 「もったいなさそう」 and 「情けなさそう」 in this case).

4. This grammar does not work with plain nouns.

  • その学生そう

There are other grammar we have already covered that can be used to indicate that something is likely to be something else.

  1. その学生でしょう
    That person is probably student.
  2. その学生だろう
    That person is probably student.

Be careful never to use 「かわいい」 with this grammar. 「かわいそう」 is a completely different word used when you feel sorry for something or someone. 「かわいい」 means, "to look cute" already so you never need to use any of the grammar in this lesson to say something looks cute.

  1. このかわいそう
    Oh, this poor dog.
  2. このかわいい
    This dog is cute.

Expressing hearsay using 「~そうだ」


  1. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  2. 雨 【あめ】 - rain
  3. 降る 【ふ・る】(u-verb) - to precipitate
  4. 毎日 【まい・にち】 - everyday
  5. 会う 【あ・う】 (u-verb) - to meet
  6. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  7. 彼 【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  8. 高校生 【こう・こう・せい】 - high school student
  9. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  10. 田中 【た・なか】 - Tanaka (last name)
  11. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come

The reason that there are so many annoying rules to using 「~そう」 is to distinguish it from this next grammar we will learn. This is a useful grammar for talking about things you heard that doesn't necessary have anything to do with how you yourself, think or feel. Unlike the last grammar we learned, you can simply attach 「そうだ」 to verbs and i-adjectives. For na-adjectives and nouns, you must indicate the state-of-being by adding 「だ」 to the noun/na-adjective. Also, notice that 「そう」 itself must always end in 「だ」、「です」、or 「でございます」. These differences are what distinguishes this grammar from the one we learned in the last section. There are no tenses for this grammar.

  1. 明日降るそうだ
    I hear that it's going to rain tomorrow.
  2. 毎日会い行ったそうです
    I heard he went to meet everyday.

Don't forget to add 「だ」 for nouns or na-adjectives.

  • は、高校生そうです。
    I hear that he is a high school student.

When starting the sentence with this grammar, you also need to add 「だ」 just like you do with 「だから」

A: Is Tanaka-san not coming today?

B: So I hear.

Expressing hearsay or behavior using 「~らしい」


  1. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  2. 田中 【た・なか】 - Tanaka (last name)
  3. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  4. あの - that (over there) (abbr. of あれの)
  5. 人 【ひと】 - person
  6. 何 【なん】 - what
  7. 美由紀 【み・ゆ・き】 - Miyuki (first name)
  8. 友達 【とも・だち】 - friend
  9. 子 【こ】 - child
  10. 子供 【こ・ども】 - child
  11. 大人 【おとな】 - adult
  12. する (exception) - to do
  13. つもり - intention, plan
  14. 大騒ぎ 【おお・さわ・ぎ】 - big commotion

「らしい」 can be directly attached to nouns, adjectives, or verbs to show that things appear to be a certain way due to what you've heard. This is different from 「~そうだ」because 「~そうだ」 indicates something you heard about specifically while 「らしい」 means things seem to be a certain way based on some things you heard about the subject. 「らしい」 conjugates like a normal i-adjective.

Example 1

A: Is Tanaka-san not coming today?

B: Seems like it (based on what I heard).

Example 2

A: What is that person over there?

B: Seems to be Miyuki-san's friend (based on what I heard).

Another way to use 「らしい」 is to indicate that a person seems to be a certain thing due to his behavior.

  1. あの子供らしくない
    That child does not act like a child.
  2. 大人らしくするつもりだったのに、大騒ぎしてしまった。
    Despite the fact that I planned to act like an adult, I ended up making a big ruckus.

「っぽい」: Slang expression of similarity


  1. あの - that (over there) (abbr. of あれの)
  2. 人 【ひと】 - person
  3. 韓国人 【かん・こく・じん】 - Korean person
  4. 皆 【みんな】 - everybody
  5. もう - already
  6. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 - everything
  7. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  8. 恭子 【きょう・こ】 - Kyouko (first name)
  9. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 - not at all (when used with negative)
  10. 女 【おんな】 - woman; girl

A really casual way to express similarity is to attach 「っぽい」 to the word that reflects the resemblance. Because this is a very casual expression, you can use it as a casual version for all the different types of expression for similarity covered above.

「 っぽい」 conjugates just like an i-adjective, as seen by example 3 below.

  1. あのちょっと韓国人っぽいよね。
    That person looks a little like Korean person, huh?
  2. みんなで、もう全部食べてしまったっぽいよ。
    It appears that everybody ate everything already.
  3. 恭子全然っぽくないね。
    Kyouko is not womanly at all, huh?

Using 「方」 and 「よる」

If you were wondering how to make comparison in Japanese, well wonder no more. We will learn how to use 「」 and 「より」 to make comparisons between two things. We will also learn other uses of 「」 and 「よる」 along the way.

Using 「」 for comparisons


  1. 方 【1) ほう; 2) かた】 - 1) direction; side; 2) person; way of doing
  2. ご飯 【ご・はん】 - rice; meal
  3. おいしい (i-adj) - tasty
  4. 鈴木 【すず・き】 - Suzuki (last name)
  5. 若い 【わか・い】 (i-adj) - young
  6. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  7. いい (i-adj) - good
  8. 赤ちゃん 【あか・ちゃん】 - baby
  9. 静か 【しず・か】 (na-adj) - quiet
  10. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable; desirable
  11. ゆっくり - slowly
  12. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  13. 健康 【けん・こう】 - health
  14. こちら - this way
  15. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  16. 早い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) - fast; early
  17. 怖い 【こわ・い】 (i-adj) - scary
  18. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  19. 観る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to watch
  20. そんな - that sort of
  21. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) - to drink

The noun 「」 is read as 「ほう」 when it is used to mean a direction or orientation. As an aside, it can also be read as 「かた」 when it is used as a politer version of 「」.

