11114241 Japanese Particles Japanese Verbs
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Transcript of 11114241 Japanese Particles Japanese Verbs
Particles in Japanese act like the "cement" of a structure, holding the major components together and serving as indicators for the words they follow or are stuck between. There are even times when they have their own meaning, usually as prepositions. They can be friendly at times and pesky at others, and some can even be omitted in familiar conversation when they convey no real meaning.
This is a general guide for using the particles. I trust that it will serve nicely for daily conversation and writing, but I really must emphasize general here because of the many exceptions and surprises that do exist. In fact, there are some exceptions that defy all reason. While some particles more or less follow certain rules regarding use, others don't and must be learned "case by case" and remembered as such. I have spent hours with native speakers trying to get straight, logical answers concerning the strange behavior of some of the particles, but I often just get blank stares and the "case by case" answer. I will do my best to point these out, but it will be impossible to cover everything here.
One thing that is nice about Japanese is that it's not as "grammatically fussy" as English: If you happen to omit or make a mistake concerning particles, you won't sound as ridiculous or illiterate speaking this "broken Japanese" as you would if you did the same thing in English. (That's not meant to be an excuse; it's just to assure you that it's okay to make mistakes along the way.)
Subject indicators wa and ga
Wa and ga indicate subjects by coming after them. You could say that wa is the "standard" subject indicator. It indicates the general topic and, if anything, emphasizes what comes after it:
• Nihon no natsu wa atsui desu. (Summers in Japan are hot.)
In this example, wa tells us that the topic of conversation is summers in Japan, and that the important thing about them is the fact that they are hot.
• Kimiko wa mainichi eigo o benkyou shite imasu. (Kimiko studies English every day.)
Here, we're talking about Kimiko, and want her diligence concerning English studies to be made known.
Ga points to "active" subjects, emphasized subjects, and subjects within a larger topic:
• John ga suru shigoto wa muzukashii desu. (The job that John does is difficult.)
In this one, wa tells us that we're talking about a job, and that it's a difficult one, and ga tells us that it's not just any job we're talking about, but the job that John does.
• Ima Seiko ga shite imasu. (Seiko is doing it now.)
This one, which is a reply, needs to point to Seiko as the person doing whatever, so ga is used. The thing she is doing is already known, so it needs no emphasis.
Ga is used with simple question subjects in many cases:
• Dare ga kono gyuunyuu o koboshita? (Who spilled this milk?) • Nani ga tabetai no? (What do you want to eat?) • Itsu ga ii? (When is a good time?)
And ga is used to emphasize the answers to those questions:
• Tommy ga shita. (Tommy did it.) • Gyouza ga tabetai. (I want to eat gyouza.) • Sanji ga ii. (Three o'clock's good.)
...unless there's something still indefinite about it:
• Gyouza o tabemashou ka. (Shall we have some gyouza?) • Gyouza wa dou desu ka. (How about some gyouza?) • Rokuji wa dou? (How about six o'clock?)
As you can see, it can really get confusing. More than trying to remember set rules, I've found that memorizing "set phrases" is the safest way to go, even though it does take some time. Here's where learning "case by case" becomes necessary, because the particle used will sometimes change depending on what is being emphasized, and the verb tense and conjugation used.
Ga sometimes indicates "but," and nothing else:
• Watashitachi wa pikuniku o tanoshimi ni shite ita ga, ame ga futta. (We looked forward to the picnic, but it rained.)
Notice how the three ga's are used here:
• Keeki ga tabetakatta ga, onaka ga ippai datta. (I wanted to have some cake, but I was too full.)
Wa could replace the third ga here.
As a strange particle quirk, subject indicator wa is always written using the hiragana ha. For reference, please see my hiragana table here.
Direct object indicator o
You could call o a "limited use" particle. Its only job is to show us what the direct object is:
• Jisho o kashite kureru? (Would you please loan me your dictionary?) • Atarashii kamera o katta. (I bought a new camera.) • Pizza o tabemashou ka. (Shall we get a pizza?)
However, ga is usually preferred when using the -tai ending:
• Ramen ga tabetai. (I want to eat ramen.)
