View topic - Reading Japanese
The particle を (marking the direct object) is a dead giveaway because that hiragana is not used in any other words, but the particles は, が, に, and の are so common that when you see those hiragana you should see if it makes sense that they are particles.
The basic verb endings like -masu, -mashita, -masen/ -ru, -u, -nai, -ta, nakatta you most likely know already, and tell you that the word before is a verb, but there are of course many more verb endings. Check out the article that was written on verb conjugation for a more comprehensive list: http://www.thejapanesepage.com/readarti ... cle_id=186
Basic adjective endings are -な for na adjectives and -い, -くない, -かった, and -くなかった for i adjectives.
Here's a very simple example. Most stuff you come across will of course be more complicated:
If I were translating this sentence and didn't know any of the words I would immediately see を near the end, and the verb ending -ました. I will assume that the verb starts after the を so the verb is あげました. To find the dictionary form of verbs ending in -emasu you just change the "masu" to "ru", so you get あげる. Look that up in a dictionary and you get "give".
Next, I see は near the beginning of the sentence, so I can't be sure, but it's probably the particle "wa". Sure enough, かれ means "he" so that makes sense. So far we have "He gave.", and we're left with this in the middle: いもうとにあおいかさを
If you don't know these words, it's just trial and error. I might see the hiragana "と" and think that's the particle for "and" or "with", so I would look up いもう to see if that's a noun. I don't find it in my dictionary, so と must not be a particle here, but maybe に ("to", "towards") is. Yes! いもうと means little sister, so we have "He gave to (his) little sister."
あおいかさ is followed by を so you know the direct object's in there. So what's left is probably a noun or an adjective and a noun. い suggests an adjective ending, so look up あおい and かさ separately and you get "blue" "umbrella". So: "He gave his sister a blue umbrella."
It's a tedious process, but it's nice when you actually get it, and reading is good practice, so Gambatte!
If anyone notices any errors in my example or has a better way of translating, please don't be shy!
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