When we use 「」 to mean direction, we can use it for comparison by saying one way of things is better, worse, etc., than the other way. Grammatically, it works just like any other regular nouns.


Use it with nouns by utilizing the 「の」 particle.

  1. ご飯おいしい
    Rice is tastier. (lit: The way of rice is tasty.)
  2. 鈴木さん若い
    Suzuki-san is younger. (lit: The way of Suzuki is young.)

Grammatically, it's no different from a regular noun.

  1. 学生じゃないいいよ。
    It's better to not be a student. (lit: The way of not being student is good.)
  2. 赤ちゃんは、静か好き
    Like quiet babies more. (lit: About babies, the quiet way is desirable.)

For non-negative verbs, you can also use the past tense to add more certainty and confidence, particularly when making suggestions.

  1. ゆっくり食べた健康いいよ。
    It's better for your health to eat slowly.
  2. こちらから行った早かった
    It was faster to go from this way.

The same thing does not apply for negative verbs.

  • 怖い映画観ないいいよ。
    It's better not to watch scary movie(s).

The negative verb is only in the past tense when the comparison is of something that happened in the past.

  • そんな飲まなかったよかった
    It was better not to have drunk that much.

Using 「より」 for comparisons


  1. 方 【1) ほう; 2) かた】 - 1) direction; side; 2) person; way of doing
  2. 花 【はな】 - flower
  3. 団子 【だん・ご】 - dango (dumpling)
  4. ご飯 【ご・はん】 - rice; meal
  5. パン - bread
  6. おいしい (i-adj) - tasty
  7. 若い 【わか・い】 (i-adj) - young
  8. 鈴木 【すず・き】 - Suzuki (last name)
  9. 毎日 【まい・にち】 - everyday
  10. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - job
  11. 嫌 【いや】 (na-adj) disagreeable; unpleasant
  12. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  13. まし - not as bad
  14. ゆっくり - slowly
  15. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  16. 早い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) - fast; early
  17. いい (i-adj) - good

You can think of 「より」 as being the opposite of 「」. It means, "rather than" or "as opposed to". It attaches directly to the back of any word. It is usually used in conjunction with 「」 to say something like, "This way is better as opposed to that way."


  1. より団子
    Dango rather than flowers. (This is a very famous saying.)
  2. ご飯が、パンよりおいしい
    Rice tastes better than bread. (lit: The rice way is tasty as opposed to bread.)
  3. キムさんより鈴木さん若い
    Suzuki-san is younger than Kim-san. (lit: The way of Suzuki is young as opposed to Kim-san.)

For those curious about the meaning of the proverb, dango is a sweet doughy treat usually sold at festivals. The proverb is saying that people prefer this treat to watching the flowers, referring to the 「花見」 event where people go out to see the cherry blossoms (and get smashed). The deeper meaning of the proverb, like all good proverbs, depends on how you apply it.

Of course, there is no rule that 「より」 must be used with 「」. The other way of things can be gleaned from context.

Suzuki: I don't like going to work everyday.

Smith: It's not as bad as opposed to not having a job.

Words associated with 「より」 do not need any tense. Notice in the following sentence that 「食べる」 in front of 「より」 is present tense even though 「食べる」 in front of 「」 is past tense.

  • ゆっくり食べた早く食べるよりいい
    It is better to eat slowly as opposed to eating quickly.

Using 「より」 as a superlative


  1. 誰 【だれ】 - who
  2. 何【なに】 - what
  3. どこ - where
  4. 商品 【しょう・ひん】 - product
  5. 品質 【ひん・しつ】 - quality of a good
  6. 大切 【たい・せつ】 (na-adj) - important
  7. する (exception) - to do
  8. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  9. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - job
  10. 早い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) - fast; early
  11. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) - to be able to do

You can also use 「より」 with question words such as 「」、「」、or 「どこ」 to make a superlative by comparing with everything or everybody else. In this case, though not required, it is common to include the 「も」 particle.


  1. 商品品質より大切しています
    We place value in product's quality over anything else.
  2. この仕事よりも早くできます
    Can do this job more quickly than anyone else.

Using 「」 to express a way to do something


  1. 方 【1) ほう; 2) かた】 - 1) direction; side; 2) person; way of doing
  2. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  3. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  4. 新宿 【しん・じゅく】 - Shinjuku
  5. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  6. そう - (things are) that way
  7. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  8. 体 【からだ】 - body
  9. いい (i-adj) - good
  10. 漢字 【かん・じ】 - Kanji
  11. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) - to write
  12. 教える 【おし・える】 (ru-verb) - to teach; to inform
  13. くれる (ru-verb) - to give
  14. パソコン - computer, PC
  15. 使う 【つか・う】 (u-verb) - to use
  16. 皆 【みんな】 - everybody
  17. 知る 【し・る】 (u-verb) - to know

You can also attach 「」 to the stem of verbs to express a way to do that verb. In this usage, 「」 is read as 「かた」 and the result becomes a noun. For example, 「行き」(いきかた) means, "the way to go" or 「食べ」(たべかた)means, "the way to eat". This expression is probably what you want to use when you want to ask how to do something.


  1. 新宿行き分かりますか。
    Do you know the way to go to Shinjuku?
  2. そういう食べよくないよ。
    Eating in that way is not good for your body.
  3. 漢字書き教えてくれますか?
    Can you teach me the way of writing kanji?
  4. パソコン使いは、みんな知っているでしょう。
    Probably everybody knows the way to use PC's.