Also, use ga, not o, before the verbs iru (to be present; to exist), iru (to need), aru, wakaru, dekiru, and the weird quasi-verb/adjectives suki, kirai and hoshii:
• Bob no heya ni tokage ga iru. (There's a lizard in Bob's room.) • Boku wa atarashii kasa ga iranai. (I don't need a new umbrella.) • Shizu wa jitensha ga arimasu ka. (Does Shizu have a bicycle?) • Kenji no itte iru koto ga wakaranai. (I don't understand what Kenji's saying.) • Emiko wa ryouri ga dekiru? (Can Emiko cook?)
2• Chuuka ryouri ga suki desu ka. (Do you like Chinese food?)
• Tom wa hikouki ga kirai. (Tom hates airplanes.) • Ano nuigurumi ga hoshii! (I want that stuffed animal!)
It is sometimes easy to confuse the particle o with the o- prefix which is used as an honorific indicator for some selected nouns, so be careful. Some of these are:
• o-cha: tea • o-mizu: water • o-niku: meat • o-naka: stomach • o-kuruma: car
These are very interesting, and evolve with society. Some use the o- prefix only in some instances and not in others. For example, if talking about your own car or cars in general, you'd never use the o- prefix. You'll probably only hear it when salespeople or servicepeople are talking about the car you're going to buy or have bought from them. Some, like o-cha, are almost always used with the honorific prefix.
I might as well mention here that there is a verb conjugation that uses this honorific prefix. It's o- + Base 2, and has several endings. Here are examples of two:
• Douzo, o-cha o o-nomi kudasai. (Please, have some tea.) • O-niku o o-tabe ni narimashita ka. (Did you have some meat?)
These are very polite constructions. Can you sense the honor and respect oozing from them?
Indirect object indicator ni
Ni shows us what the indirect object is — who or what an action is directed to:
• John ni jisho o kashite kureru? (Would you please loan John your dictionary?) • Susan ni atarashii kamera o ageta. (I gave Susan a new camera.) • Inu ni esa o yarinasai. (Feed the dog.)
Ni is also a preposition which indicates destinations, places, dates and times:
• Nihon ni kono hako o okuritai desu. (I want to send this box to Japan.) • John wa Okayama ni ikimashita. (John went to Okayama.) • Neko wa isu no shita ni iru. (The cat is under the chair.) • Kare wa suiyoubi ni kuru. (He'll come on Wednesday.) • Kaigi wa shichi gatsu touka ni arimasu. (The meeting will be on July 10.) • Bob wa rokuji han ni tsuku. (Bob will arrive at six thirty.)
Ni, not o, is used with the verbs noru (to ride) and noboru (to climb):
• Hayaku! Densha ni notte! (Hurry! Get on the train!) • Kenji wa jitensha ni noru koto ga dekiru. (Kenji can ride a bicycle.) • Ki ni noborimashou. (Let's climb up the tree.) • Kinou kodomotachi wa yama ni nobotta. (The kids climbed the mountain yesterday.)
Ni is often combined with wa to show that something exists or is included in the subject:
• Nihon niwa chiisai shima ga takusan arimasu. (There are many small islands in Japan.) 3
• Suzuki-san niwa san nin no kodomo ga imasu. (Mrs. Suzuki has three children.)
Destination indicator e
While not as flexible as ni, e is sometimes used in place of it to emphasize a destination:
• Soto e ikitai. (I want to go outside.) • Kyou wa doko e? (Where are you going today?) (Yes, the verb can be omitted here.) • Ashita bijutsukan e ikimasu. (We're going to the art museum tomorrow.)
As another strange particle quirk, destination indicator e is always written using the hiragana he. For reference, please see my hiragana table here.
Action indicator de
Particle de is a preposition that shows us where an action takes place:
• Kyou ie de taberu. (I'll eat at home today.) • Kodomotachi wa kouen de asonde imasu. (The kids are playing in the park.)
