Negative Verb Practice Exercises

Vocabulary used in this section

This is the same list of verbs from the previous practice exercise. We will use the same verbs from the last exercise to practice conjugating to the negative.

Kanji
I have listed the kanji you will need for the vocabulary for your convenience. The link will take you to a diagram of the stroke order. I recommend practicing the kanji in the context of real words (such as the ones below).

  1. – see
  2. – come; next
  3. – go; conduct
  4. – go home
  5. – eat; food
  6. – drink
  7. – buy
  8. – sell
  9. – hold
  10. – wait
  11. – read
  12. – walk
  13. – run
  14. – play
Vocabulary

Here is a list of some common verbs you will definitely want to learn at some point.

  1. する – to do
  2. しゃべる – to talk; to chat
  3. 見る【みる】 – to see
  4. 来る【くる】 – to come
  5. 行く【いく】 – to go
  6. 帰る 【かえる】 – to go home
  7. 食べる 【たべる】 – to eat
  8. 飲む 【のむ】 – to drink
  9. 買う 【かう】 – to buy
  10. 売る 【うる】 – to sell
  11. 切る 【きる】 – to cut
  12. 入る 【はいる】 – to enter
  13. 出る 【でる】 – to come out
  14. 持つ 【もつ】 – to hold
  15. 待つ 【まつ】 – to wait
  16. 書く【かく】 – to write
  17. 読む 【よむ】 – to read
  18. 歩く 【あるく】 – to walk
  19. 走る 【はしる】 – to run
  20. 遊ぶ 【あそぶ】 – to play

Practice with Negative Verb Conjugations

We learned how to classify the following verbs in the previous practice exercise. Now, we are going to put that knowledge to use by conjugating the same verbs into the negative depending on which type of verb it is. The first answer has been given as an example.

verb negative
行く 行かない
出る 出ない
する しない
買う 買わない
売る 売らない
食べる 食べない
入る 入らない
来る こない
飲む 飲まない
しゃべる しゃべらない
見る 見ない
切る 切らない
帰る 帰らない
書く 書かない

Past Tense

We will finish defining all the basic properties of verbs by learning how to express the past and past-negative tense of actions. I will warn you in advance that the conjugation rules in this section will be the most complex rules you will learn in all of Japanese. On the one hand, once you have this section nailed, all other rules of conjugation will seem simple. On the other hand, you might need to refer back to this section many times before you finally get all the rules. You will probably need a great deal of practice until you can become familiar with all the different conjugations.

Past tense for ru-verbs

Vocabulary

  1. 出る 【で・る】 (ru-verb) – to come out
  2. 捨てる 【す・てる】 (ru-verb) – to throw away
  3. ご飯 【ご・はん】 – rice; meal
  4. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  5. 映画 【えい・が】 – movie
  6. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 – everything
  7. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) – to see

We will start off with the easy ru-verb category. To change a ru-verb from the dictionary form into the past tense, you simply drop the 「る」 and add 「た」.

To change ru-verbs into the past tense

  • Drop the 「る」 part of the ru-verb and add 「た」
    Examples

    1. 捨て捨て

Examples

  1. ご飯は、食べた
    As for meal, ate.
  2. 映画は、全部見た
    As for movie, saw them all.

Past tense for u-verbs

Vocabulary

  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. する (exception) – to do
  11. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  12. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  13. 今日 【きょう】 – today
  14. 走る 【はし・る】 (u-verb) – to run
  15. 友達 【とも・だち】 – friend
  16. 私 【わたし】 – me, myself, I
  17. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 – study

Changing a u-verb from dictionary form to the past tense is difficult because we must break up u-verbs into four additional categories. These four categories depend on the last character of the verb. The table below illustrates the different sub-categories. In addition, there is one exception to the rules, which is the verb 「行く」. I’ve bundled it with the regular exception verbs 「する」 and 「来る」 even though 「行く」 is a regular u-verb in all other conjugations.

Past tense conjugations for u-verbs
Ending Non-Past changes to… Past
す→した した


く→いた
ぐ→いだ
いた
いだ




む→んだ
ぶ→んだ
ぬ→んだ
んだ
んだ
んだ




る→った
う→った
つ→った
った
った
った
      
Exceptions
Non-Past Past
する
くる
行く った*

* exceptions particular to this conjugation

Examples

  1. 今日は、走った
    As for today, ran.
  2. 友達来た
    Friend is the one that came.
  3. 遊んだ
    I also played.
  4. 勉強は、した
    About study, did it.

Past-negative tense for all verbs

Vocabulary

  1. 捨てる 【す・てる】 (ru-verb) – to throw away
  2. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  3. 食べる 【たべ・る】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  4. する (exception) – to do
  5. お金 【お・かね】 – money
  6. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  7. 私 【わたし】 – me, myself, I
  8. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  9. 猫 【ねこ】 – cat
  10. いる (ru-verb) – to exist (animate)

The conjugation rules for the past-negative tense are the same for all verbs. You might have noticed that the negative of just about everything always end in 「ない」. The conjugation rule for the past-negative tense of verbs is pretty much the same as all the other negatives that end in 「ない」. You simply take the negative of any verb, remove the 「い」 from the 「ない」 ending, and replace it with 「かった」.

To change verbs into the past-negative tense

  • Change the verb to the negative and replace the 「い」 with 「かった」
    Examples

    1. 捨て捨てな捨てなかった
    2. 行かな行かなかった

Examples

  1. アリスは食べなかった
    As for Alice, did not eat.
  2. ジムがしなかった
    Jim is the one that did not do.
  3. ボブも行かなかった
    Bob also did not go.
  4. お金なかった
    There was no money. (lit: As for money, did not exist.)
  5. 買わなかった
    As for me, did not buy.
  6. いなかった
    There was no cat. (lit: As for cat, did not exist.)