When verbs are transformed to this form, the result becomes a noun clause. Sometimes, this requires a change of particles. For instance, while 「行く」 usually involves a target (the 「に」 or 「へ」 particle), since 「行き」 is a noun clause, example 1 becomes 「新宿行き」 instead of the familiar 「新宿行く」.

Using 「によって」 to express dependency


  1. 人 【ひと】 - person
  2. 話 【はなし】 - story
  3. 違う 【ちが・う】 (u-verb) - to be different
  4. 季節 【き・せつ】 - season
  5. 果物 【くだ・もの】 - fruit
  6. おいしい (i-adj) - tasty
  7. なる (u-verb) - to become
  8. まずい (i-adj) - unpleasant
  9. 和子 【かず・こ】 - Kazuko (first name)
  10. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  11. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) - to drink
  12. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  13. 大樹 【だい・き】 - Daiki (first name)
  14. それ - that
  15. 裕子 【ゆう・こ】 - Yuuko (first name)

When you want to say, "depending on [X]", you can do this in Japanese by simply attaching 「によって」 to [X].


  1. によって違う
    The story is different depending on the person.
  2. 季節によって果物おいしくなったりまずくなったりする
    Fruit becomes tasty or nasty depending on the season.

This is simply the te-form of 「よる」 as seen by the following simple exchange.

Kazuko: Shall we go drinking today?

Daiki: That depends on Yuuko.

Indicating a source of information using 「によると」


  1. 天気 【てん・き】 - weather
  2. 予報 【よ・ほう】 - forecast
  3. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  4. 雨 【あめ】 - rain
  5. 友達 【とも・だち】 - friend
  6. 話 【はなし】 - story
  7. 朋子 【とも・こ】 - Tomoko (first name)
  8. やっと - finally
  9. ボーイフレンド - boyfriend
  10. 見つける 【み・つける】 (ru-verb) - to find

Another expression using 「よる」 is by using it with the target and the decided conditional 「と」 to indicate a source of information. In English, this would translate to "according to [X]" where 「によると」 is attached to [X].


  1. 天気予報によると今日だそうだ。
    According to the weather forecast, I hear today is rain.
  2. 友達によると朋子やっとボーイフレンド見つけたらしい。
    According to a friend's story, it appears that Tomoko finally found a boyfriend.

Actions that are easy or hard to do


  1. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  2. しゃべる (u-verb) - to talk
  3. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  4. 字 【じ】 - character; hand-writing
  5. 読む 【よ・む】 (u-verb) - to read
  6. カクテル - cocktail
  7. ビール - beer
  8. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) - to drink
  9. 部屋 【へ・や】 - room
  10. 暗い 【くら・い】 (i-adj) - dark
  11. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to see
  12. 難しい 【むずか・しい】 (i-adj) - difficult
  13. 易しい 【やさ・しい】 (i-adj) - easy
  14. 簡単 【かん・たん】 (na-adj) - simple
  15. 容易 【よう・い】 (na-adj) - simple
  16. その - that (abbr. of それの)
  17. 肉 【にく】 - meat

This is a short easy lesson on how to transform verbs into adjectives describing whether that action is easy or difficult to do. Basically, it consists of changing the verb into the stem and adding 「やすい」 for easy and 「にくい」 for hard. The result then becomes a regular i-adjective. Pretty easy, huh?

Using 「~やすい、~にくい」 to describe easy and difficult actions
  • To describe an action as being easy, change the verb to the stem and add 「やすい」. To describe an action as being difficult, attach 「にくい」 to the stem.
    1. 食べ食べやすい
    2. しゃべしゃべしゃべりにくい

The result becomes a regular i-adjective.
Positive Negative
Non-Past 食べにく 食べにくくない
Past 食べにくかった 食べにくくなかった


  1. この読みにくい
    This hand-writing is hard to read.
  2. カクテルビールより飲みやすい
    Cocktails are easier to drink than beer.
  3. 部屋暗かったので、にくかった
    Since the room was dark, it was hard to see.

As an aside: Be careful with 「にくい」 because 「醜い」 is a rarely used adjective meaning, "ugly". I wonder if it's just coincidence that "difficult to see" and "ugly" sound exactly the same?

Of course, you can always use some other grammatical structure that we have already learned to express the same thing using appropriate adjectives such as 「難しい」、「易しい」、 「簡単」、「容易」、etc. The following two sentences are essentially identical in meaning.

  1. その食べにくい
    That meat is hard to eat.
  2. その食べるのは難しい
    The thing of eating that meat is difficult.

Variations of 「~にくい」 with 「~がたい」 and 「~づらい」


  1. 彼 【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  2. 忘れる 【わす・れる】 (ru-verb) - to forget
  3. 思い出 【おも・い・で】 - memories
  4. 大切 【たい・せつ】 (na-adj) - important
  5. する (exception) - to do
  6. とても - very
  7. 信じる 【しん・じる】 (ru-verb) - to believe
  8. 話 【はなし】 - story
  9. 本当 【ほん・とう】 - real
  10. 起こる 【おこ・る】 (u-verb) - to happen
  11. 辛い【1) から・い; 2) つら・い】 (i-adj) - 1) spicy; 2) painful
  12. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese (language)
  13. 読む 【よ・む】 (u-verb) - to read
  14. 待ち合わせ 【ま・ち・あわ・せ】 - meeting arrangement
  15. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  16. 場所 【ば・しょ】 - location

The kanji for 「にくい」 actually comes from 「難い」 which can also be read as 「かたい」. As a result, you can also add a voiced version 「~がたい」 as a verb suffix to express the same thing as 「にくい」. 「にくい」 is more common for speaking while 「がたい」 is more suited for the written medium. 「にくい」 tends to be used for physical actions while 「がたい」 is usually reserved for less physical actions that don't actually require movement. However, there seems to be no hard rule on which is more appropriate for a given verb so I suggest searching for both versions in google to ascertain the popularity of a given combination. You should also always write the suffix in hiragana to prevent ambiguities in the reading.


