Complete Guide to Japanese

Disclaimer: This is still a work in progress!

What is a complete guide to Japanese?

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

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

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

Resources and Tools

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

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

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


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


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

Table of Contents

Writing Systems and Pronunciation

The Scripts

The Japanese writing system is comprised of three main written scripts: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.

Hiragana is the main phonetic writing system used to represent every distinct sound in Japanese. Because of its phonetic nature, we will first learn Hiragana to also learn how to pronounce all the sounds in the Japanese language.

While Katakana represents the same sounds as Hiragana, it is mainly used to represent words imported from other languages.

Kanji, which are Chinese characters adapted for Japanese, are heavily used in writing. There are no spaces in Japanese so Kanji is necessary in order to separate the words within a sentence. Kanji is also useful for distinguishing homophones, which occurs quite often given the limited number of distinct sounds in Japanese.


In the next section, we will learn all the characters in Hiragana and how to pronounce them. As we will see, every character in Hiragana (and the Katakana equivalent) corresponds to a specific sound. This makes pronunciation very easy as each letter has exactly one pronunciation. However, because there are relatively few distinct sounds in the Japanese language, you must pay extra attention to proper intonation.

Unlike English pronunciation which is based on accents, Japanese pronunciation is based on alterations between a high and low pitch. For example, homophones can have different pitches of low and high tones resulting in a slightly different sound despite sharing the same pronunciation. The biggest obstacle for obtaining proper and natural sounding speech is incorrect intonation. Therefore, as you listen to Japanese and begin to imitate the sounds, it is very important that you pay attention to pitch in order to sound like a native speaker.


The table below represents the entire Hiragana syllabary categorized by the consonant and vowel sounds. With the exception of a few sounds (as shown by the pronunciation in parentheses), most sounds in Japanese are easily represented by a vowel or consonant-vowel. There is also one consonant-only sound: 「ん」.

Hiragana - Click for stroke order and sound
n w r y m h n t s k    



Roumaji comic

To understand how this chart works, let's start by looking at the right-most column, which are all the vowel-only sounds.


Here are some sample words for reading practice.
Example: あい - love (read as "ai")

  1. あう - to meet
  2. いえ - house
  3. おい - nephew
  4. うえ - above
  5. いう - to say

Each additional column represents a consonant sound with each of the five vowel sounds. For example, the "k" column has the following sounds.


「ん」 is the only character with no vowel sound. It adds an "n" sound as shown in the examples below.

  • きん - gold (read as "kin")
  • おんな - woman; girl (read as "on-na")
  • おんがく - music (read as "on-ga-ku")

Here are my recommendations for learning how to read, write, hear, and say the characters and sounds in Hiragana.

  • Reading: You'll be getting plenty of reading practice with the material in this book.
  • Writing: You'll need to develop muscle memory so use regular pen and paper. Below are handy PDFs for Hiragana writing practice.
  • Hearing: You can listen to the pronunciation for each character by clicking on it in the first chart. If your browser doesn't support audio, you can also download them at There are also other free resources with audio samples.
  • Speaking: Practice repeating the sounds. I recommend recording yourself to get an accurate idea of what you sound like. Pay careful attention to the "r" sounds!

While most of the sounds are pretty straightforward, the "r" sounds deserve careful attention for English speakers because there is no equivalent sound in English. It is more similar to the "r" sound in Spanish.

What works for some English speakers (even if it may not be technically correct) is to shape the lips something like the sound that is made for the English "r," but to make the sound with a single trill or flap of the tongue against the front of the palate.


Katakana, as already mentioned, is mainly used to represent words imported from other languages. We've already learned all the sounds when we learned Hiragana. All you need to learn is a different way of writing them.

Katakana - Click for stroke order and sound
n w r y m h n t s k    




* = rarely used

Due to the straight lines and relatively few strokes, there are many characters in Katakana that look very similar. In particular, 「シ」、「ツ」 「ソ」、and 「ン」. You should pay careful attention to the stroke order and direction. You may also notice that the Katakana 「ヘ」 is virtually identical to its Hiragana counterpart 「へ」. They are in fact, written pretty much the same way. Below are handy PDFs for writing practice.

English words in Japanese

Many words from foreign languages, particularly English, have become part of the Japanese language via Katakana throughout the years. However, there are relatively few distinct sounds in Japanese and only five vowel sounds. As a result, these words usually don't bear much resemblance to their original pronunciations. An important thing to remember is to stay true to the Japanese pronunciation and completely forget how it's really supposed to be pronounced. To give you an idea, here is a short list of foreign words and their Japanese equivalents.

Sample Katakana Words
English Japanese
America アメリカ
Russia ロシア
bus バス
motorcycle バイク
French fries フライドポテト (fried potato)

Additional Sounds

Though we have covered all the distinct characters in both Hiragana and Katakana, there are additional variations and sounds that still remain to be learned.

Voiced Consonants

Voiced consonants are consonant sounds that require a voice, creating a vibration in your throat. A number of consonant sounds in Hiragana and Katakana can be changed to their voiced counterpart by adding two small dashes to the upper-right corner of the character; namely the "k", "s", "t", and "h" consonant sounds. There is also a semi-voiced consonant sound "p", which is created by putting a small circle in the upper-right corner of the "h" characters.

Voiced Hiragana - Click for Sound
p b d z g  



Voiced Katakana - Click for Sound
p b d z g  




Y-vowel sounds

A consonant can precede the three y-sounds: 「や」、「ゆ」、 and 「よ」. This is done by attaching a small, half-size version of the y-sounds to the consonant+i sounds as you can see in the table below.

All small や、ゆ、and よ combinations in Hiragana - Click for Sound
p b j g r m h n c s k  
ぴゃ びゃ じゃ ぎゃ りゃ みゃ ひゃ にゃ ちゃ しゃ きゃ ya
ぴゅ びゅ じゅ ぎゅ りゅ みゅ ひゅ にゅ ちゅ しゅ きゅ yu
ぴょ びょ じょ ぎょ りょ みょ ひょ にょ ちょ しょ きょ yo
All small や、ゆ、and よ combinations in Katakana - Click for Sound
p b j g r m h n c s k  
ピャ ビャ ジャ ギャ リャ ミャ ヒャ ニャ チャ シャ キャ ya
ピュ ビュ ジュ ギュ リュ ミュ ヒュ ニュ チュ シュ キュ yu
ピョ ビョ ジョ ギョ リョ ミョ ヒョ ニョ チョ ショ キョ yo

Hard Consonant Sounds

While no single letter ends in a consonant sound (except 「ん」), Japanese does have a way to carry over the next consonant sound back with a small 「つ」. This can be used with the consonants "p, k, t, s" to create a hard stop.

For example, 「ひと」 (meaning "person") would normally be read as "hi-to". However, by adding a small 「つ」: 「ひと」, the "t" consonant sound is carried back and is pronounced "hit-to" (meaning "hit").

Here are some more examples.

  1. トラク (to-rak-ku) play - truck
  2. し (zas-shi) play - magazine
  3. プ (kap-pu) play - cup

The Long Vowel Sound

We will now go over the long vowel sound which is simply extending the duration of a vowel sound. You can extend the vowel sound of a character by adding either 「あ」、「い」、or 「う」 depending on the vowel as shown in the following chart.

Extending Vowel Sounds
Vowel Sound Extended by
/ a /
/ i / e /
/ u / o /

For example, if you wanted to create an extended vowel sound from 「か」, you would add 「あ」 to create 「かあ」. Other examples would include: 「き → きい」, 「く → くう」, 「け → けい」, 「こ → こう」, 「さ → さあ」 and so on. The reason for this is quite simple. Try saying 「か」 and 「あ」 separately. Then say them in succession as fast as you can. You'll notice that it's easier to drag out the vowel.

It's important to make sure you hold the vowel sound to the full length of both characters because there are many similar words that are only different by the length of the vowel. For example, 「ここ」 means "here" while 「こうこう」 means "High school".

Here is a short list of example words with long vowel sounds. The long vowel sound is highlighted.

  1. がくせ (ga-ku-se) play - student
  2. せんせ (sen-se) play - teacher
  3. きょ (kyo) play - today
  4. おはよ (o-ha-yo) play - good morning
  5. おかさん (o-ka-san) play - mother

There are also a small number of exceptions where an "e" vowel sound is extended by adding 「え」 or an "o" vowel sound is extended with 「お」. We'll see example of these words in later sections.

Long vowel sounds in Katakana are much easier. You simply need to use a dash: 「ー」.

  1. ツア (tsu-a) play - tour
  2. ル (me-ru) play - email
  3. キ (ke-ki) play - cake

Additional Katakana Sounds

「ふ」 is the only sound that is pronounced with a "f" sound, for example 「ふとん」 (futon) or 「ふじ」 (Fuji). That's fine in Japanese because there are no words with other "f" sounds such as "fa", "fi", or "fo". However, it's a problem when converting foreign words such as "fork" into Katakana.

This problem was solved by using small vowel sounds. For example, the small 「ォ」 can be attached to 「フ」 to create 「フォ」 (fo). "Fork" then becomes [フォーク」. There are other gaps that are filled with this technique. The "v" sounds are also expressed by putting two dashes to the vowel sounds. However, "v" sounds are rarely used due to the difficulty native Japanese speakers have in pronouncing them.

The following table shows the gaps that were filled using these techniques for Katakana.

Additional sounds
v w f ch d t j sh  
ヴァ ファ チャ ジャ シャ a
ヴィ ウィ フィ ディ ティ i
チュ ドゥ トゥ ジュ シュ u
ヴェ ウェ フェ チェ ジェ シェ e
ヴォ ウォ フォ チョ ジョ ショ o
  1. ファ (so-fa) play - sofa
  2. ウィンドウズ (win-do-u-zu) play - Windows (as in MS Windows)
  3. ウォッカ (wok-ka) play - vodka
  4. チェック (chek-ku) play - check


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

Stroke Order

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

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

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

Kanji in Vocabulary

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

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

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

Kanji Readings

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

Definition: person
Kun-yomi: ひと
On-yomi: ジン

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

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

Example: 人 【ひと】 - person

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

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


  • アメリカ人 【アメリカ・じん】 - American (person)
  • フランス人 【フランス・じん】 - French (person)

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

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

  1. 日本 【に・ほん】 - Japan
  2. 本 【ほん】 - book
Definition: sun; day
On-yomi: ニ
Definition: origin; book
On-yomi: ホン

  1. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  2. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
Definition: academic
On-yomi: ガク
Definition: ahead; precedence
On-yomi: セン
Definition: life
On-yomi: セイ

  1. 高い 【たか・い】 - tall; expensive
  2. 学校 【がっ・こう】 - school
  3. 高校 【こう・こう】 - high school
Definition: tall; expensive
Kun-yomi: たか・い
On-yomi: コウ
Definition: school
On-yomi: コウ

  1. 小さい 【ちい・さい】 - small
  2. 大きい 【おお・きい】 - big
  3. 小学校 【しょう・がっ・こう】 - elementary school
  4. 中学校 【ちゅう・がっ・こう】 - middle school
  5. 大学 【だい・がく】 - college; university
  6. 小学生 【しょう・がく・せい】 - elementary school student
  7. 中学生 【ちゅう・がく・せい】 - middle school student
  8. 大学生 【だい・がく・せい】 - college; university student
Definition: small
Kun-yomi: ちい・さい
On-yomi: ショウ
Definition: middle; inside
On-yomi: チュウ
Definition: large
Kun-yomi: おお・きい
On-yomi: ダイ

  1. 国 【くに】 - country
  2. 中国 【ちゅう・ごく】 - China
  3. 中国人 【ちゅう・ごく・じん】 - Chinese (person)
Definition: country
Kun-yomi: くに
On-yomi: コク

  1. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese language
  2. 中国語 【ちゅう・ごく・ご】 - Chinese language
  3. 英語 【えい・ご】 - English
  4. フランス語 【フランス・ご】 - French
  5. スペイン語 【スペイン・ご】 - Spanish
Definition: England
On-yomi: エイ
Definition: language
On-yomi: ゴ

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

Okurigana and changing readings

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

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

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

Different Kanji for similar words

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

Definition: hot (for climate only)
Kun-yomi: あつ・い
Definition: heat; fever
Kun-yomi: あつ・い;ねつ

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

Basic numbers and age

1 to 10

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

Numerals 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Reading いち さん し/よん ろく しち/なな はち きゅう じゅう

11 to 99

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


  1. 十一 【じゅう・いち】 - 11
  2. 二十 【に・じゅう】 - 20
  3. 二十一 【に・じゅう・いち】 - 21
  4. 三十九 【さん・じゅう・きゅう】 - 39
  5. 四十 【よん・じゅう】 - 40
  6. 七十四 【なな・じゅう・よん】 - 74
  7. 九十九 【きゅう・じゅう・きゅう】 - 99

Counters and Age

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

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

Irregular readings

  1. 一歳 【いっ・さい】 - 1 year old
  2. 八歳 【はっ・さい】 - 8 years old
  3. 十歳 【じゅっ・さい】 - 10 years old
  4. 二十歳 【はたち】 - 20 years old


  1. 二十歳 【はたち】 - 20 years old
  2. 二十一歳 【に・じゅう・いっ・さい】 - 21 years old
  3. 四十八歳 【よん・じゅう・はっ・さい】 - 48 years old
  4. 七十歳 【なな・じゅっ・さい】 - 70 years old

We will learn many more counters in a later chapter.

Chapter summary and practice

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

Learning the expressions

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

  1. はじめまして
    Shortened form of an expression originally meaning "I meet you for the first time". It's a standard greeting similar in intent to "Nice to meet" or "How do you do?"
  2. よろしくおねがいします
    There is no easy direct translation but it means something along the lines of "please treat me well" when used at the end of an introduction.

Telling people your name

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

I would recommend asking your teacher or a Japanese speaker for help in converting your name to the Katakana equivalent. You may even want to ask the first person you introduce yourself to.

If you want to give it a try on your own (like right now), you can try this tutorial on finding your name in Japanese:

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


Toggle Translations

(I am) [name].

  1. ブラウンです。
    (I am) Brown.
  2. アリス・スミスです。
    (I am) Alice Smith.

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

Putting it all together


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

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

  1. 自己紹介 【じ・こ・しょう・かい】 - self-introduction
  2. 大学生 【だい・がく・せい】 - college student
  3. 社会人 【しゃ・かい・じん】 - working adult
  4. 中国 【ちゅう・ごく】 - China
  5. 韓国 【かん・こく】 - South Korea
  6. カナダ - Canada
  7. イギリス - England
  8. オーストラリア - Australia
  9. フランス - France
  10. スペイン - Spain
  11. ブラジル - Brazil
  12. メキシコ - Mexico

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

Toggle Translations


Nice to meet you. (I am) Alice Smith.
(I'm) American. (I'm a) college student.
(I'm) 18 years old.
Please treat me well.

Other expressions

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

  1. ありがとうございます - thank you (polite)
  2. すみません - sorry (polite)
  3. さようなら - good-bye (notice the long vowel sound!
  4. いただきます - used before eating a meal (lit: I humbly receive)
  5. ごちそうさまでした - used after finishing a meal (lit: It was a feast)
  6. いってきます - used when leaving home (lit: I'm going and coming back)
  7. いってらっしゃい - used as farewell for someone leaving the house (lit: Go and come back)
  8. ただいま - used when returning home
  9. お帰りなさい 【お・かえ・りなさい】 - welcome home

Nouns and Adjectives

At the end of the last chapter, we used Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji to create a simple self-introduction. In the process, we used 「です」 to express state-of-being. In this chapter, we will learn more about the state-of-being and how to use nouns and adjectives.


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

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

How are you? (casual)

  • 元気 【げん・き】 - healthy; lively
    ※Used as a greeting to indicate whether one is well

A: 元気?
A: (Are you) well?

B: 元気。
B: (I'm) fine.

Polite State-of-being

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

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

We can ask questions in the polite form by further adding 「か」 to 「です」. The 「か」 is a question marker so a question mark is not necessary. Below is a simple greeting in the polite form.

How are you?

A: 元気ですか
A: (Are you) well?

B: 元気です
B: (I'm) well.

Practical Applications

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

Casual Morning Greeting

  1. おはよう - Good Morning (casual)

Toggle Translations

アリス: おはよう。
リー: おはよう。
アリス: 元気?
リー: 元気。

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

Polite Morning Greeting

  1. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  2. おはようございます - Good Morning (polite)
  3. お~ - a honorific prefix used for politeness and never used when referring to oneself

Toggle Translations

先生: おはようございます。
スミス: おはようございます!
先生: お元気ですか?
スミス: 元気です。

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

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

Topic Particles

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

「は」 Topic Particle

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

Important note!

The topic particle while written as 「は」, is pronounced 「わ」.


  1. これ - this
  2. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  3. それ - that
  4. ペン - pen
  5. 今 【いま】 - now
  6. ちょっと - a little (casual)
  7. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 - busy
  8. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  9. 好き 【す・き】 - likable (unlike English "like" is an adjective not a verb)

Toggle Translations

  1. これは、何(なん)ですか?
    (As for) this, what is (it)?
  2. それは、ペンです。
    (As for) that, (it's) a pen.
  1. 今は、忙しい?
    (As for) now, busy?
  2. 今は、ちょっと忙しい。
    (As for) now, (I'm) a little busy.
  1. 映画は、好きですか?
    (As for) movie(s), (do you) like? (lit: is likable?)
  2. 好きです。
    (I) like (them). (lit: Is likable.)


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

  1. こんにちは - Good day (pronounced 「こんにち」)
  2. こんばんは - Good evening (pronounced 「こんばん」)

How are things lately?

  1. 最近 【さい・きん】 - recent; lately
  2. どう - how
  3. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 - busy

Toggle Translations

先生: こんにち
スミス: こんにち
先生: 最近、どうですか?
スミス: 忙しいです。

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

「も」 Inclusive Topic Particle

The 「も」 particle used the same way as 「は」 topic particle but adds the meaning of "as well" or "also".

Suspiciously busy

  1. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  2. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  3. あさって - day after tomorrow
  4. うん - yes (casual)
  5. 本当 【ほんとう】 - truth; reality

Toggle Translations

リー: 今日は忙しい?
スミス: うん、忙しい。
リー: 明日は?
スミス: 明日忙しい。
リー: あさっては?
スミス: あさって
リー: 本当?

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

Addressing People

Addressing other people directly

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

  • ~さん - Polite name-suffix (gender-neutral)
  • ~君 【くん】 - Casual name-suffix (generally for males)
  • ~ちゃん - Casual name-suffix (generally for females)

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

Always sleepy

  1. はい - yes (polite)
  2. でも - but
  3. 眠い 【ねむ・い】 - sleepy
  4. それ - that
  5. 大変 【たい・へん】 - hardship; rough time; tough
  6. 大丈夫 【だい・じょう・ぶ】 - ok
  7. いつも - always

Toggle Translations

先生: スミスさんは、元気ですか。
スミス: はい、元気です。
先生: リーさんは、元気ですか?
リー: はい、元気です。でも、眠いです。
先生: それは、大変です。
スミス: 大丈夫です。リーさんはいつも眠いです。

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

Talking about yourself

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

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

List of different words meaning me, myself, and I

  1. 私 【わたし】 - polite, gender-neutral
  2. 私 【わたくし】 - same Kanji as 「わたし」 but this reading is only used in very formal situations
  3. 僕 【ぼく】 - polite, masculine
  4. あたし - casual, very feminine
  5. 俺 【おれ】 - very casual and masculine

How's the pizza?

  1. ピザ - pizza
  2. おいしい - tasty
  3. ううん - no (casual)

Toggle Translations

ジョン: ピザは、おいしい?
リー: ううん。
アリス: は、おいしい。

John: As for pizza, tasty?
Lee: No.
Alice: As for me, tasty.

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

Addressing family members

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

Definition: honorable
Stroke Order
Kun-yomi: お
On-yomi: ゴ
  1. 金 【お・かね】 - money
  2. 飯 【ご・はん】 - rice; meal
  3. 茶 【お・ちゃ】 - tea

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

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

Family member chart
One's own family Someone else's family
Family 家族【か・ぞく】 ご家族【ご・か・ぞく】
Parents 両親【りょう・しん】 ご両親【ご・りょう・しん】
Mother 母【はは】 お母さん【お・かあ・さん】
Father 父【ちち】 お父さん【お・とう・さん】
Wife 妻【つま】 奥さん【おく・さん】
Husband 夫【おっと】 ご主人【ご・しゅ・じん】
Older Sister 姉【あね】 お姉さん【お・ねえ・さん】
Older Brother 兄【あに】 お兄さん【お・にい・さん】
Younger Sister 妹【いもうと】 妹さん【いもうと・さん】
Younger Brother 弟【おとうと】 弟さん【おとうと・さん】
Son 息子【むすこ】 息子さん【むすこ・さん】
Daughter 娘【むすめ】 娘さん【むすめ・さん】

Smith's parents

  1. 山田 【やま・だ】 - Yamada (surname)
  2. アジア人 【あじあ・じん】 - Asian (person)
  3. いいえ - no
  4. でも - but
  5. 母 【はは】 - (one's own) mother
  6. 日本人 【に・ほん・じん】 - Japanese (person)
  7. そう - so
  8. お父さん 【お・とう・さん】 - father
  9. 父 【ちち】 - (one's own) father
  10. アメリカ人 【アメリカ・じん】 - American (person)
  11. なるほど (exp) - I see

Toggle Translations

山田: スミスさんは、アジア人ですか?
スミス: いいえ。でも、母は、日本人です。
山田: そうですか。お父さんは?
スミス: 父はアメリカ人です。
山田: なるほど。

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

Sentence-Ending Particles

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

「よ」 and 「ね」 sentence endings

「よ」 and 「ね」 are two of the most frequently used sentence ending particles.

  1. 「ね」 is used when the speaker is seeking agreement and confirmation. It adds a tone similar to saying, "right?" or "isn't it?".
  2. 「よ」 is used when the speaker wants to point something out or make something aware to the listener. It adds a tone similar to saying, "you know?".
  3. The two can be used together as 「よね」.


  1. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  2. 暑い 【あつ・い】 - hot (for climate/weather only)
  3. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  4. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 - busy
  5. ラーメン - ramen
  6. おいしい - tasty, delicous

Toggle Translations

  1. 今日は、暑いです
    As for today, (it's) hot, isn't it?
  2. 明日は、忙しいです
    As for tomorrow, (I'm) busy, you know.
  3. ラーメンは、おいしいですよね
    As for ramen, (it's) tasty you know, isn't it?!

You look young for a teacher

  1. 田中 【たなか】 - Tanaka (surname)
  2. いいえ - no
  3. とても - very
  4. 若い 【わか・い】 - young
  5. (お)いくつ - how old
  6. それ - that
  7. 秘密 【ひ・みつ】 - secret

Toggle Translations

スミス: はじめまして。スミスです。
田中: はじめまして。田中です。
スミス: 田中さんは、学生ですか?
田中: いいえ、先生です。
スミス: 本当ですか?
田中: 本当です
スミス: とても若いです。おいくつですか?
田中: それは、秘密です。

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


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

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

Examples of i-adjectives

All i-adjectives end in 「い」.

  1. いい - good
  2. かっこいい - cool; handsome
  3. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 - busy
  4. 楽しい 【たの・しい】- fun
  5. 暑い 【あつ・い】 - hot
  6. 寒い 【さむ・い】 - cold

Examples of na-adjectives

All adjectives that do not end in 「い」 are na-adjectives.

  1. 好き 【す・き】 - likable
  2. 元気 【げん・き】 - healthy; lively
  3. 静か 【しず・か】 - quiet

Examples of na-adjectives that end in 「い」

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

  1. きれい - clean; pretty
  2. 嫌い 【きら・い】 - distasteful
  3. 幸い 【さいわ・い】 - luckily, fortunately

Describing nouns directly

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


  1. 人 【ひと】 - person
  2. 時 【とき】 - when
  3. ゲーム - game
  4. 物 【もの】 - object; thing

Toggle Translations

  1. いい人
    good person
  2. 元気
    lively; healthy person
  3. きれい
    pretty person
  4. 忙しい時
    when busy
  5. 楽しいゲーム
    fun game
  6. 好き
    likable thing

You're so-so handsome

  1. 山本 【やまもと】 - Yamamoto (surname)
  2. 新しい 【あたら・しい】 (i-adj) - new
  3. とても (adv) - very
  4. まあまあ (adv) - so-so
  5. ありがとうございます - thank you (polite)

Toggle Translations

スミス: 田中先生は、新しい先生ですか?
山本: そうですよ。
スミス: とてもきれいな人ですね。
山本: そうですか?
スミス: あっ、山本先生も、まあまあかっこいいですよ!
山本: ・・・ありがとうございます。

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

Male/Female Speech

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

Declarative 「だ」

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

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


  1. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese language
  2. 上手 【じょう・ず】(na-adj) - skillful, good at
  3. 楽しい 【たの・しい】(i-adj) - fun

Toggle Translations

  1. 日本語は、上手ね。
    As for Japanese, (you're) good at it, aren't you?(feminine)
  2. 日本語は、上手ね。
    As for Japanese, (you're) good at it, aren't you?(masculine)
  3. 日本語は、楽しいよ。
    As for Japanese, (it's) fun, you know.(gender-neutral as 「だ」 cannot be used for i-adjectives)

Comic 3

  1. おはよう - Good Morning (casual)
  2. 元気 【げん・き】(na-adj) - healthy; lively
  3. 眠い 【ねむ・い】(i-adj) - sleepy
  4. でも - but
  5. もう - already
  6. 昼 【ひる】 - afternoon
  7. じゃ - then (abbr. of それでは)
  8. こんにちは - Good day
  9. お休み 【お・やす・み】 - Good night (expression for going to sleep)


Toggle Translations

John: Alice-chan, good morning.
Alice: Morning, how are (you)?
John: Sleepy.
Alice: But (it's) already afternoon, you know.
John: Is that so? Then, good afternoon.
Alice: Good afternoon.
John: Good night.

The homework is easy!

  1. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 (n) - homework
  2. 難しい 【むずか・しい】 (i-adj) - difficult
  3. 簡単 【かん・たん】 (na-adj) - easy
  4. うーん - umm
  5. 多分 【た・ぶん】 - probably; maybe
  6. どっち - which one; which way

アリス: 宿題は、難しい?
ジョン: 簡単よ!
アリス: 本当?
ジョン: うーん、多分難しいよ。
アリス: どっちよ。

Toggle Translations

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

Because John is male, he decides to use 「だ」 with 「よ」 with the na-adjective 「簡単」. However, regardless of gender, you cannot use 「だ」 with i-adjectives so he says 「難しいよ」. 「難しいよ」 is grammatically incorrect.

Noun properties

The 「の」 particle has many different uses but one of the most basic usages is for describing nouns with other nouns similar to how we described nouns with adjectives. This is usually used to describe ownership, membership, property or any other description that involves another noun.

It is important to remember the order the modification takes place. You don't want to inadvertently say "name's me" when you meant to say "my name". If you're unsure of the order, I recommend translating 「の」 as "of" and reading it in reverse.


  1. 私 【わたし】 - me; myself; I
  2. 名前 【な・まえ】 - name
  3. この - this
  4. 車 【くるま】 - car
  5. 日本 【に・ほん】 - Japan
  6. ペン - pen
  7. 机 【つくえ】 - desk
  8. 上 【うえ】 - up; above
  9. かばん - bag
  10. 下 【した】 - down; below
  11. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  12. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese language

Toggle Translations

  1. 私の名前は、キムです。
    Name of me (my name) is Kim.
  2. この車は、日本の車です。
    This car is car of Japan (Japanese car).
  3. ペンは、机の上です。
    Pen is above of desk.
  4. かばんは、机の下です。
    Bag is below of desk.
  5. 田中先生は、日本語の先生です。
    Tanaka-sensei is teacher of Japanese (Japanese teacher).

What's your first name again?

  1. 下の名前 - first name (lit: bottom name)
  2. 何 【なに】 - what
  3. なんで - why
  4. え - huh, eh

リー: スミスさんの下の名前は、何?
スミス: アリスよ。
リー: アリスちゃんね。
スミス: リーさんの下の名前は?
リー: ジェユン
スミス: ・・・リー君ね。
リー: え、なんで?

Toggle Translations

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

Noun replacement

The 「の」 particle can also replace the noun entirely when it's understood by the context.


  1. 赤い 【あか・い】 - red
  2. どれ - which

Toggle Translations

  1. 赤いは、好き。
    (I) like the red one.
  2. スミスさんは、どれですか?
    Which one is Smith-san's?

Negative State-of-Being

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

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

Negative for nouns and adjectives
  • For nouns and na-adjectives: Attach 「じゃない」 to the end
    1. 元気+じゃない=元気じゃない
    2. きれい+じゃない=きれいじゃない
  • For i-adjectives: Drop the 「い」 at the end and replace with 「くない」
    1. 忙し+くない=忙しくない
    2. かわい+くない=かわいくない
  • Exceptions: 「いい」 conjugates from 「よい」
    1. いい → よ+くない=よくない
    2. かっこいい → かっこよ+くない=かっこよくない

Note: The negative form is very similar grammatically to i-adjectives. Similar to i-adjectives, you must never use the declarative 「だ」 with the negative.


  1. サラダ - salad
  2. ステーキ - steak
  3. あまり - not very (when used with negative)
  4. この - this
  5. 本 【ほん】 - book
  6. 面白い 【おも・しろ・い】(i-adj) - interesting
  7. 今年 【ことし】 - this year
  8. 冬 【ふゆ】 - winter
  9. 寒い 【さむ・い】(i-adj) - cold

Toggle Translations

  1. サラダは、あまり好きじゃない
    As for salad, don't like very much.
  2. ステーキ・サラダは、サラダじゃないよ。
    As for steak salad, (it's) not salad, you know.
  3. この本は、面白くないよ。
    As for this book, (it's) not interesting, you know.
  4. 今年の冬は、寒くないね。
    As for this year's winter, (it's) not cold, is it?

That's not a good thing!