Past Verb Practice Exercises

Vocabulary used in this section

This is the same list of verbs from the previous practice exercise with a couple additions. We will use mostly the same verbs from the last exercise to practice conjugating to the past and the past negative tense.

Kanji
I have listed the kanji you will need for the vocabulary for your convenience. The link will take you to a diagram of the stroke order. I recommend practicing the kanji in the context of real words (such as the ones below).

  1. – story
  2. – see
  3. – come; next
  4. – go; conduct
  5. – go home
  6. – eat; food
  7. – drink
  8. – buy
  9. – sell
  10. – hold
  11. – wait
  12. – read
  13. – walk
  14. – run
  15. – play
  16. – swim
  17. – death
Vocabulary

Here is a list of some common verbs you will definitely want to learn at some point.

  1. する – to do
  2. しゃべる – to talk; to chat
  3. 話す【はなす】 – to talk
  4. 見る【みる】 – to see
  5. 来る【くる】 – to come
  6. 行く【いく】 – to go
  7. 帰る 【かえる】 – to go home
  8. 食べる 【たべる】 – to eat
  9. 飲む 【のむ】 – to drink
  10. 買う 【かう】 – to buy
  11. 売る 【うる】 – to sell
  12. 切る 【きる】 – to cut
  13. 入る 【はいる】 – to enter
  14. 出る 【でる】 – to come out
  15. 持つ 【もつ】 – to hold
  16. 待つ 【まつ】 – to wait
  17. 書く【かく】 – to write
  18. 読む 【よむ】 – to read
  19. 歩く 【あるく】 – to walk
  20. 走る 【はしる】 – to run
  21. 遊ぶ 【あそぶ】 – to play
  22. 泳ぐ 【およぐ】 – to swim
  23. 死ぬ 【しぬ】 – to die

Practice with Past Verb Conjugations

We learned how to classify the following verbs in the first verb practice exercise. Now, we are going to put that knowledge to use by conjugating the same verbs into the past tense depending on which type of verb it is. The first answer has been given as an example.

verb past tense
出る 出た
行く 行った
する した
買う 買った
売る 売った
食べる 食べた
入る 入った
来る きた
飲む 飲んだ
しゃべる しゃべった
見る 見た
切る 切った
帰る 帰った
書く 書いた
待つ 待った
話す 話した
泳ぐ 泳いだ
死ぬ 死んだ

Practice with Past Negative Verb Conjugations

Now, we are going to do the same thing for the past negative verb conjugations.

verb past negative tense
出る 出なかった
行く 行かなかった
する しなかった
買う 買わなかった
売る 売らなかった
食べる 食べなかった
入る 入らなかった
来る こなかった
飲む 飲まなかった
しゃべる しゃべらなかった
見る 見なかった
切る 切らなかった
帰る 帰らなかった
書く 書かなかった
待つ 待たなかった
話す 話さなかった
泳ぐ 泳がなかった
死ぬ 死ななかった

Particles used with verbs

In this section, we will learn some new particles essential for using verbs. We will learn how to specify the direct object of a verb and the location where a verb takes place whether it’s physical or abstract.

The direct object 「を」 particle

Vocabulary

  1. 魚 【さかな】 – fish
  2. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  3. ジュース – juice
  4. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  5. 街 【まち】 – town
  6. ぶらぶら – wandering; aimlessly
  7. 歩く 【ある・く】 (u-verb) – to walk
  8. 高速 【こう・そく】 – high-speed
  9. 道路 【どう・ろ】 – route
  10. 走る 【はし・る】 (u-verb) – to run
  11. 毎日 【まい・にち】 – everyday
  12. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 – Japanese (language)
  13. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 – study
  14. する (exception) – to do
  15. メールアドレス – email address
  16. 登録 【とう・ろく】 – register

The first particle we will learn is the object particle because it is a very straightforward particle. The 「を」 character is attached to the end of a word to signify that that word is the direct object of the verb. This character is essentially never used anywhere else. That is why the katakana equivalent 「ヲ」 is almost never used since particles are always written in hiragana. The 「を」 character, while technically pronounced as /wo/ essentially sounds like /o/ in real speech. Here are some examples of the direct object particle in action.

Examples

  1. 食べる
    Eat fish.
  2. ジュース飲んだ
    Drank juice.

Unlike the direct object we’re familiar with in English, places can also be the direct object of motion verbs such as 「歩く」 and 「走る」. Since the motion verb is done to the location, the concept of direct object is the same in Japanese. However, as you can see by the next examples, it often translates to something different in English due to the slight difference of the concept of direct object.

  1. ぶらぶら歩く
    Aimlessly walk through town. (Lit: Aimlessly walk town)
  2. 高速道路走る
    Run through expressway. (Lit: Run expressway)

When you use 「する」 with a noun, the 「を」 particle is optional and you can treat the whole [noun+する] as one verb.

  1. 毎日日本語勉強する
    Study Japanese everyday.
  2. メールアドレス登録した
    Registered email address.

The target 「に」 particle

Vocabulary

  1. 日本 【に・ほん】 – Japan
  2. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  3. 家 【1) うち; 2) いえ】 – 1) one’s own home; 2) house
  4. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) – to go home
  5. 部屋 【へ・や】 – room
  6. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  7. アメリカ – America
  8. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 – homework
  9. 今日 【きょう】 – today
  10. 明日 【あした】 – tomorrow
  11. 猫 【ねこ】 – cat
  12. いる (ru-verb) – to exist (animate)
  13. いす – chair
  14. 台所 【だい・どころ】 – kitchen
  15. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  16. いい (i-adj) – good
  17. 友達 【とも・だち】 – friend
  18. 会う 【あう】 (u-verb) – to meet
  19. 医者 【い・しゃ】 – doctor
  20. なる (u-verb) – to become
  21. 先週 【せん・しゅう】 – last week
  22. 図書館 【と・しょ・かん】 – library
  23. 来年 【らい・ねん】 – next year

The 「に」 particle can specify a target of a verb. This is different from the 「を」 particle in which the verb does something to the direct object. With the 「に」 particle, the verb does something toward the word associated with the 「に」 particle. For example, the target of any motion verb is specified by the 「に」 particle.

