Japanese Grammar 100 – Part III

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It isn’t a sin to be negative. Interesting I should say that... “sin” sounds like “sen” which marks the negative in Japanese in the -masu form. (Okay, so I set that one up...)


hanasemasu - can speak



watashi wa nihongo ga hanasemasen.
(I) can’t speak Japanese.


wakarimasu – understand



watashi wa eigo ga wakarimasen.
(I) don’t understand English.

If you can make the -masu form, just drop the す su and add the せん sen. If you need to, please review the dictionary and ~masu forms.

You may have noticed there are no “no” words needed to make a negative like in English. You simply modify the verb’s ending.

To make the negative in the plain (or simple) form, take the basic stem and add ない nai to it.

RU Verbs

With the “ru” verbs you simply drop the る ru and add ない nai as in 忘れる wasureru (to forget)...


nihongo wo wasurenai.
(I) don’t forget Japanese.

U Verbs

And for the “u” verbs, we change the ending “u” sound to an “a” sound as in 書くkaku -> 書か kaka.


tegami wo kakanai.
(I) don’t write letters.


And now we come to する suru and the other irregular verbs.

The negative of する suru is しない shinai in the simple form and しません shimasen in the polite form


sukaidaibingu wo shimasen.
(I) don`t do sky diving.

And 来る kuru is 来ない konai and 来ません kimasen in the ~masu form.


gojira ga konai.
Godzilla doesn’t come.


Lastly, here is how to negate です, the main copula or word that links a subject with a complement. In English, this is usually "to be." The only difference is です cannot show existence. In that case, you use いる (for living things that exist) and ある (for non-living things that exist). 

Casual / Plain




ja nai

dewa nai

ja arimasen

dewa arimasen

All of the above forms mean "isn't" or "aren't."

Verb ない form:

Group 1: ~u  → ~a + ない, ~wa + ない         

    Ex. ()く (hear) → ()かない 

     ()う (say) →  ()わない

     ある (have) → ない 

Group 2: ~ru → ~ない

  Ex. 調(しら)べる (check) → 調(しら)べない

Group 3: ~suru, ~kuru

        Ex. する (to do) → しない

    くる (to come) → こない


In English, we say “not red” to show an absence of that color. In Japanese, as with the verbs, -i adjectives are made negative by changing the ending. You will notice a great similarity with the verb endings.

With “i” adjectives the “i” changes to a “ku” before adding the “nai”:


sono ringo wa akakunai.
That apple isn”t red.

na” adjectives simply drop the “na” (which is really only used before nouns) and add “ja nai” or “ja arimasen” (or their more polite variants dewa nai or dewa arimasen).


watashi wa kirei ja nai.
I am not pretty.


43. Plan to—予定・つもり yotei ; tsumori

If you plan on speaking Japanese, these two words are very useful.





予定 yotei and つもり tsumori are very similar in meaning and usage. 予定 yotei conveys more of a “schedule” feel whereas tsumori is more of a “conviction of doing something.” All you have to do is add either to the end of a verb (simple form).

To add つもり tsumori or 予定 yotei to any verb, just find the simple form.


nihon ni iku tsumori (or yotei) desu.
I intend to go to Japan.

[if you use tsumori, you “intend” to go one way or another; if you use yotei, you already have a hard schedule set to leave at a certain time.]

Here is how you add it to a する suru verb


kare to ryokou suru tsumori (or yotei) desu.
I intend (or plan) to go on a trip with him.

You can also use it with nouns by sticking a の no before the つもり tsumori and after adjectives. But for now, concentrate on the verb usage.


Punctuation is, in many ways, similar to English. You have a comma, called a ten, and a period at the end of a sentence called a maru.

Let’s quickly go over some common punctuation marks:


You should know はず hazu. It is easy and useful, therefore you will have no excuse five minutes from now.

It shows an expectation that something should happen. In other words, you are pretty sure something is true.

Let’s see how it works.

Simply add はず hazu to any adjective:


sono kaban wa, takai hazu desu.
That bag must be expensive.
[It is expected to be expensive]

Just add it to the simple form of any verb


anata wa, gojira wo shitteiru hazu desu.
You must know Godzilla.