  1. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 (n) - class; lecture
  2. あまり - not very (when used with negative)
  3. 面白い 【おも・しろ・い】 (i-adj) - interesting; funny
  4. でも - but
  5. 難しい 【むずか・しい】 (i-adj) - difficult
  6. それ - that
  7. いい (i-adj) - good
  8. こと (n) - matter; event
  9. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 (adv) - not at all (when used with negative)

ジョン: 山本先生の授業は、あまり面白くない
アリス: 私は、面白いよ。
ジョン: でも、難しくない
アリス: それは、いいことよ。
ジョン: 全然よくない

Toggle Translations

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

Negative Nouns/Adjectives in Polite Form

As before, all that's required for the polite form is to add 「です」 to the end of the sentence.

I'm not an otaku!

  1. 趣味 【しゅ・み】 (n) - hobby; interest
  2. 何 【なに/なん】 - what (read as なん when used with です)
  3. パソコン - computer (abbreviation of パーソナル・コンピューター or PC)
  4. ゲーム - game
  5. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable
  6. スポーツ - sports
  7. いいえ - no (polite)
  8. オタク - otaku; geek; enthusiast

山本: リーさんの趣味は何ですか?
リー: パソコンです。ゲームも好きです。
山本: スポーツは、好きですか?
リー: いいえ、あまり好きじゃないです
スミス: リーさんは、オタクです。
リー: オタクじゃないですよ!

Toggle Translations

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

Identifying the unknown

「が」 identifier particle

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

  1. ピザ - pizza
  2. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable
  3. どんな - what kind of
  • ピザは、好きですか?
    As for pizza, do (you) like it?
  • どんなピザ好きですか?
    What kind of pizza do (like)? (Among all possibilities)

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

  1. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable
  2. 食べ物 【た・べ・もの】 - food
  3. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  • 好きな食べ物は、何ですか?
    As for food that (you) like, what is it?
  • 食べ物は、何好きですか?
    As for food, what is it that you like? (Among all possibilities)

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

  1. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 (i-adj) - busy
  • スミスさん、忙しい。
    As for Smith-san, busy.
  • スミスさん忙しい。
    Smith-san is the one that is busy.

Which teacher do you like the most?

  1. どの - which
  2. 一番 【いち・ばん】 - number 1; the best; the most
  3. かわいい (i-adj) - cute
  4. 二年生 【に・ねん・せい】 - second year; sophomore
  5. 来年 【らい・ねん】 - next year
  6. 楽しみ 【たの・しみ】 - something to look forward to
  7. なんで - why
  8. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 - class
  9. 面白い 【おも・しろ・い】 - interesting
  10. 難しい 【むずか・しい】 - difficult

リー: ジョンさんは、どの先生一番好き?
ジョン: 田中先生好きだね。
リー: そうだね。かわいいよね。でも、二年生の先生だよね。
ジョン: 来年楽しみだ!
アリス: 私は、山本先生好きよ。
ジョン: え?なんで?
アリス: 授業面白くない?
ジョン: 面白くないよ!難しいよ!
アリス: そう?

Toggle Translations

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

The one or thing that...

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

  1. 田中先生好き。
    Tanaka-sensei is the one that (I) like.
  2. 授業面白くない?
    Isn't (his) class the thing that is interesting?

Compound Sentences

Combining two sentences with "but"

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


  1. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  2. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 - busy
  3. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  4. 暇 【ひま】 (na-adj) - free (as in not busy)
  • 今日は忙しいけど、明日は暇。
    (I'm) busy but (I'm) free tomorrow.
  • 今日は忙しいです、明日は暇です。
    (I'm) busy but (I'm) free tomorrow.

Note: If the first clause ends with a noun or na-adjective without any tense and you're not using 「です」, you must add 「だ」.


  • (I'm) free today but (I'm) busy tomorrow.
    1. 今日は暇けど、明日は忙しい。
    2. 今日は暇ですけど、明日は忙しいです。
    3. 今日は暇が、明日は忙しい。
    4. 今日は暇ですが、明日は忙しいです。

If the noun or na-adjective is already conjugated (such as the negative 「じゃない」), you don't need to add 「だ」.

  • (I'm) not free today but (I'm) free tomorrow.
    1. 今日は暇じゃないけど、明日は暇。
    2. 今日は暇じゃないが、明日は暇。

Combining two sentences with "so"

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


  1. ここ - here
  2. うるさい - noisy
  • ここは、うるさいから、あまり好きじゃない。
    (It's) noisy here so (I) don't like it very much.
  • ここは、うるさいですので、あまり好きじゃないです。
  • (It's) noisy here so (I) don't like it very much.>

Note: Once again, If the first clause ends with a noun or na-adjective without anything else (such as 「です」 or 「じゃない」), you must add 「だ」 for 「から」 and 「な」 for 「ので」.


  1. ここ - here
  2. 静か 【しず・か】 - quiet
  • (It's) quiet here so (I) like it.
    1. ここは静かから、好き。
    2. ここは静かですから、好きです。
    3. ここは静かので、好き。
    4. ここは静かですので、好きです。

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

  • (It's) not quiet here so (I) don't like it very much.
    1. ここは静かじゃないから、あまり好きじゃない。
    2. ここは静かじゃないので、あまり好きじゃない。

Combining two sentences with "despite"

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


  1. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  2. とても - very
  3. 若い 【わか・い】 (i-adj) - young
  4. 今年 【こ・とし】 - this year
  5. 不景気 【ふ・けい・き】 - (economic) recession
  6. クリスマス - Christmas
  7. お客さん 【お・きゃく・さん】 - customer
  8. 少ない 【すく・ない】(i-adj) - few, scarce
  9. かわいい (i-adj) - cute
  10. 真面目 【ま・じ・め】 (na-adj) - serious; diligent
  11. 男 【おとこ】 - man
  12. 友達 【とも・だち】 - friend

Toggle Translations

  1. 田中さんは、先生なのに、とても若いです。
    Despite the fact that Tanaka-san is (a) teacher, (she) is very young.
  2. 今年は、不景気だから、クリスマスなのに、お客さんが少ない。
    This year is recession so despite it being Christmas, customers are few.
  3. アリスは、かわいいのに、真面目だから、男の友達が少ない。
    Although Alice is cute, because (she's) serious, (she has) few male friends.

Leaving parts out

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


スミス: ここは、好きじゃない。
リー: なんで?
スミス: うるさいから

Toggle Translations

Smith: I don't like (it) here.
Lee: Why?
Smith: Because it's noisy.

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

  1. 図書館 【と・しょ・かん】 - library
  2. ここ - here
  3. あまり - not very (when used with negative)
  4. 好き 【す・き】 - likable

りー: 図書館なのに、ここはいつもうるさいよね。
スミス: から、あまり好きじゃない。

Toggle Translations

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

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

  1. ですから、あまり好きじゃないです。
  2. ので、あまり好きじゃないです。

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

So what?

リー: 最近は、忙しいよ。
スミス: だから
リー: だから、大変だよ!だけど今日は、やっと暇だから、うれしい!
スミス: あっ、そう?

Toggle Translations

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

Listing multiple nouns

「と」 complete list particle

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

The poor chicken family...

  1. 親子丼 【おや・こ・どん】 - rice dish with chicken and egg (parent and child bowl)
  2. 材料 【ざい・りょう】 - ingredient
  3. ご飯 【ご・はん】 - rice; meal
  4. 玉ねぎ 【たま・ねぎ】 - onion
  5. しょうゆ - soy sauce
  6. そして - and then
  7. もちろん - of course
  8. 鶏肉 【とり・にく】 - chicken
  9. 卵 【たまご】 - egg
  10. 気持ち悪い 【き・もち・わるい】 (i-adj) - bad feeling, gross, unpleasant
  11. おいしい (i-adj) - tasty
  12. かわいそう (na-adj) - poor, pitiful (as in to feel sorry for)
  13. 面白い 【おも・しろ・い】 (i-adj) - interesting
  14. 大丈夫 【だい・じょう・ぶ】 (na-adj) - ok
  15. 本当 【ほん・とう】 - truth; reality
  16. 親 【おや】 - parent
  17. 子供 【こ・ども】 - child

スミス: 親子丼の材料は何ですか?
田中: ご飯玉ねぎしょうゆです。そして、親子丼だから、もちろん鶏肉卵です。
スミス: 気持ち悪いですね。
田中: そうですか?でも、おいしいですよ。
スミス: かわいそうじゃないですか?
田中: スミスさんは、面白いですね。本当の親と子供じゃないですから大丈夫ですよ。
スミス: でも・・・。

Toggle Translations

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

「や」 and 「とか」 partial list

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

I hate natto

  1. どんな - what kind
  2. 食べ物 【た・べ・もの】(n) - food
  3. お菓子 【お・か・し】 - candy
  4. チーズケーキ - cheese cake
  5. イチゴ - strawberry
  6. ショートケーキ - short cake
  7. 甘い 【あま・い】(i-adj) - sweet
  8. 物 【もの】(n) - thing
  9. 納豆 【なっ・とう】(n) - natto (fermented soybeans)
  10. 嫌い 【きら・い】(na-adj) - dislike; hate

山本: スミスさんは、どんな食べ物が好きですか?
スミス: そうですね。日本のお菓子チーズケーキイチゴショートケーキが好きです。
山本: 甘い物が好きですね。
スミス: 甘くない物も好きですよ。
山本: 納豆はどうですか?
スミス: 納豆は、嫌いですね。

Toggle Translations

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

「か」 possible options

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

You're just like whatever, huh?

  1. 試験 【し・けん】 - exam
  2. いつ - when
  3. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  4. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  5. 絶対 【ぜっ・たい】 - definitely, for sure
  6. じゃ - then (casual)
  7. 適当 【てき・とう】 - haphazard, whatever works
  8. 来週 【らい・しゅう】 - next week
  9. やはり/やっぱり - as I thought

アリス: 試験はいつ?
ジョン: 今日明日だよ。
アリス: 絶対今日じゃないよ。
ジョン: じゃ、明日。
アリス: 適当だね。
リー: 試験は来週だよ。
アリス: やっぱり。

Toggle Translations

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

Explanations and expectations

In English, changing the order of words in the sentence can often change the tone as well. For example, asking "Is he a student?" sounds very different from "He's a student?" While the former is a very neutral question simply seeking a yes or no answer, the latter expresses surprise that the person is in fact a student and is seeking confirmation of that fact.

In Japanese, we saw that sentence order is very flexible due to how particles clearly define the grammatical role of each word. So in order to express this kind of biased question or answer, we add 「の」 to the end of the sentence to show that we are seeking or providing an explanation.

For nouns and na-adjectives, you also need to add 「な」 before 「の」.


  1. 彼 【かれ】 - he
  2. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  1. 彼は、学生?
    Is he (a) student?
  2. 彼は、学生なの
    He's a student? (Seeking explanation why he's a student)

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

Health is important too

  1. ところで - by the way
  2. どうして - why
  3. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 - busy
  4. 僕 【ぼく】 - me, myself (polite, masculine)
  5. 水泳部 【すい・えい・ぶ】 - swim club
  6. え - eh, huh
  7. そう - so
  8. でも - but
  9. 趣味 【しゅ・み】 - hobby; interests
  10. パソコン - computer; PC
  11. ゲーム - game
  12. 健康 【けん・こう】 - health
  13. 大事 【だい・じ】 (na-adj) - important
  14. なるほど - I see

スミス: ところで、リー君はどうして忙しい
リー: 僕は水泳部だから。
スミス: え?そうなの
リー: そうだけど?
スミス: でも、趣味はパソコンとゲームじゃない
リー: そうだけど、健康も大事だから。
スミス: なるほど。

Toggle Translations

Smith: By the way, Lee-kun, why are you busy?
Lee: Because (I'm in) swim club.
Smith: Eh? Is that so?
Lee: That's so but?
Smith: But isn't (your) hobby computers and games?
Lee: That's so but health is also important so.
Smith: I see.

Explanation for 「だ」 and 「です」

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

What's the problem?

  1. オタク - otaku; geek; enthusiast
  2. あのう - um, er, excuse me
  3. あまり - not very (when used with negative)
  4. いい (i-adj) - good; fine
  5. 言葉 【こと・ば】 - word; language
  6. はい - yes (polite)
  7. いいえ - no (polite)

スミス: 山本先生、リーさんは、水泳部だから、オタクじゃないですよ!
山本: あのう、スミスさん、オタクはあまりいい言葉じゃないんですよ。
スミス: そうなんですか?でも、リーさんはオタクじゃないから、いいんじゃないですか?
山本: スミスさん・・・。
スミス: はい?
山本: いいえ、いいです。

Toggle Translations

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

The phrase 「いいんじゃないですか?」 shows a very important way setting expectations can enhance your abilities to express certain things. By setting the expectation that it should be good and asking the opposite allows you to ask questions like, "isn't it?". You can compare the difference in meaning by looking at the different variations below. This is only to give you the general idea as you'll naturally get the hang of it through the regular course of exposure to the language.

  1. いいですか? - Is it good? (neutral yes/no question)
  2. よくないですか? - Is it not good? (neutral yes/no question)
  3. いいですか? - It's good? (seeking explanation as to why it's good)
  4. よくないですか? - It's not good? (seeking explanation as to why it's not good)
  5. いいじゃないですか? - It's good, isn't it?
  6. よくないじゃないですか? - It's not good, isn't it?

Various degrees of explanation and expectation

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

Example 1

A: ごめん、今日はだめだ。
B: じゃ、明日は忙しい?

A: Sorry, today is no good.
B: Ok then, is tomorrow busy? (neutral yes/no question)

Example 2

A: ごめん、明日はだめだ。
B: 明日は忙しいの

A: Sorry, tomorrow is no good.
B: Is tomorrow busy? (mild curiosity, low level of seeking explanation)

Example 3

A: 明日はテストだね。
B: え?明日はテストなの??

A: Tomorrow is test, isn't it?
B: What? There's a test tomorrow?? (surprised expectation of no test and high level of seeking explanation)

Example 4

A: ごめん、明日は絶対だめだ。
B: 明日は、いったいどうしてだめなのよ?!

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

Chapter summary and practice

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

Nouns and Adjectives Conjugation Examples
Positive Negative Positive Polite Negative Polite
Noun 学生 学生じゃない 学生です 学生じゃないです
Na-adjective 元気 元気じゃない 元気です 元気じゃないです
I-adjective 忙しい 忙しくない 忙しいです 忙しくないです
Exception いい よくない* いいです よくないです*

* = exceptions

Questions using state-of-being

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

Various ways to say yes or no

  1. はい - yes (polite)
  2. ええ - yes (polite)
  3. いいえ - no (polite)
  4. うん - yes (casual)
  5. ううん - no (casual

Various question words

  1. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  2. 誰 【だれ】 - who
  3. いつ - when
  4. どう - how
  5. どんな - what kind of
  6. どうして - why
  7. なんで - why (casual)

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

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

Sample ice-breaker questions

  1. 趣味 【しゅ・み】 - hobby; interests
  2. 一番 【いち・ばん】 - number 1; the best; the most
  3. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable
  4. 日本 【に・ほん】 - Japan
  5. 食べ物 【た・べ・もの】 - food
  6. 英語 【えい・ご】 - English
  7. 難しい 【むずか・しい】 (i-adj) - difficult
  8. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 - class
  9. 楽しい 【たの・しい】 (i-adj) - fun
  10. 音楽 【おん・がく】 music
  1. 趣味は、何ですか?
    What is your hobby?
  2. 一番好きな食べ物は、何ですか?
    What is your favorite food?
  3. 日本の食べ物は好きですか?
    Do you like Japanese food?
  4. 英語は、難しいですか?
    Is English difficult?
  5. 授業は、楽しいですか?
    Is class fun?
  6. どんな音楽が好きですか?
    What kind of music do you like?

Try to come up with your own questions for your teacher, classmates, or conversation partner.

Favorite food comic

Comic 4

  1. いつも - always
  2. 弁当 【べん・とう】 - box lunch
  3. そう - (things are) that way
  4. 母 【はは】 - mother
  5. 料理 【りょう・り】 - cooking; cuisine; dish
  6. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable; desirable
  7. 僕 【ぼく】 - me, myself (polite, masculine)
  8. 欲しい 【ほ・しい】 (i-adj) - desirable
  9. ~な (sentence-ending particle) - casual and masculine version of ~ね
  10. 食堂 【しょく・どう】 - cafeteria
  11. 食べ物 【た・べ・もの】 - food
  12. あまり - not very (when used with negative)
  13. どんな - what kind of
  14. ステーキ - steak
  15. (お)すし - sushi
  16. カニ - crab
  17. 高い 【たか・い】 (i-adj) - high; tall; expensive
  18. ところで - by the way
  19. 昼ご飯 【ひる・ご・はん】 - lunch
  20. どうして - why
  21. ラーメン - ramen
  22. 安い 【やす・い】 (i-adj) - cheap
  23. なるほど - I see


Toggle Translations

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

Writing Practice

For writing practice, try writing a brief description about yourself. As always, make sure to correct your work early to avoid developing any bad habits. You can either ask a Japanese speaker or use

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

  1. 名前 【な・まえ】 - name
  2. 小学 【しょう・がく】 - elementary school
  3. 中学 【ちゅう・がく】 - middle school
  4. 高校 【こう・こう】 - high school
  5. 大学 【だい・がく】 - college
  6. 一年生 【いち・ねん・せい】 - first year; freshman
  7. 二年生 【に・ねん・せい】 - second year; sophomore
  8. 三年生 【さん・ねん・せい】 - third year; junior
  9. 四年生 【よ・ねん・せい】 - fourth year; senior
  10. 専攻 【せん・こう】 - major
  11. 趣味 【しゅ・み】 - interests; hobbies
  12. 読書 【どく・しょ】 - reading
  13. スポーツ - sports
  14. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese language
  15. 好き 【す・き】 - desirable
  16. とても - very
  17. ちょっと - a little
  18. 面白い 【おも・しろい】 (i-adj) - interesting; funny
  19. 難しい 【むずか・しい】 (i-adj) - difficult
  20. 簡単 【かん・たん】 (na-adj) - easy
  21. 食べ物 【た・べ・もの】 - food

Introducing Alice Smith

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

  1. 経済 【けい・ざい】 - economy
  2. 経済学 【けい・ざい・がく】 - economics
  3. サッカー - soccer
  4. ちなみに - by the way
  5. てんぷら - tempura
  6. ピザ - pizza


Greetings from the author



Similar to the state-of-being for nouns and adjectives, the verb always comes at the end of the sentence. In fact, if you consider the implied state-of-being for nouns and adjectives as a verb, it could be said that all complete sentences always end with a verb.

At the end of the last chapter, we learned how to set expectations by seeking or providing explanations with 「の」. The same thing applies for verbs.


  1. (お)すし - sushi (「お」 is an optional honorific prefix)
  2. 食べる 【たべ・る】 - to eat
  1. おすしは、食べる?
    Do you eat sushi?
  2. おすしは、食べる
    You eat sushi?
    (seeking explanation why he/she eats sushi as opposed to a neutral question "Do you eat sushi?")

I love sushi!

  1. 大好き 【だい・す・き】 (na-adj) - lovable; very likable
  2. 生 【なま】 - raw
  3. 魚 【さかな】 - fish
  4. すごい (i-adj) - amazing

スミス: おすしは、食べるの?
Smith: As for sushi, (you) eat (it)?

ジョン: うん、大好きだよ!
John: Yes, I love (it)!

スミス: でも、生の魚だよ。
Smith: But (it's) raw fish, you know.

ジョン: だから?
John: So?

スミス: すごいね。
Smith: (That's) amazing.

Particles used with verbs

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

「を」 Object Particle

The 「を」 particle is used to designate the direct object of a verb.

Note: While 「を」 is technically a w-consonant sound, it is pronounced the same as 「お」.


  1. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  2. 見る 【み・る】 - to see; to watch
  3. ご飯 【ご・はん】 - rice; meal
  4. 食べる 【た・べる】 - to eat
  5. 本 【ほん】 - book
  6. 読む 【よ・む】 - to read
  7. 手 【て】 - hand
  8. 紙 【かみ】 - paper
  9. 手紙 【て・がみ】 - letter
  10. 書く 【か・く】 - to write
  1. 映画見る。
    Watch movie.
  2. ご飯食べる。
    Eat rice/meal.
  3. 読む。
    Read book.
  4. 手紙書く。
    Write letter.

「と」 And/With Particle

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


  1. 友達 【とも・だち】 - friend
  2. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】 - to play
  3. 話す 【はな・す】 - to talk
  4. 親戚 【しん・せき】 - relative
  5. 会う 【あ・う】 - to meet
  1. 友達遊ぶ。
    Play with friend.
  2. リーさん話す。
    Talk with Lee-san.
  3. 親戚会う。
    Meet with relative.

「に」 Target Particle

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


  1. 学校 【がっ・こう】 - school
  2. 行く 【い・く】 - to go
  3. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  4. くる - to come
  5. バス - bus
  6. 乗る 【の・る】 - to ride
  7. 聞く 【き・く】 - to ask; to listen
  8. 前 【まえ】 - in front
  9. 立つ 【た・つ】 - to stand
  10. 友達 【とも・だち】 - friend
  11. 会う 【あ・う】 - to meet
  1. 学校行く。
    Go to school.
  2. 親戚は、明日くる。
    As for relative(s), come tomorrow.
  3. バス乗る。
    Ride on bus.
  4. 先生聞く。
    Ask/listen to teacher.
  5. 人の前立つ。
    Stand in front of people.
  6. 友達会う。
    Meet friend.

「で」 Context Particle

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


  1. レストラン - restaurant
  2. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese language
  3. 話す 【はな・す】 - to speak
  4. はし - chopsticks
  5. 映画館 【えい・が・かん】 - movie theatre
  6. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - work
  7. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 (i-adj) - busy
  1. レストラン食べる。
    Eat at restaurant.
  2. 日本語話す。
    Speak in Japanese. (Speak by means of Japanese.)
  3. はし食べる。
    Eat with chopsticks. (Eat by means of chopsticks.)
  4. 映画館映画を見る。
    Watch movie at movie theatre.
  5. 仕事忙しい。
    Busy with work. (Busy by means of work.)

「へ」 Directional Particle

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

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

Note: While 「へ」 is normally pronounced as "he", this particle is pronounced as 「え」


  1. 手紙 【て・がみ】 - letter
  2. 送る 【おく・る】 - to send
  1. 学校行く。
    Go to school.
  2. 手紙を日本送る。
    Send letter to Japan.

Existence Verbs

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

There are two verbs that show existence for animate and inanimate objects.

  • ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  • いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)

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


  1. どこ - where
  2. 時間 【じ・かん】 - time
  1. アリスちゃんは、どこにいる
    Where is Alice-chan? (lit: Alice-chan exists at where?)
  2. 時間はある
    Do (you) have time? (lit: Is there time?)


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

  1. ここ - here
  2. そこ - there
  3. あそこ - over there (farther away)
  4. 上 【うえ】 - above
  5. 下 【した】 - below
  6. 右 【みぎ】 - right
  7. 左 【ひだり】 - left
  8. 前 【まえ】 - front; before
  9. 後ろ 【うし・ろ】 - behind
  10. 隣 【となり】 - next to


  1. 鍵 【かぎ】 - key
  2. テーブル - table
  3. 銀行 【ぎん・こう】 - bank
  4. 郵便局 【ゆう・びん・きょく】 - post office
  1. アリスは、学校の後ろにいる
    Alice is behind (the) school. (lit: As for Alice, exists behind of school.)
  2. 鍵は、テーブルの上にある
    Key is above (the) table. (lit: As for key, exists above of table.)
  3. 銀行は、郵便局の隣にある
    Bank is next to post office. (lit: As for bank, exist next of post office.)

Any cute girls there?

  1. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  2. クラブ - club
  3. 行く 【い・く】 - to go
  4. する - to do
  5. 会話 【かい・わ】 - conversation
  6. 練習 【れん・しゅう】 - practice
  7. 俺 【おれ】 - me; myself (masculine and very casual)
  8. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  9. たくさん - a lot (amount)
  10. 日本人 【に・ほん・じん】 - Japanese person
  11. かわいい - cute
  12. 女 【おんな】 - woman
  13. 子 【こ】 - child
  14. 女の子 【おんな・の・こ】 - girl
  15. あのう - um; excuse me
  16. 一応 【いち・おう】 - for the time being; just in case
  17. やっぱり - as expected (casual)
  18. ムカつく - to get irritated

アリス: 明日、日本語のクラブがあるけど、行く?
Alice: There's Japanese club tomorrow, want to go? (lit: Tomorrow, Japanese club exists but go?)

ジョン: 日本語のクラブで何をするの?
John: What do (you) do at Japanese club?

アリス: 日本語の会話の練習をするよ。
Alice: (You) do Japanese conversation practice.

ジョン: 俺は、宿題がたくさんあるから、いい。
John: I have a lot of homework so (I'm) good. (lit: As for me, a lot of homework exists so good.)

アリス: 日本人もいるよ。
Alice: Japanese people are also there, you know.

ジョン: かわいい女の子はいる
John: Is there cute girl(s)?

アリス: あのう、一応、私も行くけど?
Alice: Um, just in case, I'm going too but?

ジョン: そう?やっぱり、俺はいいよ。
John: Is that so? As I thought, I'm good.

アリス: ムカつく。
Alice: So irritating.

Negative Form

Verb Types

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

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


  1. 食べる - 「べ」 is an e-vowel sound so it is a ru-verb
  2. わかる - 「か」 is an a-vowel sound so it is an u-verb

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

Examples of different verb types
ru-verb u-verb exception
見る 【み・る】 - to see 話す 【はな・す】 - to speak する - to do
食べる 【た・べる】 - to eat 聞く 【き・く】 - to ask; to listen 来る 【く・る】 - to come
寝る 【ね・る】 - to sleep 泳ぐ 【およ・ぐ】 - to swim
起きる 【お・きる】 - to wake; to occur 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】 - to play
考える 【かんが・える】 - to think 待つ 【ま・つ】 - to wait
教える 【おし・える】 - to teach; to inform 飲む 【の・む】 - to drink
出る 【で・る】 - to come out 買う 【か・う】 - to buy
変える 【か・える】 - to change 帰る 【かえ・る】 - to go home
いる - to exist (animate) ある - to exist (inanimate)
着る 【き・る】 - to wear 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 - to die

Negative Form

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

Negative form for verbs
  1. For ru-verbs: Drop the 「る」 and attach 「ない」
    Example: 食べ + ない = 食べない
  2. For u-verbs that end in 「う」: Replace 「う」 with 「わ」 and attach 「ない」
    Example: 買 + わ + ない = 買わない
  3. For all other u-verbs: Replace the u-vowel sound with the a-vowel equivalent and attach 「ない」
    Example: 待 + た = 待たない
  4. Exceptions:
    1. する → しない
    2. くる → こない
    3. ある → ない (exception for this conjugation only, not an exception verb)
Negative form conjugation examples
ru-verb u-verb exception
見る → 見ない 話す → 話さない する → しない
食べる → 食べない 聞く → 聞かない くる → こない
寝る → 寝ない 泳ぐ → 泳がない ある → ない
起きる → 起きない 遊ぶ → 遊ばない
考える → 考えない 待つ → 待たない
教える → 教えない 飲む → 飲まない
出る → 出ない 買う → 買ない
変える → 変えない 帰る → 帰らない
着る → 着ない 死ぬ → 死なない

You don't have a TV?

  1. ね - hey
  2. 最近 【さい・きん】 - recent; lately
  3. テレビ - TV
  4. 番組 【ばん・ぐみ】 - program (e.g. TV)
  5. どう - how
  6. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) - to think
  7. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 - not at all (when used with negative)
  8. 面白い 【おも・しろい】 (i-adj) - interesting; funny
  9. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand; to know
  10. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to see
  11. なんで - why
  12. うち - one's own home, family, or household
  13. うそ - lie; no way (casual)
  14. 本当 【ほん・とう】 - truth; reality

ジョン: ね、最近のテレビ番組はどう思う?全然面白くないよね?
John: Hey, as for recent TV shows, how (do you) think? It's not interesting at all, huh?

アリス: 分からないね。私は、テレビを見ないから。
Alice: (I) don't know. As for me, I don't watch TV so.

ジョン: え?なんで見ないの?
John: Huh? Why don't (you) watch it?

アリス: うちは、テレビがないの。
Alice: As for our house, there's no TV.

ジョン: うそ!
John: No way!

アリス: 本当。
Alice: (It's) true.

ジョン: ・・・うそ!
John: ... No way!

アリス: 本当よ。
Alice: (It's) true, you know.

Polite Verbs

Verb Stem

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

Verb stem conjugation rules
  • For ru-verbs: Drop the 「る」
    Example: 食べ = 食べ
  • For u-verbs: Replace the u-vowel sound with the i-vowel equivalent
    Example: 行 + き = 行き
  • Exceptions:
    1. する → し
    2. くる → き
Verb stem examples
ru-verb u-verb exception
見る → 見 話す → 話し する → し
食べる → 食べ 聞く → 聞き くる → き
寝る → 寝 泳ぐ → 泳ぎ
起きる → 起き 遊ぶ → 遊び
考える → 考え 待つ → 待ち
教える → 教え 飲む → 飲み
出る → 出 買う → 買い
変える → 変え 帰る → 帰り
着る → 着 死ぬ → 死に

Polite Verb Form

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

Polite and polite negative verb conjugation rules
  1. Polite Positive: Attach 「ます」 to the verb stem
    Example: 食べ + ます = 食べます
  2. Polite Negative: Attach 「ません」 to the verb stem
    Example: 買い + ません = 買いません

Verb as a target

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


  1. 昼ご飯 【ひる・ご・はん】 - lunch
  2. 食べる 【た・べる】 - to eat
  3. 行く 【い・く】 - to go
  4. 私 【わたし】 - me, myself
  5. 会う 【あ・う】 - to meet
  6. 来る 【く・る】 - to come
  7. 友達 【とも・だち】 - friend
  8. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  9. 見る 【み・る】 - see, watch
  1. 昼ご飯を食べに行く。
    Go to eat lunch.
  2. 私に会いに来る。
    Coming to meet me.
  3. 友達と映画を見に行く。
    Go to watch movie with friend(s).