Examples

  1. ボブは日本行った
    Bob went to Japan.
  2. 帰らない
    Not go back home.
  3. 部屋くる
    Come to room.

As you can see in the last example, the target particle always targets “to” rather than “from”. If you wanted to say, “come from” for example, you would need to use 「から」, which means “from”. If you used 「に」, it would instead mean “come to“. 「から」 is also often paired with 「まで」, which means “up to”.

  1. アリスは、アメリカからきた
    Alice came from America.
  2. 宿題今日から明日までする
    Will do homework from today to tomorrow.

The idea of a target in Japanese is very general and is not restricted to motion verbs. For example, the location of an object is defined as the target of the verb for existence (ある and いる). Time is also a common target. Here are some examples of non-motion verbs and their targets

  1. 部屋いる
    Cat is in room.
  2. いす台所あった
    Chair was in the kitchen.
  3. いい友達会った
    Met good friend.
  4. ジムは医者なる
    Jim will become doctor.
  5. 先週図書館行った
    Went to library last week.

Note: Don’t forget to use 「ある」 for inanimate objects such as the chair and 「いる」 for animate objects such as the cat.

While the 「に」 particle is not always required to indicate time, there is a slight difference in meaning between using the target particle and not using anything at all. In the following examples, the target particle makes the date a specific target emphasizing that the friend will go to Japan at that time. Without the particle, there is no special emphasis.

  1. 友達は、来年日本行く
    Next year, friend go to Japan.
  2. 友達は、来年日本行く
    Friend go to Japan next year.

The directional 「へ」 particle

Vocabulary

  1. 日本 【に・ほん】 – Japan
  2. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  3. 家 【1) うち; 2) いえ】 – 1) one’s own home; 2) house
  4. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) – to go home
  5. 部屋 【へ・や】 – room
  6. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  7. 医者 【い・しゃ】 – doctor
  8. なる (u-verb) – to become
  9. 勝ち 【か・ち】 – victory
  10. 向かう 【むか・う】 (u-verb) – to face; to go towards

While 「へ」 is normally pronounced /he/, when it is being used as a particle, it is always pronounced /e/ (え). The primary difference between the 「に」 and 「へ」 particle is that 「に」 goes to a target as the final, intended destination (both physical or abstract). The 「へ」 particle, on the other hand, is used to express the fact that one is setting out towards the direction of the target. As a result, it is only used with directional motion verbs. It also does not guarantee whether the target is the final intended destination, only that one is heading towards that direction. In other words, the 「に」 particle sticks to the destination while the 「へ」 particle is fuzzy about where one is ultimately headed. For example, if we choose to replace 「に」 with 「へ」 in the first three examples of the previous section, the nuance changes slightly.

Examples

  1. ボブは日本行った
    Bob headed towards Japan.
  2. 帰らない
    Not go home toward house.
  3. 部屋くる
    Come towards room.

Note that we cannot use the 「へ」 particle with verbs that have no physical direction. For example, the following is incorrect.

  • 医者なる
    (Grammatically incorrect version of 「医者なる」.)

This does not mean to say that 「へ」 cannot set out towards an abstract concept. In fact, because of the fuzzy directional meaning of this particle, the 「へ」 particle can also be used to talk about setting out towards certain future goals or expectations.

  • 勝ち向かう
    Go towards victory.

The contextual 「で」 particle

Vocabulary

  1. 映画館 【えい・が・かん】 – movie theatre
  2. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) – to see
  3. バス – bus
  4. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) – to go home
  5. レストラン – restaurant
  6. 昼ご飯 【ひる・ご・はん】 – lunch
  7. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  8. 何 【なに/なん】 – what
  9. 暇 【ひま】 – free (as in not busy)

The 「で」 particle will allow us to specify the context in which the action is performed. For example, if a person ate a fish, where did he eat it? If a person went to school, by what means did she go? With what will you eat the soup? All of these questions can be answered with the 「で」 particle. Here are some examples.

Examples

  1. 映画館見た
    Saw at movie theater.
  2. バス帰る
    Go home by bus.
  3. レストラン昼ご飯食べた
    Ate lunch at restaurant.

It may help to think of 「で」 as meaning “by way of”. This way, the same meaning will kind of translate into what the sentence means. The examples will then read: “Saw by way of movie theater”, “Go home by way of bus”, and “Ate lunch by way of restaurant.”

Using 「で」 with 「

The word for “what” () is quite annoying because while it’s usually read as 「なに」, sometimes it is read as 「なん」 depending on how it’s used. And since it’s always written in Kanji, you can’t tell which it is. I would suggest sticking with 「なに」 until someone corrects you for when it should be 「なん」. With the 「で」 particle, it is read as 「なに」 as well. (Hold the mouse cursor over the word to check the reading.)

  1. きた
    Came by the way of what?
  2. バスきた
    Came by the way of bus.

Here’s the confusing part. There is a colloquial version of the word “why” that is used much more often than the less colloquial version 「どうして」 or the more forceful 「なぜ」. It is also written as 「何で」 but it is read as 「なんで」. This is a completely separate word and has nothing to do with the 「で」 particle.

  1. 何できた
    Why did you come?
  2. だから。
    Because I am free (as in have nothing to do).

The 「から」 here meaning “because” is different from the 「から」 we just learned and will be covered later in the compound sentence section. Basically the point is that the two sentences, while written the same way, are read differently and mean completely different things. Don’t worry. This causes less confusion than you think because 95% of the time, the latter is used rather than the former. And even when 「なにで」 is intended, the context will leave no mistake on which one is being used. Even in this short example snippet, you can tell which it is by looking at the answer to the question.