46. Because II—ので node

We have looked at another “because” that is placed before the phrase. ので node comes at the end of the phrase.

In English, we start the phrase with “because”; in Japanese, you often say the reason first and then the because.

USAGE: Simply add it after an adjective.


sono kaban wa takai node, zutto tsukau tsumori desu.
Since that bag was expensive, I plan on using it for a long time.

USAGE: Simply add it to the simple form of any verb.


gojira ga kuru node, toukyou wa kowai tokoro desu.
Because Godzilla comes, Tokyo is a scary place.

USAGE: After a noun or a -na adjective add a NA before NODE.


watashi wa mada gakusei na node, okane ga nai.
Because I am still a student, I don’t have any money.


47. Although—のに noni

A close cousin to ので node (previously covered), is のに noni. It is often used to show disappointment in the current situation.

USAGE: Simply add it after a verb.


isshou kenmei benkyou shita noni, tesuto ni ochita.
Even though I studied hard, I flunked the test.


48. Using Nani / Nan

nan shows uncertainty. Let’s look at a few ways it is used as a counter.


49. Easy to... —やすい yasui

It’s easy to add “easy to” to verbs! Consider the following verbs in the masu form:

Did you see that? If you know the -masu form of the verb, you can easily drop the -masu and add yasui.

This is pretty わかりやすい wakariyasui don’t you think?


50. Hard to... —にくい nikui

If ”easy to” is easy to use (see previous) then you would think that “hard to” would be hard to use. Well, I hate to disappoint you, but they had to go and make “hard to” easy as well. Usage is the same as -yasui (easy to).

If you know the -masu form of the verb, you can easily drop the -masu and add nikui.


51. Looks like—みたい mitai

Looks like we made it—as Barry Manilow would say—at least we made it halfway!

台風が 来る みたい。

taifuu ga kuru mitai.
It looks like a hurricane (is coming).

[This could mean you are looking at storm clouds coming OR someone told you a hurricane is coming and you are reporting that possibility.]

And just stick it after a noun:

この 景色は 夢 みたい。

kono keshiki wa yume mitai.
This scenery looks like a dream.

[Useful if visiting Mt. Fuji — or, alternatively, if you have mostly bad dreams, a garbage heap...]

あの 人は 日本人 みたい。

ano hito wa nihonjin mitai.
That person looks like he’s [or she’s] Japanese.

There is another usage of -mitai where it can mean “try and see” when added to the te form of a verb:


yatte mitai
I’d like to give it a shot.


tabete mitai
I’d like to give it a taste.

That is a bit different from the above, but it is also very useful!


52. Like, as... —ように youni

Here is a useful tag which means “just as...” or “like this...”

1) simple verb + ~you ni

私が 言う ように して。

watashi ga iu you ni shite.
Do as I say.

2) noun + ~no you ni

あなた は 熊のプーさん のように かわいい です。

anata wa kuma no pu-san no you ni kawaii desu.
You are as cute as Winnie the Pooh.


53. Like; As If—らしい rashii

This is similar to ~sou where the speaker is repeating information heard from another source. The only difference may be ~rashii may be based on more reliable information.

1) simple verb + ~rashii

山田さん は 帰った らしい です。

yamada san wa kaetta rashii desu.
It sounds like Mr. Yamada has come home.

2) noun + ~rashii

There are a few nouns with rashii that you can remember as a word in itself. This meaning is slightly different from the above verb construction. Instead of meaning something heard elsewhere, when added to a noun, it means the speaker thinks something resembles something else. Here are a few common examples:

男らしい otokorashii - manly (like a man)

女らしい onnarashii - girly (but perhaps 女っぽい onnappoi is used more.)

犬らしい inurashii - like a dog (substitute any animal here. This is useful when you see an animal at night and are not sure what it is, but it looks like...)

アメリカらしい amerika rashii - American-ish (substitute any country)

Another similar construction with nouns is ~ppoi - as seen above with onnappoi. When added to nouns to mean “looks like...” ~ppoi is the same as ~rashii.”


54. Let’s... —しましょう shimashou

This is added to verbs (with the ~masu form) to mean “Let’s...”