My family is in Korea

  1. 皆さん 【みな・さん】 - everybody (polite)
  2. 今年 【こ・とし】 - this year
  3. 春 【はる】 - spring
  4. 休み 【やす・み】 - vacation
  5. 何 【なに】 - what
  6. する - to do
  7. 私 【わたし】 - me, myself
  8. ここ - here
  9. アルバイト - part-time job
  10. 家族 【か・ぞく】 - family
  11. 会う 【あ・う】 (u-verb) - to meet
  12. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  13. 韓国 【かん・こく】 - South Korea
  14. いる 【い・る】 (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  15. 飛行機 【ひ・こう・き】 - airplane
  16. ~代 【~だい】 - charge, cost, fare
  17. とても - very
  18. 高い 【たか・い】 (i-adj) - tall; expensive
  19. 帰る 【かえ・る】(u-verb) - to go home
  20. そう - so
  21. 大変 【たい・へん】 (na-adj) - tough, rough

山本: 皆さんは、今年の春休みに何をしますか?
Yamamoto: Everybody, what will (you) do at this year's spring vacation?

リー: 私は、ここでアルバイトをします
Lee: As for me, (I) will do part-time job here.

山本: ご家族に会いに行きませんか?
Yamamoto: (You) will not go to meet your family?

リー: 私の家族は韓国にいますから、飛行機代がとても高いです。なので、今年は韓国に帰りません
Lee: My family is in Korea so the plane ticket is very expensive. Therefore, (I) will not go back home to Korea this year.

山本: そうですか。とても大変ですね。
Yamamoto: Is that so? (It's) very tough, isn't it?

Desire and Volition

To want to do

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


  1. カニ - crab
  2. 怖い 【こわ・い】 (i-adj) - scary
  1. カニを食べたい
    (I) want to eat crab.
  2. 日本に行きたいです。
    (I) want to go to Japan.
  3. 怖い映画は、見たくないよ。
    (I) don't want to watch (a) scary movie.

Volitional Form

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

Volitional form conjugation rules
  1. For ru-verbs: Drop the 「る」 and add 「よう」
    Example: 食べ = 食べ+よう = 食べよう
  2. For u-verbs: Replace the u-vowel sound with the o-vowel equivalent and 「う」
    Example: 行 + こ + う = 行こう
  3. Exceptions:
    「する」 becomes 「しよう」
    「くる」 becomes 「こよう」

I'm bored

  1. ~な (sentence-ending particle) - casual and masculine version of ~ね
  2. 図書館 【と・しょ・かん】 - library
  3. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 - study
  4. する - to do
  5. つまらない - boring, dull
  6. じゃ - then (casual)
  7. 大丈夫 【だい・じょう・ぶ】 (na-adj) - ok
  8. 絶対 【ぜっ・たい】 - definitely, for sure

ジョン: 最近は、暇だな。
John: I have nothing to do lately. (lit: Lately, I'm free.)

アリス: 図書館で日本語を勉強しようか?
Alice: Shall we study Japanese at the library?

ジョン: それは、つまらないよ。
John: That's boring.

アリス: じゃ、何をしたいの?
Alice: Then, what do you want to do?

ジョン: 映画を見に行こうかな?
John: Shall (I) go to watch a movie maybe?

アリス: 勉強は大丈夫なの?
Alice: Are (your) studies ok?

ジョン: うん、大丈夫。
John: Yeah, (it's) ok.

アリス: 絶対大丈夫じゃないよ。
Alice: (It's) definitely not ok, you know.

Polite Volitional Form

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

Polite volitional form conjugation rules
  • For all verbs: Attach 「ましょう」 to the verb stem
    食べ+ましょう = 食べましょう (let's eat)
    行き+ましょう = 行きましょう (let's go)
    し+ましょう = しましょう (let's do)

It's a good idea!

  1. レッスン - lesson
  2. 始める 【はじ・める】 (ru-verb) - to begin
  3. 天気 【てん・き】 - weather
  4. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 - class
  5. 外 【そと】 - outside
  6. 考え 【かんが・え】 - idea
  7. それじゃ - well then
  8. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go

Yamamoto: Let's begin today's lesson.

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

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

Everybody: Yes!

Telling Time


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

  • ~時 【~じ】 - hour counter
  • ~分 【~ふん】 - minute counter

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

Hour reading variations
Hour 4 o'clock 7 o'clock 9 o'clock
Kanji 四時 七時 九時
Reading よ・じ しち・じ く・じ
Minute reading variations
Minutes How many minutes 1 min 3 min 4 min 6 min 8 min 10 min
Kanji 何分 一分 三分 四分 六分 八分 十分
Reading なん・ぷん いっ・ぷん さん・ぷん よん・ぷん ろっ・ぷん はっ・ぷん じゅっ・ぷん


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

  1. 何時 【なん・じ】 - what hour; what time
  2. 午前 【ご・ぜん】 - AM
  3. 午後 【ご・ご】 - PM
  4. 半 【はん】 - half
  1. 1時1分 【いち・じ・いっ・ぷん】 - 1:01
  2. 午後4時44分 【ご・ご・よ・じ・よん・じゅう・よん・ぷん】 - 4:44 PM
  3. 午前10時半 【ご・ぜん・じゅう・じ・はん】 - 10:30 AM
  4. 18時25分 【じゅう・はち・じ・に・じゅう・ご・ふん】 - 18:25 (6:25 PM)


  1. 何時 【なん・じ】 - what hour; what time
  • 今は、何時ですか?
    What time is it now?
  • 2時半です。
    (It's) 2:30.

Days of the week

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

  1. 何曜日 【なん・よう・び】 - What day of week
  2. 月曜日 【げつ・よう・び】 - Monday
  3. 火曜日 【か・よう・び】 - Tuesday
  4. 水曜日 【すい・よう・び】 - Wednesday
  5. 木曜日 【もく・よう・び】 - Thursday
  6. 金曜日 【きん・よう・び】 - Friday
  7. 土曜日 【ど・よう・び】 - Saturday
  8. 日曜日 【にち・よう・び】 - Sunday
  9. 先週 【せん・しゅう】 - last week
  10. 今週 【こん・しゅう】 - this week
  11. 来週 【らい・しゅう】 - next week
  12. 毎週 【まい・しゅう】 - every week
  13. 平日 【へい・じつ】 - weekday
  14. 週末 【しゅう・まつ】 - weekend

Is it really late?

  1. 皆 【みんな】 - everybody
  2. レストラン - restaurant
  3. 何時 【なん・じ】 - what time
  4. 夜 【よる】 - evening
  5. ちょっと - a little (casual)
  6. 遅い 【おそ・い】 (i-adj) - late
  7. 毎日 【まい・にち】 - everyday
  8. 寝る 【ね・る】 - to sleep
  9. 違う 【ちが・う】 (u-verb) - to be different
  10. 大丈夫 【だい・じょう・ぶ】 - ok

リー: 来週の金曜日に皆で日本のレストランに食べに行くけど、アリスちゃんも行きたい?
Lee: Everybody is going to eat at (a) Japanese restaurant next Friday, (do you) Alice-chan want to also go?

アリス: 何時に行くの?
Alice: What time are (you) going?

リー: 夜の八時半
Lee: 8:30 night.

アリス: ちょっと遅いね。
Alice: (It's) a little late, isn't it?

リー: それは、アリスちゃんが毎日十時に寝るからだよ。
Lee: That's because Alice-chan (you) sleep at 10:00 every day.

アリス: 違うよ!
Alice: That's not so!

リー: じゃ、八時半で大丈夫だよね。
Lee: Then it's fine as 8:30 right?

アリス: いいよ!八時半で!
Alice: Fine! 8:30.

From and until

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


  1. ~から (particle) - from ~
  2. ~まで (particle) - until ~
  3. エアロビクス - aerobics
  4. クラス - class
  5. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 - class
  6. 始まる 【はじ・まる】(u-verb) - to begin
  7. この - this
  8. 会社 【かい・しゃ】 - company
  9. 働く 【はたら・く】 (u-verb) - to work
  10. 両親 【りょう・しん】 - parents
  11. 連絡 【れん・らく】 - contact
  1. エアロビクスクラスは、毎週火曜日と金曜日の18時から19時までです。
    Aerobic class is every Tuesday and Friday from 6:00 until 7:00pm.
  2. 授業は何時から始まるの?
    From what time is class start?
  3. いつまでこの会社で働きたいですか?
    Until when do (you) want to work at this company?
  4. 毎週末に両親から連絡がくる。
    (I) hear from (my) parents on every weekend. (lit: Contact comes from parents every weekend.)

Question words and particles

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

  1. 誰 【だれ】 - who
  2. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  3. どこ - where
  4. どう - how
  5. どうして - why
  6. どちら - which way
  7. どれ - which
  8. なんで - why (casual)
  9. なぜ - why (formal)
  10. いつ - when
  11. いくつ - how many
  12. いくら - how much

「も」 with question words

The following question words can be used with 「も」 to include and/or exclude everything.

  1. 誰も 【だれ・も】 - everybody or nobody when used with negative
  2. 何も 【なに・も】 - nothing when used with negative
  3. どこも - everywhere or nowhere when used with negative
  4. どうしても - no matter what
  5. どちらも - both ways
  6. いつも - always

Things aren't as consistent as one would hope however. For example, 「何も」 is usually not used to mean "everything". And 「いつも」 always means "always" for both positive and negative forms. Other words can be used instead to express similar concepts.

  1. 皆 【みんな】 - everybody
  2. 皆さん 【みな・さん】 - everybody (polite)
  3. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 - everything
  4. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 - not at all (when used with negative)
  5. 絶対 【ぜっ・たい】 - absolutely, unconditionally or never when used with negative

「でも」 with question words

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

  1. 誰でも 【だれ・でも】 - anybody
  2. 何でも 【なん・でも】 - anything
  3. どこでも - anywhere
  4. どうでも - anyhow
  5. どちらでも - any way
  6. いつでも - any time
  7. いくつでも - any number of things
  8. いくらでも - any amount

「か」 with question words

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

  1. 誰か 【だれ・か】 - somebody
  2. 何か 【なに・か】 - something
  3. どこか - somewhere
  4. どうか - somehow
  5. どちらか - one way (of the two)
  6. どうしてか - for some reason
  7. なんでか - for some reason (casual)
  8. なぜか - for some reason (formal)
  9. いつか - sometime
  10. いくつか - some number of things
  11. いくらか - some amount

Comic 5

  1. やっと - finally
  2. 週末 【しゅう・まつ】 - weekend
  3. 今週末 【こん・しゅう・まつ】 - this weekend
  4. 暇 【ひま】 (na-adj) - free (as in not busy)
  5. どっか - somewhere (slang for どこか)
  6. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】(u-verb) - to play
  7. 行く 【い・く】(u-verb) - to go
  8. 来週 【らい・しゅう】 - next week
  9. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese language
  10. テスト - test
  11. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  12. 大丈夫 【だい・じょう・ぶ】 (na-adj) - ok
  13. うん - yes (casual)
  14. 多分 【た・ぶん】 - probably; maybe
  15. じゃ - then (casual)
  16. この - this
  17. 単語 【たん・ご】 - word; vocabulary
  18. 漢字 【かん・じ】 - Kanji
  19. どう - how
  20. 書く 【か・く】(u-verb) - to write
  21. 憂鬱 【ゆう・うつ】 - depression
  22. 朦朧 【もう・ろう】 - dim, hazy
  23. 躊躇 【ちゅう・ちょ】 - hesitation
  24. それ - that
  25. 出る 【で・る】(ru-verb) - to come out
  26. 冗談 【じょう・だん】 - joke

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

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

John: Yeah, probably ok.

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

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

Alice: (It's) 憂鬱 and 朦朧 and 躊躇.

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

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

Never mind, you guys are too weird

  1. ね/ねえ - hey (casual)
  2. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  3. 昼ご飯 【ひる・ご・はん】 - lunch
  4. どっか - somewhere (slang for どこか)
  5. 僕 【ぼく】 - me, myself (polite, masculine)
  6. 何でも 【なん・でも】 - anything
  7. じゃ - then (casual)
  8. おいしい (i-adj) - tasty
  9. 物 【もの】 - physical object
  10. 当たり前 【あ・たり・まえ】 - obvious
  11. 誰 【だれ】 - who
  12. 皆 【みんな】- everybody (casual)
  13. 相変わらず 【あい・か・わらず】- as usual, without change
  14. 変 【へん】 (na-adj) - strange
  15. 食堂 【しょく・どう】- cafeteria

アリス: ねえ、今日の昼ご飯は、どっかに食べに行こうよ。
Alice: Hey, as for today's lunch, let's go somewhere to eat.

ジョン: そうだね。何を食べようか?
John: Right. What shall we eat?

リー: 僕は、何でもいいよ。
Lee: I'm fine with anything.

アリス: じゃ、何かおいしい物を食べたくない?
Alice: Then, don't (you) want to eat something tasty?

ジョン: それは当たり前だ。誰がおいしくない物を食べたいんだ?
John: That's obvious. Who wants to eat a thing not tasty?

リー: 僕は、何でもいいよ。
Lee: I'm fine with anything.

ジョン: じゃ、今日はおいしくない物にチャレンジしよう!
John: Then, let's challenge (ourselves) today with something not tasty!

アリス: 皆、相変わらず変ね。今日も食堂でいいよ。
Alice: Everybody is strange as usual, huh? The cafeteria is fine for today as well.


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

Useful adverbs

  1. いつも - always
  2. よく - often
  3. たいてい - usually
  4. 時々 【とき・どき】 - sometimes
  5. たまに - rarely
  6. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 - not at all (when used with negative)
  7. 多分 【た・ぶん】 - probably, maybe
  8. たくさん - a lot (amount)
  9. 少し 【すこ・し】 - a little (amount)

Creating adverbs from adjectives

There are many words that are not adverbs by themselves but are made into adverbs from other adjectives. This is similar to how "ly" is added to many words in English to make them into adverbs such as "quickly" or "slowly".

The rules for changing an adjective into an adverb is given below. As usual, 「いい」 is conjugated from the original 「よい」 pronunciation. This is where the adverb we just learned for "often" (よく) comes from.

Rules for changing adjectives into adverbs
  • For na-adjectives: Attach 「に」 to the end
    1. 静か
    2. きれい
    3. 本当
  • For i-adjectives: Replace the 「い」 with 「く」
    1. + く = 早
    2. かわい + く = かわい
  • Exceptions:
    1. 「いい」 becomes 「よく」
    2. 「かっこいい」 becomes 「かっこよく」


  1. 部屋 【へや】 - room
  2. きれい (na-adj) - pretty; clean
  3. 女性 【じょ・せい】 - female
  4. 声優 【せい・ゆう】 - voice actor/actress
  5. わざと (adv) - on purpose
  6. かわいい - cute
  7. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) - to speak
  8. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  9. 大事 【だい・じ】 - important
  10. 試験 【し・けん】 - exam
  11. 今夜 【こん・や】 - tonight
  12. 早い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) - early
  13. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) - to sleep
  1. 部屋をきれいにする。
    Make room clean (lit: Do room cleanly).
  2. 日本の女性声優は、よくわざとかわいく話す。
    Japanese female voice actresses often speak cutely on purpose.
  3. 明日、大事な試験があるから、今夜は早く寝る。
    Tomorrow, because there's an important test, going to sleep early tonight
  4. 来年、本当に日本に行くの?
    (Are you) really going to Japan next year?

Verb clauses

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

Remember also that the polite form only goes at the end of a complete sentence so a verb clause used within a sentence must be in the plain form.

Verb clauses as adjectives

A verb clause can be used to describe a noun just like an adjective by attaching the noun to the end of the clause. The highlighted areas show the clause that is being used in a larger sentence.


  1. ご飯 【ご・はん】 - rice; meal
  2. 時 【とき】 - when
  3. テレビ - television
  4. 本 【ほん】 - book
  5. 読む 【よ・む】 (u-verb) - read
  6. 頭 【あたま】 - head; mind
  7. 背 【せ】 - height
  8. すてき (na-adj) - lovely
  9. 高い 【たか・い】 (i-adj) - tall
  10. 性格 【せい・かく】 - personality
  11. 優しい 【やさ・しい】 - gentle
  1. ご飯を食べる時は、テレビを見ない。
    When eating a meal, don't watch TV.
  2. 本を読まない人は、頭がよくない。
    People that do not read books are not smart.
  3. 背が高い人は、すてきだね。
    Tall people are lovely, huh?
  4. 性格が優しくない人は、あまり好きじゃない。
    Don't like people whose personality is not gentle.

For clauses that end in a na-adjectives, once again, we need to use 「な」 to attach it to a noun. As for nouns, there is no need to use a clause to modify a noun with another noun as the 「の」 particle allows us to chain any number of nouns.

  1. 形 【かたち】 - shape, form
  2. きれい (na-adj) - pretty; clean
  3. 果物 【くだ・もの】 - fruit
  4. 運 【うん】 - luck
  1. 形がとてもきれい果物は、おいしい。
    Fruit that has very pretty form is tasty.
  2. 二年生日本語学生は、運がいい。
    As for second year Japanese students, luck is good.

I'm going alone

  1. 今年 【こ・とし】 - this year
  2. 春休み 【はる・やすみ】 - spring vacation
  3. 予定 【よ・てい】 - plan(s)
  4. 観光 【かん・こう】 - sightseeing
  5. メキシコ - Mexico
  6. 一人 【ひとり】 - one person; alone
  7. つもり - intention
  8. 一緒 【いっ・しょ】 - together
  9. 訳 【わけ】 - explanation, reasoning

山本: 田中さんは、今年の春休みに何か予定ありますか?
Yamamoto: Tanaka-san, do (you) have some (kind of) plan this spring vacation?

田中: ええ、観光にメキシコに行く予定です。
Tanaka: Yes, (I) plan to go sightseeing to Mexico.

山本: いいですね。私もメキシコに行きたいですね。
Yamamoto: That's nice. I want to go to Mexico too.

田中: 私は、一人で行くつもりですが・・・
Tanaka: I intend to by myself...

山本: いいえ、私は田中さんと一緒に行きたい訳じゃないですから!
Yamamoto: No, it's not the case that I want to go together with you in particular!

Verb clauses as nouns

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

「の」 can also be used as a noun replacement. The difference is 「こと」 is a more general statement while 「の」 is specific to the context of the sentence.


  1. 事 【こと】 - event, matter, generic happening
  2. 料理 【りょう・り】 - cooking
  3. お箸 【お・はし】 - chopsticks
  4. ご飯 【ご・はん】 - rice; meal
  5. 難しい 【むずか・しい】 (i-adj) - difficult, hard
  6. 朝 【あさ】 - morning
  7. 早い 【はや・い】 - early
  8. 起きる 【お・きる】 - to occur; to awake
  9. 苦手 【にが・て】 (na-adj) - poor/weak at
  1. 料理をするが好き。
    (I) like cooking.
  2. お箸でご飯を食べることは、難しい。
    It is difficult to eat rice by way of chopsticks.
  3. 朝、早く起きるは、苦手。
    Not good at waking up early in the morning.
Conversation Practice with Japanese teacher

Comic 6: 日本語の先生と会話を練習する

  1. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese (language)
  2. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  3. 会話 【かい・わ】 - conversation
  4. 練習 【れん・しゅう】 - practice
  5. する (exception) - to do
  6. 暇 【ひま】 (na-adj) - free (as in not busy)
  7. 時 【とき】 - when
  8. どんな - what kind
  9. こと - matter; event
  10. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable
  11. そう - (things are) that way
  12. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  13. 見る 【み・る】 - to see; to watch
  14. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  15. 何か 【なに・か】 - something
  16. 予定 【よ・てい】 - plan(s)
  17. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  18. はい - yes (polite)
  19. 僕 【ぼく】 - me; myself; I (polite, masculine)
  20. 行く 【い・く】 - to go
  21. 質問 【しつ・もん】 - question
  22. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  23. いいえ - no (polite)
  24. 意味 【い・み】 - meaning
  25. 何 【なに/なん】 - what

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brown: What is "meaning"?

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

  1. 今週末 【こん・しゅう・まつ】 - this weekend
  2. 特 【とく】 - particular
  3. 本屋 【ほん・や】 - bookstore
  4. めんどくさい (i-adj) - bothersome
  5. 俺 【おれ】 - me, myself (masculine, casual
  6. 暇 【ひま】 (na-adj) - free (as in not busy)
  7. やはり/やっぱり - as I thought, as expected

スミス: 今週末は、何か予定ある?
Smith: Do you have some kind of plan this weekend?

ジョン: 特にないけど?
John: Not particularly but?

スミス: 皆で、日本の本屋さんに行くは、どう?
Smith: How about going to Japanese bookstore with everybody?

ジョン: めんどくさいから、俺はいい。
John: It's too bothersome so I'm fine.

スミス: 暇な時に何をするが好きなの?
Smith: What do you like to do when you're free?

ジョン: 何もしないが好きだね。
John: I like not doing anything.

スミス: やっぱり・・・。
Smith: As I thought.

Chapter summary and practice

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

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

Verb Conjugation Examples
Plain Negative Polite Negative Polite
Ru-verb 食べる 食べない 食べます 食べません
U-verb 飲む まない みます みません
Verbs ending in 「う」 買う わない* 買います 買いません
Exception ある ない* あります ありません
Exception する しない* ます* ません*
Exception くる(来る) こない* ます* ません*

* = exceptions

Future plans and routine activities

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

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

  1. 昨日 【きのう】 - yesterday
  2. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  3. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  4. 毎日 【まい・にち】 - every day
  5. 先月 【せん・げつ】 - last month
  6. 今月 【こん・げつ】 - this month
  7. 来月 【らい・げつ】 - next month
  8. 毎月 【まい・つき】 - every month
  9. 去年 【きょ・ねん】 - last year
  10. 今年 【こ・とし】 - this year
  11. 来年 【らい・ねん】 - next year
  12. 毎年 【まい・とし】 - every year
  13. 朝 【あさ】 - morning
  14. 今朝 【け・さ】 - this morning
  15. 毎朝 【まい・あさ】 - every morning
  16. 昼 【ひる】 - afternoon
  17. 夜 【よる】 - evening
  18. 今夜 【こん・や】 - tonight
  19. 今晩 【こん・ばん】 - tonight
  20. 毎晩 【まい・ばん】 - every night
  21. ご飯 【ご・はん】 - rice; meal
  22. 朝ご飯 【あさ・ご・はん】 - breakfast
  23. 昼ご飯 【ひる・ご・はん】 - lunch
  24. 晩ご飯 【ばん・ご・はん】 - dinner
  25. 春 【はる】 - spring
  26. 夏 【なつ】 - summer
  27. 秋 【あき】 - autumn
  28. 冬 【ふゆ】 - winter
  29. 休み 【やす・み】 - rest, vacation
  1. 今日は、何をしようか?
    What shall (we) do today?
  2. どんな食べ物を食べたい?
    What kind of food do (you) want to eat?
  3. 昼ご飯は、何を食べましょうか?
    What shall we eat for lunch?
  4. 週末にたいてい何をするの?
    What do (you) usually do on weekends?
  5. 今年の冬休みに何か予定ありますか?
    Do (you) have some kind of plan this winter vacation?
  6. 来週末に映画を見に行くのは、どう?
    How (about) going to watch movie next weekend?
  7. 暇な時に何をするのが好きですか?
    What do (you) like to do when (you're) free?

Writing Practice

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

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

I like sleeping the most

  1. 趣味 【しゅ・み】 - hobby
  2. 特に 【とく・に】 - particularly
  3. 寝る 【ね・る】(ru-verb) - to sleep
  4. 一番 【いち・ばん】 - #1; the best; -est
  5. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  6. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 - studies
  7. 話す 【はな・す】(u-verb) - to speak
  8. 漢字 【かん・じ】 - Kanji
  9. 発音 【はつ・おん】 - pronunciation
  10. 将来 【しょう・らい】 - future
  11. なるべく - as much as possible
  12. 楽 【らく】(na-adj) - with ease; comfortable
  13. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - work; job
  14. たくさん - a lot
  15. 働く 【はたら・く】 - to work
  16. どうする - what one should do (lit: how do)
  17. 時 【とき】 - when


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

Verb tenses and clauses

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

Progressive Tense

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

The te-form

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

To change ru-verbs into the te-form
  • Drop the 「る」 part of the ru-verb (same as the stem) and add 「て」
    1. 食べ → 食べ
    2. → 見

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

  1. 話す 【はな・す】(u-verb) - to speak
  2. 書く 【か・く】(u-verb) - to write
  3. 泳ぐ 【およ・ぐ】(u-verb) - to swim
  4. 飲む 【の・む】(u-verb) - to drink
  5. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】(u-verb) - to play
  6. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】(u-verb) - to die
  7. 切る 【き・る】(u-verb) - to cut
  8. 買う 【か・う】(u-verb) - to buy
  9. 持つ 【も・つ】(u-verb) - to hold
  10. 行く 【い・く】(u-verb) - to go

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

There is also one additional exception for this conjugation: 「行く」

Te-form conjugations for u-verbs
Ending Non-Past changes to... Te-form
す → して して

く → いて
ぐ → いで

む → んで
ぶ → んで
ぬ → んで

る → って
う → って
つ → って
Exception Verbs
Non-Past Te-form
行く って*

* exceptions particular to this conjugation

Progressive Tense

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

Using 「~ている」 for progressive tense
  • To describe a continuing action, first conjugate the verb to the te-form and then attach the ru-verb 「いる」.
  • Examples
    1. 食べ → 食べ → 食べている
    2. → 読んで → 読んでいる

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

Progressive Conjugation Examples
Positive Negative Positive Polite Negative Polite
Ru-verb 見ている 見ていない 見ています 見ていません
U-verb 読んでいる 読んでいない 読んでいます 読んでいません
Exception きている(来る)* きていない きています きていません
Exception している* していない しています していません
Exception 行っている* 行っていない 行っています 行っていません

* = exceptions

Walking dog


  1. それ - that
  2. もう - already
  3. 知る 【し・る】(u-verb) - to acquire knowledge
  4. ペン - pen
  5. 持つ 【も・つ】(u-verb) - to hold
  6. 結婚 【けっ・こん】 - marriage
  7. 犬 【いぬ】 - dog
  8. 猫 【ねこ】 - cat
  9. 飼う 【か・う】(u-verb) - to keep; to raise (pets in particular)
  10. 太る 【ふと・る】(u-verb) - to get fat
  11. 痩せる 【や・せる】(ru-verb) - to get skinny
  1. それは、もう知っているよ。
    (I) know that already. (lit: In state of having acquired that knowledge already.)
  2. ペンを持っている
    Do (you) have (a) pen? (lit: In state of holding (owning) pen?)
  3. 結婚していますか?
    Are (you) married? (lit: In state of being married?)
  4. 何もしていません
    Not doing anything.
  5. 犬を飼っている
    Raising a dog.
  6. 猫は、飼っていない
    Not raising a cat.
  7. 猫は、太っている
    (The) cat is fat. (lit: Cat is in state of having gotten fat.)
  8. 犬は、痩せている
    (The) dog is skinny. (lit: Dog is in state of having gotten skinny.)

Where do you live?

  1. 住む 【す・む】(u-verb) - to reside at
  2. 寮 【りょう】 - dormitory
  3. 見かける 【み・かける】(ru-verb) - to happen to see
  4. ずっと - for a long time or distance
  5. 東 【ひがし】 - east
  6. 方 【ほう】 - direction
  7. 所 【ところ】 - place
  8. そんなに - that much
  9. 遠い 【とお・い】(i-adj) - far
  10. 一年生 【いち・ねん・せい】 - first year; freshman
  11. 選ぶ 【えら・ぶ】(u-verb) - to choose
  12. 一番 【いち・ばん】 - #1; the best; -est
  13. 遅い 【おそ・い】(i-adj) - late

アリス: リー君は、今どこに住んでいるの?
Alice: Lee-kun, where are you residing at now?

リー: 寮に住んでいるよ。
Lee: (I'm) living in the dorm.

アリス: そうなの?あまり見かけないけど、どこの寮?
Alice: Is that so? (I) don't see (you) much, dorm of where?

リー: ずっと東の方にある所。
Lee: The place that's at the far east direction.

アリス: どうしてそんなに遠い所に住んでいるの?
Alice: Why are you living in such a far place?

リー: 一年生だから、住む所を選ぶのが一番遅い。
Lee: (I'm) a freshman so (we're) the latest to select a place to live.

Shortened progressive form

The 「い」 from 「いる」 can be dropped in more casual situations.


  1. 何をしてるの?
    What are (you) doing?
  2. 何を読んでるの?
    What are (you) reading?
  3. 犬は、飼ってない
    Don't own a dog.
  4. ペンを持ってる
    Do (you) have (a) pen?

Past Verb Tense

Plain past tense verbs

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

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

Plain past verb tense conjugation rules
  • Past tense: Conjugate to the te-form and replace 「て」 with 「た」 and 「で」 with 「だ」
    1. 食べ → 食べ → 食べ
      eat → ate
    2. → 飲 → 飲ん
      drink → drank
    3. 食べてい → 食べてい → 食べてい
      eating → was eating
  • Negative past tense: Conjugate to the negative and replace the last 「い」 with 「かった」
    1. 食べ → 食べ → 食べなかった
      eat → not eat → did not eat
    2. → 飲まな → 飲まなかった
      drink → not drink → did not drink
    3. 食べてい → 食べてい → 食べていなかった
      eating → not eating → was not eating

When you don't understand, you should say so

  1. 知る 【し・る】 (u-verb) - to know
  2. おかしい (i-adj) - odd, strange, funny
  3. 一緒 【いっ・しょ】 - together
  4. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 - study
  5. する (exception) - to do
  6. はず - expected to be
  7. かな (sentence-ending particle, casual) - I wonder
  8. ごめん (casual) - sorry
  9. 用事 【よう・じ】 - errand
  10. 遅れる 【おく・れる】 (ru-verb) - to be late
  11. 母 【はは】 - (one's own) mother
  12. 急 【きゅう】 - sudden
  13. 電話 【でん・わ】 - phone
  14. 言う 【い・う】 - to say
  15. 教える 【おし・える】 (ru-verb) - to teach; to inform
  16. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  17. ちゃんと - properly
  18. 伝える 【つた・える】 (ru-verb) - to convey
  19. べき - should
  20. はあ - sigh

アリス: リー君はどこ?
Alice: Where is Lee-kun?