When location is the topic

Vocabulary

  1. 学校 【がっ・こう】 – school
  2. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  3. 図書館 【と・しょ・かん】 – library
  4. どこ – where
  5. イタリア – Italy
  6. レストラン – restaurant
  7. どう – how

There are times when the location of an action is also the topic of a sentence. You can attach the topic particle (「は」 and 「も」) to the three particles that indicate location (「に」、「へ」、「で」) when the location is the topic. We’ll see how location might become the topic in the following examples.

Example 1

ボブ:学校行った
Bob: (Did you) go to school?

アリス:行かなかった
Alice: Didn’t go.

ボブ:図書館には
Bob: What about library?

アリス:図書館にも行かなかった
Alice: Also didn’t go to library.

In this example, Bob brings up a new topic (library) and so the location becomes the topic. The sentence is actually an abbreviated version of 「図書館には行った?」 which you can ascertain from the context.

Example 2

ボブ:どこ食べる
Bob: Eat where?

アリス:イタリアレストランではどう
Alice: How about Italian restaurant?

Bob asks, “Where shall we eat?” and Alice suggests an Italian restaurant. A sentence like, “How about…” usually brings up a new topic because the person is suggesting something new. In this case, the location (restaurant) is being suggested so it becomes the topic.

When direct object is the topic

Vocabulary

  1. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 – Japanese (language)
  2. 習う 【なら・う】 (u-verb) – to learn

The direct object particle is different from particles related to location in that you cannot use any other particles at the same time. For example, going by the previous section, you might have guessed that you can say 「をは」 to express a direct object that is also the topic but this is not the case. A topic can be a direct object without using the 「を」 particle. In fact, putting the 「を」 particle in will make it wrong.

Examples

  1. 日本語習う
    Learn Japanese.
  2. 日本語習う
    About Japanese, (will) learn it.

Please take care to not make this mistake.

  • 日本語をは習う
    (This is incorrect.)

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

In Japanese, sometimes there are two types of the same verb often referred to as transitive and intransitive verbs. The difference between the two is that one verb is an action done by an active agent while the other is something that occurs without a direct agent. In English, this is sometimes expressed with the same verb, such as: “The ball dropped” vs “I dropped the ball” but in Japanese it becomes 「ボールちた」 vs 「ボールとした」. Sometimes, the verbs changes when translated into English such as “To put it in the box” (入れる) vs “To enter the box” (入る) but this is only from the differences in the languages. If you think in Japanese, intransitive and transitive verbs have the same meaning except that one indicates that someone had a direct hand in the action (direct object) while the other does not. While knowing the terminology is not important, it is important to know which is which in order to use the correct particle for the correct verb.

Since the basic meaning and the kanji is the same, you can learn two verbs for the price of just one kanji! Let’s look at a sample list of intransitive and transitive verbs.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
Transitive Intransitive
落とす to drop 落ちる to fall
出す to take out 出る to come out; to leave
入れる to insert 入る to enter
開ける to open 開く to be opened
閉める to close 閉まる to be closed
つける to attach つく to be attached
消す to erase 消える to disappear
抜く to extract 抜ける to be extracted

Pay attention to particles!

The important lesson to take away here is to learn how to use the correct particle for the correct type of verb. It might be difficult at first to grasp which is which when learning new verbs or whether there even is a transitive/intransitive distinction. If you’re not sure, you can always check whether a verb is transitive or intransitive by using an online dictionary such as jisho.org

Examples

  1. 電気つけた
    I am the one that turned on the lights.
  2. 電気ついた
    The lights turned on.
  3. 電気消す
    Turn off the lights.
  4. 電気消える
    Lights turn off.
  5. 開けた
    Who opened the window?
  6. どうして開いた
    Why has the window opened?

The important thing to remember is that intransitive verbs cannot have a direct object because there is no direct acting agent. The following sentences are grammatically incorrect.

  1. 電気ついた
    (「を」 should be replaced with 「が」 or 「は」)
  2. 電気消える
    (「を」 should be replaced with 「が」 or 「は」)
  3. どうして開いた
    (「を」 should be replaced with 「が」 or 「は」)

The only time you can use the 「を」 particle for intransitive verbs is when a location is the direct object of a motion verb as briefly described in the previous section.

  1. 部屋出た
    I left room.

Relative Clauses and Sentence Order

Treating verbs and state-of-being like adjectives

Have you noticed how, many forms of verbs and the state-of-being conjugate in a similar manner to i-adjectives? Well, that is because, in a sense, they are adjectives. For example, consider the sentence: “The person who did not eat went to bank.” The “did not eat” describes the person and in Japanese, you can directly modify the noun ‘person’ with the clause ‘did not eat’ just like a regular adjective. This very simple realization will allow us to modify a noun with any arbitrary verb phrase!

Using state-of-being clauses as adjectives

Vocabulary

  1. 国際 【こく・さい】 – international
  2. 教育 【きょう・いく】 – education
  3. センター – center
  4. 登場 【とう・じょう】 – entry (on stage)
  5. 人物 【じん・ぶつ】 – character
  6. 立入 【たち・いり】 – entering
  7. 禁止 【きん・し】 – prohibition, ban
  8. 学生 【がく・せい】 – student
  9. 人 【ひと】 – person
  10. 学校 【がっ・こう】 – school
  11. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  12. 子供 【こ・ども】 – child
  13. 立派 【りっ・ぱ】 (na-adj) – fine, elegant
  14. 大人 【おとな】 – adult
  15. なる (u-verb) – to become
  16. 友達 【とも・だち】 – friend
  17. いい (i-adj) – good
  18. 先週 【せん・しゅう】 – last week
  19. 医者 【い・しゃ】 – doctor
  20. 仕事 【し・ごと】 – job
  21. 辞める 【や・める】 (ru-verb) – to quit

The negative, past, and negative past conjugations of verbs can be used just like adjectives to directly modify nouns. However, we cannot do this with the plain non-past state-of-being using 「だ」. (I told you this was a pain in the butt.) The language has particles for this purpose, which will be covered in the next section.

