LearnJapanese Tae Kim's Guide to Learning Japanese





Review and more sentence-ending particles

Posted by Tae Kim

We are coming to the end of the fourth major section of the guide. Do you feel like your Japanese has improved? We've come to the point where we've learned enough conjugations to be able to start mixing them together in various useful combinations. Of course this can be a little difficult to do without some practice, which is the reason for this lesson. But first, since we've come to the end of yet another section, let's learn some more sentence-endings particles.

「な」 and 「さ」 sentence-ending particles

Vocabulary

  1. あのう/あの - say; well; errr
  2. うん - yes (casual)
  3. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  4. 間 【あいだ】 - space (between); time (between); period
  5. ディズニーランド - Disney Land
  6. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  7. すごい (i-adj) - to a great extent
  8. 込む 【こ・む】 (u-verb) - to become crowded
  9. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  10. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) - to be able to do
  11. 今 【いま】 - now
  12. 図書館 【と・しょ・かん】 - library
  13. 何で 【なん・で】 - why; how
  14. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese (language)
  15. たくさん - a lot (amount)
  16. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 - study
  17. する (exception) - to do
  18. まだ - yet
  19. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 - not at all (when used with negative)
  20. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  21. 大丈夫 【だい・じょう・ぶ】 (na-adj) - ok
  22. なる (u-verb) - to become
  23. いい (i-adj) - good
  24. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  25. 雨 【あめ】 - rain
  26. 降る 【ふ・る】(u-verb) - to precipitate
  27. 大学 【だい・がく】 - college

After the 「よ」 and 「ね」, 「さ」 and 「な」 are the next most commonly used sentence-ending particles.

「さ」, which is basically a very casual form of 「よ」, is similar to the English "like" in that some people throw it in at the end of almost every single phrase. Of course, that doesn't mean it's necessarily a very sophisticated manner of speech but just like using "like" all the time, I cannot deny that it is an easy habit to fall into. In that sense, due to its over-use, it has almost lost any specific meaning. You may overhear a conversation like the following:

A:あの・・・
A: Hey...

B:うん
B: Yeah.

A:この間・・・
A: This one time...

B:うん
B: Yeah.

A:ディズニーランド行ったんだけどなんかすごい込んでて・・・
A: I went to Disney Land and it was really crowded...

B:うん
B: Uh huh.

A:何もできなくて・・・
A: Couldn't do anything, you know...

And it goes on like this, sometimes the other person might break in to say something related to the topic.

You can use 「な」 in place of 「ね」 when it sounds too soft and reserved for what you want to say or for the audience you are speaking to. Its rough sound generally applies to the male gender but is not necessarily restricted to only males.

Example 1

洋介図書館行くんだよ
Yousuke: You are going to the library now huh? (seeking explanation)

智子うんなんで
Tomoko: Yeah, why?

Example 2

ボブ:日本語は、たくさん勉強したけどまだ全然わからない
Bob: I studied Japanese a lot, right? But, I still don't get it at all.

アリス:大丈夫よ。きっとわかるようになるから
Alice: No problem. You'll become able to understand for sure, you know?

ボブ:ならいいけど
Bob: If so, it would be good.

The 「な」 sentence-ending particle is often used with the question marker 「か」 to indicate that the speaker is considering something.

  1. 今日降るかな
    I wonder if it'll rain today.
  2. いい大学行けるかな
    I wonder if I can go to a good college.

「かい」 and 「だい」 sentence-ending particles

Vocabulary

  1. おい - hey
  2. どこ - where
  3. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  4. 呼ぶ 【よ・ぶ】 (u-verb) - to call
  5. いい (i-adj) - good
  6. 一体 【いったい】 - forms an emphatic question (e.g. "why on earth?")
  7. 何時 【なん・じ】 - what time
  8. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) - to go home
  9. つもり - intention, plan
  10. 俺 【おれ】 - me; myself; I (masculine)
  11. 土曜日 【ど・よう・び】 - Saturday
  12. 映画 【えい・が】 - movie
  13. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) - to see
  14. 一緒 【いっ・しょ】 - together

「かい」 and 「だい」 are strongly masculine sentence endings for asking questions. 「かい」 is used for yes/no questions while 「だい」 is used for open-ended questions.