ジョン: 知らない。
John: Don't know.

アリス: おかしいね。ここで一緒に勉強するはずだけど、どこに行ったかな?
Alice: That's odd. (We) are supposed to study here together but (I) wonder where (he) went?

リー: アリスちゃん、ごめん。用事でちょっと遅れた
Lee: Alice-chan, sorry. (I) was little late due to an errand.

アリス: 何をしていたの?
Alice: What were you doing?

リー: 母から急に電話が来たの。ジョンに言ったけど、教えなかったの?
Lee: A phone call came suddenly from (my) mother. I told John, didn't (he) tell you?

ジョン: ごめん、言っていることが分からなかったから、アリスちゃんに何も言わなかった
John: Sorry, I didn't understand the thing (you) were saying so (I) didn't say anything to Alice-chan.

アリス: 何か分からなかった時は、ちゃんと伝えるべきよ。
Alice: (You) should properly convey when you didn't understand something, you know.

ジョン: 分かった。
John: (I) understood.

リー: 本当に分かったの?
Lee: Did (you) really understand?

ジョン: あんまり。
John: Not really.

アリス: はあ・・・。
Alice: Sigh...

Polite past verbs

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

Polite past verb tense conjugation rules
  • Past tense: Attach 「ました」 to the verb stem
    1. 食べ → 食べました
    2. → 飲 → 飲みました
  • Negative past tense: Attach 「ませんでした」 to the verb stem
    1. 食べ → 食べませんでした
    2. → 飲 → 飲みませんでした
Summary of 「~ます」 conjugations
Positive Negative
Non-Past 行きます - go 行きません - don't go
Past 行きました - went 行きませんでした - didn't go

Spring vacation is already over

  1. 山本 【やまもと】 - Yamamoto (surname)
  2. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  3. こんにちは - Good day (pronounced 「こんにちわ」)
  4. もう - already
  5. すっかり - completely, thoroughly
  6. 春 【はる】 - Spring
  7. なる - to become
  8. そう - so
  9. 春休み 【はる・やすみ】 - spring vacation
  10. 本当 【ほん・とう】 - real
  11. 早い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) - early
  12. 終わる 【お・わる】 (u-verb) - to end
  13. 何 【なに】 - what
  14. する - to do
  15. のんびり - carefree; at leisure
  16. 休む 【やす・む】 (u-verb) - to rest; to take a break
  17. 特 【とく】 - particular
  18. それ - that
  19. いい (i-adj) - good
  20. ちゃんと - properly
  21. 休み 【やす・み】 - vacation
  22. 取る 【と・る】 (u-verb) - to take
  23. 大事 【だい・じ】(na-adj) - important
  24. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 - class; lecture
  25. 準備 【じゅん・び】 - preparation
  26. 色々 【いろ・いろ】 (na-adj) - various

スミス: 山本先生、こんにちは!
Smith: Yamamoto-sensei, good afternoon!

山本: スミスさん、こんにちは。もうすっかり春になりましたね。
Yamamoto: Smith-san, good afternoon. It already became thoroughly spring, hasn't it?

スミス: そうですね。春休みは、本当に早く終わりました
Smith: That's so, isn't it. Spring vacation really ended quickly.

山本: そうですか。春休みに何をしましたか。
Yamamoto: Is that so? What did (you) do in spring vacation?

スミス: のんびり休みましたので、特に何もしませんでした
Smith: (I) rested taking it easy so (I) didn't do anything in particular.

山本: それもいいですね。ちゃんと休みを取るのも大事ですから。
Yamamoto: That is good as well. (It's) also important to properly take rest so.

スミス: 山本先生は、休みに何をしましたか。
Smith: Yamamoto-sensei, what did (you) do for vacation?

山本: 授業の準備で色々していましたよ。
Yamamoto: (I) was doing various things with class preparation.

スミス: 休みをちゃんと取るのは大事ですよ。
Smith: (It's) important to properly take rest, you know.

山本: 本当ですね。
Yamomoto: That's right.

State-of-Being Past Tense

Plain past nouns and adjectives

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

As usual, 「いい」 and 「かっこいい」 conjugations start from the original 「よい」 pronunciation.

Plain past state-of-being conjugation rules
  • For nouns/na-adjectives: Attach 「だった」 to the end
    1. 学生だった
    2. だった
  • For i-adjectives/negative: Replace the 「い」 with 「かった」
    1. かわい + かった = かわいかった
    2. かわいくな + かった = かわいくなかった
    3. 学生じゃな + かった = 学生じゃなかった
    4. 暇じゃな + かった = 暇じゃなかった
    5. 行きた + かった = 行きたかった
    6. 行きたくな + かった = 行きたくなかった
  • Exceptions: 「いい」 conjugates from 「よい」
    1. いい → よ+かった = よかった
    2. かっこいい → かっこよ+かった = かっこよかった
Summary of plain nouns/na-adjective tenses
Positive Negative
Non-Past 学生 - (is) student 学生じゃない - is not student
Past 学生だった - was student 学生じゃなかった - was not student
Summary of plain i-adjective tense
Positive Negative
Non-Past 高い - (is) tall 高くない - is not tall
Past かった - was tall 高くなかった - was not tall

Looking forward to next year

  1. 春 【はる】 - spring
  2. 学期 【がっ・き】 - school term
  3. もう - already; more
  4. すぐ - soon
  5. 終わる 【お・わる】 - to end
  6. やっと - finally
  7. 本当 【ほん・とう】 - real
  8. 色々 【いろ・いろ】 (na-adjective) - various
  9. 夏 【なつ】 - summer
  10. 休み 【やす・み】 - vacation
  11. 楽しみ 【たの・しみ】 - look forward to
  12. 確か 【たし・か】 - certain, sure
  13. 二年生 【に・ねん・せい】 - second-year, sophomore
  14. なる - to become
  15. ~達 【たち】 - pluralizing suffix
  16. 喜ぶ 【よろこ・ぶ】 - to be pleased
  17. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 - class
  18. もっと - more
  19. ~な (sentence-ending particle) - casual and masculine version of ~ね
  20. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 - not at all (when used with negative)
  21. 聞く 【き・く】 - to listen

アリス: 春学期はもうすぐ終わるよね。
Alice: Spring term will also end soon, huh?

ジョン: やっとだ。今年、本当に色々大変だったからね。夏休みが楽しみ!
John: Finally. Cause it was really tough for various (things). Looking forward to summer vacation!

アリス: 確かに大変だったけど、楽しかったよ。
Alice: It was rough sure but it was fun.

リー: そして、二年生になるんだね。
Lee: And then, we'll become second-year students, huh?

ジョン: そう!そして、田中先生が私達の先生になる。
Jonn: That's right! And then, Tanaka-sensei will become our teacher.

アリス: 何を喜んでいるの?田中先生の授業はもっと難しいよ。
Alice: What are you getting happy (about)? Tanaka-sensei's class is much more difficult, you know.

リー: 田中先生はかわいいよね。
Lee: Tanaka-sensei is cute, huh?

ジョン: かわいいよな!
John: (She's) cute, huh!

アリス: 全然聞いていない・・・。
Alice: Not listening at all...

Polite past nouns and adjectives

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

Past state-of-being conjugation rules
  1. For nouns/na-adjectives: Attach 「でした」 to the end
    1. 学生でした
    2. でした
  2. For i-adjectives/negative: Add 「です」 to the plain past tense
    1. かわい + かった+です = かわいかったです
    2. かわいくな + かった+です = かわいくなかったです
    3. 学生じゃな + かった+です = 学生じゃなかったです
    4. 暇じゃな + かった+です = 暇じゃなかったです
    5. 行きた + かった+です → 行きたかったです
    6. 行きたくな + かった+です → 行きたくなかったです
  3. Exceptions: Add 「です」 to the plain past tense
    1. いい → よ+かった+です = よかったです
    2. かっこいい → かっこよ+かった+です = かっこよかったです
Summary of polite nouns/na-adjective tenses
Positive Negative
Non-Past 学生です - (is) student 学生じゃないです - is not student
Past 学生でした - was student 学生じゃなかったです - was not student
Summary of polite i-adjective tense
Positive Negative
Non-Past 高いです - (is) tall 高くないです - is not tall
Past かったです - was tall 高くなかったです - was not tall

Note that 「でした」 only applies to nouns and na-adjectives. Japanese learners have a tendency to do the same for i-adjectives, for example 「いいでした」 but it is incorrect!

How was your vacation?

  1. メキシコ - Mexico
  2. 旅行 【りょ・こう】 - trip
  3. 家族 【か・ぞく】 - family
  4. そんなに - that much
  5. 遠い 【とお・い】(i-adj) - far
  6. 所 【ところ】 - place
  7. なかなか - fairly
  8. しばらく - little while

山本: 田中先生、メキシコの旅行はどうでしたか。
Yamamoto: Tanaka-sensei, how was the trip of Mexico?

田中: とてもよかったですよ。色々面白かったです。山本先生も行きたかったですよね。
Tanaka: It was very good. Various (things) were interesting. Yamamoto-sensei also wanted to go, right?

山本: ええ。でも家族もいますから、そんなに遠い所に行くのはなかなか難しいです。
Yamamoto: Yes. But because (I have) family, it's fairly difficult to go to such a far place.

田中: 私はもう行きましたから、しばらくは行きませんよ。
Tanaka: I already went so (I) won't go for a while.

山本: ですから、田中先生と一緒に行くつもりは全然ありませんでしたよ。
Yamamoto: That's why (for reasons I already said), (I) didn't have intention of going together with (you) Tanaka-sensei at all.

Verb sequences

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

Te-form conjugation rules

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

Te-form conjugation rules
  1. Plain nouns and na-adjectives: Attach 「で」 to the noun or na-adjective.
    1. 学生+ = 学生
    2. 暇+ = 暇
    3. きれい+ = きれい
  2. I-adjectives and negative: Replace the last 「い」 with 「くて」.
    1. かわい+くて = かわいくて
    2. 学生じゃな+くて = 学生じゃなくて
    3. 食べな+くて = 食べなくて
  3. Exceptions: As usual 「いい」 conjugates from 「よい」
    1. いい → よ+くて = よくて
    2. かっこいい → かっこよ+くて = かっこよくて

Sequence of actions

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

  1. 朝 【あさ】- morning
  2. 起きる 【お・きる】(ru-verb) - to get up; to happen
  3. そして - and then
  4. 朝ご飯 【あさ・ご・はん】- breakfast
  • 朝、起きた。そして、朝ご飯を食べた。そして、学校に行った。
    Morning, (I) woke up. Then (I) ate breakfast. Then, (I) went to school.
  • 朝、起きて、朝ご飯を食べて、学校に行った。
    Morning, (I) woke up, ate breakfast, and went to school.


  1. 彼女 【かの・じょ】 - she; girlfriend
  2. 優しい 【やさ・しい】(i-adj) - gentle
  3. 頭 【あたま】 - head
  4. 人気 【にん・き】 - popularity
  5. どうする - what should one do (lit: how do)
  6. 飲み会 【の・み・かい】 - drinking party
  1. 彼女は、きれい、優しくて、頭もいいから、皆に人気がある。
    Because she is pretty, gentle, and smart, (she's) popular with everybody.
  2. 宿題をしなくて、どうするんだよ?
    (You) don't do homework and what are you going to do?
  3. 飲み会は、今日じゃなくて、明日です。
    Drinking party is not today, it's tomorrow.

Before and after

You can use 「前」 and 「後」 to describe an action as happening before or after another action.

  1. 前 【まえ】 - front; before
  2. 後 【あと】 - after


  1. 寝る 【ね・る】(ru-verb) - to sleep
  2. 風呂 【ふ・ろ】 - bath
  3. 入る 【はい・る】(u-verb) - to enter
  4. ここ - here
  5. 来る 【く・る】(exception) - to come
  6. ちゃんと - properly
  7. 連絡 【れん・らく】 - contact
  8. する 【す・る】(exception) - to do
  9. 昼 【ひる】 - afternoon
  10. ご飯 【ご・はん】 - rice; meal
  11. 昼ご飯 【ひる・ご・はん】 - lunch
  12. 食べる 【た・べる】(ru-verb) - to eat
  13. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  14. 泳ぐ 【およ・ぐ】(u-verb) - to swim
  15. 危ない 【あぶ・ない】(i-adj) - dangerous
  1. 寝るに、お風呂に入る。
    Take a bath before going to sleep.
  2. ここに来るに、ちゃんと連絡したよ。
    (I) properly contacted (you) before (I) came here.
  3. 昼ご飯を食べた、宿題をした。
    Did homework after eating lunch.
  4. 食べた、泳ぐのは危ないです。
    Swim after eating is dangerous.

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

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


  1. 晩ご飯 【ばん・ご・はん】 - dinner
  2. 習う 【なら・う】(u-verb) - to learn
  3. いい (i-adj) - good
  1. 晩ご飯を食べてから、宿題をするよ。
    (I'll) do homework after (I) eat dinner.
  2. カタカナは、ひらがなを習ってから習うのがいい。
    As for Katakana, (it) is good to learn after learning Hiragana

Two simultaneous actions

You can express two actions that are taking place simultaneously by attaching 「ながら」 to the end of the stem of the first verb. The tense is determined by the main verb at the end.

Using 「ながら」 for concurrent actions
  • Change the first verb to the stem and append 「ながら
    1. 食べ → 食べ+ながら → 食べながら
    2. → 遊び+ながら → 遊びながら


  1. 話す 【はな・す】 - to speak
  2. 行儀 【ぎょう・ぎ】 - manners
  3. 悪い 【わる・い】(i-adj) - bad
  4. 辞書 【じ・しょ】 - dictionary
  5. 使う 【つか・う】(u-verb) - to use
  6. 文章 【ぶん・しょう】 - sentence
  7. 書く 【か・く】(u-verb) - to write
  8. 通じる 【つう・じる】(ru-verb) - to go through, to get across
  1. テレビを見ながら、宿題をする。
    Do homework while watching TV.
  2. 食べながら話すのは行儀が悪い。
    (It's) bad manners to speak while eating.
  3. 辞書を使いながら、日本語の文章を書いたけど、全然通じなかった。
    Wrote Japanese text while using dictionary but (it) didn't get across at all.

Listing multiple verbs

Partial list of verbs

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

Rule for creating partial list of verbs
  • Conjugate all the verbs to the past tense and attach 「り」 to each verb. Finally, add 「する」 at the end.
    1. 食べ → 食べた+り → 食べたり
    2. → 飲んだ+り → 飲んだり
    3. 食べたり飲んだりする
      Do things like eating and drinking.


  1. 寝る 【ね・る】(ru-verb) - to sleep
  2. ビール - beer
  3. スポーツ - sports
  4. 散歩 【さん・ぽ】 - walk, stroll
  1. 寝たり、本を読んだりするのが好き。
    Like to do things like sleeping and reading book(s).
  2. ビールを飲んだり、テレビを見たりしました
    (I) did things like drink beer and watch tv.
  3. スポーツをしたり、散歩をしたりしますか。
    Do (you) do things like sports and strolls?

Partial list of reasons

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

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

  • 彼女は、きれい、優しくて、頭もいいから、皆に人気がある。
    Because she is pretty, gentle, and smart, (she's) popular with everybody.
  • 彼女は、きれいだし、優しい、頭もいいから、皆に人気がある。
    Because she is pretty, gentle, and smart (among other reasons), (she's) popular with everybody.


  1. 暑い 【あつ・い】(i-adj) - hot (for climate/weather only)
  2. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 - class
  3. プール - pool
  4. 疲れる 【つか・れる】(ru-verb) - to get tired
  5. 眠い 【ねむ・い】(i-adj) - sleepy
  1. 今日は暑い、授業もないから、プールに行こう。
    Because today is hot (among other reasons) and there's also no class so let's go to the pool.
  2. 疲れた、眠い、今日はどこにも行きたくないよ。
    (I'm) tired and sleepy (among other reasons), (I) don't want to go anywhere today.

Just hanging out again

  1. 音楽 【おん・がく】 - music
  2. うそ - lie; no way
  3. 同じ 【おな・じ】 - same

アリス: 昨日は、何をしていたの?
Alice: What were you doing yesterday?

ジョン: 宿題はなかった、暇だったから、テレビを見たり、音楽を聞いたりしていたよ。アリスちゃんは?
John: There was no homework and (I) was free (among other reasons) so (I) watched TV and listened to music (among other things). What about (you) Alice-chan.

アリス: 宿題はあったよ。それをしていたよ。
Alice: There was homework. (I) was doing that, you know.

ジョン: うそ!
John: No way!

アリス: どうするの?
Alice: What are you going to do?

ジョン: 大丈夫。授業を聞きながらするから。
John: (It's) ok. (I'll) do it while listening to class.

アリス: いつもと同じね。
Alice: Same as always, huh?

Phrasing verb clauses

Quoting a phrase

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


  1. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  2. 彼 【かれ】 - he
  3. 彼女 【かの・じょ】 - she; girlfriend
  1. スミスさんは、「今日は、来ない」言った。
    Smith-san said "he/she is not coming today".
  2. 彼は、いつも忙しい言う。
    He always says (he/she) is busy.
  3. 彼女は、来週暇だと言った。
    She said (he/she) is free next week.


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

  1. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 - class
  2. 会話 【かい・わ】 - conversation
  3. 練習 【れん・しゅう】 - practice
  4. トイレ - toilet; bathroom
  5. もちろん - of course
  6. お手洗い 【お・て・あら・い】 - bathroom
  7. 中 【なか】 - inside
  8. 意味 【い・み】 - meaning
  9. それでは - well then, in that case
  10. 違い 【ちが・い】 - difference
  11. 分かる 【わ・かる】(u-verb) - to understand
  12. 大体 【だい・たい】 - mostly
  13. コンテキスト - context
  14. 例えば 【たと・えば】- for example
  15. そんな - that kind of, such
  16. バカ (na-adj, noun) - stupid
  17. 普通 【ふ・つう】 - normal

スミス: ブラウンさん、トイレはどこですか?
Smith: Brown-san, where is the bathroom?

ブラウン: もちろんお手洗いの中にありますよ。
Brown: Of course, it's in the bathroom.

山本: ブラウンさん、日本語では、トイレはお手洗いと同じ意味ですよ。
Yamamoto: Brown-san, in Japanese, toilet has the same meaning as bathroom.

ブラウン: それでは、「toilet」は日本語でなんと言いますか
Brown: Then, what do you say in Japanese for "toilet"?

山本: 「toilet」も「トイレ」と言いますよ。
Yamamoto: (You) also say 「トイレ」 for "toilet".

ブラウン: 違いはどう分かります?
Brown: How do (you) understand the difference?

山本: 大体、コンテキストで分かりますよ。
Yamamoto: In most cases, (you) understand by context.

ブラウン: 例えば、「sit on the bathroom」は、日本語でどう言いますか?
Brown: For example, how would (you) say "sit on the bathroom" in Japanese?

スミス: そんなバカなことは、普通に言わないよ。
Smith: Normally, (you) don't say such a stupid thing.

Other verbs for phrasing thoughts

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



  1. 大学 【だい・がく】 - college, university
  2. 食堂 【しょく・どう】 - cafeteria
  3. おいしい (i-adj) - tasty
  4. 思う 【おも・う】(u-verb) - to think
  5. 学校 【がっ・こう】 - school
  6. ~まで (particle) - until ~
  7. この - this
  8. 電車 【でん・しゃ】 - train
  9. 早い 【はや・い】(i-adj) - early, fast
  10. 遅れる 【おく・れる】(ru-verb) - to be late
  11. メール - email
  12. 送る 【おく・る】(u-verb) - to send
  13. タバコ - cigarette
  14. 吸う 【す・う】 - to breathe in; to smoke
  15. 約束 【やく・そく】 - promise
  16. 留学 【りゅう・がく】 - study abroad
  17. 決める 【き・める】(ru-verb) - to decide
  1. 大学の食堂はおいしいと思いますか?
    Do (you) think the college cafeteria is tasty?
  2. 学校までこの電車が一番早いと聞いたけど、全然早くない。
    (I) heard that this train is (the) fastest to school but (it's) not fast at all.
  3. 明日は遅れるとメールで送ったよ!
    (I) sent by mail that I'm going to be late tomorrow!
  4. タバコは吸わないと約束した
    Promised not to smoke cigarettes.
  5. 来年、日本に留学しに行くと決めた
    Decided to go do study abroad to Japan next year.


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

  1. 真理子 【ま・り・こ】- Mariko (female first name)
  2. 掲示板 【けい・じ・ばん】 - bulletin board, online forum
  3. 英語 【えい・ご】 - English
  4. 練習 【れん・しゅう】 - practice
  5. 相手 【あい・て】 - partner; other party
  6. 探す 【さが・す】(u-verb) - to look for
  7. たくさん - a lot
  8. 一緒 【いっ・しょ】 - together





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

Smith Alice

Short, casual version of 「という」

The phrase 「という」 is used so often and in so many ways that there is a shortened casual version: 「って」.


  1. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】(u-verb) - to play
  2. 遅い 【おそ・い】(i-adj) - late
  3. よっぽど - to a greater degree
  4. 勉強になる - to get studying done; to become informed (lit: become study)
  5. たまに - rarely
  6. しっかり - properly
  7. 教科書 【きょう・か・しょ】 - textbook
  8. 俺 【おれ】- me, myself (slang, masculine)
  9. 違う 【ちが・う】 - to differ, to be different

ジョン: アリスちゃんは遅いね。
John: Alice-chan is late, huh?

リー: 勉強で忙しいから、今日は来ないって
Lee: (She's) busy with study so (she) said (she's) not coming today.

ジョン: いつも勉強してどうするんだよ。皆で遊びながら日本語を練習するのがよっぽど勉強になると言うのに。
John: What are (you) going to do, studying all the time? Despite the fact that (It's) said that you'll get a lot more studying by practicing Japanese while playing with everybody.

リー: そうだね。でも、たまには、しっかり教科書を使って勉強するのもいいと思うよ。
Lee: I guess so. But, I think it's good to use textbook and study properly once in a while.

ジョン: って、俺は全然勉強していないと言いたいの?
John: By saying that, you want to say (I) don't study at all?

リー: 違うよ!
Lee: That's not it!


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


  1. 日本に行ったことはある
    Have you ever gone to Japan? (lit: Is there an event (where you) went to Japan?)
  2. カラオケで歌を歌ったことはない
    (I) have never sung song at Karaoke. (lit: There is no event (where I) sang song at Karaoke.)
  3. お好み焼きは、食べたことがなかったけど、日本に行った時にやっと食べました。
    (I) had never eaten okonomiyaki but (I) finally ate (it) when (I) went to Japan.
    (lit: There was no event (where I) ate okonomiyaki but finally ate when went to Japan.)








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

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

Let's work hard together and study!


Transitive and Intransitive

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

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
Transitive Intransitive
始める 【は・じめる】(ru-verb) to start 始まる 【は・じまる】(u-verb) to begin
終える 【お・える】(ru-verb) to bring to an end 終わる 【お・わる】(u-verb) to come to an end
落とす 【お・とす】(u-verb) to drop 落ちる 【お・ちる】(ru-verb) to fall
出す 【だ・す】(u-verb) to take out 出る 【で・る】(ru-verb) to come out; to leave
入れる 【い・れる】(ru-verb) to insert 入る 【はい・る】(u-verb) to enter
開ける 【あ・ける】(ru-verb) to open 開く 【あ・く】(u-verb) to be opened
閉める 【し・める】 to close 閉まる 【し・まる】(u-verb) to be closed
つける (ru-verb) to attach つく (u-verb) to be attached
消す 【け・す】(u-verb) to erase 消える 【き・える】(ru-verb) to disappear
抜く 【ぬ・く】(u-verb) to extract 抜ける 【ぬ・ける】(ru-verb) to be extracted


  1. 知らない人と会話始める。
    Start conversation with a person (you) don't know.
  2. 映画すぐ始まる。
    Movie begins soon.
  3. やっと宿題終えた。
    Finally finished homework.
  4. やっと宿題終わった。
    Homework finally ended.

What happened?

田中: 何があったんですか?
Tanaka: What happened? (lit: What is it that existed?)

鈴木: このコップが落ちました
Suzuki: This cup fell.

田中: 鈴木さんが落としたんじゃないですか?
Tanaka: It isn't that Suzuki-san (you) dropped it?

鈴木: いいえ、私は何もしませんでしたよ。
Suzuki: No, I didn't do anything, you know.

田中: じゃ、このコップは、自分で落ちたんですか?
Tanaka: Then, is it that this cup fell by itself?

鈴木: 私がここに来る前にもう落ちていましたから、分かりません。
Suzuki: It was already fallen before I came here so (I) don't know.

田中: いいえ、鈴木さんがそのコップを落としているのを見ましたよ。
Tanaka: No, (I) saw Suzuki-san (you) dropping that cup, you know.

Polite Negative Forms

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

Negative Verbs with 「ないです」

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

Summary of 「~ます」 conjugations
Positive Negative
Non-Past 行きます - go 行きません - don't go
Past 行きました - went 行きませんでした - didn't go
Conjugation rules for verbs with 「ないです」
  • For negative: Conjugate to the negative and append 「です」.
    1. 行く → 行かない+です = 行かないです
    2. 食べる → 食べない+です = 食べないです
    3. する → しない+です= しないです
    4. ある → ない+です = ないです
  • For negative past: Conjugate to the negative past and append 「です」.
    1. 行く → 行かな+かった → 行かなかった+です = 行かなかったです
    2. 食べる → 食べな+かった → 食べなかった+です = 食べなかったです
    3. する → しな+かった → しなかった+です = しなかったです
    4. ある → な+かった → なかった+です = なかったです


  1. 東京に行ったことはないですか。
    Have you not been to Tokyo?
  2. 昼ごはんはもう食べましたから、おなかは空いていないです
    (I) ate lunch already so (I'm) not hungry.
  3. この辺に黒い犬を見なかったですか。
    Did (you) not see a black dog around here?

Negative Noun/Adjectives with 「ありません」

Because 「ない」 is the negative of the verb 「ある」, we can replace the 「ないです」 and 「なかったです」 part of noun and adjectives with 「ありません」 and 「ありませんでした」 respectively.

Conjugation rules for nouns/adjectives with「ありません/ありませんでした」 form
  • For nouns and na-adjectives: Append 「じゃ」 and then 「ありません」 for the negative or 「ありませんでした」 for the negative past.
    1. 元気+じゃ+ありません = 元気じゃありません
    2. きれい+じゃ+ありません = きれいじゃありません
    3. 元気+じゃ+ありませんでした = 元気じゃありませんでした
    4. きれい+じゃ+ありませんでした = きれいじゃありませんでした
  • For i-adjectives: Replace the last 「い」 with 「く」 at the end and attach 「ありません」 for negative and 「ありませんでした」 for negative past.
    1. 忙し+く+ありません = 忙しくありません
    2. かわい+く+ありません = かわいくありません
    3. 忙し+く+ありませんでした = 忙しくありませんでした
    4. かわい+く+ありませんでした = かわいくありませんでした
  • Exceptions: 「いい」 conjugates from 「よい」
    1. いい → よ+く+ありません = よくありません
    2. かっこいい → かっこよ+く+ありません = かっこよくありません
    3. いい → よ+く+ありませんでした = よくありませんでした
    4. かっこいい → かっこよ+く+ありませんでした = かっこよくありませんでした


  1. あなたの言い訳は聞きたくありません
    I don't want to hear your excuse(s).
  2. そこは遊ぶ場所じゃありませんよ
    That's not a place to play, you know.
  3. あのレストランには先週行きましたが、あまりおいしくありませんでした
    (I) went to that restaurant last week but (it) wasn't very tasty.

Differences between 「です」 and 「~ます」 for negative

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

Chapter summary and practice

In this chapter, we learned the progressive and past tense for both positive and negative verbs. We also learned the te-form for the progressive tense as well a number of other uses.