You cannot use 「だ」 to directly modify a noun with a noun
like you can with 「だった」、「じゃない」、and 「じゃなかった」.

You can, however, have a string of nouns placed together when they’re not meant to modify each other. For example, in a phrase such as “International Education Center” you can see that it is just a string of nouns without any grammatical modifications between them. It’s not an “Education Center that is International” or a “Center for International Education”, etc., it’s just “International Education Center”. In Japanese, you can express this as simply 「国際教育センタ」 (or 「センター」). You will see this chaining of nouns in many combinations. Sometimes a certain combination is so commonly used that it has almost become a separate word and is even listed as a separate entry in some dictionaries. Some examples include: 「登場人物」、「立入禁止」、or 「通勤手当」. If you have difficulties in figuring out where to separate the words, you can paste them into the WWWJDICs Translate Words in Japanese Text function and it’ll parse the words for you (most of the time).

Examples

Here are some examples of direct noun modifications with a conjugated noun clause. The noun clause has been highlighted.

  1. 学生じゃないは、学校行かない
    Person who is not student do not go to school.
  2. 子供だったアリスが立派大人なった
    The Alice that was a child became a fine adult.
  3. 友達じゃなかったアリスは、いい友達なった
    Alice who was not a friend, became a good friend.
  4. 先週医者だったボブは、仕事辞めた
    Bob who was a doctor last week quit his job.

Using relative verb clauses as adjectives

Vocabulary

  1. 先週 【せん・しゅう】 – last week
  2. 映画 【えい・が】 – movie
  3. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) – to see
  4. 人 【ひと】 – person
  5. 誰 【だれ】 – who
  6. いつも – always
  7. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 – study
  8. する (exception) – to do
  9. 赤い 【あか・い】 (i-adj) – red
  10. ズボン – pants
  11. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  12. 友達 【とも・だち】 – friend
  13. 晩ご飯 【ばん・ご・はん】 – dinner
  14. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  15. 銀行 【ぎん・こう】 – bank

Verbs clauses can also be used just like adjectives to modify nouns. The following examples show us how this will allow us to make quite detailed and complicated sentences. The verb clause is highlighted.

Examples

  1. 先週映画見た
    Who is person who watched movie last week?
  2. ボブは、いつも勉強するだ。
    Bob is a person who always studies.
  3. 赤いズボン買う友達はボブだ。
    Friend who buy red pants is Bob.
  4. 晩ご飯食べなかったは、映画見た銀行行った
    Person who did not eat dinner went to the bank she saw at movie.

Japanese Sentence Order

Vocabulary

  1. 私 【わたし】 – me; myself; I
  2. 公園 【こう・えん】 – (public) park
  3. お弁当 【お・べん・とう】 – box lunch
  4. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  5. 学生 【がく・せい】 – student
  6. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go

Now that we’ve learned the concept of relative clauses and how they are used as building blocks to make sentences, I can go over how Japanese sentence ordering works. There’s this myth that keeps floating around about Japanese sentence order that continues to plague many hapless beginners to Japanese. Here’s how it goes.

The most basic sentence structure in English can be described as consisting of the following elements in this specific order: [Subject] [Verb] [Object]. A sentence is not grammatically correct if any of those elements are missing or out of order.

Japanese students will tell you that Japanese, on the other hand, while frothing at the mouth, is completely backwards!! Even some Japanese teacher might tell you that the basic Japanese sentence order is [Subject] [Object] [Verb]. This is a classic example of trying to fit Japanese into an English-based type of thinking. Of course, we all know (right?) that the real order of the fundamental Japanese sentence is: [Verb]. Anything else that comes before the verb doesn’t have to come in any particular order and nothing more than the verb is required to make a complete sentence. In addition, the verb must always come at the end. That’s the whole point of even having particles so that they can identify what grammatical function a word serves no matter where it is in the sentence. In fact, nothing will stop us from making a sentence with [Object] [Subject] [Verb] or just [Object] [Verb]. The following sentences are all complete and correct because the verb is at the end of the sentence.

Grammatically complete and correctly ordered sentences

  1. 公園お弁当食べた
  2. 公園お弁当食べた
  3. お弁当公園食べた
  4. 弁当食べた
  5. 食べた

So don’t sweat over whether your sentence is in the correct order. Just remember the following rules.

Japanese sentence order

  • A complete sentence requires a main verb that must come at the end. This also includes the implied state-of-being.
    Examples

    1. 食べた
    2. 学生(だ)
  • Complete sentences (relative clauses) can be used to modify nouns to make sentences with nested relative clauses except in the case of 「だ」.
    Example
    お弁当食べた学生公園行った
    Student who ate lunch went to the park.

Noun-related Particles

The last three particles (Not!)

We have already gone over very powerful constructs that can express almost anything we want. We will see the 「の」 particle will give us even more power by allowing us to define a generic, abstract noun. We will also learn how to modify nouns directly with nouns. The three particles we will cover can group nouns together in different ways.

This is the last lesson that will be specifically focused on particles but that does not mean that there are no more particles to learn. We will learn many more particles along the way but they may not be labeled as such. As long as you know what they mean and how to use them, it is not too important to know whether they are particles or not.

The Inclusive 「と」 particle

Vocabulary

  1. ナイフ – knife
  2. フォーク – fork
  3. ステーキ – steak
  4. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  5. 本 【ほん】 – book
  6. 雑誌 【ざっ・し】 – magazine
  7. 葉書 【はがき】 – postcard
  8. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  9. 友達 【とも・だち】 – friend
  10. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) – to speak
  11. 先生 【せん・せい】 – teacher
  12. 会う 【あ・う】 (u-verb) – to meet

The 「と」 particle is similar to the 「も」 particle in that it contains a meaning of inclusion. It can combine two or more nouns together to mean “and”.