Some exceptions are: Use ni when the verb shows attachment to an object or place, and o when the action passes a place or intentionally covers a wide area:
• Kana wa ano isu ni suwatte iru. (Kana is sitting in that chair over there.) • Bill wa Nagoya ni sunde imasu. (Bill lives in Nagoya.) • Futatsu me no kado o magatte kudasai. (Please turn at the second corner.) • Kouen o sanpo shimashou. (Let's take a walk in the park.)
De is used for "among":
• Watashi no yuujin de, piano o hikeru hito ga inai. (There is no one among my friends that can play the piano.)
De also indicates a method:
• Onamae wa pen de kaite kudasai. (Please write your name with a pen.) • Genkin de haraimashou. (Let's pay with cash.) • Eigo de hanashite kureru? (Would you please speak English?)
De is sometimes used before ii to say that something is good or sufficient as it is:
• Kore de ii. (This is okay. [It's good enough.]) • Ashita de ii. (Tomorrow will be okay.)
De is sometimes combined with wa to show that something is done within the subject:
• Tokushima dewa maitoshi yuumei na matsuri ga okonawareru. (A famous festival is held in Tokushima every year.)
Possession indicator no
This one also has many roles in Japanese grammar. It shows possession:
• Sore wa Keiko no kasa desu. (That's Keiko's umbrella.) • Jack no inu no namae wa Aki desu. (Jack's dog's name is Aki.)
It can sometimes replace ga, and is used especially in clauses that modify a noun:
• Hontou ni mondai no nai tabi deshita. (It really was a trouble-free trip.) • Watashi no oshieru gakusei wa, eigo no dekinai ko bakari desu. (None of the kids that I teach can speak
It comes after some adjectives:
• Hiroshima no matsuri ni takusan no hito ga ita. (Many people were at the festival in Hiroshima.) • Kumi wa midori no fuusen ga hoshii. (Kumi wants a green balloon.)
It makes informal questions:
• Yuushoku wa tabenai no? (Aren't you going to eat dinner?) • Nanji ni kuru no? (What time will you come?)
And it is also used between prepositions and nouns to make the noun the object of the preposition. Compare the following sentences:
• Kono tegami wa Yuuko kara kita. (This letter came from Yuuko.) • Kore wa Yuuko kara no tegami desu. (This is a letter from Yuuko.)
• Kono tegami o Yuuko ni okuru. (I'm going to send this letter to Yuuko.) • Kore wa Yuuko e no tegami desu. (This is a letter to Yuuko.)
Note: Ni is not used with no in this way.
Connectors to and ya:
These work like "and" in English. Use to to include only what is actually mentioned, and ya to include other things which are not mentioned but may be relevant or supposed:
• Ashita boushi to undou gutsu o motte kite kudasai. (Bring a hat and athletic shoes tomorrow.) • Gakkou ga hajimattara, pen ya nooto ya jisho ga hitsuyo desu. (When school starts, you'll need things like a pen,
a notebook, and a dictionary.)
To also indicates quotes and thoughts, whether they are direct or indirect:
• Jane wa konban gaishoku shitai to itta. (Jane said she wants to eat out tonight.) • Sore wa totemo ii keikaku da to omoimasu. (I think that's a very good plan.)
Some oddball adverbs use to optionally:
• Ken wa hakkiri (to) kotowatta. (Ken flatly refused.) • Motto yukkuri (to) hanashite kureru? (Would you please speak more slowly?)
Sometimes to is used to mean "with":
• Dare to kouen ni iku? (Who are you going with to the park?) • Kimiko wa Sally to issho ni kaimono ni ikimashita. (Kimiko went shopping with Sally.)
Note: Issho (ni) means "together (with)" and is often used after to. Use it when there's a chance that to alone might not be clearly understood.
After verbs, to often means "if" or "when":
• Massugu iku to Ritsurin Kouen ga miemasu. (If you go straight you'll see Ritsurin Park.) • Sashimi o taberu to byouki ni naru. (I get sick whenever I eat raw fish.)
Please see Lesson 39 of my Japanese Verbs for more.