  1. との忘れがたい思い出大切している
    I am treating importantly the hard to forget memories of and with him.
  2. とても信じがたいだが、本当起こったらしい。
    It's a very difficult to believe story but it seems (from hearsay) that it really happened.

Yet another, more coarse variation of stem + 「にくい」 is to use 「づらい」 instead which is a slightly transformed version of 「辛い」(つらい). This is not to be confused with the same 「辛い」(からい), which means spicy!


  1. 日本語読みづらいな。
    Man, Japanese is hard to read.
  2. 待ち合わせは、分かりづらい場所しないでね。
    Please don't pick a difficult to understand location for the meeting arrangement.

More negative verbs

We already learned the most common type of negative verbs; the ones that end in 「ない」. However, there are couple more different types of negatives verbs. The ones you will find most useful are the first two, which expresses an action that was done without having done another action. The others are fairly obscure or useful only for very casual expressions. However, you will run into them if you learn Japanese for a fair amount of time.

Doing something without doing something else


  1. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  2. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) - to sleep
  3. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  4. 歯 【は】 - tooth
  5. 磨く 【みが・く】 (u-verb) - to brush; to polish
  6. 学校 【がっ・こう】 - school
  7. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  8. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  9. する (exception) - to do
  10. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 - class
  11. 止める 【や・める】 (ru-verb) - to stop
  12. 方 【1) ほう; 2) かた】 - 1) direction; side; 2) person; way of doing
  13. いい (i-adj) - good
  14. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  15. 相談 【そう・だん】 - consultation
  16. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  17. 取る 【と・る】 (u-verb) - to take
  18. こと - event, matter
  19. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) - to be able to do
  20. 彼 【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  21. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  22. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) - to go home
  23. そんな - that sort of
  24. お酒 【お・さけ】 - alcohol
  25. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) - to drink
  26. 当然 【とう・ぜん】 - naturally
  27. 酔っ払う 【よ・っ・ぱ・らう】 (u-verb) - to get drunk
  28. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 - study
  29. 東大 【とう・だい】 - Tokyo University (abbr. for 「東京大学」)
  30. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) - to enter
  31. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) - to think

Way back when, we learned how to express a sequence of actions and this worked fine for both positive and negative verbs. For instance, the sentence "I didn't eat, and then I went to sleep" would become 「食べなくて寝た。」 However, this sentence sounds a bit strange because eating doesn't have much to do with sleeping. What we probably really want to say is that we went to sleep without eating. To express this, we need to use a more generalized form of the negative request we covered at the very end of the giving and receiving lesson. In other words, instead of substituting the last 「い」 with 「くて」, we need only append 「で」 instead.

Doing something without doing something else
  • To indicate an action that was done without doing another action, add 「で」 to the negative of the action that was not done.
  • Example


  1. 何も食べない寝ました
    Went to sleep without eating anything.
  2. 磨かない学校行っちゃいました
    Went to school without brushing teeth (by accident).
  3. 宿題しない授業行くのは、やめたいいよ。
    It's better to stop going to class without doing homework.
  4. 先生相談しないこの授業取ること出来ない
    You cannot take this class without consulting with teacher.

Hopefully not too difficult. Another way to express the exact same thing is to replace the last 「ない」 part with 「ず」. However, the two exception verbs 「する」 and 「くる」 become 「せず」 and 「こず」 respectively. It is also common to see this grammar combined with the target 「に」 particle. This version is more formal than 「ないで」 and is not used as much in regular conversations.

Doing something without doing something else
  • Another way to indicate an action that was done without doing another action is to replace the 「ない」 part of the negative action that was not done with 「ず」.
    1. 食べ食べない食べ
    2. 行かない行か
  • Exceptions:
    1. するせず
    2. くるこず


  1. 何も言わず帰ってしまった。
    He went home without saying anything.
  2. 何も食べずそんなお酒飲む当然酔っ払いますよ。
    Obviously, you're going to get drunk if you drink that much without eating anything.
  3. 勉強せず東大入れる思わないな。
    I don't think you can get in Tokyo University without studying.

A casual masculine type of negative that ends in 「ん」


  1. する (exception) - to do
  2. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  3. すまん - sorry (masculine)
  4. すみません - sorry (polite)
  5. 知る 【し・る】 (u-verb) - to know
  6. 韓国人 【かん・こく・じん】 - Korean person
  7. 結婚 【けっ・こん】 - marriage
  8. なる (u-verb) - to become
  9. そんな - that sort of
  10. こと - event, matter
  11. 皆 【みんな】 - everybody
  12. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  13. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go

Finally, we cover another type of negative that is used mostly by older men. Since 「ない」 is so long and difficult to say (sarcasm), you can shorten it to just 「ん」. However, you can't directly modify other words in this form; in other words, you can't make it a modifying relative clause. In the same manner as before, 「する」 becomes 「せん」 and 「くる」 becomes 「こん」 though I've never heard or seen 「こん」 actually being used. If you have ever heard 「すまん」 and wondered what that meant, it's actually an example of this grammar. Notice that 「すみません」 is actually in polite negative form. Well, the plain form would be 「すまない」, right? That further transforms to just 「すまん」. The word brings up an image of おじさん but that may be just me. Anyway, it's a male expression.

