Grammar page 2
The second page of the grammar lessons.
In Japanese, grammatical parts of the sentence are shown very clearly by "particles." These particles are placed after the word (or phrase) they modify. The best way to learn to use them is to memorize useful examples and say them!
See also Particles page.
wa - overall topic particle
は wa - overall topic particle - shows the main topic of the conversation (NOTE: it is a hiragana ha but pronounced as "wa" (See Wa vs Ha)
あなたはやさしいです。 anata wa yasashii desu. You are nice. [Makes "you" the main topic]
ga - the subject particle
が ga - the subject particle - sometimes the difference between wa and ga is hard to tell. Sometimes they can be used interchangeably with only a slight change in meaning. More on wa vs ga in the next section.
ねこがへんです。 neko ga hen desu. The cat is strange. [Makes the "cat" the subject]
Comparing は and が
The topic particle は can easily be confused with the subject particle が. That is because は overrides が, in other words in a sentence something can very easily be both the topic and the subject of that sentence. In such cases the が 'disappears' and it looks like the は is acting as a subject marker.
Take this simple sentence.
watashi wa kurei desu.
I am Clay.
["I" (that is the speaker, Clay) is the topic and now this is known, it won't be repeated unless the topic changes]
What is the subject of the sentence? That's right - "I" watashi is. But because "I" is also the topic only the topic marker は is used. Now we'll let Clay continue and say another sentence ...
neko ga suki desu.
(I) like cats.
["cats" is the subject here. "I" is still the topic. He could have said "watashi wa neko ga suki desu." but that is unnecessary because he has already said "watashi wa" establishing the topic in the previous sentence.]
if both are in a sentence, the wa is first.
o - The Direct Object particle
を o - The Direct Object particle
hon o yomimashita.
(I) read a book.
[NOTE: it makes "book" the object. If we were to say "I" it would be watashi wa at the beginning.]
ni - usually shows movement (to)
に ni - usually shows movement (to)
nihon ni ikimashou!
Let's go to Japan!
[There is movement going to Japan]
or shows time (at)
roku ji ni ikimashou!
Let's go at 6.
de - Shows location (at, in)
で de - Shows location (at, in)
nihon de asobimashou!
Let's play (have fun) in Japan!
[Notice there is no movement]
も mo means "also" or "too" and like other particles, it is placed after the word it modifies. Let's see some examples:
watashi wa neko ga suki desu.
I like cats.
watashi wa neko ga suki, soshite inu mo suki desu.
I like cats, and I also like dogs.
N.B. The mo after inu replaces ga. You can't say "ga mo"
watashi mo neko to inu ga suki desu.
I also like cats and dogs.
NOTE: 私も watashi mo by itself means "Me too."
と to - connecting nouns
watashi wa nihongo to eigo to furansugo ga hanasemasu.
I can speak Japanese and English and French.
STOP and test yourself.
Adjectives (part 1)
There are 2 types of adjectives:
-i adjectives - adjectives that end in 'i', if you like their 'dictionary form' ends in 'i'. -na adjectives - adjectives that add -na when placed before nouns
The -i adjectives change:
|あつい atsui - (It's) hot||i|
|あつくない atsukunai - not hot||-i + kunai|
|あつかった atsukatta - was hot||-i + katta|
|あつくなかった atsukunakatta - wasn't hot||-i + kunakatta|
The -na adjectives don't change! But when placed before nouns they add a -na
げんき genki (healthy, active, fine) げんきな子 genki na ko (healthy child)
The basic definition of adjectives is that they go before a noun to modify or further define it. For example in English "Car." -> "Red car." Japanese does just the same "車 kuruma" -> "赤い車 akai kuruma".
Some adjectives have both i-adjective and na-adjective forms. 大きい ookii vs 大きな ookina 小さい chiisai vs 小さな chiisana. For more insight on those see Ookii vs ookina.
More on what can be done with adjectives in Japanese later.
But, a small word, but... There are other "buts" but demo is the most common. Learn this first and you can pick the others up later.
でも demo - but
nihongo ga suki demo, furansugo wa kirai desu.
I like Japanese, but I hate French.
From most formal to least formal けれども keredomo けれど keredo and けど kedo.