Forgive me for making up my own English, but "includer" just works perfectly here because mo includes things, like "also" and "too" do:
• Watashi mo ikitai! (I want to go, too!) • Sazae mo atarashii PC o katta. (Sazae also bought a new PC.)
Mo is also used to emphasize "any," sometimes being combined with other particles:
• Ima watashi wa nani mo taberenai. (I can't eat anything now.) • Kare wa doko nimo ikitakunai. (He doesn't want to go anywhere.) • Paul wa nan demo dekimasu. (Paul can do anything.)
Note: There are also elongated mou's that have totally different usages. One is used to mean "already," and another is used for whining about something:
• Watashi mou shimashita. (I already did it.) • Mou, anata itsumo osoi! (Oh, you're always slow!)
By the way, mou is what Japanese cows say.
Question maker ka
Ka makes questions, both plain and polite:
• Kodomotachi wa mou tabemashita ka. (Have the kids already eaten?) • Jennie no kasa o karita ka. (Did you borrow Jennie's umbrella?)
When it comes to making questions, there are both written and unwritten rules that will keep you wondering. While ka can be used in most instances, there are times when no is preferred. These can be interchangeable in some cases, not in
others. Both of them — no ka — are even used together sometimes. For more about questions, see Lesson 12 of my Japanese Verbs.
I wouldn't call yo a "true particle," but let's take a look at it anyway. It's added to the end of a sentence. Its nuances are not easy to define, but it generally has two purposes: to emphasize an action, or to brag about one:
• Heya o souji shimashita yo. (I DID clean the room.) • Eigo no shiken, goukaku shita yo. ([Of course] I passed the English exam.)
Note: As in English, to correctly use the "brag" version, you have to keep a straight, matter-of-fact, "no big deal" face.
Terribly overused ne
The correct place for ne is at the end of a sentence, where it is used to check or request the agreement of the listener:
• Ashita watashitachi to issho ni ikimasu ne. (You're going with us tomorrow, right?) • Ii otenki desu ne. (Nice weather, isn't it. [with dropping intonation])
However, like "y'know" in English, too many people grossly overuse ne. I've even heard speeches where it was put between almost every word. Don't let it become a bad habit.
Quasi-adjective indicator na
In the world of Japanese adjectives, there are "true" and "quasi" types. When a "quasi-adjective" modifies a noun in a straightforward manner, na goes in between:
• Sono mise wa benri na basho ni aru. (That store's in a convenient place.) • Oki na inu desu ne. (That's a big dog, isn't it. [with dropping intonation])
Changing na to ni converts quasi-adjectives to adverbs:
• Dare demo kantan ni dekimasu yo. (Anyone can do it easily.)
See my Japanese Adjectives for more.
Na may sometimes be heard here and there in familiar situations as a substitute for ne. This is considered impolite at best, and should be avoided.
Due to several recent requests, I have put together this overview of Japanese prepositions. This should cover the main ones, but please contact me if you can think of any not listed here. Be sure to see my page on particles, because many of them also have "prepositional attributes," and it will help explain the difference between the particles used on this page, for example ni and de.
Naka is used to express inside:
• Neko wa hako no naka ni iru. (The cat is in the box.) • Keeki wa sono fukuro no naka ni aru. (The cake is inside that bag.) • Hasami wa hikidashi no naka ni aru. (The scissors are in the drawer.)
When a large room or building is referred to, the no naka is usually omitted:
• Bob wa toshokan ni iru. (Bob's in the library.) • Bideo dekki wa san maru nana kyoushitsu ni aru. (The VCR is in Room 307.)
Naka is also used for among:
• Yamamoto Sensei wa gakusei no naka de ninkimono desu. (Mr. Yamamoto is popular among the students.) • Kono kasa no naka kara erande kudasai. (Please choose from among these umbrellas.)
Soto is used for the outside of things or places:
• Kodomotachi wa soto de asonde iru. (The kids are playing outside.) • Neko o soto ni dashite kureru? (Would you let the cat out?) • Ayako wa taiikukan no soto de taberu no ga suki. (Ayako likes eating outside the gym.)