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

Te-form Conjugation Examples
Plain Te-form Negative Te-form
Noun/na-adjective 好き 好き 好きじゃなくて
I-adjective 大きい 大きくて 大きくなくて
Exception いい くて* よくなくて*
Ru-verb 食べる 食べ 食べなくて
す-ending 話す して 話さなくて
く-ending 書く いて 書かなくて
ぐ-ending 泳ぐ いで 泳がなくて
む-ending 飲む んで 飲まなくて
ぶ-ending 遊ぶ んで 遊ばなくて
ぬ-ending 死ぬ んで 死ななくて
る-ending (u-verb) 切る って 切らなくて
う-ending 買う って 買わなくて
つ-ending 持つ って 持たなくて
Exception 行く って* 行かなくて
Exception する して* しなくて*
Exception くる(来る) きて* こなくて*

* = exceptions

Past Conjugation Examples
Plain Past Negative Past Polite Past Polite Negative Past
Noun/na-adjective 好き 好きだった 好きじゃなかった 好きでした 好きじゃなかったです
I-adjective 大きい 大きかった 大きくなかった 大きかったです 大きくなかったです
Exception いい かった* よくなかった* かったです* よくなかったです*
Ru-verb 食べる 食べ 食べなかった 食べました 食べませんでした
す-ending 話す した 話さなかった しました しませんでした
く-ending 書く いた 書かなかった きました きませんでした
ぐ-ending 泳ぐ いだ 泳がなかった ぎました ぎませんでした
む-ending 飲む んだ 飲まなかった みました みませんでした
ぶ-ending 遊ぶ んだ 遊ばなかった びました びませんでした
ぬ-ending 死ぬ んだ 死ななかった にました にませんでした
る-ending (u-verb) 切る った 切らなかった りました りませんでした
う-ending 買う った 買わなかった いました いませんでした
つ-ending 持つ った 持たなかった ちました ちませんでした
Exception 行く った* 行かなかった きました きませんでした
Exception する した* しなかった* ました* ませんでした*
Exception くる(来る) きた* こなかった* ました* ませんでした*

* = exceptions

Conjugation practice

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

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

Front side
買う【かう】 - to buy
negative past
Back side
買う【かう】 - to buy
Front side
買う【かう】 - to buy
polite past
polite negative
polite negative past
Back side
買う【かう】 - to buy
Front side
買う【かう】 - to buy
was buying
not buying
wasn't buying
Back side
買う【かう】 - to buy
Front side
買う【かう】 - to buy
want to buy
wanted to buy
not want to buy
didn't want to buy
Back side
買う【かう】 - to buy

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

  1. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  2. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  3. 元気 【げん・き】(na-adj) - healthy; lively
  4. 好き 【す・き】(na-adj) - likable
  5. 嫌い 【きらい】(na-adj) - distasteful
  6. きれい (na-adj) - clean; pretty
  7. 大きい 【おお・きい】(i-adj) - big
  8. 小さい 【ちい・さい】(i-adj) - small
  9. いい (i-adj) - good
  10. かっこいい (i-adj) - cool; handsome
  11. 見る 【み・る】(ru-verb) - to see
  12. 食べる 【たべ・る】(ru-verb) - to eat
  13. 着る 【き・る】(ru-verb) - to wear
  14. 切る 【き・る】(u-verb) - to cut
  15. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  16. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  17. 話す 【はな・す】(u-verb) - to talk
  18. 書く 【か・く】(u-verb) - to write
  19. 行く 【い・く】(u-verb) - to go
  20. 泳ぐ 【およ・ぐ】(u-verb) - to swim
  21. 飲む 【の・む】(u-verb) - to drink
  22. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】(u-verb) - to play
  23. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】(u-verb) - to die
  24. 使う 【つか・う】(u-verb) - to use
  25. 来る 【く・る】(exception) - to come
  26. する (exception) - to do

Telling stories

Conversation is often made up of narratives whether it's about events happening around us or what people think and feel. In this chapter, we've learned many grammatical structures that allow us to talk about what's happening and what people are thinking and saying.

A good way to practice what you learned in this chapter is to talk or write about anything on your mind whether it's something interesting that happened recently, somebody you've recently met, or what your plans are for the future. Below is a very small list of things you can write and talk about.

  1. こと - matter; event
  2. 自分 【じ・ぶん】 - oneself
  3. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) - to think
  4. 感じる 【かん・じる】 (ru-verb) - to feel
  5. 最近 【さい・きん】 - recent; lately
  6. 起きる 【お・きる】 (ru-verb) - to occur; to awake
  7. 面白い 【おも・しろ・い】 (i-adj) - interesting
  8. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese (language)
  9. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 - study
  10. 理由 【り・ゆう】 - reason
  11. 将来 【しょう・らい】 - future
  12. する (exception) - to do
  1. 自分が思っていることや感じたこと。
    Thing(s) oneself is thinking and feeling lately (among other things).
  2. 最近起きた面白いこと。
    Interesting thing(s) that happened recently.
  3. 日本語を勉強したいと思った理由。
    Reason why (you) thought (you) want to study Japanese.
  4. 将来にしたいこと。
    Thing(s) (you) want to do in the future.

Numbers, amounts, and directions

We've been using numbers here and there but we've yet to comprehensively cover how to count or tell the date and time. We will do that here in addition to learning how to express different amounts and make comparisons.

The Numeric System

Numbers starting from 100

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

Numerals 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Reading いち さん し/よん ろく しち/なな はち きゅう じゅう

Here are the additional units for numbers starting from 100.

Numerals 100 1,000 10,000 10^8 10^12
Kanji 一万 一億 一兆
Reading ひゃく せん いちまん いちおく いっちょう

Note: Units larger than 「千」 require another preceding number and cannot be used by themselves. For example, 「万」 does not mean 10,000, you need to add a one: 「一万」.

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

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

Numerals Kanji Reading
300 三百 さんびゃく
600 六百 ろっぴゃく
800 八百 はっぴゃく
3000 三千 さんぜん
8000 八千 はっせん
10^12 一兆 いっちょう


Large numbers are rarely written in all Kanji as you can imagine something like 「二百三十万九千四百三十一」 would be difficult to read. You will usually see a combination of numbers and Kanji or just numerals altogether.

  1. 1,234 【せん・に・ひゃく・さん・じゅう・よん】 - 1,234
  2. 5万3千 【ご・まん・さん・ぜん】 - 53,000

Other numbers

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

  1. 零 【れい】 - zero
  2. ゼロ - zero
  3. まる - circle; zero
  4. ~号室 【~ごう・しつ】 - suffix for room numbers
  5. マイナスX - negative X
  6. 点 【てん】 - period; dot; decimal point
  7. X.Y 「X・てん・Y」 - X.Y
  8. X分のY - Y/X (Y of X parts)


  1. 203号室 【に・まる・さん・ごう・しつ】 - room 203
  2. 23.5 【に・じゅう・さん・てん・ご】 - twenty three point five
  3. 四分の一 【よん・ぶん・の・いち】 - fourth (1/4)
  4. マイナス5 - negative five

It's so confusing!

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

アリス:確かに難しいよね。日本語では、四単位で数えるから、私は、四を足して、三で割って、英語の数字に変えるよ。例えば、百万は、二足す四で六だから、1 millionになる。
Alice: It's certainly difficult, isn't it? Because in Japanese (you) count by units of four, I just add four, divide by three, and change (it) into (the) English number. For example, ひゃくまん is 2 plus 4 and (it's) six so it becomes 1 million.

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

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

John: That's cheating!

Counting and counters


Unfortunately, counting discrete items isn't as straight-forward as just using the numbers we just learned in the last section. We must use various counters depending on the type of object we're counting. We already learned the counter for age in the very first chapter. Below are a list of more common counters and when to use them.

Counter When to Use
人 【にん】 To count number of people
円 【えん】 To count money in yen, the Japanese currency
本 【ほん】 To count long, cylindrical objects such as bottles or chopsticks
枚 【まい】 To count thin objects such as paper or shirts
冊 【さつ】 To count bound objects usually books
匹 【ひき】 To count small animals like cats or dogs
歳/才 【さい】 To count the age of a living creatures such as people or animals
個 【こ】 To count small (often round) objects
回 【かい】 To count number of times
ヶ所(箇所) 【か・しょ】 To count number of locations

As usual, the reading may change depending on what makes pronunciation easier as well as a couple of exceptions for 「人」. Fortunately, counters are always attached to the end of the number, so we need only worry about the readings for the first 10 numbers. The higher digits are read the same as any other number. Below, you can see a list of readings for the counters with reading variations (円 and 枚 have no variations). The reading variations are in bold.

Counting with variations
歳/才 ヶ所(箇所)
なんにん なんぼん なんさつ なんびき なんさい なんこ なんかい なんかしょ
1 ひとり いっぽん いっさつ いっぴき いっさい いっこ いっかい いっかしょ
2 ふたり にほん にさつ にひき にさい にこ にかい にかしょ
3 さんにん さんぼん さんさつ さんびき さんさい さんこ さんかい さんかしょ
4 よにん よんほん よんさつ よんひき よんさい よんこ よんかい よんかしょ
5 ごにん ごほん ごさつ ごひき ごさい ごこ ごかい ごかしょ
6 ろくにん ろっぽん ろくさつ ろっぴき ろくさい ろっこ ろっかい ろっかしょ
7 しちにん ななほん ななさつ ななひき ななさい ななこ ななかい ななかしょ
8 はちにん はちほん はっさつ はっぴき はっさい はっこ はちかい はっかしょ
9 きゅうにん きゅうほん きゅうさつ きゅうひき きゅうさい きゅうこ きゅうかい きゅうかしょ
10 じゅうにん じゅっぽん じゅっさつ じゅっぴき じゅっさい じゅっこ じゅっかい じゅっかしょ
20 にじゅうにん にじゅっぽん にじゅっさつ にじゅっぴき はたち にじゅっこ にじゅっかい にじゅっかしょ

There is also a generic counter for when none of the more specific counter applies. This counter goes up to ten

Generic Counter
Numeral How many 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Kanji 幾つ 一つ 二つ 三つ 四つ 五つ 六つ 七つ 八つ 九つ
Reading いくつ ひとつ ふたつ みっつ よっつ いつつ むっつ ななつ やっつ ここのつ とお

You will likely encounter many other types of counters in your studies. In fact, 「一番」, which we have already seen used as a superlative, is yet another counter meaning #1 where #2 is 「二番」, #3 is 「三番」 and so forth.

Other useful counting vocab

There are some additional vocabulary that are useful for counting in certain ways.

  1. ~目 【~め】 - attaches to a counter to indicate order
  2. ~ずつ 【~ずつ】 - attaches to a counter to indicate each
  3. ~おきに - attaches to a counter to indicate repeated intervals


  1. 紙、二枚ずつをホッチキスで留める。
    Staple 2 sheets of paper each.
  2. 店に入った三番目の人は、誰ですか。
    Who is the 3rd person that entered the store?
  3. 一日おきに運動をしています。
    Exercising every other day (spaced 1 day in between).

Beer is fattening

Tanaka: Sorry I'm late.

Yamamoto: It's ok.

Tanaka: What are (you) drinking?

Yamamoto: Draft beer.

Tanaka: Didn't (you) say (you) would not drink beer anymore?

Yamamoto: (I) think one bottle every once in a while is fine.

Tanaka: As for beer, (you) get fat soon. Which number bottle is this?

Yamamoto: Isn't two bottles ok every once in a while as well?

Tanaka: (I) think it's not ok.

Dates and Time


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

  • ~年 【~ねん】 - year counter
  • ~月 【~がつ】 - month counter
  • ~日 【~にち】 - day counter

The year counter is pretty straight-forward, as there are no reading variations. However, there are variations for months and a whole bunch of exceptions for days of the month. The two lists below show all the months in a year and the days of the month. Special readings or variations are appropriately marked.

Months of the year
Month Kanji Reading
What month 何月 なん・がつ
January 一月 いち・がつ
February 二月 に・がつ
March 三月 さん・がつ
April 四月 し・がつ
May 五月 ご・がつ
June 六月 ろく・がつ
July 七月 しち・がつ
August 八月 はち・がつ
September 九月 く・がつ
October 十月 じゅう・がつ
November 十一月 じゅう・いち・がつ
December 十二月 じゅう・に・がつ
Days of the month
Day Kanji Reading
What day 何日 なん・にち
1st 一日 ついたち
2nd 二日 ふつ・か
3rd 三日 みっ・か
4th 四日 よっ・か
5th 五日 いつ・か
6th 六日 むい・か
7th 七日 なの・か
8th 八日 よう・か
9th 九日 ここの・か
10th 十日 とお・か
11th 十一日 じゅう・いち・にち
12th 十二日 じゅう・に・にち
13th 十三日 じゅう・さん・にち
14th 十四日 じゅう・よっ・か
15th 十五日 じゅう・ご・にち
16th 十六日 じゅう・ろく・にち
17th 十七日 じゅう・しち・にち
18th 十八日 じゅう・はち・にち
19th 十九日 じゅう・く・にち
20th 二十日 はつ・か
21st 二十一日 に・じゅう・いち・にち
22nd 二十二日 に・じゅう・に・にち
23rd 二十三日 に・じゅう・さん・にち
24th 二十四日 に・じゅう・よっ・か
25th 二十五日 に・じゅう・ご・にち
26th 二十六日 に・じゅう・ろく・にち
27th 二十七日 に・じゅう・しち・にち
28th 二十八日 に・じゅう・はち・にち
29th 二十九日 に・じゅう・く・にち
30th 三十日 さん・じゅう・にち
31st 三十一日 さん・じゅう・いち・にち

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

  1. 何曜日 【なん・よう・び】 - What day of week
  2. 月曜日 【げつ・よう・び】 - Monday
  3. 火曜日 【か・よう・び】 - Tuesday
  4. 水曜日 【すい・よう・び】 - Wednesday
  5. 木曜日 【もく・よう・び】 - Thursday
  6. 金曜日 【きん・よう・び】 - Friday
  7. 土曜日 【ど・よう・び】 - Saturday
  8. 日曜日 【にち・よう・び】 - Sunday

Date formats

The date format employed in Japan is the same international date format used in many other parts of the word: year, month, day in that order. Once again, it is common to use numerals to make it easier to read.

You may encounter another calendar native to Japan based on the reign of each emperor when filling out public documents. Basically, the year starts over from 1 (called 元年【がん・ねん】) at the beginning of each new reign along with the name of the era. For example, the 「平成」 era began in 1989, therefore, the year 2009 would be 平成21年. If you live in Japan, it would be beneficial to remember the current year and your birthday in the Japanese calendar. Below are the eras going back about 100 years. You can also search online for convenient converters or charts with each year.

  1. 平成 【へい・せい】 - Heisei era (1989/1/8-)
  2. 昭和 【しょう・わ】 - Showa era (1926/12/25-1989/1/7)
  3. 大正 【たい・しょう】 - Taishou era (1912/7/30 - 1926/12/25)
  4. 元年 【がん・ねん】 - The first year of an era until the end of that year (12/31)


  1. 2009年12月24日【に・せん・きゅう・ねん・じゅう・に・がつ・に・じゅう・よっ・か】
  2. 2010年4月1日(木曜日) 【に・せん・じゅう・ねん・し・がつ・ついたち(もく・よう・び)】
    Thursday, April 1st, 2010
  3. 昭和56年11月30日【しょうわ・ご・じゅう・ろく・ねん・じゅう・いち・がつ・さん・じゅう・にち】
  4. 平成元年9月9日【へい・せい・がん・ねん・く・がつ・ここのか】


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

  1. ~時 【~じ】 - hour counter
  2. ~分 【~ふん】 - minute counter
  3. 午前 【ご・ぜん】 - AM
  4. 午後 【ご・ご】 - PM
  5. 半 【はん】 - half
Hour reading variations
Hour 4 o'clock 7 o'clock 9 o'clock
Kanji 四時 七時 九時
Reading よ・じ しち・じ く・じ
Minute reading variations
Minutes How many minutes 1 min 3 min 4 min 6 min 8 min 10 min
Kanji 何分 一分 三分 四分 六分 八分 十分
Reading なん・ぷん いっ・ぷん さん・ぷん よん・ぷん ろっ・ぷん はっ・ぷん じゅっ・ぷん


  1. 1時1分 【いち・じ・いっ・ぷん】 - 1:01
  2. 午後4時44分 【ご・ご・よ・じ・よん・じゅう・よん・ぷん】 - 4:44 PM
  3. 午前10時半 【ご・ぜん・じゅう・じ・はん】 - 10:30 AM

Time spans

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

  • ~間 【~かん】 - span of time
  • ~週間 【~しゅう・かん】 - a span of week(s)
  • ~ヶ月 【か・げつ】 - a span of month(s)

While these counters are pretty straight-forward, there are a number of reading variations. In particular, while 【一日】 usually means the first of the month and read as 「ついたち」, it can also mean a span of one day when read as 「いちにち」.

  • 一日 【ついたち】 - 1st of the month
  • 一日 【いち・にち】 - span of one day
  • 一週間 【いっ・しゅう・かん】 - span of one week
  • 一ヶ月 【いっ・か・げつ】 - span of one month
  • 十ヶ月 【じゅっ・か・げつ】 - span of ten months


  1. 二日間 【ふつ・か・かん】 - span of two days
  2. 三週間 【さん・しゅう・かん】 - span of three weeks
  3. 二ヶ月 【に・か・げつ】- span of two months

Various amounts

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

  1. 少し 【すこ・し】 - a little
  2. ちょっと - a little (casual)
  3. たくさん - a lot
  4. 少ない 【すく・ない】 (i-adj) - few
  5. 多い 【おお・い】 (i-adj) - many
  6. まだ - not yet
  7. もう - already; more
  8. もう少し 【もう・すこ・し】 - a little more
  9. もっと - a lot more
  10. ずっと - a long time
  11. こんなに - this much
  12. そんなに - that much
  13. あんなに - that much (over there)
  14. ~くらい/~ぐらい - about ~

Expectation of more

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


  1. 肉 【にく】 - meat
  2. 今夜 【こん・や】 - tonight
  1. だけ食べる
    Eat only meat.
  2. しか食べない
    Not eat anything but meat.
  3. 今夜は、二人だけで行きましょう。
    Let's go just the two of us tonight. (lit: As for tonight, let's go by way of only two people.)
  4. 500円しか持っていません。
    (I) only have 500 yen.

Too much of something

An excess of something is expressed with the ru-verb 「過ぎる」(す・ぎる) which means, "to pass" or "to exceed". There are several rules for attaching this verb to adjectives and other verbs. As 「すぎる」 is a regular ru-verb, all subsequent conjugations are the same as any other ru-verb.

Using 「すぎる」 to indicate it's too much
  • Verbs: Change the verb to the stem and attach 「すぎる」
    1. 食べすぎる = 食べすぎる
    2. → 太すぎる = 太りすぎる
  • Na-adjectives: Attach 「すぎる」
    1. 静か+すぎる = 静かすぎる
    2. きれい+すぎる = きれいすぎる
  • I-adjectives: Remove the last 「い」 and attach 「すぎる」
    As always, 「いい」 conjugates from 「よい」
    1. 大きすぎる = 大きすぎる
    2. すぎる = 高すぎる
    3. いい → よすぎる = よすぎる
  • Negative verbs and adjectives: Replace the last 「い」 from 「ない」 with 「さ」 and then attach 「すぎる」
    1. 食べな → 食べなすぎる = 食べなさすぎる
    2. 面白くな → 面白くなすぎる = 面白くなさすぎる


  1. 昨日 【き・のう】 - yesterday
  2. 飲む 【の・む】(u-verb) - to drink
  3. 二日酔い 【ふつ・か・よい】 - hangover
  4. 頭 【あたま】 - head
  5. 痛い 【いた・い】(i-adj) - painful
  6. 量 【りょう】 - amount
  7. 多い 【おお・い】 (i-adj) - many
  8. もっと - a lot more
  9. 小さい 【ちい・さい】(i-adj) - small
  10. サイズ - size
  11. 頼む 【たの・む】(u-verb) - to request; to order
  12. ダイエット - diet
  13. する - to do
  14. いい(i-adj) - good
  15. 食べる 【たべ・る】(ru-verb) - to eat
  1. 昨日は飲みすぎて、二日酔いで頭が痛いです。
    (I) drank too much yesterday and (my) head hurts with hangover.
  2. 量が多すぎるから、もっと小さいサイズを頼んだ。
    The amount is too much so (I) ordered a much smaller size.
  3. ダイエットをするのはいいけど、食べなさすぎているよ。
    Doing (a) diet is fine but (you're) not eating too much (too much of not eating).
Women's clothing store

Comic 9: 日本の婦人服売場で

  1. 日本 【に・ほん】 - Japan
  2. 婦人服 【ふ・じん・ふく】 - women's clothing
  3. 売場 【うり・ば】(also 売り場) - place where things are sold
  4. あのう/あの - say; well; errr
  5. これ - this
  6. いくら - how much
  7. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  8. 特別 【とく・べつ】(na-adj) - special
  9. セール - sale
  10. ~円 【~えん】 - counter for yen (Japanese currency)
  11. なる (u-verb) - to become
  12. もう - already; further
  13. 少し 【すこ・し】 - a little
  14. 大きい 【おお・きい】(i-adj) - big
  15. サイズ - size
  16. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  17. すみません - sorry (polite)
  18. 私 【わたし】 - me; myself; I
  19. あまり - not very (when used with negative)
  20. ~階 【~かい】 - counter for story/floor
  21. 子供服 【こ・ども・ふく】 - children's clothing
  22. 一応 【いち・おう】 - for the time being; just in case
  23. 大人 【おとな】 - adult

Teacher: Excuse me, how much is this?

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

Teacher: Is there size that a little smaller?

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

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

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

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

On a diet

  1. お腹 【お・なか】 - stomach
  2. 空く 【す・く】(u-verb) - to empty
  3. なんで - why
  4. まだ - yet; still
  5. ~時 【~じ】 - hour counter
  6. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  7. 朝ご飯 【あさ・ご・はん】 - breakfast
  8. 食べる 【たべ・る】(ru-verb) - to eat
  9. 昼ご飯 【ひる・ご・はん】 - lunch
  10. 昨日 【きのう】 - yesterday
  11. 夜 【よる】 - evening
  12. 晩ご飯 【ばん・ご・はん】 - dinner
  13. ダイエット - diet
  14. する - to do
  15. たくさん - a lot
  16. 普通 【ふ・つう】 - normal
  17. 言う 【い・う】(u-verb) - to say
  18. 始める 【はじ・める】 (ru-verb) - to begin
  19. いつ - when
  20. ~まで (particle) - until ~
  21. つもり - intention
  22. もう - already
  23. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  24. やめる (ru-verb) - to stop; to quit
  25. 一日 【いち・にち】 - span of one day
  26. 聞く 【き・く】 - to ask; to listen
  27. 事 【こと】 - event, matter, generic happening
  28. 痩せる 【や・せる】(ru-verb) - to get skinny
  29. 当たり前 【あ・たり・まえ】 - obvious

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alice: That's why I just started.

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

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

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

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

John: Obviously.


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


  1. 方 【ほう】 - direction; side
  2. ~より (particle) - rather than ~
  3. ~ほど (particle) - extent of ~
  4. どちら - which way
  5. 犬 【いぬ】 - dog
  6. 猫 【ねこ】 - cat
  7. 英語 【えい・ご】 - English (language)
  8. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese (language)
  9. 難しい 【むずか・しい】(i-adj) - difficult
  10. 思う 【おも・う】(u-verb) - to think
  1. 犬と猫、どちらのが好き?
    Which do (you) like more, dog or cat? (lit: Dog and cat, which side is (the) one (you like)?)
  2. 犬のが猫より好き。
    Like dog more than cat. (lit: Like the side of dog rather than cat.)
  3. 犬のが猫より嫌い。
    Hate dog more than cat. (lit: Hate the side of dog rather than cat.)
  4. 猫は、犬ほど好きじゃない。
    Don't like cat as much as dog. (lit: Don't like cat to extent of dog.)
  5. 英語と日本語、どちらの方が難しいと思いますか?
    Which do (you) think is harder, English or Japanese? (lit: English and Japanese, which side is harder (you) think?)

Cats or Dogs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John: No, not really...

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

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


Using 「方」(かた) for directions

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

In addition, 「方」(かた) is also used to refer to a person politely.


  1. 方 【かた】 - person (honorific)
  2. ~方 【~かた】 - way of doing ~
  3. ホテル - hotel
  4. 教える 【おし・える】 (ru-verb) - to teach; to inform
  5. 駅 【えき】 - (train) station
  6. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  7. (お)すし - sushi
  8. 中華料理 【ちゅう・か・りょう・り】 - Chinese food
  9. はやる (u-verb) - to be popular, to come into fashion;
  10. 今 【いま】 - now
  11. (お)はし - chopsticks
  12. 使う 【つか・う】 (u-verb) - to use
  13. アメリカ人 【あめりか・じん】 - American (person)
  14. 少ない 【すく・ない】 (i-adj) - few (in numbers)
  1. あの方にホテルの行き方を教えないんですか。
    (Are you) not going to teach (tell) that person the way to go to the hotel?
  2. 駅までの行き方は分かりますか。
    Do (you) know the way to the train station?
  3. おすしや中華料理がはやっている今では、おはしの使い方が分かるアメリカ人は少なくない。
    Given now where things like sushi and Chinese food is common, Americans who know how to use chopsticks is not few (in number).

Using 「どうやって」 for instructions

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


  1. カレーはどうやって作りますか。
    How do (you) go about making curry?
    (lit: You do curry how and then make?)
  2. 日本の住所はどうやって書きますか。
    How do (you) write (a) Japanese address?
  3. 東京駅から新宿駅までどうやって行きますか。
    How do (you) go from Tokyo station to Shinjuku station?

Comic 10: 日本語でも大丈夫です

  1. すみません - sorry; pardon me
  2. ここ - here
  3. 一番 【いち・ばん】 - the best; no. 1
  4. 近い 【ちか・い】(i-adj) - close
  5. 駅 【えき】 - train station
  6. 行く 【い・く】(u-verb) - to go
  7. ~方 【~かた】 - way of doing ~
  8. 分かる 【わ・かる】(u-verb) - to understand
  9. 日本人 【に・ほん・じん】 - Japanese (person)
  10. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese (language)
  11. 大丈夫 【だい・じょう・ぶ】(na-adj) - ok
  12. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  13. 地図 【ち・ず】 - map
  14. ~ヶ所 【~か・しょ】 - counter for number of places
  15. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  16. どちら - which way
  17. 方 【ほう】 - direction
  18. 発音 【はつ・おん】 - pronunciation
  19. 悪い 【わる・い】(i-adj) - bad

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

Japanese person: Sorry, no English

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

Japanese person: I'm sorry.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teacher: To getting lost.

Alice: Huh?

Chapter summary and practice

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

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

  1. 日付 【ひ・づけ】 - date
  2. 何月 【なん・がつ】 - what month
  3. 何日 【なん・にち】 - what date
  4. 誕生日 【たん・じょう・び】 - birthday
  5. いくつ - how many; how old (often used with honorific 「お」 prefix)
  6. 何時 【なん・じ】 - what time
  7. 店 【みせ】 - store
  8. ~から (particle) - from ~
  9. ~まで (particle) - until ~
  10. 開く 【あ・く】(u-verb) - to open
  11. 家族 【か・ぞく】 - family
  12. 何人 【なん・にん】 - how many people
  1. 今日の日付は何ですか。
    What is today's date?
  2. 明日は何月何日ですか。
    What month, what day is tomorrow?
  3. 誕生日はいつですか。
    When is (your) birthday?
  4. おいくつですか。
    How old (are you)?
  5. 今、何時ですか。
    What time is it now?
  6. 店は、何時から何時まで開いていますか。
    From what time to what time is (the) store open?
  7. ご家族は何人ですか。
    As for (your) family, how many people?

Shopping and other activities involving amounts

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

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


  1. 電子【でん・し】 - electronic
  2. 辞書【じ・しょ】 - dictionary
  3. いくら - how much?
  4. 円【えん】 - Japanese currency counter
  5. ちょっと - a little (casual)
  6. 高い【たか・い】(i-adj) - high; expensive
  7. 安い【やす・い】(i-adj) - cheap
  8. こちら - this way
  9. モデル - model
  10. どう - how
  11. 違う【ちが・う】(u-verb) - to be different
  12. 中国語【ちゅう・ごく・ご】 - Chinese (language)
  13. 勉強【べん・きょう】 - study
  14. 入る【はい・る】(u-verb) - to enter

Alice: How much is this electronic dictionary?

店員: 3万円です。
Store clerk: (It's) 30,000 yen.

アリス: ちょっと高すぎますね。もう少し安いのは、ありますか?
Alice: (It's a) little too expensive, isn't it? Is there (one) that is a little more cheap?

店員: こちらのモデルは、2万5千円です。
Store clerk: This model is 25,000 yen.

アリス: これとどう違いますか?
Alice: How is (it) different with this?

店員: 中国語を勉強していますか?それは、中国語も入っていますから、もう少し高いです。
Store clerk: (Are you) studying Chinese? That also has Chinese (in it) so (it's a) little more expensive.

アリス: 日本語を勉強するためには、どちらの方がいいと思いますか?
Alice: For the purpose of studying Japanese, which (do you) think is better?

店員: そうですね。こちらのモデルは、英語しかありませんが、そのモデルより例文や単語数が多いですから、こちらの方がいいと思います。
Store clerk: Let's see. This model has only English but (there's) more example sentences and words so (I) think this model is better.

アリス: そうですか。じゃ、これにします。
Alice: Is that so? Then (I) will go with this one.


  1. 成田 【なり・た】 - Narita (city name)
  2. 空港 【くう・こう】 - airport
  3. 切符 【きっ・ぷ】 - ticket
  4. いくら - how much
  5. 駅 【えき】 - station
  6. 人 【ひと】 - person
  7. エクスプレス - express
  8. 円【えん】 - Japanese currency counter
  9. もう - already; more
  10. 少し 【すこ・し】 - a little
  11. 安い【やす・い】(i-adj) - cheap
  12. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  13. 普通 【ふ・つう】 - normal
  14. 電車 【でん・しゃ】 - train
  15. どちら - which way
  16. 方 【ほう】 - direction
  17. 早い 【はや・い】 - early; fast
  18. もちろん - of course
  19. どれぐらい - about how much
  20. ぐらい - approximately, around
  21. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  22. 割引 【わり・びき】 - discount
  23. 残念 【ざん・ねん】 - unfortunate
  24. ~にする (exp) - to decide on something (lit: to do toward)

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

Station person: Narita Express is 3,000 yen.

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

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

Lee: Which is faster?

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

Lee: By about how much faster?

Station person: About 30 minutes.

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

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

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

Potential and uncertainty

Culturally, Japanese people tend to only be assertive when they're absolutely sure of something. For less certain situations, Japanese has many ways to express exactly how certain or uncertain something is. In this chapter, we will learn how to express various degrees of certainty about things that are possible, probable, and conditional.