  1. ナイフフォークステーキ食べた
    Ate steak by means of knife and fork.
  2. 雑誌葉書買った
    Bought book, magazine, and post card.

Another similar use of the 「と」 particle is to show an action that was done together with someone or something else.

  1. 友達話した
    Talked with friend.
  2. 先生会った
    Met with teacher.

The Vague Listing 「や」 and 「とか」 particles

Vocabulary

  1. 飲み物 【の・み・もの】 – beverage
  2. カップ – cup
  3. ナプキン – napkin
  4. いる (u-verb) – to need
  5. 靴 【くつ】 – shoes
  6. シャツ – shirt
  7. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy

The 「や」 particle, just like the 「と」 particle, is used to list one or more nouns except that it is much more vague than the 「と」 particle. It implies that there may be other things that are unlisted and that not all items in the list may apply. In English, you might think of this as an “and/or, etc.” type of listing.

  1. 飲み物カップナプキンは、いらない
    You don’t need (things like) drink, cup, or napkin, etc.?
  2. シャツ買う
    Buy (things like) shoes and shirt, etc…

「とか」 also has the same meaning as 「や」 but is a slightly more colloquial expression.

  1. 飲み物とかカップとかナプキンは、いらない
    You don’t need (things like) drink, cup, or napkin, etc.?
  2. とかシャツ買う
    Buy (things like) shoes and shirt, etc…

The 「の」 particle

Vocabulary

  1. 本 【ほん】 – book
  2. アメリカ – America
  3. 大学 【だい・がく】 – college
  4. 学生 【がく・せい】 – student
  5. それ – that
  6. その – abbreviation of 「それの」
  7. シャツ – shirt
  8. 誰 【だれ】 – who
  9. これ – this
  10. この – abbreviation of 「これの」
  11. あれ – that (over there)
  12. あの – abbreviation of 「あれの」
  13. 白い 【し・ろい】 (i-adj) – white
  14. かわいい (i-adj) – cute
  15. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 – class
  16. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  17. 忘れる 【わす・れる】 (ru-verb) – to forget
  18. こと – event, matter
  19. 毎日 【まい・にち】 – every day
  20. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 – study
  21. する (exception) – to do
  22. 大変 【たい・へん】 (na-adj) – tough, hard time
  23. 同じ 【おな・じ】 – same
  24. 物 【もの】 – object
  25. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  26. 面白い 【おも・し・ろい】 (i-adj) – interesting
  27. 静か 【しず・か】 (na-adj) – quiet
  28. 部屋 【へ・や】 – room
  29. 人 【ひと】 – person
  30. 学校 【がっ・こう】 – school

The 「の」 particle has many uses and it is a very powerful particle. It is introduced here because like the 「と」 and 「や」 particle, it can be used to connect one or more nouns. Let’s look at a few examples.

  1. ボブ
    Book of Bob.
  2. ボブ。
    Bob of book.

The first sentence essentially means, “Bob’s book.” (not a lost bible chapter). The second sentence means, “Book’s Bob” which is probably a mistake. I’ve translated the first example as “book of Bob” because the 「の」 particle doesn’t always imply possession as the next example shows.

  1. ボブは、アメリカ大学学生だ。
    Bob is student of college of America.

In normal English, this would translate to, “Bob is a student of an American college.” The order of modification is backwards so Bob is a student of a college that is American. 「学生大学アメリカ」 means “America of college of student” which is probably an error and makes little sense. (America of student’s college?)

The noun that is being modified can be omitted if the context clearly indicates what is being omitted. The following highlighted redundant words can be omitted.

  1. そのシャツシャツ
    Whose shirt is that shirt?
  2. ボブのシャツだ。
    It is shirt of Bob.

to become:

  1. そのシャツ
    Whose shirt is that?
  2. ボブだ。
    It is of Bob.

(「その」 is an abbreviation of 「それ+の」 so it directly modifies the noun because the 「の」 particle is intrinsically attached. Other words include 「この」 from 「これの」 and 「あの」 from 「あれの」.)

The 「の」 particle in this usage essentially replaces the noun and takes over the role as a noun itself. We can essentially treat adjectives and verbs just like nouns by adding the 「の」 particle to it. The particle then becomes a generic noun, which we can treat just like a regular noun.

  1. 白いは、かわいい
    Thing that is white is cute.
  2. 授業行く忘れた
    Forgot the event of going to class.

Now we can use the direct object, topic, and identifier particle with verbs and adjectives. We don’t necessarily have to use the 「の」 particle here. We can use the noun 「」, which is a generic object or 「こと」 for a generic event. For example, we can also say:

  1. 白いは、かわいい
    Thing that is white is cute.
  2. 授業行くこと忘れた
    Forgot the thing of going to class.

However, the 「の」 particle is very useful in that you don’t have to specify a particular noun. In the next examples, the 「の」 particle is not replacing any particular noun, it just allows us to modify verb and adjective clauses like noun clauses. The relative clauses are highlighted.

  1. 毎日勉強するのは大変
    The thing of studying every day is tough.
  2. 毎日同じ食べるのは、面白くない
    It’s not interesting to eat same thing every day.

Even when substituting 「の」 for a noun, you still need the 「な」 to modify the noun when a na-adjective is being used.

  • 静か部屋が、アリスの部屋だ。
    Quiet room is room of Alice.

becomes:

  • 静かのが、アリスの部屋だ。
    Quiet one is room of Alice.

*Warning: This may make things seem like you can replace any arbitrary nouns with 「の」 but this is not so. It is important to realize that the sentence must be about the clause and not the noun that was replaced. For example, in the last section we had the sentence, 「学生じゃないは、 学校行かない」. You may think that you can just replace 「」 with 「の」 to produce 「学生じゃないは、学校行かない」. But in fact, this makes no sense because the sentence is now about the clause “Is not student”. The sentence becomes, “The thing of not being student does not go to school” which is complete gibberish because not being a student is a state and it doesn’t make sense for a state to go anywhere much less school.