1) ~masu verb - masu + mashou

Here are a few quick and useful examples:


Let’s go.


Let’s play.


sensei to hanashimashou.
Let’s talk to the teacher.


nihongo wo benkyou shimashou.
Let’s study Japanese. 

This example used suru. Another suru example would be:


sukai daibingu shimashou.
Let’s go skydiving.

This construction is very easy if you know the masu (polite) form of the verb. If you are a beginner, you probably want to stick with the ~masu form anyway.


55. Won’t you...? —~ませんか? ~masen ka?

Why don’t we study Japanese grammar?

Since we have the above English question using a negative to suggest doing something, this grammar point isn’t too difficult to grasp.


1) ~masu verb - masu + masen ka?


dokoka ikimasen ka?
Why don’t we go somewhere?


eiga wo mimasen ka?
Why don’t we see a movie?


nanika nomimasen ka?
Wouldn’t you like to drink something?

[In this case you are asking someone individually if they would like something to drink.]


This is used at the end of a sentence and contains a variety of meanings. We will look at it as a question tag.

For example, it can mean, “don’t you...” or “isn’t it...”


anata wa ninjin ga kirai desu ne.
You don’t like carrots, don’t you?


sono eiga wa totemo ii eiga datta ne.
Don’t you think that was a good movie?


kyou wa atsui desu ne.
Today is very hot, isn’t it?

If you want to use ne as a question tag, it helps to nod your head, or raise your intonation at the end to let the listener know you would like a response. It is usually used when the speaker feels fairly certain his listeners agree with what was said.

A very useful phrase for whenever something good happens is:

いいね。ii ne. Isn’t that great!


If you don’t know when to say something, you will never say it!

Using とき toki - at the time when...

With a noun add a no

私は 学生 の ときには とても 若かったね。

watashi wa gakusei no toki ni wa totemo wakakatta ne.
[looking at a photo] When I was a student, I was very young, wasn’t I?

And with verbs...

simple past

フロリダに 行った ときに これを 買いました

furorida ni itta toki ni kore wo kaimashita.
When I went to Florida, I bought this.


フロリダに 行く ときは おみやげを 買います

furorida ni iku toki wa omiyage wo kaimasu.
When I go to Florida, I will buy souvenirs.


寝る とき いつも 布団で 寝ます。

neru toki itsumo futon de nemasu.
When I sleep, I always sleep on a futon.


58. Using—こと・もの koto / mono

This is how you say “thing.”

こと koto - intangible things


ii koto wa arimasen.
There isn’t anything good.


daiji na koto wo oshiemasu.
I will tell you an important thing.


kinou no koto wa sumimasen deshita.
I am sorry about what happened yesterday. (yesterday’s thing)

もの mono - tangible things


sono kuroi mono wa neko kanaa.
I wonder if that black thing is a cat.


oishii mono ga tabetai.
I want to eat something good.

One useful phrase using koto is:


dou iu koto?
What is the meaning of this?

This phrase is used whenever the speaker isn’t sure of the motive or meaning of someone or something.


This is one that should be learned by useful examples:


hijou no ba ai wa botan wo oshite kudasai.
In case of emergency, push the button.


sono ba ai wa dou sureba ii?
In that situation, what should I do?


tesuto ga atta ba ai, watashi wa byouki ni narimasu.
Should there be a test, I will become sick.


60. Etc... and... —など・とか nado / toka

Sometimes you have to say more than one thing but don’t want to think too much beyond two or three examples. Whoever invented “etc.” was a lazy genius. Let’s see how to do this in Japanese.

First a few ways to list multiple items:

ya - and; and so forth


pi-man ya hourensou ga kirai desu.
I don’t like green peppers, spinach, and the like.

とか toka - or; and; and so forth


kuma no pu-san toka doraemon toka kiti chan ga suki desu.
I like things like Winnie the Pooh and Doraemon and Hello Kitty.

And now for など nado  to wrap things up.


tabemono no naka dewa piza toka furaido poteto nado ga suki desu.
As for foods, I like things like pizza or French Fries.

Use these words to indicate other possibilities exist.

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