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1

1. Basic Word Order

Japanese word order is very different from English. In English we use Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) but in Japanese it is usually Subject-Object-Verb (SOV).  Observe:

Notice the โ€œextraโ€ words (wa and o). These are called particles (or grammatical markers) and they tell us a lot about the function of the word it follows. Donโ€™t worry! Weโ€™ll get to particles soon enough.

2

2. DESU ใงใ™

Desu is a copula. (A word used to link the subject of a sentence with a predicate.) It shows that something is or isnโ€™t something else.


You can think of it as like the English "to be" except it does not show existence--Japanese uses two other verbs for that ใ„ใ‚‹ iru and ใ‚ใ‚‹ aru for that. Don't worry, we will get to those.


Also, desu is one of the very few irregular forms in Japanese.


Letโ€™s take a look:

ใ‚พใ‚ฆใฏใ€€ๅคง(ใŠใŠ)ใใ„ใ€€ใงใ™ใ€‚

zou wa ookii desu. 
Elephants are large. 
[elephants-(topic particle)-big-are]

ใ“ใ‚Œใ€€ใฏใ€€ใญใ“ใ€€ใงใ™ ใ€‚

kore wa neko desu. 
This is a cat. 
[this-(topic particle)-cat-is]

The three main forms of ใงใ™ desu are:

  • ใ  da (simple; informal)
  • ใงใ™ desu (polite; normal form)
  • ใงใ”ใ–ใ„ใพใ™ de gozaimasu (formal; honorific or humble speech)


MAIN POINTS:

  • Always at the end
  • Is used to state some information about the subject (its identity; its state; or a membership in some group)
  • Is like the English "to be" except it doesn't show existence
  • It doesnโ€™t change like its English cousin (is, are, am) in the present tense
  • Usually pronounced like โ€œdessโ€ instead of "de - su"

3

3. Andโ€”ใจใƒปใใ—ใฆ to / soshite

There are several ways to say โ€œandโ€ to connect words and phrases.


Letโ€™s look at two of them: ใจ and ใใ—ใฆ


ใจ to - connecting nouns

็ง(ใ‚ใŸใ—)ใฏใ€€ๆ—ฅๆœฌ่ชž(ใซใปใ‚“ใ”)ใ€€ใจใ€€่‹ฑ่ชž(ใˆใ„ใ”)ใ€€ใจใ€€ใƒ•ใƒฉใƒณใ‚น่ชž(ใ”)ใŒใ€€่ฉฑ(ใฏใช)ใ›ใพใ™ใ€‚

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

ใใ—ใฆ soshite - connecting phrases:

ๆ–ฐ(ใ‚ใŸใ‚‰)ใ—ใ„ใ€€ๆœฌ(ใปใ‚“)ใ‚’ใ€€่ฒท(ใ‹)ใ„ใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ใใ—ใฆใ€€ไปŠๆ—ฅ(ใใ‚‡ใ†)ใ€€ใ‹ใ‚‰ใ€€่ชญ(ใ‚ˆ)ใฟใพใ™ใ€‚

atarashii hon wo kaimashita. soshite kyou kara yomimasu.
I bought a new book. And today, I will start to read it. 
(Lit. And from today, Iโ€™ll read.)

4

4. Two Basic Verb Forms

There are many ways to conjugate Japanese verbs, but here we will focus on two present tense forms: โ€œdictionary formโ€ (also known as โ€œplain formโ€) and โ€œ~masu formโ€ (also known as โ€œpolite formโ€).

NOTE : Switching between these two verb forms does not change the meaning of the verb, but the dictionary form is more casual.


  • The dictionary form gets its name because this is how it is found in dictionaries.
  • The dictionary form verbs ends in -u and many end in -ru
  • The masu form verbs are so called because they always end in -masu in the present tense.
  • Your textbook or a more in-depth guide on verbs will give you more information. For now, familiarize yourself with these two forms.
EXAMPLES:

Dictionary Form

-Masu Form

English

ใŸในใ‚‹
tabe ru

ใŸในใพใ™
tabe masu

Both mean "to eat"

ใฎใ‚€
no mu

ใฎใฟใพใ™
nomi masu

Both mean "to drink"

ใฏใ—ใ‚‹
hashi ru

ใฏใ—ใ‚Šใพใ™
hashiri masu

Both mean "to run"

ใ™ใ‚‹
suru

ใ—ใพใ™
shi masu

Both mean "to do"
[this is one of the very few irregular verbs]

You will notice some other changes with the two forms. For our purposes right now, just memorize a few examples and try to find patterns with other verbs. And remember: Mistake making is memory making! (As long as you correct yourself, of course.)