A shorter way to say negative verbs
  • A shorter way to say a negative verb is to use 「ん」 instead of 「ない」.
  • Exceptions:
    1. するせん
    2. くるこん


  1. すまん
  2. 韓国人結婚しなくてならん
    You must marry a Korean!
  3. そんなことさせん
    I won't let you do such a thing!

You can even use this slang for past tense verbs by adding 「かった」.

  • 今日行くって、知らんかったよ。
    I didn't know everybody was going today.

A classical negative verb that ends in 「ぬ」


  1. する (exception) - to do
  2. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  3. 知る 【し・る】 (u-verb) - to know
  4. 韓国人 【かん・こく・じん】 - Korean person
  5. 結婚 【けっ・こん】 - marriage
  6. なる (u-verb) - to become
  7. 模擬 【も・ぎ】 - mock
  8. 試験 【し・けん】 - exam
  9. 何回 【なん・かい】 - how many times
  10. 失敗 【しっ・ぱい】 - failure
  11. 実際 【じっ・さい】 - actual
  12. 受ける 【う・ける】 (ru-verb) - to receive
  13. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) - to think
  14. 結果 【けっ・か】 - result
  15. 出る 【で・る】 (ru-verb) - to come out

There is yet another version of the negative verb conjugation and it uses 「ぬ」 instead of the 「ない」 that attaches to the end of the verb. While this version of the negative conjugation is old-fashioned and part of classical Japanese, you will still encounter it occasionally. In fact, I just saw this conjugation on a sign at the train station today, so it's not too uncommon.

For any verb, you can replace 「ない」 with 「ぬ」 to get to an old-fashion sounding version of the negative. Similar to the last section, 「する」 becomes 「せぬ」 and 「くる」 becomes 「こぬ」. You may hear this grammar being used from older people or your friends if they want to bring back ye olde days.

An old-fashioned way to say negative verbs
  • An old-fashioned way to say a negative verb is to use 「ぬ」 instead of 「ない」.
  • Exceptions:
    1. するせぬ
    2. くるこぬ


  1. 韓国人結婚してならぬ
    You must not marry a Korean!
  2. 模擬試験何回失敗して実際受けてみたら思わぬ結果出た
    After having failed mock examination any number of times, a result I wouldn't have thought came out when I actually tried taking the test.

Hypothesizing and Concluding

In this section, we're going to learn how to make hypotheses and reach conclusions using: 「とする」 and 「わけ」().

Coming to a conclusion with 「わけ


  1. 訳 【わけ】 - meaning; reason; can be deduced
  2. 直子 【なお・こ】 - Naoko (first name)
  3. いくら - how much
  4. 英語 【えい・ご】 - English (language)
  5. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 - study
  6. する (exception) - to do
  7. うまい (i-adj) - skillful; delicious
  8. なる (u-verb) - to become
  9. つまり - in short
  10. 語学 【ご・がく】 - language study
  11. 能力 【のう・りょく】 - ability
  12. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  13. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  14. 失礼 【しつ・れい】 - discourtesy
  15. 中国語 【ちゅう・ごく・ご】 - Chinese language
  16. 読む 【よ・む】 (u-verb) - to read
  17. 広子 【ひろ・こ】 - Hiroko (first name)
  18. 家 【1) うち; 2) いえ】 - 1) one's own home; 2) house
  19. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  20. こと - event, matter
  21. 一郎 【いち・ろう】 - Ichirou (first name)
  22. 微積分 【び・せき・ぶん】 - (differential and integral) calculus
  23. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  24. ここ - here
  25. 試験 【し・けん】 - exam
  26. 合格 【ごう・かく】 - pass (as in an exam)
  27. 今度 【こん・ど】 - this time; another time
  28. 負ける 【ま・ける】 (ru-verb) - to lose
  29. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  30. あきらめる (ru-verb) - to give up

The noun 「わけ」() is a bit difficult to describe but it's defined as: "meaning; reason; can be deduced". You can see how this word is used in the following mini-dialogue.

Example 1

Naoko: No matter how much I study, I don't become better at English.

Jim: So basically, it means that you don't have ability at language.

Naoko: How rude.

As you can see, Jim is concluding from what Naoko said that she must not have any skills at learning languages. This is completely different from the explanatory 「の」, which is used to explain something that may or may not be obvious. 「わけ」 is instead used to draw conclusions that anyone might be able to arrive at given certain information.

A very useful application of this grammar is to combine it with 「ない」 to indicate that there is no reasonable conclusion. This allows some very useful expression like, "How in the world am I supposed to know that?"

  • 中国語読めるわけない
    There's no way I can read Chinese. (lit: There is no reasoning for [me] to be able to read Chinese.)

Under the normal rules of grammar, we must have a particle for the noun 「わけ」 in order to use it with the verb but since this type of expression is used so often, the particle is often dropped to create just 「~わけない」.

Example 2

Naoko: Have you ever gone to Hiroko's house?

Ichirou: There's no way I would have ever gone to her house, right?

Example 3

Naoko: Do you understand (differential and integral) calculus?

Ichirou: There's no way I would understand!

There is one thing to be careful of because 「わけない」 can also mean that something is very easy (lit: requires no explanation). You can easily tell when this meaning is intended however, because it is used in the same manner as an adjective.

  • ここ試験合格するのはわけない
    It's easy to pass the tests here.

Finally, although not as common, 「わけ」 can also be used as a formal expression for saying that something must or must not be done at all costs. This is simply a stronger and more formal version of 「~てはいけない」. This grammar is created by simply attaching 「わけにはいかない」. The 「は」 is the topic particle and is pronounced 「わ」. The reason 「いけない」 changes to 「いかない」 is probably related to intransitive and transitive verbs but I don't want to get too caught up in the logistics of it. Just take note that it's 「いない」 in this case and not 「いない」.