Expressing potential

Potential Form

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

Rules for conjugating to potential form
  • For ru-verbs: Replace the 「る」 with 「られる」
    1. 食べ+られる = 食べられる
    2. +られる = 出られる
  • For u-verbs: Replace the u-vowel sound with the e-vowel equivalent and attach 「る」.
    1. +め+る = 飲める
    2. +て+る = 持てる
  • Exceptions:
    1. する → 出来る【で・き・る】
    2. くる → こられる
    3. ある → あり得る 【あり・うる/あり・える】


  1. 漢字 【かん・じ】 - Kanji
  2. 読む 【よ・む】(u-verb) - to read
  3. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  4. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - work
  5. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  6. 飲む 【の・む】(u-verb) - to drink
  7. イベント - event
  8. 準備 【じゅん・び】 - preparation
  9. ~まで (particle) - until ~
  10. 出来る 【で・き・る】(ru-verb) - to be able to do
  1. 漢字は読めますか?
    Can (you) read Kanji?
  2. 明日は仕事だから、今日はあまり飲めない
    Tomorrow is work so can't drink very much today.
  3. イベントの準備は明日まで出来る
    Can (you) do preparations for (the) event by tomorrow?

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


  1. バス - bus
  2. ~時 【~じ】 - hour counter
  3. 出る 【で・る】(ru-verb) - to come out
  4. 起きる 【お・きる】 (ru-verb) - to occur; to awake
  5. 気分 【き・ぶん】 - feeling
  6. 悪い 【わる・い】(i-adj) - bad
  7. あまり - not very (when used with negative)
  1. バスは、7時に出るから、5時に起きれる
    Bus is leaving at 7 so (are you) able to wake up at 5?
  2. 気分が悪いから、今日はあまり食べれない
    Don't feel good (lit:feeling is bad) so can't eat very much today.

Events that are possible

Another way to express potential is to use the noun for a generic event: 「こと」(事) and 「できる」. This is used to describe an event that is possible and is more generic than conjugating the verb directly to the potential form.


  1. ここ - here
  2. タバコ - cigarette
  3. 出来る 【で・き・る】(ru-verb) - to be able to do
  4. 吸う 【す・う】 - to breathe in; to smoke
  5. こと - matter; event
  6. この - this
  7. テレビ - TV
  8. 番組 【ばん・ぐみ】 - program (e.g. TV)
  9. まだ - not yet
  10. インターネット - internet
  11. 見る 【み・る】(ru-verb) - to see
  1. ここでタバコを吸うことは、できますか
    Able to smoke cigarette here?
  2. このテレビ番組はまだインターネットで見ることができません
    Not able to watch this TV show on the internet yet.

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

Other potential verbs

  1. 見える 【み・える】 - to be visible
  2. 聞こえる 【き・こえる】 - to be audible
  3. あり得る 【あり・うる/あり・える】 - able to exist

The potential form of 「見る」 and 「聞く」 (「見られる」 and 「聞ける」 respectively) are only used to describe the ability to see and hear, not whether something is visible or audible. Japanese has two separate verbs to describe the latter: 「見える」 and 「聞こえる」. The examples below show the difference between the ability or capability to see/hear versus what is visible/audible.


  1. 後ろ 【うし・ろ】 - behind
  2. 画像 【が・ぞう】 - screen; image; picture
  3. パソコン - PC, computer
  4. 古い 【ふる・い】(i-adj) - old
  5. 遅い 【おそ・い】(i-adj) - late; slow
  6. 動画 【どう・が】 - video
  7. 私 【わたし】 - me; myself; I
  8. 声 【こえ】 - voice
  9. ラジオ - radio
  10. ネット - net, network, internet
  1. 後ろから画像が見えますか?
    Can (you) see the screen from the back? (lit: Is the screen visible from the back?)
  2. パソコンが古くて遅いから、動画が見られない
    Computer is old and slow so not able to see video. (lit: Because computer is old and slow, not capable of seeing video.
  3. 私の声が聞こえますか?
    Can (you) hear my voice? (lit: Is my voice audible?)
  4. ラジオもネットで聞けるの?
    (You) can listen to radio on (the) net as well? (lit: Able to hear radio on (the) net as well?)

Another verb to pay attention to is 「ある」, which cannot be conjugated to the potential form. Instead, to express that something can exist, you must use the verb 「あり得る」. This verb is very curious in that 「得」 can either be read as 「う」 or 「え」 but if conjugated, it must always be read as 「え」. You may wonder how often one talks about the ability to exist. In practice, this word is primarily used to describe whether a situation or event (こと) can occur.


  1. それは、ありるね。
    That could happen. (lit: That can exist.)
  2. それは、ありるね。
    That could happen. (lit: That can exist.)
  3. それは、ありないよ。
    That can never happen. (lit: That can't exist.)


  1. 大事 【だい・じ】(na-adj) - important
  2. 漢字 【かん・じ】 - Kanji
  3. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  4. 使う 【つか・う】(u-verb) - to use
  5. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 - not at all (when used with negative)
  6. 読む 【よ・む】 (u-verb) - read
  7. うまい (i-adj) - skilled; delicious
  8. 書く 【か・く】(u-verb) - to write
  9. なるべく - as much as possible
  10. 練習 【れん・しゅう】 - practice
  11. 俺 【おれ】- me, myself (slang, masculine)
  12. 写す 【うつ・す】(u-verb) - to copy
  13. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese language
  14. たくさん - a lot (amount)
  15. それに - besides, moreover
  16. そもそも - in the first place, originally
  17. あんた - you (slang)
  18. 見せる 【み・せる】(ru-verb) - to show
  19. 自分 【じ・ぶん】 - oneself
  20. 時 【とき】 - when
  21. こっそり - secretly
  22. つもり - intention
  23. もう - already; expression of exasperation
  24. 信じる 【しん・じる】 (ru-verb) - to believe

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

Alice: Homework.

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

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

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

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

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

Alice: (I) can't believe it.

Various degrees of certainty

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

  1. 絶対 【ぜっ・たい】 - absolutely, without a doubt
  2. きっと - surely
  3. 多分 【た・ぶん】 - probably, perhaps, more likely than not

Indicating a fair amount of certainty

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


  1. 夜 【よる】 - evening
  2. 雨 【あめ】 - rain
  3. 降る 【ふ・る】(u-verb) - to precipitate
  4. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  5. 晴れる 【は・れる】(ru-verb) - to be sunny
  1. 夜には、雨が降るでしょう
    At night, (it will) likely rain.
  2. 明日は、晴れるでしょう
    Tomorrow (will) likely be sunny.

In casual situations, when expressed with a rising intonation, it is used to seek agreement similar to 「ね」. However, while 「ね」 is used for what the speaker believes to be generally agreeable, 「でしょう」 can be more assertive and opinionated. 「だろう」 is another more masculine version of the casual usage of 「でしょう」.


  1. 間に合う 【ま・に・あ・う】(u-verb, exp) - to be in time for
  2. 言う 【い・う】(u-verb) - to say
  3. 時間 【じ・かん】 - time
  4. ある(u-verb) - to exist
  5. まだ - yet; still
  6. 大丈夫 【だい・じょう・ぶ】 - ok
  1. 間に合わないと言ったでしょう
    (I) said won't make it in time, didn't I?
  2. 時間があるから、まだ大丈夫だろう
    There's time so (it's) probably still ok.

Indicating a possibility

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


  1. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  2. 遅い 【おそ・い】(i-adj) - late
  3. なる(u-verb) - to become
  4. 他 【ほか】 - other
  5. 店 【みせ】 - store
  6. 方 【ほう】 - direction
  7. 安い 【やす・い】(i-adj) - cheap
  1. 明日は遅くなるかもしれない
    Might be late tomorrow.
  2. 他の店の方が安いかもしれません
    Another store may be cheaper.

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

  1. ドア - door
  2. 鍵 【かぎ】 - key
  3. かける (ru-verb) - to hang; to lock
  4. 忘れる 【わす・れる】 (ru-verb) - to forget
  5. ケーキ - cake
  6. まだ - yet; still
  7. 残る 【のこ・る】 (u-verb) - to remain; to be left
  1. あっ、ドアに鍵のかけるのを忘れたかも
    Oh, (I) might have forgot to lock the door!
  2. ケーキはまだ残っているかもよ。
    There might be some cake left still, you know.

Expressing wonder/doubt

We can use 「でしょう」 or 「だろう」 with the question marker 「か」 to question whether something is actually true. This is often used to express doubt or reflection.


  1. これ - this
  2. いい (i-adj) - good
  3. 果たして 【は・たして】 - as was expected; really? (in questions)
  4. 謎 【なぞ】 - puzzle; riddle
  5. 解ける 【と・ける】 (ru-verb) - to be solved; to come untied
  6. 者 【もの】 - person
  7. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  1. これでよかったのでしょうか
    Was it ok like this (I wonder)?
  2. 果たしてこのなぞを解ける者はいるんだろうか
    Will there be someone who can solve this riddle?

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


  1. 彼女 【かの・じょ】 - she; girlfriend
  2. どうして - why
  3. そんな - that sort of; that extent
  4. すぐ - soon
  5. キレる - to lose temper (slang from 【切れる】)
  1. これでよかったかな
    Was ok like this (I wonder)?
  2. 彼女はどうしてそんなにすぐキレるかな
    Why does she lose (her) temper that soon (I wonder)?

Recalling a memory

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


  1. あれ - that (over there); huh?
  2. 鍵 【かぎ】 - key
  3. どこ - where
  4. 置く 【お・く】 (u-verb) - to put, to place
  5. 彼 【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  6. 名前 【な・まえ】 - name
  7. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  1. あれ?かぎをどこに置いたっけ
    Huh? Where did (I) place (the) key(s)?
  2. 彼の名前は何でしたっけ
    What was his name again?


  1. 料理 【りょう・り】 - cooking
  2. 下手 【へた】(na-adj) - unskilled, bad at
  3. ただいま - expression for coming back home (I'm home)
  4. お母さん 【お・かあ・さん】 - mother (polite)
  5. 買い物 【か・い・もの】 - shopping
  6. 出かける 【で・かける】(ru-verb) - to go out
  7. いつ - when
  8. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) - to go home
  9. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  10. たった今 【たった・いま】 - just now
  11. 家 【いえ】 - house
  12. 出る 【で・る】 (ru-verb) - to come out
  13. ~時 【~じ】 - counter for hours; ~ o'clock
  14. ぐらい - approximately, around
  15. そう - (things are) that way
  16. お腹 【お・なか】 - stomach
  17. 空く 【す・く】 (u-verb) - to become empty
  18. お父さん 【お・とう・さん】 - father (polite)
  19. 何か 【なに・か】 - something
  20. 作る 【つく・る】 (u-verb) - to make
  21. 簡単 【かん・たん】 (na-adj) - simple
  22. 物 【もの】 - object

Alice: I'm home. What about Mom?

Dad: (She) went out for shopping.

Alice: When is (she) coming back home?

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

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

Dad: Then shall dad make something?

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

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

Alice: Is that so (you think)?

Appearances and hearsay

We often make deductions based on appearances and observations. In this section, we will learn how to describe what things appear to be based on our own and other people's observations.

Appearance or manner

The noun 「よう」(様) is the most generic word used to describe an appearance or manner of a state or action.


  1. 彼女 【かの・じょ】 - she; girlfriend
  2. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  3. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  4. 見る 【み・る】 - to see; to watch
  5. 好き 【す・き】(na-adj) - likable
  6. 友達 【とも・だち】 - friend
  7. もう - already
  8. 帰る 【かえ・る】(u-verb) - to go home
  1. 彼女は、学生のようだ。
    She appears to be (a) student.
  2. 映画を見るのが好きなようですね。
    (It) appears (you) like to watch movie(s).
  3. 友達は、もう帰ったようです。
    Looks like friend went home already.

Outward appearance (casual)

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

「みたい」 at first glance, looks identical to 「見たい」 meaning "want to see". You could even say it has a similar meaning as an outward appearance is how one wants to see something. However, the key difference is that while all verbs in the 「~たい」 form such as 「見たい」 conjugate as an i-adjective, this 「みたい」 acts like a noun same as 「よう」.


  1. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  2. 雨 【あめ】 - rain
  3. この - this
  4. ぬいぐるみ - stuffed toy
  5. 犬 【いぬ】 - dog
  6. 今朝 【け・さ】 - this morning
  7. 頭 【あたま】 - head
  8. まだ - yet; still
  9. 風邪 【かぜ】 - cold (illness)
  10. 引く 【ひ・く】(u-verb) - to pull
  11. 彼【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  12. 奥さん 【おく・さん】 - wife (polite)
  13. 凄い 【すご・い】 (i-adj) - to a great extent
  14. かわいい (i-adj) - cute
  1. 明日は雨みたいだよ。
    Tomorrow looks like rain, you know.
  2. このぬいぐるみは犬みたいじゃない
    Doesn't this stuffed toy look like (a) dog?
  3. 今朝も頭が痛いからまだ風邪を引いているみたいです。
    (My) head hurt this morning as well so it looks like (I) still have a cold.
  4. 彼の奥さんはすごくかわいいみたいよ。
    His wife is apparently amazingly cute, you know.

Guessing from observation

In English, "seems like" or "looks like" is also used to made an educated guess. In Japanese, this is expressed by appending 「そう」 to the verb or adjective with the following rules. The resulting word becomes a na-adjective.

  1. 落ちる 【お・ちる】 (ru-verb) - to fall
  2. カップ - cup
  3. 降る 【ふ・る】(u-verb) - to precipitate
  4. 雨 【あめ】 - rain
  5. 暇 【ひま】 (na-adj) - free (as in not busy)
  6. 大変 【たい・へん】 (na-adj) - tough, hard time
  7. おいしい (i-adj) - tasty
  8. 楽しい 【たの・しい】 (i-adj) - fun
  9. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
Rules for guessing outcome using 「そう」
  • Verbs: Conjugate to the stem and append 「そう」
    1. 落ちそう=落ちそう
      カップが落ちそう - Looks like cup is about to fall
    2. +り→降り+そう=降りそう
      雨が降りそう - Seems like it's going to rain
  • Na-adjectives: Append 「そう」
    1. 暇+そう=暇そう
      Seems free (not busy)
    2. 大変+そう=大変そう
      Seems tough/rough
  • I-adjectives: Drop the last 「い」 and append 「そう」
    Exception: For 「いい」 → よそう=よさそう (seems good)
    1. おいしそう=おいしそう
      (Based on guessing) looks tasty.
    2. 楽しそう=楽しそう
      Seems fun.
  • Negative forms: Replace the last 「い」 with 「さ」 and append 「そう」
    1. こなそう=こなさそう
      Seems like (he/she) will not come.
    2. おいしくなさそう=おいしくなさそう
      (Based on guessing) looks not tasty.


  1. これ - this
  2. とても - very
  3. 梅雨 【つゆ】 - rainy season
  4. 嫌 【いや】 (na-adj) disagreeable; unpleasant
  5. ~な (sentence-ending particle) - casual and masculine version of ~ね
  6. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  7. 彼女 【かの・じょ】 - she; girlfriend
  8. 子供 【こ・ども】 - child
  9. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  10. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - job
  11. する (exception) - to do
  12. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  13. 簡単 【かん・たん】 (na-adj) - simple
  14. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  15. 試験 【し・けん】 - exam
  16. 問題 【もん・だい】 - problem
  17. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  1. これ、とてもおいしそう
    This looks very tasty!
  2. 梅雨はいやだな。今日も雨が降りそうだよ。
    (I) dislike rainy season. (It) looks like it's going to rain today too, you know.
  3. 彼女は、子供もいないし、仕事もしないから、とても暇そうじゃない?
    Doesn't (she) seem to be very free because she has no kids and doesn't do (a) job?
  4. 宿題は全部簡単だったから明日の試験は問題なさそうね。
    All (the) homework was easy so (there) doesn't seem to be any problems for tomorrow's test.

Expressing hearsay

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

  1. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  2. きれい (na-adj) - pretty; clean
  3. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 (i-adj) - busy
  4. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
Rules for expressing hearsay using 「そう」
  • Nouns and Na-adjectives: Add the declarative 「だ」 to the clause then attach 「そうだ」 or 「そうです」.
    1. 明日だそうだ
      (I) hear (it's) tomorrow.
    2. きれいだそうです
      (I) hear (she) is pretty.
  • All other cases: Attach 「そうだ」 or 「そうです」 to the clause.
    1. 忙しいそうだ
      (I) hear (he's) busy.
    2. 行きたくないそうです
      (I) hear (she) doesn't want to go.


  1. 彼【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  2. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese (language)
  3. ぺらぺら - fluent
  4. 雪 【ゆき】 - snow
  5. 出かける 【で・かける】(ru-verb) - to go out
  6. 来週 【らい・しゅう】 - next week
  7. 期末 【き・まつ】 - end of term
  8. 試験 【し・けん】 - exam
  9. 皆 【みんな】 - everybody
  1. 彼は、日本語がぺらぺらだそうだ
    (I) hear he is fluent in Japanese.
  2. 彼の奥さんは、とてもきれいだそうです
    (I) hear that his wife is very pretty.
  3. 明日は雪が降るそうだ
    (I) hear that (it will) snow tomorrow.
  4. 雨が降っているから、出かけたくないそうです
    (I) hear that (he) doesn't want to come out because (it's) raining.
  5. 来週は、期末試験で皆忙しいそうです
    (I) hear that everybody is busy with the final exam(s) next week.

Appearance from hearsay or behavior

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

Examples of hearsay

  1. 今年 【こ・とし】 - this year
  2. 新しい 【あたら・しい】(i-adj) - new
  3. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) - to be able to do
  4. 遊園地 【ゆう・えん・ち】 - amusement park
  5. 大きい 【おお・きい】(i-adj) - big
  6. とても - very
  7. 楽しい 【たの・しい】 (i-adj) - fun
  8. 赤ちゃん 【あか・ちゃん】 - baby
  9. 生後 【せい・ご】 - post-natal
  10. 数ヶ月 【すう・か・げつ】 - several months
  11. 母乳 【ぼ・にゅう】 - mother's milk
  12. 育てる 【そだ・てる】 (ru-verb) - to raise, to rear
  13. 一番 【いち・ばん】 - #1; best; first
  14. いい (i-adj) - good
  1. 今年新しく出来た遊園地は大きくてとても楽しいらしいよ。
    It seems (based on hearsay) that (the) new amusement park that was built this year is very big and fun.
  2. 赤ちゃんは、生後の数ヶ月は母乳で育てるのが一番いいらしい
    (I) heard that it's best to raise baby by breast milk for few months after birth.

Examples of behavior

  1. 約束 【やく・そく】 - promise, arrangement, appointment/li>
  2. 時間 【じ・かん】 - time
  3. 遅れる 【おく・れる】 (ru-verb) - to be late
  4. 彼 【かれ】 - he; boyfriend
  5. あの - that (over there) (abbr. of あれの)
  6. 子 【こ】 - child
  7. とても - very
  8. しっかり - firmly; reliable; steady;
  9. する (exception) - to do
  10. 子供 【こ・ども】 - child
  11. 男 【おとこ】 - man
  12. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  13. 人 【ひと】 - person
  14. ~による (u-verb) - depending on ~
  15. 意味 【い・み】 - meaning
  16. 違う 【ちが・う】 (u-verb) - to be different
  1. 約束時間に遅れるのは、彼らしくない
    (It's) not like him to be late to the promised time.
  2. あの子はとてもしっかりしていて、子供らしくないです。
    That child is very reliable and doesn't act like a child.
  3. らしいと言うのは、人によって意味が違うでしょう。
    "Acting like a man" will probably have different meanings depending on the person.

Slang expression for similarity

A casual way to express similarity is to attach 「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 the different types of expression for similarity covered above (よう、みたい、らしい). It conjugates just like a regular i-adjective.


  1. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  2. 雨 【あめ】 - rain
  3. 傘 【かさ】 - umbrella
  4. 持つ 【も・つ】 (u-verb) - to hold
  5. 最近 【さい・きん】 - recent; lately
  6. 寒い 【さむ・い】 (i-adj) - cold
  7. ちょっと - a little
  8. 風邪 【かぜ】 - common cold
  9. 男 【おとこ】 - man
  1. 今日は、雨っぽいから、傘を持ってきた。
    Today seems like (it's going to) rain so (I) brought (an) umbrella.
  2. 最近は、寒くてちょっと風邪っぽいよ。
    Lately, (it's) cold and seems like (I have a) cold.
  3. アリスはちょっと男っぽくない
    Isn't Alice a little manly?


  1. 留学生 【りゅう・がく・せい】 - exchange student
  2. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) - to ask; to listen
  3. 新しい 【あたら・しい】(i-adj) - new
  4. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  5. 日本人 【に・ほん・じん】 - Japanese person
  6. 女 【おんな】 - woman; girl
  7. 子 【こ】 - child
  8. マジ - serious (slang)
  9. かわいい (i-adj) - cute
  10. 本当 【ほん・とう】 - real
  11. それ - that
  12. どんな - what kind
  13. 人 【ひと】 - person
  14. まだ - yet
  15. 会う 【あ・う】 (u-verb) - to meet
  16. 昼休み 【ひる・やす・み】 - lunch break
  17. ちょっと - a little
  18. ねえ - hey
  19. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  20. 話 【はなし】 - story
  21. する (exception) - to do
  22. 別に 【べつ・に】 - (not) particularly; nothing (slang)
  23. 関係 【かん・けい】 - relation
  24. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  25. 香 【かおり】 - Kaori (first name)
  26. 昨日【きのう】 - yesterday
  27. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) - to speak
  28. とても - very
  29. すぐ - soon
  30. 仲良く 【なか・よ・く】 - getting along well with
  31. なる (u-verb) - to become
  32. それに - besides; moreover
  33. 私 【わたし】 - me; myself; I
  34. どう - how
  35. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  36. 意味 【い・み】 - meaning
  37. いや - no (casual)
  38. 彼女 【かの・じょ】 - she; girlfriend
  39. 男 【おとこ】 - man
  40. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable; desirable
  41. そんな - that kind of, such
  42. こと - matter; event
  43. 初対面 【しょ・たい・めん】 - first meeting
  44. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  45. でも - but
  46. そう - (things are) that way
  47. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to see
  48. 感じ 【かん・じ】 - feeling
  49. 軽い 【かる・い】 (i-adj) - light; non-serious
  50. 絶対 【ぜっ・たい】 (na-adj) - absolutely, unconditionally
  51. タイプ - type
  52. 俺 【おれ】 - me; myself; I (casual masculine)
  53. 勘違い 【かん・ちが・い】 - misunderstanding
  54. バカ - dummy
  55. いいえ - no (polite)
  56. 正真正銘 【しょう・しん・しょう・めい】 - genuine, authentic

ジョン: 聞いた?新しい留学生がいるみたいだよ。日本人の女の子だそうよ!マジでかわいいらしいよ。
John: (Did you) hear? (It) seems like there's (a) new exchange student. (I) hear (she's a) Japanese girl! (Apparently she's) really cute, you know.

リー: 本当に?それはビッグニュースだね。どんな人なのかな?
Lee: Really? That's big news, isn't it? I wonder what kind of person (she) is?

ジョン: まだ会っていないけど、昼休みにちょっと話そうよ。
John: (I) haven't met (her) yet but let's talk (to her) a little bit at lunch break.

アリス: ねえ、なんの話しているの?
Alice: Hey, what are (you) talking about?

ジョン: 別に。アリスちゃんとは関係ないよ。
John: Nothing in particular. Nothing that concerns Alice-chan.

リー: アリスちゃんは新しい留学生に会った?
Lee: Did Alice-chan meet (the) new exchange student?

アリス: なんだ。香さんの話?昨日ちょっとだけ話したよ。女らしくてとてもかわいい子だったよ。すぐ仲良くなれそうな感じ?それに私には関係ないってどういう意味?
Alice: What? (You're) talking about Kaori-san? (I) talked (to her) a little bit yesterday. She's girly and very cute girl. (Someone you) can quickly become friendly with kind of feeling? Moreover, what (do you) mean it has nothing to do with me?

ジョン: いや、なんでもないんだ。香さんだったっけ?彼女はどんな男が好きそうなの?
John: No, it's nothing. Kaori-san, was it? What kind of boy does it seem she'll like?

アリス: えっ?そんなこと、初対面では分からないでしょう?でも、そうだね。見た感じでは、ジョンみたいな軽い男は絶対タイプじゃないでしょうね。
Alice: Huh? (You) wouldn't know that kind of think on (a) first meeting, right? Let's see. By the look of things, boy(s) that don't take anything seriously like John will definitely not be (her) type, most likely.

ジョン: おい、俺のことを勘違いしていないか?
John: Hey, aren't (you) misunderstanding the kind of person I am?

リー: そうだよ、アリスちゃん。ジョンはバカっぽいなだけだよ。
Lee: That's right, Alice-chan. John is like a dummy, that's all.

アリス: いいえ、正真正銘のバカよ。
Alice: No, (he's a) genuine idiot.


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

Striving for a goal

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


  1. タバコを吸わないようにする
    Try not to smoke cigarettes.
    (lit: Do toward manner of not smoking.)
  2. 甘い物を食べないようにしている
    Trying not to eat sweet things.
    (lit: Doing toward manner of not eating sweet things).
  3. もっと運動をするようにしていたけど、すぐあきらめた。
    Was trying to exercise a lot more but soon gave up.
    (lit: Was doing toward manner of doing more exercise but soon gave up.)

Achieving an action

If you use the same grammar as before but with the verb 「なる」 (meaning "to become") instead of 「する」, we can describe reaching the state of the verb.


  1. タバコを吸わないようになる
    (It) became so that (I) don't smoke.
    (lit: Become manner of not smoking.)
  2. 毎日運動したから簡単に太らないようになった
    (I) exercised every day so (it) became so that (I) won't get fat easily.
  3. 2年間日本に住んでいたから、日本語が話せるようになりました
    (I) lived in Japan for two years so (I) became able to speak Japanese.

Making an attempt

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


  1. 犬はいつも人の食べ物を食べようとする
    Dog always tries (attempts) to eat people's food.
  2. 休みなのに、両親はどこにも行こうとしないから、つまらないよ。
    Even though (it's a) holiday, (my) parents don't try (make an effort) to go anywhere so (it's) boring.

Comic 11 - ニートの話

  1. 知る 【し・る】 (u-verb) - to know
  2. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  3. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - job
  4. する (exception) - to do
  5. 学校 【がっ・こう】 - school
  6. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  7. 人達 【ひと・たち】 - people
  8. ニート - NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training)
  9. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  10. 信じる 【しん・じる】 (ru-verb) - to believe
  11. そう - (things are) that way
  12. 何で 【なん・で】 - why; how
  13. 探す 【さが・す】 (u-verb) - to look for
  14. 羨ましい 【うらや・ましい】 (i-adj) - envious, jealous
  15. 生活 【せい・かつ】 - lifestyle
  16. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) - to be able to do
  17. お金 【お・かね】 - money
  18. いる (u-verb) - to need
  19. いや - no (casual)
  20. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable; desirable
  21. なる (u-verb) - to become
  22. 物 【もの】 - object

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

John: (I) can't believe it!

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

John: (I'm) jealous! Why are (they) able to do that kind of lifestyle? Don't (you) need things like money?

Alice: No, I don't think NEET is something (you) become because (you) like it.


A third way to express trying (not as a goal or effort) is to do something as an experiment. For example, trying out something for the first time. This grammar is expressed by changing the verb to the te-form and attaching the verb 「みる」 ("to see").


  1. 先生に質問を聞いてみる
    Try asking teacher question.
  2. 日本料理を食べてみた
    Tried eating Japanese food.


アリス: 田中先生、ちょっと相談があります。
Alice: Tanaka-sensei, (I) have something I'd like advice on (lit: there is a consulation).

田中: はい、何でしょうか。
Tanaka: Yes, what is it?

アリス: 最近、日本語があまり上達しない気がしますが、どうしましょうか。
Alice: Lately, (I) feel like (my) Japanese isn't improving very much but what should I do?

田中: アリスさんの日本語は上達していますよ。でも、そうですね。もっと会話の練習をしてみるのはどうですか。たくさん会話の練習をすることでもっと上手に話せるようになると思いますよ。
Tanaka: Alice-san's Japanese is improving, you know. But, let's see. How about trying to do much more conversation practice? (I) think (you) can become so that (you) can speak much more skillfully by doing (a) lot of conversation practice.

アリス: そうですね。でも、クラスメート達は授業以外では、全然日本語で話そうとしないんです。
Alice: That's so, isn't it. But (my) classmates don't try to speak Japanese outside of class at all.

田中: それはだめですね。オンラインで日本人の友達を作るのはどうでしょう。
Tanaka: That's bad, isn't it? How about making Japanese friends online?

アリス: それはいい考えですね。オンラインで友達を作ってみて、もっと日本語で会話をするようにします
Alice: That is a good idea, isn't it? I will try making friends online and try to do much more conversation in Japanese.

田中: ところで勉強をサボっているのは誰ですか。
Tanaka: By the way, who is slacking off on (their) studies?

アリス: はい?それは…ええと。
Alice: What? That is umm...

Unintended Actions

Sometimes we do things that we didn't mean to and there are a couple ways we can express actions that we did not intend to take.

We can use the noun for intention (つもり) to express what was or wasn't intended.


  1. つもり - intention; plan
  2. 後 【あと】 - afterwards
  3. 買い物 【か・い・もの】 - shopping
  4. する (exception) - to do
  5. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  6. 夜 【よる】 - evening
  7. 出かける 【で・かける】(ru-verb) - to go out
  8. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  9. 心配 【しん・ぱい】 - worry; concern
  10. いる (u-verb) - to need
  11. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  12. 教える 【おし・える】 (ru-verb) - to teach; to inform
  1. 後で買い物をしに行くつもりです。
    (I) intend on going to do shopping later.
  2. 夜に出かけるつもりはないので、心配はいりません。
    (I) don't intend on going out at night so (you) don't need (to) worry.
  3. 先生に教えるつもりはなかったんだよ。
    (I) didn't intend on telling the teacher, you know.

You can have no intention using 「つもり」 and 「ない」 as the last example sentence shows. However, in order to describe something unintended (accidental), we need to use verb:「しまう」.

Using 「しまう」 for unintended actions

The verb 「しまう」 has two main definitions: 1) to finish; to do something completely and 2) for something unintended to happen. The latter definition is used for situations when you did something you didn't mean to do. To use this with other verbs, attach 「しまう」 to the te-form of the verb.