Examples

  1. おい、どこに行くんだい
    Hey, where are (you) going?
  2. さきちゃんって呼んでもいいかい
    Can (I) call you Saki-chan?
  3. 一体何時に帰ってくるつもりだったんだい
    What time were (you) planning on coming home exactly?
  4. 俺は土曜日、映画を見に行くけど、一緒に行くかい
    I'm going to see a movie Saturday, go together?

Gender-specific sentence-ending particles

These sentence-ending particles are primarily used just to emphasize something and doesn't really have a meaning per se. However, they can make your statements sound much stronger and/or very gender-specific. Using 「わ」 is just like 「よ」 except it will make you sound very feminine (this is a different sound from the 「わ」 used in Kansai dialect). 「かしら」 is also a very feminine version of 「かな」, which we just went over. 「ぞ」 and 「ぜ」 are identical to 「よ」 except that it makes you sound "cool" and manly, or at least, that is the intent. These examples may not be very helpful without actually hearing what they sound like.

Vocabulary

  1. もう - already
  2. 時間 【じ・かん】 - time
  3. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  4. おい - hey
  5. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  6. これ - this
  7. 終わり 【お・わり】 - end
  8. いい (i-adj) - good
  9. 大学 【だい・がく】 - college
  10. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) - to enter
  1. もう時間ない
    There is no more time.
  2. おい行く
    Hey, we're going!
  3. これで、もう終わり
    With this, it's over already.
  4. いい大学入れるかしら
    I wonder if I can enter a good college.

That's a wrap!

Vocabulary

  1. 加賀 【か・が】 - Kaga (last name)
  2. 先生 【せん・せい】 - teacher
  3. ちょっと - a little
  4. 質問 【しつ・もん】 - question
  5. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) - to ask; to listen
  6. いい (i-adj) - good
  7. はい - yes (polite)
  8. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 - Japanese (language)
  9. 何 【なに/なん】 - what
  10. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  11. そう - (things are) that way
  12. 大体 【だい・たい】 - mostly
  13. こんにちは - good day
  14. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) - to think
  15. ただし - however
  16. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) - to write
  17. 時 【とき】 - time
  18. 他 【ほか】 - other
  19. 表現 【ひょう・げん】 - expression
  20. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  21. これ - this
  22. 覚える 【おぼ・える】 (ru-verb) - to memorize
  23. 朝 【あさ】 - morning
  24. おはよう - good morning
  25. でも - but
  26. 上 【うえ】 - above
  27. 人 【ひと】 - person
  28. おはようございます - good morning (polite)
  29. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  30. 間違える 【ま・ちが・える】 (ru-verb) - to make a mistake
  31. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 - study
  32. なる (u-verb) - to become
  33. 洋介 【よう・すけ】 - Yousuke (first name)
  34. あのう/あの - say; well; errr
  35. 英語 【えい・ご】 - English (language)
  36. 教える 【おし・える】 (ru-verb) - to teach; to inform
  37. もらう (u-verb) - to receive
  38. もし - if by any chance
  39. 時間 【じ・かん】 - time
  40. うん - yes (casual)
  41. アメリカ - America
  42. 留学 【りゅう・がく】 - study abroad
  43. する (exception) - to do
  44. 去年 【きょ・ねん】 - last year
  45. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  46. お金 【お・かね】 - money
  47. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  48. いつ - when
  49. 欲しい 【ほ・しい】 (i-adj) - wanted; desirable
  50. 来週 【らい・しゅう】 - next week
  51. 木曜日 【もく・よう・び】 - Thursday
  52. ありがとう - thank you
  53. 怠ける 【なま・ける】 (ru-verb) - to neglect, to be lazy about
  54. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  55. そんな - that sort of
  56. こと - event, matter

We learned quite a lot of things in this section. Let's try to put it all together by seeing how different kinds of conjugations are used in different combinations. This is of course by no means an exhaustive list but merely an illustration of how we can use what we learned in various combinations to create a lot of useful expressions.