  1. 今度負けるわけにはいかない
    This time, I must not lose at all costs.
  2. ここまできてあきらめるわけにはいかない
    After coming this far, I must not give up.

Making hypotheses with 「とする


  1. する (exception) - to do
  2. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  3. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  4. 今 【いま】 - now
  5. ~時 【~じ】 - counter for hours
  6. 着く 【つ・く】 (u-verb) - to arrive
  7. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) - to think
  8. 観客 【かん・きゃく】 - spectator
  9. 参加 【さん・か】 - participation
  10. もらう - to receive
  11. 被害者 【ひ・がい・しゃ】 - victim
  12. 非常 【ひ・じょう】 - extreme
  13. 幸い 【さいわ・い】 (na-adj) - fortunate
  14. 朝ご飯 【あさ・ご・はん】 - breakfast
  15. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  16. もう - already
  17. 昼 【ひる】 - afternoon
  18. お腹 【お・なか】 - stomach
  19. 空く 【す・く】 (u-verb) - to become empty

While this next grammar doesn't necessarily have anything directly related to the previous grammar, I thought it would fit nicely together. In a previous lesson, we learn how to combine the volitional form with 「とする」 to indicate an attempt to perform an action. We will now learn several other ways 「とする」 can be used. It may help to keep in mind that 「とする」 is really just a combination of the quotation particle 「と」 and the verb 「する」 meaning "to do". Let's say you have a sentence: [verb]とする. This means literally that you are doing like "[verb]" (in quotes). As you can see, when used with the volitional, it becomes: "Doing like making motion to do [verb]". In other words, you are acting as if to make a motion to do [verb]. As we have already seen, this translates to "attempt to do [verb]". Let's see what happens when we use it on plain verbs.


  • 明日行くする
    Assume we go tomorrow.

The example above is considering what would happen supposing that they should decide to go tomorrow. You can see that the literal translation "do like we go tomorrow" still makes sense. However, in this situation, we are making a hypothesis unlike the grammar we have gone over before with the volitional form of the verb. Since we are considering a hypothesis, it is reasonable to assume that the conditional will be very handy here and indeed, you will often see sentences like the following:

  • から行くしたら9時着く思います
    If we suppose that we go from now, I think we will arrive at 9:00.

As you can see, the verb 「する」 has been conjugated to the 「たら」 conditional form to consider what would happen if you assume a certain case. You can also change 「する」 to the te-form (して) and use it as a sequence of actions like so:

  1. 観客して参加させてもらった
    Received favor of allowing to participate as spectator.
  2. 被害者して非常幸いだった。
    As a victim, was extremely fortunate.
  3. 朝ご飯食べたしてもうだからお腹空いたでしょう。
    Even assuming that you ate breakfast, because it's already noon, you're probably hungry, right?

The same idea applies here as well. In example 1, you are doing like a "spectator" and doing like a "victim" in example 2 and finally, doing like you ate breakfast in example 3. So you can see why the same grammar applies for all these types of sentences because they all mean the same thing in Japanese (minus the use of additional particles and various conjugations of 「する」).

Time-specific actions

In this lesson, we will go over various ways to express actions that take place in a certain time-frame. In particular, we will learn how to say: 1) an action has just been completed, 2) an action is taken immediately after another action took place, 3) an action occurs while another action is ongoing, and 4) one continuously repeats an action.

Expressing what just happened with 「~ばかり」


  1. 食べる 【たべ・る】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  2. すみません - sorry (polite)
  3. 今 【いま】 - now
  4. お腹 【お・なか】 - stomach
  5. いっぱい - full
  6. キロ - kilo
  7. 走る 【はし・る】 (u-verb) - to run
  8. 凄い 【すご・い】 (i-adj) - to a great extent
  9. 疲れる 【つか・れる】 (ru-verb) - to get tired
  10. 家 【1) うち; 2) いえ】 - 1) one's own home; 2) house
  11. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) - to go home
  12. 昼ご飯 【ひる・ご・はん】 - lunch
  13. もう - already
  14. 空く 【す・く】 (u-verb) - to become empty
  15. まさか - no way, you can't mean to say
  16. 起きる 【お・きる】 (ru-verb) - to wake; to occur

This is a very useful grammar that is used to indicate that one has just finished doing something. For instance, the first time I really wished I knew how to say something like this was when I wanted to politely decline an invitation to eat because I had just eaten. To do this, take the past tense of verb that you want to indicate as just being completed and add 「ばかり」. This is used with only the past tense of verbs and is not to be confused with the 「ばかり」 used with nouns to express amounts.

Just like the other type of 「ばかり」 we have covered before, in slang, you can hear people use 「ばっか」 instead of 「ばかり」.

Using 「ばかり」 for actions just completed
  • To indicate that an action has ended just recently, take the past tense of the verb and add 「ばかり」.
    Example: 食べ食べ食べたばかり
  • For casual speech, you can abbreviate 「ばかり」 to just 「ばっか」
    Example: 食べたばかり → 食べたばっか

You can treat the result as you would with any noun.
Positive Negative
食べたばかり(だ) Just ate 食べたばかりじゃない Didn't just eat


  1. すみません食べたばかりなので、お腹いっぱいです。
    Sorry, but I'm full having just eaten.
  2. 10キロ走ったばかりで、凄く疲れた
    I just ran 10 kilometers and am really tired.
  3. 帰ったばかりです。
    I got back home just now.

Here are some examples of the abbreviated version.

  1. 昼ご飯食べたばっかなのに、もうお腹空いた
    Despite the fact that I just ate lunch, I'm hungry already.
  2. まさか起きたばっかなの?
    No way, did you wake up just now?