  1. しまった!宿題を持ってくるのを忘れた!
    Oh no! (I) forgot to bring (my) homework!
  2. もう起きてしまった事は仕方ないよ。
    There's nothing you can do about something that already happened (unintentionally).
  3. 我慢ができないからついつい買ってしまうんですよ。
    (I) can't resist so (I) unintentionally end up buying (it).

Casual version of 「~てしまう」

In casual speech, the 「~てしまう」 can be 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. もう注文しちゃったけど、どうする?
    (I) already ordered (oops) so what should (we) do?
  2. 彼女を元彼女の名前で呼んじゃったよ!
    (I) called my girlfriend by my ex-girlfriend's name (by accident)!
  3. もう分かっちゃった事は忘れられないでしょう?
    (I) can't forget something that I already learned (unintentionally) right?

There is also a much less common casual version of 「~てしまう」 and 「~でしまう」 that sounds much more rough and coarse and is usually only used by older males. This version replaces 「~てしまう」 and 「~でしまう」 with 「~ちまう」 and 「~じまう」 respectively. The result is conjugated the same as any u-verb.


  1. また連絡するのを忘れちまったのかよ?
    Did (you) forget to contact (me) again?
  2. 悪い、お前のメールを読んじまったよ。
    Sorry, (I) read your email (by accident).


Kaori: Nice to meet you! (You're a) student of Japanese, right? (I'm) called Kaori.

John: Ni, nice to meet. I'm John. Why did (you know) I'm (a) Japanese student?

Kaori: (I) happened to (unintentionally) see you taking Japanese class. How many years have (you) been studying Japanese?

John: Um, about 2 years?

Kaori: (That's) amazing. (You) can talk this much even though (you've) only been studying 2 years?

John: No, (I) think I'm not that good yet...

(It's) not like that. (You) are really good. Things turned out so that I will help (the) Japanese teacher from time to time while (I'm) here so let's get along (lit: please treat me well). Oh, class is going to start soon (unintended). See you later.

Lee and Alice are walking in the hallway.

Lee: (I) hear Kaori-san is going to help our class's teacher?

Alice: That's right. (It) seems she wants to be helpful to everybody.

Lee: (She's) very kind, isn't she?

Alice: That's right. She's very kind to everybody so seems like boys will (unintentionally) misinterpret (it) so (I'm) worried.

Lee: (It's) ok. That kind of type isn't in our class, right? Huh? John, what are (you) doing spacing out in the hallway?

John: (I) may have met (an) angel.

Alice: Huh? What was that?


There are four ways to express conditional in Japanese, each with a slightly different meaning and used in different situations.

General Conditional

The most generic conditional without any assumptions or embedded meanings is the 「~ば」 conditional. The conjugation rules for the 「ば」 conditional is below.

Conjugation rules for 「ば」
  • For verbs: change the last /u/ vowel sound to the /e/ vowel sound and append 「ば」
    1. 食べ → 食べ → 食べれ+ = 食べれば
    2.  → 待 → 待て+ = 待てば
    3.  → す → すれ+ = すれば
  • For i-adjectives and negatives ending in 「ない」: drop the last 「い」 and append 「ければ」
    1. おいし → おいし+ければ = おいしければ
    2. 食べな → 食べな+ければ = 食べなければ
    3.  → な+ければ = なければ
  • For nouns and na-adjectives: append 「であれば」
    1. 学生 → 学生であれば
    2. 暇 → 暇であれば


  1. 早めに電話すれば、予約が簡単にできるよ。
    If (you) call early, (you) can make (a) reservation easily.
  2. 明日は忙しくなければ、映画を見に行かない?
    If tomorrow is not busy, won't (you) to go to watch movie?
  3. 親切な人であれば、友達になれると思う。
    If (he/she) is (a) nice person, (I) think (we) can become friends.

Past Conditional

The past conditional is created by adding 「ら」 to the past tense form of a verb, noun, or adjective. The full form is 「らば」 but the 「ば」 is usually omitted.

This form can also used in the past tense to describe something that was unexpected instead of a condition.

Past conditional conjugation rule
Change the noun, adjective, or verb to its past tense and append 「ら(ば)」
  1. 友達だった+ = 友達だったら
  2. 忙しかった → 忙しかった+ = 忙しかったら
  3. 食べた → 食べた+ = 食べたら
  4. 読んだ → 読んだ+ = 読んだら
  5. 暇じゃなかった+ = 暇じゃなかったら


  1. 今日は忙しかったら、明日会いましょう。
    If (you) are busy today, let's meet tomorrow.
  2. 行きたくなかったら、どうして行きたいと言ったの?
    If (you) didn't want to go, why did (you) say (you) wanted to go?
  3. 家に帰ったら、犬がごみを散らかしていた。
    When (I) returned home, (the) dog was scattering around (the) garbage.

Contextual conditional

The contextual conditional is used by appending 「なら(ば)」 to a noun, verb, or adjective. The full form is 「ならば」 but the 「ば」 is usually omitted.

This conditional is used to describe something in a given context. Often, there is no actual conditional, ie "Well, if that's the case, then..." or "Given that..."

Contextual conditional usage rule
Append 「なら(ば)」 to the noun, verb, or adjective
  1. 友達+なら = 友達なら
  2. 忙しい+なら = 忙しいなら
  3. 忙しくない+なら = 忙しくないなら
  4. 食べる+なら = 食べるなら


  1. 皆が行きたくないと言うなら、私も行かないよ。
    If everybody is saying (they) don't want to go, I won't go as well.
  2. アリスちゃんなら、もう家に帰ったよ。
    If (you're) referring to Alice-chan, (she) went home already, you know.
  3. 昨日起きた話なら、田中さんからもう聞いたよ。
    If (you're) referring to (the) story of (what) happened yesterday, (I) already heard from Tanaka-san.
  4. 忙しくないなら、どうして会えないの?
    If (you're) not busy, why can't you meet (me)?

Natural consequence

The natural conditional is used by appending 「と」 for verbs and i-adjectives or 「だと」 for nouns and na-adjectives.

This conditional is used to describe things that happen as a natural consequence with very high certainty ie, "If you do X, Y will certainly happen." It can also be translated as "when" in addition to "if".

Natural conditional usage rule
Append 「と」 to the noun, verb, or adjective
  • For nouns/na-adjectives: Append 「だと」
    1. 友達+だと = 友達だと
    2. 静か+だと = 静かだと
  • For verbs/i-adjectives and negatives ending in 「ない」: Append 「と」
    1. する+ = すると
    2. しない+ = しないと
    3. 忙しい+ = 忙しいと


  1. 今から行かないと、電車に間に合わないよ。
    If (we) don't go now starting now, (we) won't make the train.
  2. 彼は暇だといつもゲームをしているの。
    If he's free, (he) always plays game(s).
  3. そんなにたくさん食べると絶対太るよ。
    If (you) eat that much, (you'll) get fat for sure.

Examples of different scenarios

It's not often obvious nor easy to explain when you would use one type of conditional over another. The best way to master conditionals is by learning from many examples over time. To help you get started, below are a few examples to illustrate some scenarios where some conditionals are more appropriate then others. However, keep in mind, that no version is necessarily incorrect as it can depend on the context and the message the speaker is trying to convey.

学生 - student

  1. 学生であれば、学生割引が使えるよ。
    If (you) are (a) student, (you) can use student discount.
    (Generic conditional, no assumption whether you a student)
  2. ここの学生だったら、またすぐ会えるのにな。
    If only (he/she) was (a) student of here, (I) would be able to meet again soon.
    (Same as generic conditional but used for the past tense)
  3. 大学生なら、勉強をもっとすると思ったけど、全然していないよ。
    If (he/she) is a student, (I) thought (he/she) would study more but (he/she) doesn't at all.
    (He/she is a student, ie "since he is a student...")
  4. 学生だと、ここのラーメンは400円だよ。
    If (you) are (a) student, ramen here is 400 yen.
    (Stating a fact)

忙しい - busy

  1. 忙しくなければ、映画を見に行こう。
    If (you're) not busy, let's go see (a) movie.
    (Generic conditional with no assumption of whether you're busy or not)
  2. そんなに忙しかったら、どうして昼寝をしたの?
    If (you're) that busy, why (did you) take a nap?
    (Same as generic conditional but used for the past tense)
  3. そんなに忙しいなら、話は明日にしましょう。
    If (you're) that busy, let's talk tomorrow.
    (It's known that the person is busy ie "given that you're busy...")
  4. 仕事で忙しくなるといつもジャンクフードを食べたくなる。
    If (I) become busy with work, (I) always want to eat junk food.
    (Predetermined outcome, ie "when busy...")

分かる - understand

  1. 方程式が分かれば、試験は簡単だよ。
    If (you) understand (the) formula, (the) test is simple.
    (Generic conditional that can be applied to anybody)
  2. 時間と場所が分かったら、皆にメールを送るよ。
    If (I) know the time and place, (I'll) send email to everybody.
    (Used to express what happens after, ie "once (I) know...")
  3. 私の気持ちが分からないなら、もう話す必要がないの。
    If (you) don't understand my feeling(s), there is no need to talk anymore.
    (The person doesn't seem to understand, ie "since you don't understand...")
  4. 電話番号が分からないと連絡が出来ないでしょう?
    If (you) don't know (the) phone number, (you) can't contact (him/her/them), right?
    (Expressing almost 100% certainty)

Phrasing questions

When we want to talk about a question in a larger sentence, we can treat the sentence as a phrase by using the 「か」 question marker.


  1. 田中さんはいつ来る、分かりますか。
    Do (you) know when Tanaka-san is coming?
  2. 来年、日本に留学しに行く、悩んでいる。
    (I'm) agonizing whether I should go to Japan next year for study abroad.

When it's a yes/no question, you can append an optional 「どうか」 to represent the other choice.


  1. 悩む 【なや・む】 - to be troubled over something, to agonize over a decision
  2. 留学 【りゅう・がく】 - study abroad
  1. 田中さんは、明日来るかどうか、分かりますか。
    Do (you) know whether Tanaka-san is coming tomorrow or not?
  2. 来年、日本に留学しに行くかどうか、悩んでいる。
    (I'm) agonizing whether I should go to Japan next year for study abroad or not.
  3. 日本に行きたいかどうか、分かりません。
    Whether (I) want to go to Japan or not, (I) don't know.

Comic 12 - 「彼女」の意味

  1. 彼女 【かの・じょ】 - she; girlfriend
  2. ガールフレンド - girlfriend
  3. 両方 【りょう・ほう】 - both sides
  4. 意味 【い・み】 - meaning
  5. 持つ 【も・つ】(u-verb) - to hold
  6. 余計 【よ・けい】 (na-adj) - too much, unnecessary, excess
  7. 紛らわしい 【まぎ・らわしい】 (i-adj) confusing, misleading
  8. コンテキスト - context
  9. 大体 【だい・たい】 - general; substantially
  10. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  11. それに - besides; moreover
  12. どっち - which (way)
  13. 相手 【あい・て】 - other party
  14. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) - to ask; to listen
  15. 確認 【かく・にん】 - confirmation
  16. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) - to be able to do
  17. そう - (things are) that way
  18. そんな - that sort of
  19. 質問 【しつ・もん】 - question
  20. じゃ - short for では (informal)
  21. 結局 【けっ・きょく】 - eventually; in the end

John: 彼女 holds both meaning of "she" and "girlfriend" so (it's) unnecessarily confusing.

Alice: Wouldn't (you) mostly understand by context? Moreover, if (you) don't understand, (you) can confirm by asking the other (person) which (it is), right?

John: That's so, isn't it? If (I) ask is she/girlfriend she/girlfriend, (I) will understand, won't (I)?

Alice: By that kind of question, (you) won't know which is which in the end, right?

Chapter summary and practice

In this chapter, we learned how to deal with uncertainty in various ways. I'm sure we can all think of many situations where things are not 100% certain. Common scenarios include talking about the weather, news, and the future.

Below is a list of sample topics you can write about or discuss with your conversation partner (either in casual or polite form as appropriate).

  1. 何ヶ国語話せますか。
    How many languages can (you) speak?
  2. 死ぬ前に一回してみたいことはある?
    Is there something (you) would like to try doing before (you) die.
  3. うっかりしてしまったとても恥ずかしいこと。
    Something very embarrassing (you) did inadvertently.
  4. 百万長者だったら何をしますか。
    What would (you) do if (you) were a millionaire?
  5. どんな願いでも一つだけ叶えたら、何を願いますか。
    If (you) could grant any one wish, what (would you) wish for?

Distinguishing similar grammar

In this chapter, we learned many different ways to say similar things. In teaching, it's convenient to group similar concepts and cover them together. However, when it comes time to use them in practice, it can create confusion as learners try to decide which grammar to use and get caught up in trying to find the difference between similar concepts.

Let's take a look at some examples and why one grammar is more appropriate over others in various situations. It's important to keep in mind that there is often no one right answer as it really depends on what you want to say exactly.

Like, it's not like I like it like that

"Like" is a word in English that has many usages and can even be overused. With words like this, it's natural that other languages have many different types of grammar that all translate to the same word in English. Therefore, we need to learn to make distinctions that we usually don't think about.

  • Is it an impression of the future or guess (with some uncertainty)? Use 「~そう」.
    1. これ、おいしそうですね!
      This looks tasty! (haven't tasted yet)
    2. ここにはなさそうだけど、もう一度探してみるよ。
      It doesn't seem to be here but (I'll) look one more time. (guessing)
    3. 楽しそうだな。私も行こうかな?
      Seems like fun (impression). I wonder if I should go too?
  • Is it based on hearsay? Use 「らしい」 or 「だ/た+そう」. Use the former if it's an impression based on general hearsay and the latter if heard from a specific person.
    1. そこのお店は、結構安いらしいよ。
      (I) heard (in general) that that store is pretty cheap.
    2. 昨日はかなり大変だったそうよ。
      (I) heard (from someone) that yesterday was very rough.
  • Is it resembling behavior ie "acting like a..." or trigger an emotion? Use 「らしい」.
    1. どうした?君らしくないな。
      What's the matter? (It's) not like you. (behavior).
    2. そのドレス、とてもかわいらしいよ。
      That dress is very cute! (triggers feeling of cuteness)
  • Is it a resemblance in appearance or manner? Use 「みたい」, 「よう」 (polite/formal), or 「っぽい」 (slang). This is also more generic and can be in other situations without the connotations of other grammar.
    1. 明日は雨みたいです。
      Looks like tomorrow is rain.
    2. こちらのチームは苦戦しているようですが、どうしますか。
      It appears our team is having a hard fight so what should (we) do?
    3. その服は、ちょっと男っぽくない
      Don't those clothes look a bit manly?

Are you trying hard enough?

We learned several grammar that all mean "try" but with difference nuances such as "try" vs "attempt". While they are often interchangeable, the difference is mostly due to how much effort is exerted.

  • Is it a light effort, experimentation, or just trying something new? Use 「te-form+みる」.
    1. ちょっとやってみるよ。
      I'll give it a shot.
    2. これを食べてみて。おいしいよ!
      Try eating this. It's tasty!
    3. ドアを開けてみて
      Try opening the door.
  • Is it an attempt with concerted effort or setting about to do something (just before actually starting)? Use 「volitional + とする」
    1. ドアを開けようとした
      Attempted to open the door (such as forcing it open).
    2. 話しかけようとしたら、突然電話が鳴った。
      When (I) set out to talk to him/her, (the) phone suddenly rang.
  • Is it a goal or an attempt to reach a certain state such as behavior? Use 「ように(する/なる)」
    1. あまり大きい音を出さないようにしてね。
      Try not to make a big sound, ok?
    2. 最近はもっと社交的になろうとしているんだけど、会話が苦手でなかなか難しい。
      Lately, (I've) been trying to be more social but (I'm) bad at conversation and (it's) pretty hard.

In that case, when and/or if then...

The conditionals are extremely tricky because of the 4 different types and all the various conjugations. We already looked at some examples using various scenarios. To further simplify things, let's start by looking at the conditionals that are most distinctive and easy to separate.

  • Is it a supposition ie, "if that's the case..."? Use 「なら(ば)」. 「ならば」 is very formal so usually just 「なら」.
    1. それなら、仕方がないね。
      Well in that case, (I) guess (it) can't be helped.
  • Is it a natural consequence ie, "when not if"? Use 「と」. Also, casual speech often uses 「と」 just because it's the shortest.
    1. スーパーなら、その角を右に曲がるとすぐそこにあるよ。
      If you mean (the) supermarket, if (you) turn right at that corner, (it's) right there.
    2. メガネがないと、何も見えないでしょう?
      With no glasses, (you) can't see anything, right?
  • Did it already happen? Use 「たら(ば)」.「たらば」 is very formal so usually just 「たら」.
    1. 今朝起きたら、顔にニキビが付いていた。
      When (I) woke up this morning, (a) pimple was attached to (my) face.
  • Is it a generic "if" statement? Use 「ば/たら(ば)」. These are usually pretty interchangeable though there are some very slight differences.
    1. もっとお金があれば、色んな欲しいものが買えるのにな。
      If (I) have more money, (I) could buy various things I want.
    2. もっとお金があったら、色んな欲しいものが買えるのにな。
      If (I) had more money, (I) could buy various things I want.

Optional and required

In this chapter, we will learn how to talk about things that one may or may not have to do. This includes asking for favors, making requests and suggestions, and the various command forms.


Things of no consequence

The expressions "even if", "regardless", or "no matter" are used when something is of no consequence to something else. In Japanese, the same notion is expressed by combining the te-form with the 「も」 inclusive particle.


  1. 東京 【とう・きょう】 - Tokyo
  2. どこ - where
  3. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  4. とても - very
  5. 込む 【こ・む】 (u-verb) - to become crowded
  6. 気 【き】 - mood; intent
  7. する (exception) - to do
  8. 何回 【なん・かい】 - how many number of times
  9. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) - to ask; to listen
  10. 答え 【こた・え】 - answer
  11. 同じ 【おな・じ】 - same
  12. 大学 【だい・がく】 - college
  13. いい (i-adj) - good
  14. 仕事 【し・ごと】 - job
  15. 見つかる 【み・つかる】 (u-verb) - to be found
  16. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  17. アルバイト - part-time job
  18. 学生 【がく・せい】 - student
  19. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) - to be able to do
  1. 東京は、どこに行ってもとても込んでいる気がする。
    As for Tokyo, (it) feels like it's crowded wherever (you) go.
  2. 何回も聞いても答えは同じだよ。
    Answer is the same no matter how many times (you) ask.
  3. 大学に行かなくても、いい仕事は見つかりますか?
    Will (I) find (a) good job even if (I) don't go to college?
  4. このアルバイトは、学生でも出来ますか?
    Can (I) do this part-time job even if (I'm a) student?

Asking for permission

We can also ask for or grant permission by saying it's ok or fine even if we do a certain action using the same 「~ても/~でも」 grammar.


  1. トイレに行ってもいいですか。
    Is it fine even if (I) go to the toilet?
  2. お姉さんが、食べてもいいと言ったよ。
    Older sister said it's fine to eat (it).
  3. くても来週までは大丈夫だ。
    Even if it's late, it's fine until next week.
  4. 身分証は、学生証でも大丈夫ですか。
    As for identification, it is ok even if it's (a) student id?

Things we don't have to do

If we say it's ok or fine even if we don't do something by using the negative form, it means we don't have to do it.


  1. 何もしなくてもいい
    Don't have to do anything.
    lit: (It's) good even if (you) do nothing.
  2. 明日は休日だから、来なくても大丈夫ですよ。
    Tomorrow is (a) holiday, so (you) don't have to come, you know.
    lit: Because tomorrow is (a) holiday, (it's) ok even if (you) don't come.

Required actions

We learned how to say we don't have to do something in the last section but we did not cover how to talk about things that have to be done. Because of the way it's phrased in Japanese, the grammar for saying something has to be done is completely different than the grammar for saying something doesn't have to be done.

First, let's look at how to express something that one must not do.

Things that one must not do

Things that one must not do are expressed by using one of the three words: 「いけない」、「ならない」、 and 「だめ」. These are all negative expressions (the first two is actually using the negative form) meaning that something won't do or is no good. Conjugating these expressions are simple if we know where they originate from.

  1. いける (ru-verb) - can work; can make it; lit: can go (potential form of 「行く」)
  2. なる (u-verb) - to become
  3. 駄目 【だ・め】 (na-adj) - no good

While we can use 「いけない」 and 「だめ」 by themselves as shown in the examples below 「ならない」 cannot be used by itself.


  1. ここで携帯を使うのはだめ
    Is using cell phone here bad?
  2. それはいけませんね。
    That's wrong/bad/no good.
  3. ご両親に教えたのがいけなかったんだよ。
    Telling (your) parents is what was no good.

We can use either of the three words with verbs to say that action is no good or in essence, "one must not do the action" by using the following rule.

How to say: Must not [verb]
  • Take the te-form of the verb, add the 「は」 (wa) particle and then attach either 「いけない」、「ならない」、 or 「だめ」.
    1. 食べて+は+いけない/ならない/だめ
      = 食べてはいけない、食べてはならない、食べてはだめ
    2. 買って+は+いけない/ならない/だめ
      = 買ってはいけない、買ってはならない、買ってはだめ
    3. して+は+いけない/ならない/だめ
      = してはいけない、してはならない、してはだめ


  1. 男の人はここに入ってはいけませんよ。
    Men must not enter here, you know.
  2. お酒を飲んだ人は、車を運転してはならない
    People who drank alcohol must not drive cars.
  3. 悪い言葉を生徒に教えてはだめですよ。
    (You) must not teach students bad words, you know.

Things that must be done

In order to say that something must be done, we say not doing something is bad by using the previous grammar we just learned but with negative verbs. You can also use two of the conditionals we learned in the last chapter. This grammar may be a bit confusing at first because we need to use double negatives to say one must do something.

How to say: Must [verb]
  1. Negative te-form +「は」 (wa) particle + いけない/ならない/だめ
  2. Negative verb + 「と」(conditional) + いけない/ならない/だめ
  3. Negative verb + 「ば」 conditional + いけない/ならない/だめ
art by Josh Khoo

Comic 13

  1. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  2. トイレ - toilet; bathroom
  3. 行く 【い・く】 - to go
  4. いい (i-adj) - good
  5. また - again
  6. 駄目 【だ・め】 (na-adj) - no good
  7. 無駄 【む・だ】 (na-adj) - futile
  8. 短い 【みじか・い】 (i-adj) - short
  9. 間 【あいだ】 - interval (between)
  10. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 (n) - homework
  11. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) - to be able to do

John: Teacher, can (I) go to the bathroom?

Teacher: (You) have to go again?

Alice: (It's) useless, you know. (You) can't do something like homework in (the) short interval of going to the bathroom.


  1. この薬は一日に三回飲まなくてはなりません
    (You) have to take this medicine 3 times a day.
  2. 明日までに宿題をしないといけない
    (I) have to do homework by tomorrow.
  3. まだ早いのにもう帰らなければいけないんですか。
    Even though (it's) still early, do (you) have to go home?

Casual variatons

There are a couple of casual variations of the grammar we just learned listed below.

Casual shortcuts for required actions
  1. Replace 「ては」 with 「ちゃ」
  2. Replace 「ければ」 with 「きゃ」


  1. 男の人はここに入っちゃだめよ。
    Men must not enter here, you know.
  2. まだ早いのにもう帰らなきゃいけないの?
    Even though (it's) still early, do (you) have to go home?

Things can get quite lengthy with the double negative required to describe an action that must be done. When using the casual variations with the negative, you can also omit the 「いけない/ならない/だめ」 part of the grammar. This also applies to the 「と」 conditional.


  1. もっと勉強しなくちゃ
    (I) have to study more.
  2. 明日までに宿題をしないと
    (I) have to do homework by tomorrow.
  3. もう帰らなきゃ.
    (I) have to go home already.

Giving and receiving

Giving and receiving whether it's objects or favors is a bit more complicated in Japanese because you need to be aware of the social status between the giver and the receiver. Basically, there are two words for giving and one word for receiving listed below.


  1. あげる (ru-verb) - to give; to raise
  2. くれる (ru-verb) - to give
  3. もらう (u-verb) - to receive

In this section, we'll look at examples of when to use which words for giving and receiving.

Using 「あげる」 to give "upwards"

The word 「あげる」, which also means to "raise" is used when giving upwards to a person of a higher social status. The important thing to remember is that the speaker is always below everybody else. As a result, when the speaker is giving something to somebody else, he/she must always use 「あげる」. In other words, when you, yourself, is giving something, you must always use 「あげる」.


  1. これをあげるよ。
    (I'll) give this to (you).
  2. 私は、昨日弟にプレゼントをあげたよ。
    I gave (my) younger brother (the) present yesterday, you know.
  3. 私が買った飲み物だから、あげませんよ。
    I bought (the) drink so (I'm) not going to give it (to you).

Using 「くれる」 to give "downwards"

The word 「くれる」 is used to give downwards to a person of a lower social status. Once again, because the speaker is at the bottom, everything given to the speaker will always use 「くれる」. In other words, everything given to you must be expressed with 「くれる」.


  1. それをくれるの?
    (Are you) giving that to (me)?
  2. 彼氏は、私の誕生日に何もくれなかったよ!
    (My) boyfriend didn't give my anything on my birthday!
  3. もうすこし時間をくれませんか?
    Can (you) give (me) a little more time?

Using 「もらう」 to receive

There is only one word for receiving something so you don't have to worry about which one to use.


  1. 友達からチケットをもらった
    (I) received (a) ticket from friend.
  2. もう高校生だから、今年はお年玉をもらえなかった
    Because (I'm) already (a) high school student, (I) couldn't receive (the) New Year's gift.

Comic 14 - バレンタインとホワイトデー

White Day is a holiday a month after Valentine's day where men who received chocolate are expected to return the favor by giving gifts.

art by Josh Khoo
  1. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  2. バレンタイン - Valentine's (Day)
  3. 何 【なに】 - what
  4. チョコ - chocolate
  5. あげる (ru-verb) - to give; to raise
  6. 義理 【ぎ・り】 - duty; obligation
  7. くれる (ru-verb) - to give
  8. もらう (u-verb) - to receive
  9. 嬉しい 【うれ・しい】 (i-adj) - happy
  10. いや - no (casual)
  11. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 (adv) - 1) not at all (negative), 2) entirely, completely
  12. そう - so
  13. ホワイトデー - White Day
  14. 素敵 【す・てき】 (i-adj) - lovely; splendid
  15. お返し 【お・かえ・し】 - return gift; return favor
  16. お楽しみ 【お・たの・しみ】 - enjoyment, pleasure
  17. お楽しみにする 【お・たの・しみにする】 (exp) - to look forward to
  18. ちょっと - a little
  19. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) - to wait

John: Tomorrow is Valentine, isn't it?

Alice: So? (I'm) won't give (you) chocolate.

John: Not even obligatory chocolate?

Alice: (You) won't be happy to get (an) obligatory chocolate, right?

John: No, (I'll) be totally happy, you know?

Alice: Is that so? Ok, (I) will be looking forward to (a) splendid return gift on White Day, then.

John: Huh? Wait a moment. What's White Day?

Choosing the right words for giving and receiving

Choosing the right words for giving and receiving can be a bit confusing at first so lets look at a few ways to help you decide which word to use for giving and receiving.

Deciding between giving and receiving

In English, giving and receiving is simply a difference of viewpoint. For example, "I received a present from John" means practically the same thing as "John gave me a present" The same applies for Japanese as shown in the examples below.

  1. ジョンにプレゼントをもらった
    (I) received present from John.
  2. ジョンがプレゼントをくれた
    John gave (me) present.

Translated to English, both sentences essentially mean "John bought present for me". While the viewpoint is reversed, essentially they are saying the same thing.

We don't have to worry about which word to use for receiving because there is only one. So let's look at how to decide which word to use for giving.

Giving from the speaker's point of view

The easiest and most common scenario is when you, yourself is the one giving or receiving. As previously mentioned, because the speaker is always at the bottom, he/she will always use 「あげる」 to give to others and 「くれる」 when others give to the speaker.

  1. 私にくれるの?
    Are (you) giving (it) to me?
  2. 私があげるの?
    I'm giving (it) to you?

Using the same logic, it's safe to say the following will always be incorrect regardless of the social status of the other person.

  1. 私にあげるの?
  2. 私がくれるの?

Giving from 3rd person's point of view

The only scenario left is when both the giver and receiver is different from the speaker. This is the only ambiguous scenario where either 「くれる」 or 「あげる」 can be used. Basically, the speaker must choose which viewpoint he/she wants to look at the situation from.

For example, let's say you wanted to know if Aさん gave Bさん a present. If you were asking Aさん, you would use 「あげる」 because you are looking at it from Aさん's perspective as the giver.

Aさんは、Bさんにプレゼントをあげましたか? (Asking Aさん)

If you were asking Bさん, you would use 「くれる」 because you are looking at it from Bさん's perspective as the receiver.

Aさんは、Bさんにプレゼントをくれましたか? (Asking Bさん)

In summary, deciding which word to use in this scenario can be described in two steps.

  1. Pick a perspective either as the giver or receiver
  2. Use 「あげる」 if from giver's perspective or 「くれる」 if from receiver's perspective (same as if you were the giver)

Doing favors for others

We can use the three words we just learned for giving and receiving with other verbs to express the action as a favor. This construction is used to make requests and do things for others.

Giving and receiving favors

In order to use one of the three words we learned for giving and receiving with another verb, first change the verb to the te-form and then attach the word for giving or receiving to the end of the verb.


  1. 頭が悪いから先生が特別に説明をしてくれた
    (I'm) not smart so (the) teacher explained (it) specially for me.
  2. お金がないから、昼ご飯をおごってくれる
    (I) don't have money so will (you) treat me to lunch for me?
  3. これが欲しいなら、買ってあげるよ。
    If (you) want this, (I will) buy (it) for you, you know.
  4. 今はちょっと手が離せないので、後で電話してもらえますか。
    (I'm) in the middle of something now so can you call (me) later?