- although, though
konpyu-ta- wa suki dakedo, takai desu.
I like computers but they are expensive.
In English, we have our "um." in Japanese, they have their "eeto." This is the sound you make when you can't think of what to say, but want to say something!
何の動物が好きですか？ nan no doubutsu ga suki desu ka? What animal do you like?
ええと・・・、ねこがすきです。 eeto..., neko ga suki desu. Um..., I like cats.
とても totemo, often written as とっても tottemo.
Sometimes mom's cooking isn't just oishii (delicious) it is VERY OISHII!
Add とても totemo before adjectives to say "very"
totemo oishii desu.
It's very delicious!
totemo ookina ki desu.
It is a very big tree.
OTHER VERY WORDS
非常に hijou ni 超 chou (kind of slang - chou means "super-")
I think と思います
This goes at the end to show that you believe what you say, but are not 100% sure. It is also used to show one's opinion. If there is a desu change it to da which is the more casual form and add to omoimasu
1. The speaker is not totally sure of the accuracy of his info...
kuma no pu-san wa kuma da to omoimasu.
Winnie the Pooh is a bear, I think...
Next is an example of showing one's opinion. It is true for the speaker, but may not be so for the listener.
nattou wa oishii to omoimasu.
I think Natto is delicious
Basically you can say any sentence and if you want to soften it or show you are not sure, or show your opinion add to omoimasu
To want ～がほしい
Saying "I want (something)" is pretty easy. Just say the thing you want and add ga hoshii to it.
nomimono ga hoshii desu.
(I) want a drink.
NOTE: The desu is not used in plain or informal Japanese.
Next, let's ask a question. Can you figure out how to do it? That's right add a ka
ke-ki ga hoshii desu ka.
Do you want cake?
ほしい hoshii is an adjective so can be conjugated just like other i-adjectives.
ke-ki ga hoshikatta desu.
I wanted cake.
As ほしい hoshii is an adjective it can be used before nouns like other adjectives.
hoshii hon ga arimasu.
There is a book I want.
Want to do~ ～たい
First get the ～ます masu form of the verb you want to do. Then drop the ～ます masu and add ～たい tai.
たべます tabemasu (to eat) たべ tabe たべたい tabetai (want to eat)
のみます nomimasu (to drink) のみ nomi のみたい nomitai (want to drink)
します shimasu (to do) し shi したい shitai (want to do)
Of course if you want to say "do you want to..." Just add ka
ke-ki o tabetai desu ka.
Do you want to eat cake?
～たい tai is an adjective and can be conjugated like normal i-adjectives.
I wanted to die.
As ～たい tai is an adjective it can also be used before nouns like other adjectives.
yomitai hon ga arimasu.
There is a book I want to read.
There is / There are
For inanimate objects (objects, plants...), end the sentence with ～が あります ga arimasu
木です。 ki desu. It's a tree. [lit. tree is.]
木があります。 ki ga arimasu. There is a tree(s).
For living things (people and animals) use ～が います ga imasu.
ねこがいます。 neko ga imasu. There is a cat(s).
To show the negative just add -sen to the end
あります arimasu ありません arimasen Another more casual form of arimasu that you don't have to learn now is... ある aru ない nai
います imasu いません imasen Another more casual form of imasu that you don't have to learn now is... いる iru いない inai
Maybe you know these useful phrases:
お願いがあります。 onegai ga arimasu. I have a favor to ask. 問題ない。 mondai nai. No problem! [this is the casual form of arimasen]
To like... がすき
It is easy to like something and to say it! Just add ga suki after the object that you like:
neko ga suki desu.
I like cats.
[note: Nouns don't change in number (no s) so it could mean "a cat". Also note the desu is often dropped in speech - "neko ga suki." is fine!]
2 ways to say "why" are:
- なぜ naze - why
- どうして doushite - why
They are basically interchangeable and start at the beginning of the sentence and are followed by the question
naze (doushite) watashi no ke-ki o tabemashita ka?
Why did you eat my cake?
[There isn't a "you" but obviously you wouldn't be asking yourself this question.]
You can skip ahead to lesson 4 to read about the related なぜなら.
STOP and test yourself.