5

5. Making questionsโ€”ใ‹ ka

Making questions in Japanese is easy! Usually you can change a statement into a question by simply adding aใ‹ ka to the end!


First, a statement:

ใ‚ขใƒกใƒชใ‚ซไบบใ€€ใงใ™ใ€‚

amerikajin desu.
(I) am an American.
or
(He or she) is an American

And now, add a ใ‹ ka.

ใ‚ขใƒกใƒชใ‚ซไบบใ€€ใงใ™ใ€€ใ‹ใ€‚

amerikajin desu ka.
Are you an American?

MAIN POINTS:

  • ใ‹ ka is added to the end of sentences.
  • Word order is not changed as in English.
  • In Japanese (see example) the ? (Question mark) is not required but may be used.
  • Just like in English, the last syllable of a question goes up in intonation, especially if a question word (who, what, where, etc.) isn't used.
  • In spoken Japanese, sometimes the ka can be dropped if you raise your voice at the end as we do with โ€œYou want to eat?โ€ But for now, letโ€™s stick to using the ka.

6

6. Question Words

By mastering these question words, your conversational skills will be much stronger! It may take you longer than five minutes but try to at least memorize these six words and their meanings before progressing.

ใ„ใค itsu - when

ใ„ใคใ€€ใใพใ—ใŸใ€€ใ‹๏ผŸ

itsu kimashita ka?
When did you come?
[Lit. When came? Notice the โ€œyouโ€ is understood.]

ใฉใ“ doko - where

ใฉใ“ใ€€ใ‹ใ‚‰ใ€€ใใพใ—ใŸใ€€ใ‹๏ผŸ

doko kara kimashita ka?
Where did you come from?
[Lit. Where from came?]

ใฉใ†ใ—ใฆ doushite - why

ใฉใ†ใ—ใฆใ€€ใใพใ—ใŸใ€€ใ‹๏ผŸ

doushite kimashita ka?
Why did you come?
[Lit. why came?]

ใชใœ naze - why


ใชใœ๏ผŸ

naze?
Why? 

[Used in the same way as doushite]

ใ ใ‚Œ dare - who

ใ ใ‚ŒใŒใ€€ใใพใ—ใŸใ€€ใ‹ใ€‚

dare ga kimashita ka?
Who came?

ใชใซ nani - what

ใชใซใ‚’่ฒท(ใ‹)ใ„ใพใ—ใŸใ‹ใ€‚

nani o kaimashita ka. 
What did you buy?
[This is also pronounced ใชใ‚“ nan before nouns and in certain cases.]

MAIN POINTS:

  • Even with the question word a ใ‹ ka is used. (Except in casual spoken Japanese.)
  • The question word is at the beginning, but after the topic particle ใฏ wa if there is one. For example:

ใ‚ใชใŸใ€€ใฏใ€€ใ ใ‚Œใ€€ใงใ™ใ€€ใ‹๏ผŸ

anata wa dare desu ka?
Who are you?
(The question word ใ ใ‚Œ dare is after the ใฏ wa)

7

7. Possessiveโ€”ใฎ no

To show relationship or possession between two things just put a ใฎ โ€œnoโ€ between them. The trick is knowing (erm... โ€œnoโ€-ing) which goes to the left of the no and which goes to the right... ใฎ is also used when one word modifies another.


Simplified Tip: Think of no as a โ€˜s (apostrophe S)

ใ‚ใŸใ—ใ€€ใฎใ€€ใญใ“
watashi no neko
My cat
[Iโ€™s cat]

ๆ—ฅๆœฌ(ใซใปใ‚“)ใ€€ใฎใ€€่ปŠ(ใใ‚‹ใพ)
nihon no kuruma
Japanese car
["Japan" modifies "car"]

ใญใ“ใ€€ใฎใ€€ใŠใ‚‚ใกใ‚ƒ
neko no omocha
[Catโ€™s toy]

Also just memorize these as words:

 

  • ใ‚ใŸใ—ใฎ watashino as โ€œmyโ€ 
  • ใ‚ใชใŸใฎ anatano as โ€œyourโ€

8

8. Butโ€”ใงใ‚‚ demo

But: a small word, but... There are other โ€œbuts,โ€ but demo is the most common. Learn this first and you can pick the others up later.