Requesting to not do something

In order to express the negative, ie to give the favor of not doing the action, change the verb to the negative, attach 「で」, then the word for giving or receiving.


  1. 突然変なことを言わないでくれる
    Can you not say strange thing(s) all of a sudden?
  2. 勉強しているからうるさくしないでくれる
    (I'm) studying so can you not do noisily for me?
  3. 今月の家計はきついからしばらくはお金を使わないでもらえる
    This month's family finance is tight so can (I) receive favor of not using money for a while?


父: おい、アリス!
アリス: 何よ?
父: そこの窓を閉めてくれないか?
アリス: わざわざ目の前にある窓を閉めてもらうために私を大声で呼んだの?しかも、別の部屋から。
父: いいことを教えてあげよう。お前もいつか子供が出来たらこんなのも出来るんだって。
アリス: 自分の子供をこき使うのがそんなにいいの?
父: こき使うって、お前、学校で日本語の勉強を始めたら、妙なことを言うようになったな。他の生徒から変な日本語を習っていないだろうか?
アリス: ・・・さすがにそれはないと思う。

Father: Hey, Alice!
Alice: What?
Father: Can you close that window (for me)?
Alice: (You) went out of your way to call with loud voice to (receive favor of) closing window in front of (your) eyes? Not to mention, from (a) separate room.
Father: Let me (give you favor of) teaching good thing. That when you have kids one day, you can do this kind of thing.
Alice: Is it so good to push around your own child like that?
Father: Push around... (you've) started saying some strange things once (you) started learning Japanese. (You're) not learning strange Japanese from the other students, right?
Alice: ...That I'm pretty sure is not the case.

Making firm requests

While we learned how to ask for favors in the last section, in this section we'll learn various ways to make firmer requests in the form of a statement.

Using 「ください」 to make a firm request

「ください」(下さい) is a polite way to make a firm request for something. It can also be used with the te-form of a verb to request an action. It can be written in either Kanji or Hiragana though it's more common to use Hiragana when combined with a verb.


  1. あのペンを下さい
    Please give me that pen.
  2. あのペンを使ってください
    Please use that pen.

Negative verb with 「ください」

In order to ask to not do something, take the negative of the word, attach 「で」, then attach 「ください」 similar to the rule we learned in the last section.


  1. ボールペンは使わないでください
    Please don't use (a) pen.
  2. 着替え中ですから入らないでください
    (I'm) changing so please don't come in.

Casual version of 「ください」

「ください」 is a polite expression so in order to say the same thing for casual situation, we can simply drop 「ください」 entirely.

  1. あのペンを使って
    Please use that pen.
  2. ボールペンは使わないで
    Please don't use (a) pen.

Using 「ちょうだい」 for casual requests

「ちょうだい」 can be used instead of 「ください」 for casual speech. While 「ちょうだい」 can be used by anyone, it does have a slight feminine and childish nuance.


  1. あのペンをちょうだい
    Give me that pen.
  2. あのペンを使ってちょうだい
    Use that pen.

Making suggestions

We just learned various ways to make a request. Now, we are going to look at some ways to make suggestions or recommendations.

How about it?

The simplest way to make a suggestion is by using the word "how": 「どう」. We already learned the grammar we need to do this with the 「の」 particle.


  1. 5時に会うのはどう
    How about meeting at 5:00?
  2. 先生に相談してみるのはどうですか。
    How about trying to confer with (the) teacher?

Another very similar pattern is to use the 「たら」 conditional to ask, "how about if".


  1. 5時に会ったらどう
    How about if (we) meet at 5:00?
  2. 先生に相談してみたらどうですか。
    How about if (you) try to confer with (the) teacher.

It's better to do this

Another option is to use a comparison 「方」 to say it's better to do one thing versus the alternative. Using the past tense of the verb in this pattern makes the suggestion more particular to the situation at hand and hence makes it sound a bit stronger.


  1. 病院に行った方がいいよ。
    It's better (for you) to go to hospital. (You should go to the hospital.)
  2. 病院に行く方がいいよ。
    It's better to go to hospital.
  3. ひざが痛いですけど、病院に行った方がいいですか。
    (My) knee hurts but is (it) better to go to the hospital?

Asking for suggestions

We just learned how to ask if it's better to do one thing by using a comparison with 「いい」. We can also ask for suggestions on what to do by using the conditional and 「いい」 as shown in the examples below.


  1. 9時に行けばいいの?
    I should go at 9 o'clock?
    lit: If (I) go at 9 o'clock, is (it) good?
  2. どうすればいいですか。
    What should (I) do?
    lit: If (I) do how, will (it) be good?
  3. ジャズは何から聴いたらいいですか。
    What should (I) start listening from for Jazz?
    lit: As for Jazz, if (I) start listening from what, is (it) good?










Causative and passive verbs

Causative Verb Form

The causative form gets its name because it causes something to happen either by making or letting somebody do the action. While it may seem odd to have the exact same verb form for two very different uses, we'll find that it's not hard to tell which is intended when given the proper context. Below are the rules for conjugating a verb to the causative form. All verbs in the causative form are ru-verbs.

Rules for causative form conjugation
  • For ru-verbs: Replace the last 「る」 with 「させる」.
    1. 食べ+させる = 食べさせる
    2. +させる = 出させる
  • For u-verbs: Change the last character as you would for negative verbs but attach 「せる」 instead of 「ない」.
    1. +ま+せる = 飲ませる
    2. +た+せる = 持たせる
    3. +わ+せる = 買わせる
  • Exceptions:
    1. する → させる
    2. くる → こさせる


  1. 私にもやらせてよ。
    Let me do it too.
  2. びっくりさせないでよ。
    Don't make me surprised. (Don't scare me.)
  3. 無理矢理にお酒を飲ませるのはよくないよな。
    (It's) not good to forcibly make (someone) drink alcohol, huh?
  4. もう来ていましたか。待たせてごめんなさい。
    (You're) were already here? Sorry (I) made (you) wait.

Passive Verb Form

The passive form is used to change the verb into a passive voice. A verb in the passive form is always a ru-verb. The conjugation rule for ru-verbs is the same as the rule for potential form. However, it's not really hard to tell them apart given enough context.

Rules for passive form conjugation
  • For ru-verbs: Replace the last 「る」 with 「られる」.
    1. 食べ+られる = 食べられる
    2. +られる = 出られる
  • For u-verbs: Change the last character as you would for negative verbs but attach 「れる」 instead of 「ない」.
    1. +ま+れる = 飲まれる
    2. +た+れる = 持たれる
    3. +わ+れる = 買われる
  • Exceptions:
    1. する → される
    2. くる → こられる


  1. 姉にばれたら何をされるか分からないよ。
    If (my) older sister finds out, (I) don't know what will be done (to me).
  2. 変な人だと思われたくない
    (I) don't want to be thought of as (a) strange person.
  3. 先から誰かに見られている気がしない?
    Doesn't it feel like (we're) being watch by someone from just a while ago?
  4. 行かないでと言われても約束だから行かないとだめだよ。
    Even if I'm told, "Don't go", (it's a) promise so (I) have to go, you know.

Using Causative and Passive together

The causative and passive conjunctions can be used together to describe being made to do something. The rules are simple, you simple need to conjugate the verb to the causative and then conjugate the resulting ru-verb to the passive form.


  1. 待たせられるのは、嫌いでしょう?
    Don't (you) hate being made to wait?
  2. 子供の時に、色々な物を食べさせられたから、好き嫌いは、あまりないよ。
    As a child, (I) was made to eat various things so (I) don't have a lot of likes/dislikes.
  3. させられたと言うけど、結局、それはあんたのためだったんでしょう?
    (You) say (you) were made to do (it) but in the end, (it) was for your benefit, right?

Comic 16 - バカな日本語を考えさせないでよ

art by Angela Lee
  1. バカ (n/na-adj) - fool; stupid
  2. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese language
  3. 考える 【かんが・える】(ru-verb) - to think
  4. この - this
  5. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 - homework
  6. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 - not at all (when used with negative)
  7. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand; to know
  8. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  9. 文法 【ぶん・ぽう】 - grammar
  10. 使う 【つか・う】(u-verb) - to use
  11. 例文 【れい・ぶん】 - example sentence
  12. 教える 【おし・える】(ru-verb) - to teach; to inform
  13. じゃ - then; so; well
  14. これ - this
  15. どう - how
  16. ずっと - a long time
  17. 一緒 【いっ・しょ】 - together
  18. いる (u-verb) - to exist (animate)
  19. ロマンチック - romantic
  20. なんか - something
  21. セクハラ - sexual harassment
  22. くれる (ru-verb) - to give
  23. それじゃ - well then
  24. M 【えむ】 - slang for masochist
  25. なる (u-verb) - to become
  26. 正直 【しょう・じき】 - honesty; honestly
  27. 私 【わたし】 - polite, gender-neutral
  28. やめる (ru-verb) - to stop; to quit

John: Don't get this homework at all. Can (you) teach (me) an example sentence (that) uses させる grammar?

Alice: Ok, how about this? Let me be together with you forever. Romantic, isn't it?

John: Ok, what about "I was made to be together with you forever"?

Alice: Sounds like (you're) being sexually harassed.

John: Ok then, what about "Please let me be made to be with you forever"?!

Alice: (It's) turning out like something masochist.

John: Ok ok, what about "She won't let me be made to be with her forever"??!

Alice: Honestly, I starting to not understand it either. Why don't (you) stop thinking about stupid Japanese?

Making commands

In this section, we will learn the command form, which as the name suggests, is used to issue commands to others.

Using 「~なさい」 for polite command

「~なさい」 is the "polite" way to tell others what to do. It's used by attaching 「なさい」 to the verb stem.

It's polite grammatically but it doesn't change the fact that you're ordering others around, which is not very polite generally. It's most commonly used by parents or other authority figures toward children.


  1. 早く出かける準備をしなさい
    Hurry up and prepare to go out.
  2. ちゃんと約束時間を守りなさいよ。
    Please properly keep the promised time.

In casual speech, the 「~なさい」 can also be shortened to just 「な」


  1. 早く出かける準備をしな
    Hurry up and prepare to go out.
  2. ちゃんと約束時間を守りなよ。
    Please properly keep the promised time.

Comic 15 - 女性の頼み方

art by Josh Khoo
  1. 女性 【じょせい】 - woman; female
  2. 頼む 【たの・む】(u-verb) - to make a request
  3. 丁寧 【てい・ねい】(na-adj, n) polite
  4. すみません - sorry (polite)
  5. これ - this
  6. ちょっと - a little (casual)
  7. 見る 【み・る】(ru-verb) - to see
  8. 冷たい 【つめ・たい】(i-verb) - cold (to the touch); coldhearted
  9. そう - so
  10. 手伝う 【て・つだ・う】(u-verb) - to help
  11. あげる (ru-verb) - to give; to raise
  12. 気持ち 【き・もち】 - feeling, mood
  13. まったく- at all, entirely
  14. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  15. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  16. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) - likable
  17. する (exception) - to do
  18. 萌え 【もえ】budding, having a crush
  19. あのう/あの - say; well; errr
  20. 先輩 【せん・ぱい】- senior (at work or school)
  21. 運ぶ 【はこ・ぶ】(u-verb) - to carry, to transport
  22. もらう (u-verb) - to receive
  23. 物 【もの】 - thing
  24. 駄目 【だ・め】 (na-adj) - no good
  25. 脅迫 【きょう・はく】- threat, coercion
  26. あら - oh my
  27. どこ - where
  28. 行く 【い・く】 - to go
  29. 付き合う 【つ・き・あ・う】(u-verb) - to keep company with, to go out with
  30. くれる (ru-verb) - to give
  31. さもないと - otherwise, or else



あのう、先輩、運んでもらいたい物があるんですけど・・・ ダメ?


Toggle Translations

Sorry. Can you look at this a bit?

I see. Seems like you have absolutely no feeling of wanting to help. (I) got it. Go ahead and do as (you) please.

Umm... senpai. There's something I want you to move but... is it bad?

Oh my, where (are you) going? Can (you) accompany (me) for a bit, or else...

Wanting others to do something

We can use the i-adjective 「欲しい」, which means "desired" or "wanted" with verbs to say you want somebody to do something. This is done by first conjugating the verb to the te-form, then attaching 「欲しい」(or ほしい) to the end of the verb. The result remains an i-adjective.


  1. 郵便局に行って欲しいんだけど、大丈夫?
    (I) want (you) to go to (the) post office but (is it) ok?
  2. 言っていることがいまいち分からないから、何をしてほしいのかはっきり教えてよ。
    (I) don't really understand what (you are) saying so please tell me what (you) want (me) to do clearly.

Command Form

This command form is quite rude so you should use it with caution (if at all). As we learned just in this chapter, there are many other more polite ways to make a request.

Command form conjugation rules
  1. For ru-verbs: Replace the last 「る」 with 「ろ」
    Example: 食べ + ろ = 食べ
  2. For u-verbs: Replace the last u-vowel sound with the e-vowel equivalent
    Example: 買 + え = 買
  3. Exceptions:
    1. する → しろ
    2. くる → こい
    3. くれる → くれ (exception for this conjugation only, not an exception verb)

Negative Command

In order to command others to not do an action, simply attach 「な」 to the end of the verb.


  1. 秘密だから、誰にも言うなよ。
    (It's a) secret so don't tell anybody.
  2. 余計なことをするな
    Don't do something unnecessary.

Do NOT confuse this negative command with the shortened form of 「~なさい」 we just learned. The latter is using the stem of the verb while the negative command uses just the dictionary form.

  1. これを食べな
    Eat this.
  2. これを食べるな
    Don't eat this.
  1. ここに座りな
    Sit here.
  2. ここに座るな
    Don't sit here.

Chapter summary and practice

In this chapter, we covered may different ways to express various levels of necessity in our actions. We can now talk about required and optional activities, ask for permission, make requests, and more. This is useful for navigating through the rules and manners of society, especially one with a very different culture like Japan. Another common application of what we learned in this chapter is to talk about your duties and responsibilities either at work, home, or school.

We also learned how to give and receive things or favors. This is particularly useful for talking about gift-giving and getting assistance on various things. In particular, the section on making suggestions will allow you to ask for advice on how to best way to do things such as studying Japanese.

Below are a list of sample topics you can write about or discuss with your conversation partner (either in casual or polite form as appropriate).

  1. 仕事や学校でどんなことをしないといけないの?
    What kind of things do you have to do at work or school?
  2. 日本語はどうやって勉強すればいいと思いますか。
    How (do you) think (I) should study Japanese?
  3. 自分の国ではどんな時にプレゼントをもらったり、あげたりしますか。
    At what kind of times do (you) receive or give presents in one's own country?

Other useful expressions

In this chapter, we're going to learn explore other useful expressions and grammar for various situations. In addition, we are also going to get a lot more reading and writing practice to expand our power of expression.

Common patterns in slang

Casual speech patterns and slang in any language is rich, diverse, and constantly evolving so it's difficult to really pin down "rules" on how to learn it. It's best to pick it up by ear as you gain experience with conversation practice. For the beginner however, it can be quite confusing to read or hear slang that can't be found in the dictionary.

In this section, we'll take a look at some patterns in order to understand many common types of slang.

Using 「の」 vs 「か」 for questions

One common area of confusion is whether to use 「の」 or 「か」 to ask questions in casual speech. Previously, we learned that 「の」 is used to ask for or give additional explanation. This is the same for both polite and casual speech.


  1. 今から時間ありますか。
    Do (you) have time from now?
  2. 今から時間ある?
    Do (you) have time from now?
  1. 今から時間があるですか。
    (Why do) you have time from now?
  2. 今から時間がある
    (Why do) you have time from now?

「か」 on the other hand, is very different when used in casual speech from what we're used to in polite speech. It's often used to either confirm something, make a rhetorical question, or show disbelief or doubt. In order words, it's rarely a real question at all. It's also more rough and masculine in tone.


  1. そんなこと、俺が知るよ?!
    Like I would know that kind of thing!
  2. これで本当に大丈夫
    Is it really ok with this?
  3. まあ、いい
    Ah well, whatever, (it's) fine.
  4. もう遅いし、そろそろ帰る
    It's already late so shall (we) go home soon?

In conclusion, if you want to ask an actual question in casual speech, you'll most likely want to use either 「の」 or just a rising intonation.

Shortening /r/ sounds to 「ん」

Many sounds get shortened or slurred together in slang just like any other language. For Japanese, the /r/ sounds in particular often get slurred into 「ん」. This is definitely a useful pattern to be aware of as it will make sense of a lot of words you wouldn't normally find in a dictionary.


  1. よくわかない。(from 分かない)
    (I) don't get really get it.
  2. ちょっと、そこをどいてくない?(from くない)
    Hey, can (you) move from there a bit?
  3. 何しての?(from して
    Whatcha doing?

Other states using te-form

We learned how to express the progressive form by using the verb 「いる」 with the te-form of the verb. In this section, we'll learn some other verbs we can use with the te-form to describe other kinds of states. When using these verbs in this fashion, it is customary to use Hiragana instead of Kanji.

Using 「ある」 to express an action already set

Till now, we have been using 「いる」 quite frequently with the te-form to express a progressive action. The other verb for existence: 「ある」 can also be used with the te-form, though the meaning is completely different.

Appending 「ある」 after the te-form of another verb is used to indicate the state of the verb as already completed. For example, you could use this grammar to ask what is written in a book as it describes a completed state of being written as opposed to "writing" or "wrote". It also carries a nuance that the action was done as preparation for something else though it's not as explicit as the 「~ておく」 grammar we'll learn next.


  1. その本には、何が書いてあるんですか?
    What is it that's written in that book?
  2. 予約は、もうしてあるから、心配はいらないよ。
    (I) already made (the) reservation so (there's) no need to worry.
  3. この店に頭痛薬は、置いてありますか?
    Are headache medicine(s) placed in this store?

Because 「~てある」 by itself described state after an action was completed, the past tense described that state as being in the past, for example to imply that the state is no longer true, invalid, or contradictory.


  1. メールには、この駅で待ち合わせしようと書いてありましたよ。
    It was written in the mail, let's meet up at this station, you know.
  2. 冷蔵庫に置いてあったプリン・・・。まさか、食べたんじゃないよね。
    The pudding (I) was placed in (the) refrigerator... No way (you) ate (it), right?

Using 「おく」 to prepare for the future

While the previous 「~てある」 grammar we learned can carry a nuance of preparation, it could only be used for completed actions. We can use the verb 「おく」 ("to place"), to describe an action specifically to prepare for something else. In addition, unlike 「~てある」, it can be used to described other tenses besides the past tense.


  1. 今から行くから、デザートを少し残しておいてよ。
    (I'm) going now so please leave me some desert.
  2. 明日からは、連休だから、現金を下ろしておいたほうがいいよ。
    Holidays are from tomorrow so (you) should withdraw cash.
  3. 鍵をここに置いておくから、忘れないでね。
    (I'm) placing (the) key here so please don't forget it, ok?

In casual speech, 「~て/~で+おく」 can be shortened to 「とく/どく」.


  1. 鍵をここに置いとくから、忘れないでね。
    (I'm) placing (the) key here so please don't forget it, ok?
  2. 船に乗るなら、酔い止め薬を飲んどいた方がいいよ。
    If/since (you're) riding (a) boat, (it's) better

Using motion verbs with the te-form (いく/くる)

The verbs "to go" and "to come" (いく and くる respectively) can be used with the te-form of another verb to add a motion. This can either be a physical motion (eg to hold and bring something) or an abstract direction/trend (eg plans for the future going forward).


  1. 仕事しなくて、これからどうやって生きていくつもりですか。
    How (do you) plan to live from here on out and not work?
  2. 明日の鍋パーティーに何を持ってくればいいの?
    What should (I) bring to the Nabe party tomorrow?
  3. うるさい!ああ、なんか頭が痛くなってきた
    Noisy! Ah, (my) head has come to become hurting.

Easy or difficult actions

We already know how to describe things as easy or difficult regular adjectives such as 「簡単」 or 「難しい」 but in this section, we'll learn another way to describe an action as easy or difficult.

Easy actions

To describe an action as easy, attach 「やすい」 to the verb stem. The result is treated just like an i-adjective.


  1. このワインは飲みやすい
    This wine is easy to drink.
  2. このパソコンは使いやすいですか。
    Is this computer easy to use?
  3. 分かりやすく説明してください。
    Please explain in a easy to understand way.

Difficult actions

Similarly, to describe a difficult action, we can attach 「にくい」 to the verb stem.


  1. この教科書はちょっと分かりにくい
    This textbook is (a) little hard to understand.
  2. ちょっと高くてもいいですから、壊れにくい方がいいです。
    (It's) ok even if (it's a) little expensive so (it's) better that (it's) hard to break.
  3. ステーキは切れ味鋭いステーキナイフがないと食べにくいよね。
    If (you) don't have (a) sharp steak knife, steak is hard to eat.

We can also use either 「づらい」 or 「がたい」 to express difficulty, which have the following differences in nuance and usages.

  1. 「にくい」 is the most generic version.
  2. 「~づらい」, which comes from 「辛い」(painful), is more subjective.
  3. 「~がたい」 is mostly limited to emotions and thoughts.

All three are attached to the verb stem and the result becomes just like an i-adjective.


  1. 携帯の画面が暗くて読みにくい
    (The) cellphone's screen is dark and hard to read.
  2. この靴はかわいいけど、歩きづらいから、あまり履かない。
    These shoes are cute but (it's) hard to walk so (I) don't wear (them) much.
  3. 信じがたいかもしれませんが、本当の話です。
    (It) may be hard to believe but (it's a story) that's true.

More amount expressions

We already learned some grammar dealing with amounts in chapter 5. In this section, we'll learn some other useful expressions dealing with various amounts.

Expressing nothing but with 「ばかり」

「ばかり」 has many different usages some of which we'll cover later. For example, it can have the same meaning as 「だけ」 or 「ぐらい」. However, in conversational Japanese, it's often used to describe an abundance ie, "it's nothing but...". It comes after a noun or adjective just like a particle and the result becomes a noun.


  1. 職場はいい人ばかりだ。
    Workplace is nothing but good people.
  2. 仕事ばかりをしていると、大切なことを見失う。
    If (you) do nothing but work, (you) will lose sight of important things.
  3. 最近は、肉ばかりを食べているから野菜をもっと食べるようにしている。
    (I've) been eating nothing but meat lately so (I'm) trying to eat more vegetables.

In casual Japanese, it can also be shortened to just 「ばっかり」 or 「ばっか」.


  1. うそばっかり
    Nothing but lies!
  2. アドレス帳は何で女の子ばっかなの?
    Why is (your) address book nothing but girls?

Expressing degree with 「さ」

「さ」 is used to convert an adjective into a scale or degree. For example, changing the adjective for "tall" to "height".

Rules for using 「さ」 with adjectives

The result becomes a regular noun.

  • I-adjectives: Replace the last 「い」 with 「さ」
    1. + さ = 高さ
    2. 楽し + さ = 楽しさ
  • Na-adjectives: Append 「さ」 to the end
    1. 静か + さ = 静かさ
    2. + さ = 暇さ


  1. 世界で一番高い建物の高さは何?
    What's the height of (the) tallest building in the world?
  2. 犬の聴覚の敏感さを人間と比べると、はるかに上だ。
    If you compare the level of sensitivity of hearing of dogs to humans, it is far above.
  3. 靴は、見た目より歩きやすさの方が大事だと思わない?
    As for shoe(s), don't (you) think ease of walking is more important than looks?

Expressing an excess with 「も」

The 「も」 particle can be used with an amount to describe something that's excessive.


  1. 昨日、電話三回もしたよ!
    (I) called you even three times yesterday!
  2. アメリカに行ったら、5キロも太っちゃった。
    Once (I) went to America, (I) gained even 5 kilograms.
  3. あいつに30分も待たされたよ!
    (I) was made to wait even 30 minutes by that guy!

Using 「ば」 and 「ほど」 together

The 「ば」 conditional and 「ほど」 can be used together to express, "the more something, the more something else." This is essential a fixed sentence pattern.

Using 「ば」 and 「ほど」 to express "the more it is the more..."
  • Conjugate to the 「ば」 conditional, then repeat the phrase with 「ほど」
    1. 楽しければ+楽しいほど = 楽しければ楽しいほど
      The more fun it is the more...
    2. 簡単であれば+簡単なほど = 簡単であれば簡単なほど
      The easier it is the more...
    3. れば+見るほど = 見れば見るほど
      The more you look the more...


  1. 楽しければ楽しいほど、時間が経つのが早い感じがする。
    The more fun (it) is, the more it feels like time is passing quickly.
    (lit: If (it's) fun, to the extent that (it's) fun, feels like time is passing quickly.)
  2. レシピは簡単であれば簡単なほどいいですよね。
    As for recipe(s), the easier (it) is, the better it is, isn't it?
    (lit: If recipe is simple, to (the) extent that (it's) simple, (it's) better, isn't it?)
  3. 見れば見るほど美しい。
    The more (I) look, the more beautiful (she is).
    (lit: if (I) look, to the extend that (I) look, beautiful.)

Recent actions

In this section, we are going to learn some ways to express actions that just happened. While one option is to use various adverbs such as 「たった今」, we will learn grammar that can be applied to the verb.


  1. たった今 【たった・いま】 - just now
  1. たった今空港に着きましたよ。
    (I) just arrived at the airport.

Expressing what just happened with 「ばかり」

In the previous section, we learned one usage of 「ばかり」 with nouns and adjectives to describe an abundance. We can also attach it to the end of the past tense of verbs to an action just completed.

Using 「ばかり」 for actions just completed
  • Append 「ばかり」 to the past tense form of the verb. The result becomes a regular noun.
    1. 食べる → 食べた+ばかり = 食べたばかり
    2. 買う → 買った+ばかり = 買ったばかり
    3. する → した+ばかり = したばかり


  1. 昼ご飯を食べたばかりですから、おなかがいっぱいです。
    (I) just ate lunch so (I'm) full.
  2. 習ったばかりの単語を使って会話を練習する。
    Using words (I) just learned and practice conversation.
  3. 買ったばかりなのに、もう壊れるなんて信じられない。
    (I) just bought it, despite that (it's) already broken, how unbelievable.
  4. 引っ越したばかりで、何がどこにあるか、全然分からない。
    (I) just moved so (I) don't know what's where at all.

Same as the previous section, 「ばかり」 can be shortened to 「ばっかり」 or 「ばっか」 for casual conversations here as well.


  1. 付き合い始めたばっかりなのに、もう別れたの?
    (You) just started going out and (you) already split up?
  2. 今、帰ってきたばっかだよ。
    I just got back home now.


In this section, we'll learn ways to describe situations where things don't happen.

Express "without doing" with 「ないで」

We learned how to chain sequences of events using the te-form of the verb a few chapters back so we already know how to say, "I didn't do this and that." However, it is not the same as saying, "I did this without doing that." For the latter, we need to use a different grammar.

Using 「ないで」 to express "without doing"
  • Append 「で」 to the negative form of the verb
    1. 食べる → 食べない+ = 食べないで
    2. 払う → 払わない+ = 払わないで
    3. する → しない+ = しないで


  1. 歯を磨かないで寝ちゃうの?
    Are (you) going to sleep without brushing (your) teeth?
  2. 手数料を払わないで済む方法はありますか。
    Is there (a) method where (it) can be done without paying (the) handling charge?
  3. あの人は、仕事もしないで毎日何をしてるのかな?
    (I) wonder what that person is doing every day, without even working?

You may have noticed we already used this form when we learned how to ask other to not do something. This is the more generic usage of the same conjugation.

  1. それを食べないでくれる?
    Can you not eat that?
    lit: Can you give (me the favor) without eating that?
  2. それを食べないで(ください)。
    Please don't eat that.
    lit: Please give (me the favor) without eating that.
  3. 何も食べないで出かけた。
    Went out without eating anything.

Express "without doing" with 「ずに」

「ず」 is another type of negative form of the verbs used mostly for more formal contexts and some expressions. It's also often used with the 「に」 target particle to express the same thing as 「ないで」 we just learned. The conjugation rule is mostly the same as the regular negative form except 「ず」 is attached at the end instead of 「ない」. However, unlike the regular negative form, there is no exception for 「ある」 as it follows the same rule as all other u-verbs and becomes 「あらず」.

Rules for conjugating to 「ず」 negative
  1. For ru-verbs: Replace the last 「る」 with 「ず」
    Example: 食べ + ず = 食べ
  2. For u-verbs that end in 「う」: Replace 「う」 with 「わ」 and attach 「ず」
    Example: 買 + わ + ず = 買わず
  3. For all other u-verbs: Replace the u-vowel sound with the a-vowel equivalent and attach 「ず」
    Example: あ + ら = あらず
  4. Exceptions:
    1. する → せず
    2. くる → こず


  1. 何も言わずに帰っちゃうなんて、失礼ね。
    To think (he) went home without saying anything, (it's) rude, isn't it?
  2. 手数料を払わずに済む方法はありますか。
    Is there (a) way to get by without paying (the) processing fee?
  3. 一日に何回もメールをチェックせずにはいられない。
    (I) can't help but check (my) email again and again in (a) day.
    lit: (I) can't exist without checking email numerous times in (a) day.

Expressing a lack of change

「まま」 is a noun used to express leaving something as is without making any changes.


  1. このままでいいですか。
    Is it fine just like this?
  2. コンタクトをつけたまま寝たらどうなるの?
    What happens if (you) sleep with contacts left on?
  3. 由美子ちゃんはそのままでいいよ。
    Yumiko-chan, (you're) fine like that (just the way you are).

Making your case

Using 「わけ」 to reach a conclusion

Expressing a hypothetical


Expressing "supposed to"

Using 「はず」 to describe an expectation

Using 「べき」 to describe actions one should do

Trends and signs


Chapter summary and practice

Formal language

In this chapter, we will learn how to use formal language including honorific and humble language.

Honorific and Humble Forms

Formal expressions

Expressing feasibility

Formal Volitional

Chapter summary and practice