Ue is for things sitting on things, the top of things, as well as above things:
• Jisho wa tsukue no ue ni aru. (The dictionary is on the desk.) • Tokei wa tsukue no ue ni kakemashou. (Let's hang the clock [on the wall] above the desk.) • Ki no ue made nobotta. (We climbed to the top of the tree.)
Shita is the opposite of ue:
• Inu wa teeburu no shita ni iru. (The dog is under the table.) • Ano hon no shita ni sen en satsu ga aru. (There's a thousand-yen bill under that book.)
Mae is used for in front of:
• Eki no mae de matte ne. (Wait in front of the station, okay?) • Jitensha wa ie no mae ni oite kudasai. (Please park your bicycle in front of the house.)
Ushiro or ura is used for behind:
• Kuruma wa ie no ura ni aru. (The car is behind the house.) • Hako no ushiro ni nezumi ga iru. (There's a mouse behind the box.)
Soba, yoko, and tonari are used for next to:
• Shako wa ie no soba ni aru. (The garage is next to the house.) • Miki wa tonari no ie ni sunde imasu. (Miki lives in the house next door.) • Gakkou no yoko ni kouba ga aru. (There's a factory next to the school.)
Aida shows that something is between two other things:
• Yuubinkyoku wa toshokan to eigakan no aida ni aru. (The post office is between the library and the movie theater.)
• Watashi no kasa wa reizouko to kabe no aida ni atta. (My umbrella was between the refrigerator and the wall.)
Mawari is used for around a thing or area:
• Kare no ie no mawari ni tambo ga aru. (There are rice paddies around his house.) • Bokutachi wa Takamatsu no mawari o doraibu shita. (We drove around Takamatsu.)
Please note that in the second example above mawari does not mean "around the perimeter of Takamatsu" only, but "in and around," just the same as the English equivalent.
Ni shows motion directed towards something:
• Kouen ni ikimashou. (Let's go to the park.) • Sono okane wa fuutou no naka ni irete ne. (Put that money in the envelope, okay?) • Ashita Osaka ni iku. (I'm going to Osaka tomorrow.)
Ni is also used for in, on, at specific times, days, dates, seasons, etc:
• Rokuji ni kite ne. (Come at 6:00, okay?) • Senshuu no kayoubi ni tsuita. (I arrived last Tuesday.) • Sen kyuuhyaku hachijuu ichi nen ni nihon ni kita. (I came to Japan in 1981.)
Kara shows motion from something:
• Kono hon o amerika kara motte kita. (I brought this book from America.) • Ano hako kara ringo o totte kudasai. (Please take an apple from that box.)
Chikai or chikaku ni is used for near:
• Kuukou wa chikai. (The airport is nearby.) • Watashitachi no ie no chikaku ni takusan no mise ga aru. (Near our house are many stores.)
Tooi (pronounced like "toy") or tooku ni is used for far:
• Eki wa koko kara tooi. (The train station is far from here.) • Kare wa tooki ni sunde imasu. (He lives far away.)
Mukai is used for opposite something:
• Honya wa kouen no mukai ni aru. (The bookstore is opposite the park.) • Kanojo wa gakkou no mukai ni sunde imasu. (She lives across from the school.)
While mukou is used for beyond:
• Minato wa hoteru no mukou ni aru. (The harbor is beyond the hotel.)
• Shokudou wa kaigishitsu no mukou ni arimasu. (The cafeteria is on the other side of the conference room.)
Lesson 1 Introduction to Japanese Adjectives
Japanese adjectives come in two basic flavors: "true" and "quasi." In some circles they are also known as "i adjectives" and "na adjectives" because those are the suffixes they get when they're followed by a noun. Nevertheless, I prefer calling them "true" and "quasi" and will do so throughout these lessons.