ๆ—ฅๆœฌ่ชž(ใซใปใ‚“ใ”)ใ€€ใŒใ€€ๅฅฝ(ใ™)ใใ€€ใงใ‚‚ใ€€ใƒ•ใƒฉใƒณใ‚น่ชž(ใ”)ใ€€ใฏใ€€ใใ‚‰ใ„ใ€€ใงใ™ใ€‚

nihongo ga suki demo furansugo wa kirai desu.
I like Japanese, but I hate French.

9

9. Pronouns

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


And yet, for a language that downplays pronoun usage, Japanese sure has a lot of them.

  • Learn ใ‚ใŸใ— watashi (I) and ใ‚ใชใŸ anata (you) well.  These two are the most common.
  • tachi and ra are endings that indicate plurality! Remember ใ‚‰ ra for "they" and use ใŸใก tachi for the others.

Singular

Plural

ใ‚ใŸใ—

watashi

I; me

ใ‚ใŸใ—ใŸใก

watashi tachi

we; us

ใ‚ใชใŸ

anata

you (singular)

ใ‚ใชใŸใŸใก

anata tachi

you (plural)

ใ‹ใ‚Œ

kare

he; him


ใ‹ใฎใ˜ใ‚‡

kanojo

she; her

ใ‹ใ‚Œใ‚‰

kare ra

they

Notes:

  • You can say ใ‹ใฎใ˜ใ‚‡ใŸใก kanojo tachi for multiple women/girls, but for mixed and general use, ใ‹ใ‚Œใ‚‰ karera is used for "they."
  • โ€œItโ€ isnโ€™t used, but in its place, ใใ‚Œ sore (that) is often used.
  • Another meaning of kare (he) is actually โ€œboyfriendโ€ and kanojo is โ€œgirlfriendโ€!
  • When the meaning is obvious, the pronoun is usually dropped. Both of the following is clear in meaning:

ใ‚ใŸใ—ใฏใ€€ใ‚ขใƒกใƒชใ‚ซใ€€ใ‹ใ‚‰ใ€€ใใพใ—ใŸใ€‚

watashi wa amerika kara kimashita.
I came from America.


ใ‚ขใƒกใƒชใ‚ซใ€€ใ‹ใ‚‰ใ€€ใใพใ—ใŸใ€‚

amerika kara kimashita.
(I) came from America.

10

10. Fillersโ€”ใˆใˆใจ eeto

In English, we have our โ€œahโ€ and โ€œum.โ€ in Japanese, they have their โ€œeeto.โ€ This is the sound you make when you canโ€™t think of what to say but want to say something!

ไฝ•(ใชใ‚“) ใฎใ€€ๅ‹•็‰ฉ(ใฉใ†ใถใค) ใŒใ€€ๅฅฝ(ใ™)ใใ€€ใงใ™ใ€€ใ‹๏ผŸ

nan no doubutsu ga suki desu ka?
What animal do you like?


ใˆใˆใจใ€‚ใ€‚ใ€‚ใ€€ใญใ“ใ€€ใŒใ€€ใ™ใใ€‚

eeto... neko ga suki.
Um... I like cats.


11

11. Introduction to Particles

Particles may seem a little foreign to you at first, but for the most part, they arenโ€™t too difficult to grasp.
These particles are placed after a word (or phrase) and show its relationship (grammatical function) to the rest of the sentence. In other words, the particle itself isnโ€™t translatable, but it tells you a lot about the function of the word it follows.


The best way to learn to use them is to memorize useful examples and try them out for size!

ใฏ wa

Overall Topic Particle

This shows the main topic of the conversation. It may be helpful to think of it as โ€œas for...โ€ or "regarding this..."


NOTE: it is written as a hiragana ใฏ ha but pronounced as โ€œwa.โ€

ใ‚ใชใŸใ€€ใฏ ใ‚„ใ•ใ—ใ„ใ€‚

anata wa yasashii.
You are nice.
[Makes โ€œyouโ€ the main topic: โ€œAs for YOU, you are nice.โ€]

ใŒ ga

The Subject / Object Particle


Very often the difference between ใฏ wa and ใŒ ga is hard to tell. Sometimes they can be used interchangeably with only a slight change in meaning.