The 「の」 particle as explanation

Vocabulary

  1. 今 【いま】 – now
  2. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 (i-adj) – busy
  3. 学生 【がく・せい】 – student
  4. 飲む 【のむ】 – to drink
  5. どこ – where
  6. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  7. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 – class
  8. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  9. ううん – casual word for “no” (nah, uh-uh)
  10. その – that (abbr. of それの)
  11. 人 【ひと】 – person
  12. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  13. 先生 【せん・せい】 – teacher
  14. 朝ご飯 【あさ・ご・はん】 – breakfast
  15. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  16. どうして – why

The 「の」 particle attached at the end of the last clause of a sentence can also convey an explanatory tone to your sentence. For example, if someone asked you if you have time, you might respond, “The thing is I’m kind of busy right now.” The abstract generic noun of “the thing is…” can also be expressed with the 「の」 particle. This type of sentence has an embedded meaning that explains the reason(s) for something else.

The sentence would be expressed like so:

  • 忙しい
    The thing is that (I’m) busy now.

This sounds very soft and feminine. In fact, adult males will almost always add a declarative 「だ」 unless they want to sound cute for some reason.

  • 忙しいのだ
    The thing is that (I’m) busy now.

However, since the declarative 「だ」 cannot be used in a question, the same 「の」 in questions do not carry a feminine tone at all and is used by both males and females.

  • 忙しい
    Is it that (you) are busy now? (gender-neutral)

To express state-of-being, when the 「の」 particle is used to convey this explanatory tone, we need to add 「な」 to distinguish it from the 「の」 particle that simply means “of”.

  1. ジムのだ。
    It is of Jim. (It is Jim’s.)
  2. ジムのだ。
    It is Jim (with explanatory tone).

Besides this one case, everything else remains the same as before.

In actuality, while this type of explanatory tone is used all the time, 「のだ」 is usually substituted by 「んだ」. This is probably due to the fact that 「んだ」 is easier to say than 「のだ」. This grammar can have what seems like many different meanings because not only can it be used with all forms of adjectives, nouns, and verbs it itself can also be conjugated just like the state-of-being. A conjugation chart will show you what this means.

There’s really nothing new here. The first chart is just adding 「んだ」 (or 「なんだ」) to a conjugated verb, noun, or adjective. The second chart adds 「んだ」 (or 「なんだ」) to a non-conjugated verb, noun, adjective and then conjugates the 「だ」 part of 「んだ」 just like a regular state-of-being for nouns and na-adjectives. Just don’t forget to attach the 「な」 for nouns as well as na-adjectives.

「んだ」 attached to different conjugations (Substitute 「の」 or 「のだ」 for 「んだ」)
Noun/Na-Adj Verb/I-Adj
Plain 学生なんだ 飲むんだ
Negative 学生じゃないんだ 飲まないんだ
Past 学生だったんだ 飲んだんだ
Past-Neg 学生じゃなかったんだ 飲まなかったんだ
「んだ」 is conjugated (Substitute 「の」 for 「ん」 and 「の」 or 「のだ」 for 「んだ」)
Noun/Na-Adj Verb/I-Adj
Plain 学生なんだ 飲むんだ
Negative 学生なんじゃない 飲むんじゃない
Past 学生なんだった 飲むんだった
Past-Neg 学生なんじゃなかった 飲むんじゃなかった

I would say that the past and past-negative forms for noun/na-adjective in the second chart are almost never used (especially with 「の」) but they are presented for completeness.

The crucial difference between using the explanatory 「の」 and not using anything at all is that you are telling the listener, “Look, here’s the reason” as opposed to simply imparting new information. For example, if someone asked you, “Are you busy now?” you can simply answer, 「忙しい」. However, if someone asked you, “How come you can’t talk to me?” since you obviously have some explaining to do, you would answer, 「忙しいの」 or 「忙しいんだ」. This grammar is indispensable for seeking explanations in questions. For instance, if you want to ask, “Hey, isn’t it late?” you can’t just ask, 「遅くない?」 because that means, “It’s not late?” You need to indicate that you are seeking explanation in the form of 「遅いんじゃない?」.

Let’s see some examples of the types of situations where this grammar is used. The examples will have literal translation to make it easier to see how the meaning stays the same and carries over into what would be very different types of sentences in normal English. A more natural English translation is provided as well because the literal translations can get a bit convoluted.

Example 1

アリス:どこ行く
Alice: Where is it that (you) are going?

ボブ:授業行くんだ
Bob: It is that (I) go to class.

Alice: Where are you going? (Seeking explanation)
Bob: I’m going to class. (Explanatory)

Example 2

アリス:授業あるんじゃない
Alice: Isn’t it that there is class now?

ボブ:は、ないんだ
Bob: Now it is that there is no class.

Alice: Don’t you have class now? (Expecting that there is class)
Bob: No, there is no class now. (Explanatory)

Example 3

アリス:授業ないんじゃない
Alice: Isn’t it that there isn’t class now?

ボブ:ううんある
Bob: No, there is.

Alice: Don’t you not have class now? (Expecting that there is no class)
Bob: No, I do have class.

Example 4

アリス:その買うんじゃなかったの
Alice: Wasn’t it that that person was the one to buy?

ボブ:ううん先生買うんだ
Bob: No, it is that teacher is the one to buy.

Alice: Wasn’t that person going to buy? (Expecting that the person would buy)
Bob: No, the teacher is going to. (Explanatory)

Example 5

アリス:朝ご飯食べるんじゃなかった
Alice: It is that breakfast wasn’t to eat.

ボブ:どうして
Bob: Why?

Alice: Should not have eaten breakfast, you know. (Explaining that breakfast wasn’t to be eaten)
Bob: How come?

