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Grammar page 2

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The second page of the grammar lessons.

Have you learned the kana yet? It's not good to have to rely on romaji all the time. See Learn Hiragana and Katakana lesson 1.


Possessive "'s" の

This is another nice part about Japanese. To show relationship or possession between 2 things just put a の no inbetween them. The trick is knowing which goes to the left of the no and which goes to the right...

Think of it as: の => 's

わたしのねこ watashi no neko - My cat
日本の車 nihon no kuruma - Japanese car [Japan's car]
ねこのおもちゃ neko no omocha - Cat's toy

Also think of: わたしの watashino as "my" and
あなたの anatano as "your"


Pronouns are not used nearly as much in Japanese as they are in English. Often the pronoun is used once and then after (until the topic shifts to someone else) the pronoun is dropped. Still they are very important!

Learn watashi and anata well tachi and ra are endings that indicate plurality! Easy! :)

I - わたし watashi WE - わたしたち watashi tachi
YOU - あなた anata

YOU - あなたたち anata tachi

HE - かれ kare THEY - かれら kare ra
SHE - かのじょ kanojo
IT - IT isn't used but in IT's place sore (that) is often used -- Don't worry!

Another meaning of kare (he) is actually "boyfriend" and kanojo is "girlfriend"!
When the meaning is obvious, the pronoun is usually dropped. In context both of the following are clear in meaning:
わたしはアメリカからきました。watashi wa amerika kara kimashita. I came from America.
アメリカからきました。amerika kara kimashita. (I) came from America.

more on this

Particles intro

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

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

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]

mo Also

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."

to And

と to - connecting nouns

watashi wa nihongo to eigo to furansugo ga hanasemasu.
I can speak Japanese and English and French.

More detail can be seen on と in Expressing and/or in Japanese#と and と can be used in more ways, detailed in Particles#と to

STOP and test yourself.

more on this

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) hoti
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.

Continue to lesson 3 Go back and review lesson 1

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