ใญใ“ใŒ ใ€€ใธใ‚“ใ€‚

neko ga hen.
The cat is strange.
[Makes the โ€œcatโ€ the subject.]

ใ‚’ o

The Direct Object Particle


Place after the direct object of the sentence. This is sometimes romanized as "wo," but the pronunciation is usually more of an "o" sound. 

ๆœฌ(ใปใ‚“)ใ€€ใ‚’ใ€€ใ‚ˆใฟใพใ—ใŸใ€‚

hon o yomimashita. 
(I) read a book.

[NOTE: ใ‚’ makes โ€œbookโ€ the object. If we were to say โ€œIโ€ (probably unnecessary within context) it would be ใ‚ใŸใ—ใฏ watashi wa at the beginning.]

ใซ ni

The Movement and Time Particle


When this particle shows movement, you would usually translate it as "to":

ๆ—ฅๆœฌ(ใซใปใ‚“)ใ€€ใซ ใ€€่กŒ(ใ„)ใใพใ—ใ‚‡ใ†๏ผ

nihon ni ikimashou!
Letโ€™s go to Japan!
[There is movement going to Japan]


Or when ใซ ni shows time, it means "at":


๏ผ–(ใ‚ใ)ๆ™‚(ใ˜)ใ€€ใซใ€€่กŒ(ใ„)ใใพใ—ใ‚‡ใ†๏ผ

roku ji ni ikimashou!
Letโ€™s go at six.

ใง de

The Location Particle


ๅ…ฌๅœ’(ใ“ใ†ใˆใ‚“)ใ€€ใงใ€€้Š(ใ‚ใ)ใณใพใ—ใ‚‡ใ†๏ผ

kouen de asobimashou!
Letโ€™s play (have fun) at the park.

[Notice there is no movement]

This is a very simplified look at particles. Some particles have other functions and there are particles missing from our list. But these are the most encountered and necessary for the beginner to understand.

12

12. If - ใ‚‚ใ— moshi

We will look at a few examples that contain advanced grammar. In other words, to say โ€œif...โ€ you must start with ใ‚‚ใ— moshiโ€”and while this is easy, you must also change the verb at the end with a ๏ฝžใฐ ~ba, ใŸใ‚‰ tara, or ใชใ‚‰ nara or some other conditional form.


That being said, you should become familiar with ใ‚‚ใ— moshi early on since it is extremely useful. Try to memorize one or two example sentences and then listen or look for other examples online or with friends. Even if you confuse the verb endings, by saying moshi, you will probably be understood.

ใ‚‚ใ—ใ€€ใ‚ใชใŸใ€€ใŒใ€€ใใŸใ‚‰ใ€‚

moshi anata ga kitara.
If you come...


ใ‚‚ใ—ใ€€ใฏใ‚Œใ€€ใŸใ‚‰ใ€‚

moshi hare tara.
If it is sunny...


Special useful phrases:

ใ‚‚ใ—ใ€€ใ‚ˆใ‘ใ‚Œใฐใ€‚ใ€‚ใ€‚

moshi yokereba...
If it is okay with you...
[let me do this...]


ใ‚‚ใ—ใ€€ใปใ—ใ‹ใฃใŸใ‚‰ใ€

moshi hoshikattara,
If you want (it),
[when offering something to someone]

13

13. Using ใ•ใ‚“ san

The equivalent to Mr. or Mrs. or Miss. is ๏ฝžใ•ใ‚“ ~san.


USAGE: Right after the name.


It is best to always add โ€œsanโ€ (or an equivalent) to other peopleโ€™s names. Even when we wouldnโ€™t use "Mr." or "Ms" in Englishโ€”such as with friends. It is used with males and females, old and young.


BIG POINT: Never use โ€œ-sanโ€ when referring to yourself.

ใ‚ฏใƒฌใ‚คใ•ใ‚“ kurei san - Mr. Clay [Non-Japanese names are written in katakana.]