Don’t worry if you are thoroughly confused by now, we will see many more examples along the way. Once you get the sense of how everything works, it’s better to forget the English because the double and triple negatives can get quite confusing such as Example 3. However, in Japanese it is a perfectly normal expression, as you will begin to realize once you get accustomed to Japanese.

Adverbs and Sentence-ending particles

Properties of Adverbs

Vocabulary

  1. 早い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) – fast; early
  2. きれい (na-adj) – pretty; clean
  3. 朝ご飯 【あさ・ご・はん】 – breakfast
  4. 食べる 【た・べる】(ru-verb) – to eat
  5. 自分 【じ・ぶん】 – oneself
  6. 部屋 【へ・や】 – room
  7. 映画 【えい・が】 – movie
  8. たくさん – a lot (amount)
  9. 見る 【み・る】 – to see; to watch
  10. 最近 【さい・きん】 – recent; lately
  11. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 – not at all (when used with negative)
  12. 声 【こえ】 – voice
  13. 結構 【けっ・こう】 – fairly, reasonably
  14. 大きい 【おお・きい】(i-adj) – big
  15. この – this (abbr. of これの)
  16. 町 【まち】 – town
  17. 変わる 【か・わる】(u-verb) – to change
  18. 図書館 【と・しょ・かん】 – library
  19. 中 【なか】 – inside
  20. 静か 【しず・か】(na-adj) – quiet

Unlike English, changing adjectives to adverbs is a very simple and straightforward process. In addition, since the system of particles make sentence ordering flexible, adverbs can be placed anywhere in the clause that it applies to as long as it comes before the verb that it refers to. As usual, we have two separate rules: one for i-adjectives, and one for na-adjectives.

How to change an adjective to an adverb

  • For i-adjectives: Substitute the 「い」 with 「く」.
    Example:
  • For na-adjectives: Attach the target particle 「に」.
    Example: きれいきれい
  • ボブは朝ご飯早く食べた
    Bob quickly ate breakfast.

The adverb 「早く」 is a little different from the English word ‘fast’ in that it can mean quickly in terms of speed or time. In other words, Bob may have eaten his breakfast early or he may have eaten it quickly depending on the context. In other types of sentences such as 「早く走った」, it is quite obvious that it probably means quickly and not early. (Of course this also depends on the context.)

  • アリスは自分部屋きれいした
    Alice did her own room toward clean.

The literal translation kind of gives you a sense of why the target particle is used. There is some argument against calling this an adverb at all but it is convenient for us to do so because of the grouping of i-adjectives and na-adjectives. Thinking of it as an adverb, we can interpret the sentence to mean: “Alice did her room cleanly.” or less literally: “Alice cleaned her room.” (「きれい」 literally means “pretty” but if it helps, you can think of it as, “Alice prettied up her own room.”)

Note: Not all adverbs are derived from adjectives. Some words like 「全然」 and 「たくさん」 are adverbs in themselves without any conjugation. These words can be used without particles just like regular adverbs.

  1. 映画たくさん見た
    Saw a lot of movies.
  2. 最近全然食べない
    Lately, don’t eat at all.

Examples

Here are some more examples of using adverbs.

  1. ボブのは、結構大きい
    Bob’s voice is fairly large.
  2. このは、最近大きく変わった
    This town had changed greatly lately.
  3. 図書館では、静かする
    Within the library, [we] do things quietly.

Sentence-ending particles

Vocabulary

  1. いい (i-adj) – good
  2. 天気 【てん・き】 – weather
  3. そう – (things are) that way
  4. 面白い 【おも・しろ・い】(i-adj) – interesting
  5. 映画 【えい・が】 – movie
  6. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 – not at all (when used with negative)
  7. 時間 【じ・かん】 – time
  8. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  9. 大丈夫 【だい・じょう・ぶ】 (na-adj) – ok
  10. 今日 【きょう】 – today
  11. うん – yes (casual)
  12. でも – but
  13. 明日 【あした】 – tomorrow
  14. 雨 【あめ】 – rain
  15. 降る 【ふ・る】(u-verb) – to precipitate
  16. 魚 【さかな】 – fish
  17. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) – likable

Sentence-ending particles are particles that always come at the end of sentences to change the “tone” or “feel” of a sentence. In this section, we will cover the two most commonly used sentence-ending particles.

「ね」 sentence ending

People usually add 「ね」 to the end of their sentence when they are looking for (and expecting) agreement to what they are saying. This is equivalent to saying, “right?” or “isn’t it?” in English.

Example 1

ボブ:いい天気
Bob: Good weather, huh?

アリス:そう
Alice: That is so, isn’t it?

The literal translation of 「そうね」 sounds a bit odd but it basically means something like, “Sure is”. Males would probably say, 「そうだね」.

Example 2

アリス:おもしろい映画だった
Alice: That was interesting movie, wasn’t it?

ボブ:え?全然おもしろくなかった
Bob: Huh? No, it wasn’t interesting at all.

Since Alice is expecting agreement that the movie was interesting Bob is surprised because he didn’t find the movie interesting at all. (「え」 is a
sound of surprise and confusion.)

「よ」 sentence ending

When 「よ」 is attached to the end of a sentence, it means that the speaker is informing the listener of something new. In English, we might say this with a, “You know…” such as the sentence, “You know, I’m actually a genius.”

Example 1

アリス:時間ない
Alice: You know, there is no time.

ボブ:大丈夫だ
Bob: It’s ok, you know.

Example 2

アリス:今日いい天気だね。
Alice: Good weather today, huh?

ボブ:うんでも明日降る
Bob: Yeah. But it will rain tomorrow, you know.

Combining both to get 「よね」

You can also combine the two particles we just learned to create 「よね」. This is essentially used when you want to inform the listener of some new point you’re trying to make and when you’re seeking agreement on it at the same time. When combining the two, the order must always be 「よね」. You cannot reverse the order.

Example

アリス:ボブは、好きなんだよね
Alice: You know, you like fish, dontcha?

ボブ:そうだね。
Bob: That is so, huh?