Example 1

アリス: 加賀先生ちょっと質問聞いていいですか?
加賀先生はいいいですよ。
アリス:「Hello」を日本語言えばいいですか。
言えば = quoted sub-clause + if conditional of 言う

加賀先生そうね。大体、「こんにちは言う思いますよ。ただし書くは「こんにちわじゃなくて、「こんにちは」と書かなくてはなりません。
「と言う思います」 = quoted sub-clause + quoted sub-clause
「じゃなくて」 = negative sequence of states

アリス:そうですか。何かいい表現ありますか。

加賀先生これ覚えといてね。は、「おはよう」と言うの。でもには「おはようございます」と言ってください。
覚えといて」 - 覚える +
abbreviated form of ~ておく + casual ~てください with ください dropped.

アリス:はい分かりました間違えないようにしますいい勉強なりました

Literal translation of Example 1

Alice: Kaga-sensei, is it ok to ask you a question?
Kaga-sensei: Yes, it's ok.
Alice: If you say what for "hello" in Japanese, is it ok?
Kaga-sensei: Well, mostly, I think people say "konnichiwa". Only, when you write it, you must write "konnichiha" and not "konnichiwa".
Alice: Is that so? Are there any other good expressions?
Kaga-sensei: Please memorize this too (in preparation for the future). In the morning, everybody says, "ohayou". But, please say, "ohayou-gozaimasu" to a higher person.
Alice: Yes, I understood. I'll do in the manner of not making mistake. It became good study!

Interpretative translation of Example 1

Alice: Kaga-sensei, is it ok to ask you a question?
Kaga-sensei: Sure.
Alice: How do you say "Hello" in Japanese?
Kaga-sensei: Well, most of the time, I think people say "konnichiwa". Only, when you write it, you must write "konnichiha" and not "konnichiwa".
Alice: Is that so? Are there any other good expressions?
Kaga-sensei: You should know this too. In the morning, everybody says, "ohayou". But, please say, "ohayou-gozaimasu" to a higher person.
Alice: Ok, I got it. I'll try not to make that mistake. That was very informative!

Example 2

洋介:お!アリスだ。あのね、質問聞いていい
アリス:

洋介ちょっと英語教えてもらいたいんだけどさ、もし時間あれば教えてくれない
教えてもらいたい」 = receiving favor + to want (たい)

アリス:え?英語勉強するの?

洋介うんアメリカ留学してみたいなと思ってね。去年行こうしたけど、お金なくて・・・
してみたいなと思って」 = to try something out (~てみる) + want to (たい) + な sentence-ending particle + quoted subquote + te-form of 思う
行こうした」 = volitional of 行く + to attempt (とする

アリス:そうなの?いいよ。いつ教えてほしいの?
洋介いつでもいいよ。
アリス:じゃ、来週木曜日からはどう
洋介うんいいよ。ありがとう

アリス:勉強怠けたり、来なかったり、しないね。
怠けた来なかったしないで」 = List of actions (~たりする) + negative request of する.

洋介そんなことしないよ!

Literal translation of Example 2

Yousuke: Oh! It's Alice. Hey, is it ok to ask a question?
Alice: What?
Yousuke: I want to receive the favor of you teaching English and if, by any chance, you have time, will you give the favor of teaching?
Alice: Huh? You are going to study English?
Yousuke: Yeah, I was thinking that I want to try studying abroad in America. I tried to make motion toward going last year too but, without money...
Alice: Is that so? It's good. When do you want me to teach you?
Yousuke: Anytime is good.
Alice: Then what about from next week Thursday?
Yousuke: Yeah, ok. Thanks!
Alice: Don't do things like shirk on your studies or not come, ok?
Yousuke: I won't do anything like that!

Interpretative translation of Example 2

Yousuke: Oh! It's Alice. Hey, can I ask you a question?
Alice: What up?
Yousuke: I want to learn English so if you have time, can you teach me?
Alice: Huh? You're going to study English?
Yousuke: Yeah, I was thinking about studying abroad in America. I tried going last year too but I didn't have the money.
Alice: Really? No problem. When do you want me to teach you?
Yousuke: Anytime is fine.
Alice: What about from next week Thursday then?
Yousuke: OK, thanks!
Alice: You're not going to shirk on your studies or not come or anything right?
Yousuke: I won't do anything like that!