ๅฑฑ็”ฐ(ใ‚„ใพใ )ใ•ใ‚“ yamada san - Mr. (Or Mrs...) Yamada




Other name titles: (used the same way)

๏ฝžใ•ใพ sama - very polite

๏ฝžใกใ‚ƒใ‚“ chan - used for girls and very young boys (kiti-chan = Hello Kitty)

๏ฝžใใ‚“ kun - used for young boys

๏ฝžๅ…ˆ็”Ÿ(ใ›ใ‚“ใ›ใ„) sensei - used for teachers, doctors, and professionals


For now just use ใ•ใ‚“ san. As you know from watching all the Karate Kid movies (the original ones!), it is the most commonโ€”and the safest.

14

14. Easy Adjectives

There are two types of adjectives:

  • -i adjectives - adjectives that end in -i
  • -na adjectives - adjectives that add -na when placed before nouns


The -i adjectives change:


ใ‚ใคใ„

atsui
(Itโ€™s) hot 


[Has the โ€œi.โ€]


ใ‚ใคใใชใ„

atsukunai
not hot 


[drop the โ€œiโ€ and add kunai]


ใ‚ใคใ‹ใฃใŸ

atsukatta
was hot
[-i + katta]

[Now, put the negative together with the past:]


ใ‚ใคใใชใ‹ใฃใŸ

atsukunakatta
wasnโ€™t hot
[-i + kunakatta]


Learn this and you can use all -i adjectives!



The -na adjectives donโ€™t change!

But when placed before nouns they add a -na


ใ’ใ‚“ใ

genki
healthy; active; fine


Becomes...


ใ’ใ‚“ใใชๅญ(ใ“)

genki na ko 
healthy (active) child

15

15. Past Tense

For now, letโ€™s stick with the -masu form of verbs (this is polite and useful).


Japanese doesn't have a future tense. So, we will call the present tense "non-past."

Non-Past Masu

Past Mashita

ใŸในใพใ™

tabemasu

to eat

ใŸในใพใ—ใŸ

tabemashita

ate

ใฎใฟใพใ™

nomimasu

to drink

ใฎใฟใพใ—ใŸ

nomimashita

drank

Non-Past Negative Masu

Past Negative Masen Deshita

ใŸในใพใ›ใ‚“

tabemasu

to eat

ใŸในใพใ›ใ‚“ใ€€ใงใ—ใŸ

tabemasen deshita

didn't eat

ใฎใฟใพใ›ใ‚“

nomimasu

to drink

ใฎใฟใพใ›ใ‚“ใ€€ใงใ—ใŸ

nomimasen deshita

didn't drink


Remember:
The โ€œ-masenโ€ makes the negative; โ€œdeshitaโ€ makes the past.

16

16. Very - ใจใฆใ‚‚ totemo

Sometimes momโ€™s cooking isnโ€™t just ใŠใ„ใ—ใ„ oishii (delicious) it is VERY OISHII!
Add ใจใฆใ‚‚ totemo before adjectives to say โ€œvery.โ€

ใจใฆใ‚‚ใ€€ใŠใ„ใ—ใ„ใ€€ใงใ™ใ€‚

totemo oishii desu.
Itโ€™s very delicious!

ใจใฆใ‚‚ใ€€ๅคง(ใŠใŠ)ใใชๆœจ(ใ)ใ€‚

totemo ookina ki.
A very big tree.


Another "Very" Word:

้žๅธธ(ใฒใ˜ใ‚‡ใ†)ใซ hijou ni

17

17. To Want~ ๏ฝžใŒ ใปใ—ใ„  ~ga hoshii

Saying, โ€œI want (something)โ€ is easy. Just say the thing you want and add ga hoshii to it.

ใฎใฟใ‚‚ใฎใ€€ใŒใ€€ใปใ—ใ„ใ€€ใงใ™ใ€‚ 

nomimono ga hoshii desu.
(I) want a drink.

NOTE: The ใงใ™ desu is optional and is usually dropped in casual speech. nomimono ga hoshii. is perfectly fine in spoken Japanese.


Next, letโ€™s ask a question. Do you remember how to make a question? Thatโ€™s right add a ka. Ask if your guest would like some cake.

ใ‚ฑใƒผใ‚ญใŒใ€€ใปใ—ใ„ใ€€ใงใ™ใ‹๏ผŸ

ke-ki ga hoshii desu ka?
Do you want cake?

18

18. Want to do~ ๏ฝžใŸใ„ ~tai

First, get the ๏ฝžใพใ™ masu form of the verb you want to use. Then drop the ๏ฝžใพใ™ masu and add ใŸใ„ tai.