Express what occurred immediately after with 「とたん」


  1. 開ける 【あ・ける】 (ru-verb) - to open
  2. 取る 【と・る】 (u-verb) - to take
  3. 窓 【まど】 - window
  4. 猫 【ねこ】 - cat
  5. 跳ぶ 【と・ぶ】 (u-verb) - to jump
  6. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  7. 観る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to watch
  8. トイレ - bathroom; toilet
  9. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  10. 眠い 【ねむ・い】(i-adj) - sleepy
  11. なる (u-verb) - to become

Kind of as a supplement to 「ばかり」, we will cover one way to say something happened as soon as something else occurs. To use this grammar, add 「とたん」 to the past tense of the first action that happened. It is also common to add the 「に」 target particle to indicate that specific point in time.

Using 「とたん」 to describe what happened immediately after
  • Change the verb that happened first to the past tense and attach 「とたん」 or 「とたんに」.
    1. 開け開け開けたとたん(に)
    2. った取ったとたん(に)
  • ※Note: You can only use this grammar for things that happen outside your control.


  1. 開けたとたんに跳んでいった
    As soon as I opened window, cat jumped out.

For many more examples, check these examples sentences from our old trusty WWWJDIC.

An important thing to realize is that you can only use this grammar for things that occur immediately after something else and not for an action that you, yourself carry out. For instance, compare the following two sentences.

  • 映画観たとたんに、トイレ行きました
    (You carried out the action of going to the bathroom so this is not correct.)
  • 映画観たとたんに、眠くなりました
    (Since becoming sleepy is something that happened outside your control, this sentence is ok.)

Using 「ながら」 for two concurrent actions


  1. 走る 【はし・る】 (u-verb) - to run
  2. テレビ - TV, television
  3. 観る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to watch
  4. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  5. する (exception) - to do
  6. 音楽 【おん・がく】 - music
  7. 聴く 【き・く】 (u-verb) - to listen (e.g. to music);
  8. 学校 【がっ・こう】 - school
  9. 歩く 【ある・く】 (u-verb) - to walk
  10. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable
  11. 相手 【あい・て】 - other party
  12. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  13. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  14. 自分 【じ・ぶん】 - oneself
  15. 気持ち 【き・も・ち】 - feeling
  16. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  17. 欲しい 【ほ・しい】 (i-adj) - desirable
  18. 単なる 【たん・なる】 - simply
  19. わがまま (na-adj) - selfish
  20. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) - to think
  21. ポップコーン - popcorn
  22. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  23. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  24. 口笛 【くち・ぶえ】 - whistle
  25. 手紙 【て・がみ】 - letter
  26. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) - to write

You can use 「ながら」 to express that one action is taking place in conjunction with another action. To use 「ながら」, you must change the first verb to the stem and append 「ながら」. Though probably rare, you can also attach 「ながら」 to the negative of the verb to express the negative. This grammar has no tense since it is determined by the second verb.

Using 「ながら」 for concurrent actions
  • Change the first verb to the stem and append 「ながら」
  • For the negative, attach 「ながら


  1. テレビながら宿題する
    Do homework while watching TV.
  2. 音楽聴きながら学校歩くのが好き
    Like to walk to school while listening to music.
  3. 相手何も言わないながら自分気持ちわかってほしいのは単なるわがままだ思わない
    Don't you think that wanting the other person to understand one's feelings while not saying anything is just simply selfishness?

Notice that the sentence ends with the main verb just like it always does. This means that the main action of the sentence is the verb that ends the clause. The 「ながら」 simply describes another action that is also taking place. For example, if we switched the verbs in the first example to say, 「宿題ながらテレビ観る。」, this changes the sentence to say, "Watch TV while doing homework." In other words, the main action, in this case, becomes watching TV and the action of doing homework is describing an action that is taking place at the same time.

The tense is controlled by the main verb so the verb used with 「ながら」 cannot have a tense.

  1. ポップコーン食べながら映画観る
    Watch movie while eating popcorn.
  2. ポップコーン食べながら映画観た
    Watched movie while eating popcorn.
  3. 口笛ながら手紙書いていた
    Was writing letter while whistling.

Using 「ながら」 with state-of-being


  1. 残念 【ざん・ねん】 (na-adj) - unfortunate
  2. 貧乏 【びん・ぼう】 (na-adj) - poor
  3. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - job
  4. いっぱい - full
  5. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) - to enter
  6. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  7. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  8. なる (u-verb) - to become
  9. 高級 【こう・きゅう】 (na-adj) - high class, high grade
  10. バッグ - bag
  11. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) - to buy
  12. 彼 【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  13. 初心者 【しょ・しん・しゃ】 - beginner
  14. 実力 【じつ・りょく】 - actual ability
  15. プロ - pro
  16. 同じ 【おな・じ】 - same

A more advanced use of 「ながら」 is to use it with the implied state-of-being. In other words, you can use it with nouns or adjectives to talk about what something is while something else. The implied state-of-being means that you must not use the declarative 「だ」, you just attach 「ながら」 to the noun or adjective. For example, a common way this grammar is used is to say, "While it's unfortunate, something something..." In Japanese, this would become 「残念ながら・・・」

You can also attach the inclusive 「も」 particle to 「ながら」 to get 「ながらも」. This changes the meaning from "while" to "even while".

Using 「ながら」 or 「ながらも」 with state-of-being
  • To say [X] is something while something else, attach 「ながら」 to [X]
  • To say [X] is something even while something else, attach 「ながらも」 to [X]


  1. 仕事いっぱい入って残念ながら今日行けなくなりました
    While it's unfortunate, a lot of work came in and it became so that I can't go today.
  2. 貧乏ながらも高級バッグ買っちゃったよ。
    Even while I'm poor, I ended up buying a high quality bag.
  3. は、初心者ながらも実力プロ同じだ。
    Even while he is a beginner, his actual skills are the same as a pro.