Non-Past Masu

Stem

Add ~tai

ใŸในใพใ™

tabemasu

to eat

ใŸใน

tabe


ใŸในใŸใ„

tabetai

want to eat

ใฎใฟใพใ™

nomimasu

to drink

ใฎใฟ

nomi

ใฎใฟใŸใ„

nomitai

want to drink

ใ—ใพใ™

shimasu

to do

ใ—

shi

ใ—ใŸใ„

shitai

want to do


Of course, if you want to say, โ€œdo you want to...,โ€ just add ka.


ใ‚ฑใƒผใ‚ญใ€€ใ‚’ใ€€ใŸในใŸใ„ใ€€ใงใ™ใ€€ใ‹๏ผŸ 

ke-ki wo tabetai desu ka?
Do you want to eat cake?

19

19. ใฏใ€ใŒ wa and ga

ใฏ

wa โ€“ the main topic particle of the conversation


ใŒ

ga โ€“ the particle that usually marks the subject of the sentence


These two particles can be easily confused. This is mainly because sometimes the topic (the overall direction of the conversation) and the grammatical subject of the sentence can be the same thing. If this is the case, the ใŒ disappears and the ใฏ acts as both the topic and subject marker.


In other words, the ใฏ can override the ใŒ.


Worse, sometimes the "subject marker" ใŒ can actually mark the grammatical direct object of the sentence. You may remember, this is usually done with the ใ‚’ particle. 


Also, ใฏ and ใŒ can sometimes be interchangeable with only a slight difference in nuance. One trick, in this case, is to think of

  • ใฏ as stressing what comes after and 
  • ใŒ as stressing what goes before it

For example:

ใ‚ใŸใ—ใฏๆ—ฅๆœฌไบบใงใ™ใ€‚ watashi wa nihonjin desu. I am a Japanese (person). [The distinctive element is someone is Japanese.]

ใ‚ใŸใ—ใŒๆ—ฅๆœฌไบบใงใ™ใ€‚ watashi ga nihonjin desu. I am the Japanese (person). [The distinctive element is the speaker is the one who is Japanese.]


In the first case, we use ใฏ, and it emphasizes the "Japanese (person)." When we introduce ourselves (or give information about ourselves such as:  ็งใฏ๏ผ’๏ผใ•ใ„ใงใ™ใ€‚ watashi wa nijuu sai desu. I am 20 years old)), the details (the predicate) are what's important and not necessarily the who.

In the second sentence, we use ใŒ, and it emphasizes "Iโ€. We are now stressing โ€Iโ€ as if to say, โ€œIt is I, who is Japaneseโ€. This is used, for example, in a room full of Asians where people are wondering which person is the only Japanese there.


Of course, the context can affect the meaning of the above sentences, but as a rough rule, you can think of ใฏ as stressing what comes after and ใŒ as stressing what comes before.


Let's look at a few more examples.

ใ‚ใŸใ—ใฏใ€€ใ‚ฏใƒฌใ‚คใ€€ใงใ™ใ€‚

watashi wa kurei desu.
I am Clay.

Clay is the topic and now this is known, it wonโ€™t be repeated unless the topic changes.

In this case, ใ‚ใŸใ— is both the topic and subject so, we don't need a ใŒ, since ใฏ overrides ใŒ. 


Here's an example of ใŒ ga being the subject:


ใ‚ใ‚ใ€€ใŒใ€€ใตใ‚‹ใ€‚

ame ga furu.
It's raining.
[literally, rain falls.]



ใŒ after question words:

Let's ask a friend what's good at a restaurant.

ใ“ใฎใ€€ใƒฌใ‚นใƒˆใƒฉใƒณใ€€ใฏใ€€ใชใซใ€€ใŒใ€€ใŠใ„ใ—ใ„ใ€€ใงใ™ใ€€ใ‹๏ผŸ

kono resutoran wa nani ga oishii desu ka?

What is tasty at this restaurant?


Notice ใƒฌใ‚นใƒˆใƒฉใƒณ is the topic (marked by ใฏ), but there is also a ใŒ after the question word ใชใซ. When a question word comes at the beginning of a sentence, it is always followed by a ใŒ.


Just for your information, if the question word comes late in the sentence, ใฏ is usually used at the beginning: ใ“ใ‚Œใฏใ€€ใชใ‚“ใ€€ใงใ™ใ€€ใ‹๏ผŸ


So, as a quick and dirty tip: If the question word comes first, use ใŒ and if the question word comes later, use ๏ฝžใฏ.


Okay, here is our friend's answer:


ใƒ”ใ‚ถใ€€ใŒใ€€ใŠใ„ใ—ใ„ใ€€ใงใ™ใ€‚

piza ga oishii desu.

The pizza is delicious.

Pizza is the subject. The full meaning of the answer may be, "As for this restaurant, the pizza is delicious."


But let's add "I think" to the sentence. This will make "I" the topic but ใŒ will still mark ใƒ”ใ‚ถ as the subject.

ใ‚ใŸใ—ใ€€ใฏใ€€ใƒ”ใ‚ถใ€€ใŒใ€€ใŠใ„ใ—ใ„ใ€€ใจใ€€ใŠใ‚‚ใ„ใพใ™ใ€‚

watashi wa piza ga oishii to omoimasu.

I think this pizza is delicious.

[as for me, I - this - pizza - delicious - think]



ใŒ as Object

As I mentioned at the beginning, ใŒ can also sometimes mark the object of the sentence. You'll recall normally this is done with the direct object particle ใ‚’, but sometimes ใŒ is used. This is especially true with words like:


  • ใ™ใ suki - to like
  • ใใ‚‰ใ„ kirai - to dislike
  • ใปใ—ใ„ hoshii - to want

ใญใ“ใŒใ€€ใ™ใใ€€ใงใ™ใ€‚

neko ga suki desu.

(I) like cats.

You can substitute ใ™ใ with ใใ‚‰ใ„ or ใปใ—ใ„ and you would still use ใŒ


The unspoken ใ‚ใŸใ— (I) is still the topic and subject.  You could say:



ใ‚ใŸใ—ใฏใ€€ใญใ“ใŒใ€€ใ™ใใ€€ใงใ™ใ€‚

watashi wa neko ga suki desu.

I like cats.


However, in natural Japanese, the topic is almost always dropped if it is understood in context (or already stated.) 


Notes:

  • If both are in a sentence, the wa is first.
  • If a word is both the subject and the topic of a sentence, use just wa.
  • The wa is written with a hiragana ha but pronounced as wa.
  • When a question word comes at the beginning of a sentence, it is always followed by a ใŒ.

20

20. There is / There are ใ‚ใ‚Šใพใ™ arimasu

For inanimate objects (stationary objects, plants...), end the sentence with ๏ฝžใŒใ‚ใ‚Šใพใ™ ~ga arimasu.

ๆœจ(ใ)ใ€€ใงใ™ใ€‚

ki desu.
Itโ€™s a tree. [lit. tree is.]


ๆœจ(ใ) ใŒใ€€ใ‚ใ‚Šใพใ™ใ€‚

ki ga arimasu.
There is a tree.




For living things (people and animals) use ๏ฝžใŒใ„ใพใ™ ~ga imasu.


ใญใ“ ใŒใ€€ใ„ใพใ™ใ€‚

neko ga imasu.
There is a cat(s).


To show the negative just add ๏ฝžใ›ใ‚“ ~sen to the end.


Masu Form

Negative

ใ‚ใ‚Šใพใ™

arimasu

have; exists (inanimate objects)

ใ‚ใ‚Šใพใ›ใ‚“

arimasen

don't have; don't exist (inanimate objects)

ใ„ใพใ™

imasu

have; exists (living things)

ใ„ใพใ›ใ‚“
imasen

don't have; don't exist (living things)

Perhaps you know these useful phrases: 


ใŠ้ก˜(ใญใŒ)ใ„ใ€€ใŒใ€€ใ‚ใ‚Šใพใ™ใ€‚

onegai ga arimasu.
I have a favor to ask.


ๅ•้กŒ(ใ‚‚ใ‚“ใ ใ„)ใชใ„ใ€‚

mondai nai.
No problem!
[This is the casual form of arimasen.]


Note: This is where โ€œto beโ€ does not correspond with โ€œdesuโ€ in Japanese. When dealing with existence (there is, there are), use ใ‚ใ‚Šใพใ™ or ใ„ใพใ™ instead of ใงใ™.

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