To repeat something with reckless abandon using 「まくる」


  1. やる (u-verb) - to do
  2. ゲーム - game
  3. はまる (u-verb) - to get hooked
  4. 最近 【さい・きん】 - recent; lately
  5. パソコン - computer, PC
  6. 使う 【つか・う】 (u-verb) - to use
  7. アメリカ - America
  8. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  9. 時 【とき】 - time
  10. コーラ - cola
  11. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) - to drink

The WWWJDIC very succinctly defines the definition of this verb as a "verb suffix to indicate reckless abandon to the activity". Unfortunately, it doesn't go on to tell you exactly how it's actually used. Actually, there's not much to explain. You take the stem of the verb and simply attach 「まくる」. However, since this is a continuing activity, it is an enduring state unless you're going to do it in the future. This is a very casual expression.

Using 「まくる」 for frequent actions
  • Change the first verb to the stem and append 「まくっている」.

You can use all the normal conjugations you would expect with any other verb.
Positive Negative
Non-Past やりまくっている
doing all the time
don't do all the time
Past やりまくっていた
did all the time
didn't do all the time


  1. ゲームはまっちゃって最近パソコン使いまくっているよ。
    Having gotten hooked by games, I do nothing but use the computer lately.
  2. アメリカいたコーラ飲みまくっていた
    When I was in the US, I drank coke like all the time.

Expressing a lack of change

Up until now, we've mostly been talking about things that have happened or changed in the course of events. We will now learn some simple grammar to express a lack of change.

Using 「まま」 to express a lack of change


  1. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  2. 宜しい 【よろ・しい】 (i-adj) - good (formal)
  3. 半分 【はん・ぶん】 - half
  4. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  5. 捨てる 【す・てる】 (ru-verb) - to throw away
  6. 駄目 【だめ】 - no good
  7. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  8. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  9. 悲しい 【かな・しい】 (i-adj) - sad
  10. その - that (abbr. of それの)
  11. 格好 【かっ・こう】 - appearance
  12. クラブ - club; nightclub
  13. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) - to enter

「まま」, not to be confused with the childish expression for "mother" (ママ), is a grammatical phrase to express a lack of change in something. Grammatically, it is used just like a regular noun. You'll most likely hear this grammar at a convenience store when you buy a very small item. Since store clerks use super polite expressions and at lightning fast speeds, learning this one expression will help you out a bit in advance. (Of course, upon showing a lack of comprehension, the person usually repeats the exact same phrase... at the exact same speed.)


  • このまま宜しいですか?
    Is it ok just like this?

In other words, the clerk wants to know if you'll take it just like that or whether you want it in a small bag. 「宜しい」, in case I haven't gone over it yet, is simply a very polite version of 「いい」. Notice that 「まま」 grammatically works just like a regular noun which means, as usual, that you can modify it with verb phrases or adjectives.

  • 半分しか食べてないまま捨てちゃダメ
    You can't throw it out leaving it in that half-eaten condition!

Ok, the translation is very loose, but the idea is that it's in an unchanged state of being half-eaten and you can't just throw that out.

Here's a good example I found googling around.
Hint: The 「いさせる」 is the causative form of 「いる」 meaning "let/make me exist".

  • 今日だけは悲しいままいさせてほしい
    For only today, I want you to let me stay in this sad condition.

Finally, just in case, here's an example of direct noun modification.

  • その格好のままクラブ入れないよ。
    You can't get in the club in that getup (without changing it).

Using 「っぱなし」 to leave something the way it is


  1. 放す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) - to release; to set loose
  2. くれる (ru-verb) - to give
  3. ほったらかす (u-verb) - to neglect
  4. テレビ - TV, television
  5. 開ける 【あ・ける】 (ru-verb) - to open
  6. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) - to write
  7. つける (ru-verb) - to attach; to turn on
  8. する (exception) - to do
  9. 眠れる 【ねむ・れる】 (ru-verb) - to fall asleep
  10. 人 【ひと】 - person
  11. 結構 【けっ・こう】 - fairly, reasonably
  12. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  13. 窓 【まど】 - window
  14. 蚊 【か】 - mosquito
  15. いっぱい - full
  16. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) - to enter
  17. しまう (u-verb) - to do something by accident; to finish completely

The verb 「放す」 meaning "to set loose", can be used in various ways in regards to leaving something the way it is. For instance, a variation 「放っとく」 is used when you want to say "Leave me alone". For instance, you might use the command form of a request (くれる) and say, 「ほっといてくれ!」(Leave me alone!). Yet another variant 「ほったらかす」 means "to neglect".

The grammar I would like to discuss here is the 「っぱなし」 suffix variant. You can attach this suffix to the stem of any verb to describe the act of doing something and leaving it that way without changing it. You can treat the combination like a regular noun.

Here's a link with more examples of this grammar. As you can see by the examples, this suffix carries a nuance that the thing left alone is due to oversight or neglect. Here are the (simple) conjugation rules for this grammar.

Using 「っぱなし」 to complete an action and leave it that way
  • Take the stem of the verb and attach 「っぱなし」.
    1. 開け開けっぱなし
    2. 書きっぱなし


  1. テレビつけっぱなししなければ眠れないは、結構いる
    There exists a fair number of people who cannot sleep unless they turn on the TV and leave it that way.
  2. 開けっ放しだったので、いっぱい入ってしまった。
    The window was left wide open so a lot of mosquitoes got in.