Some examples of true adjectives are:
• ii: good • yoi: good • warui: bad • takai: expensive; high; tall • yasui: cheap • hikui: low • nagai: long • mijikai: short • katai: hard • yawarakai: soft • atsui: hot • samui: cold (used for weather or room temperature) • tsumetai: cold (used for tangible objects, food, drinks, and unfriendly feelings between people: a cold look, a
cold reply, etc.) • hiroi: wide; spacious • semai: narrow; cramped • tsuyoi: strong (used for things which are powerful or sturdy, etc.) • yowai: weak (used for the opposite of the above) • kitsui: strong (usually used for "too strong," as in flavors, medicines, personalities, etc.) • abunai: dangerous • akarui: bright • kurai: dark • karui: light • omoi: heavy • furui: old (not used with people or animals) • hayai: fast; early • osoi: slow; late • omoshiroi: interesting
Many true adjectives end in shii:
• oishii: delicious • muzukashii: difficult • utsukushii: beautiful • tanoshii: fun • ureshii: happy • kanashii: sad • kurushii: hard; painful • isogashii: busy (This is Japan's most popular adjective — you'll hear it used several times an hour here.) • kibishii: strict; severe • yakamashii: noisy • mabushii: too bright; glaring
• sabishii: lonely; desolate • hazukashii: shy • atarashii: new
The basic colors are often used as true adjectives:
• akai: red • aoi: blue • kiiroi: yellow • shiroi: white • kuroi: black
And now let's look at some good quasi-adjectives:
• kantan na: easy, as in easy to do • raku na: easy, as in an easy situation; comfortable • kara na: empty • kirei na: pretty; clean • kechi na: stingy (not generous) • binbou na: poor; destitute • hinpan na: frequent • benri na: convenient • fuben na: inconvenient • busaiku na: clumsy; awkward • tanki na: impatient; quick-tempered • ganko na: stubborn • byouki na: sick • genki na: healthy; to be feeling well • shizen na: natural • yutaka na: full; abundant • anzen na: safe • kanzen na: perfect
As you can see, there are quasis that end in i when the na is omitted, which is why I avoid calling them "i adjectives" and "na adjectives." It could be too confusing at first.
There are even a few adjectives that can be used as true or quasi, like:
• ookii / oki na: big • chiisai / chiisa na: small
Many quasi-adjectives are made by adding teki na to a noun:
• kokusaiteki na: international • kagakuteki na: scientific • rekishiteki na: historical • ippanteki na: general • rakkanteki na: optimistic
It's time for some examples. From a grammatical angle, adjective use in Japanese is very similar to English. With both true and quasi you include the final i or na when placing them before a noun. Here are some with true adjectives:
• Sore wa ii hon desu. (That's a good book.) • Douzo, tsumetai gyuunyuu o nonde kudasai. (Please, have some cold milk.)
• Omoi hako desu ne. (This is a heavy box, isn't it. [with dropping intonation])
And here are some examples using quasi-adjectives:
• Sore wa kirei na inu desu. (That's a pretty dog.) • Kare wa ganko na hito desu. (He's a stubborn person.) • Ichiban kantan na houhou o oshiete ageru. (I'll show you the easiest way to do it.)
Now, when a true adjective comes after the noun it modifies it usually does not change:
• Sono hon wa ii desu. (That book is good.) • Kono gyuunyuu wa tsumetai desu ka. (Is this milk cold?) • Kono hako wa omoi desu ne. (This box is heavy, isn't it. [with dropping intonation])
But, when a quasi-adjective comes after its noun, leave off the na:
• Sono inu wa kirei desu ne. (That dog is pretty, isn't it. [with dropping intonation]) • Kare wa ganko! (He's stubborn!) • Kore wa kantan. (This is easy.)
Now it's time to introduce the quirks. First, there are some strange quasi- (quasi-quasi?) adjectives that, according to the dictionaries and grammar books, use the multi-purpose no particle instead of na:
• tokubetsu no: special • tokutei no: specific • fumei no: unclear; vague
However, I have heard native speakers use na with these. When I ask about the discrepancy, I am told that na is normal. So, while it's true that the books say no, and official documents use no, in everyday "unofficial" life it is perfectly acceptable — even preferred — to use na, so don't concern yourself with it until you have to be official.
There are, however, colors which use no and never na after them when modifying a noun:
• midori no kasa: a green umbrella • murasaki no hana: a purple flower • nezumiiro no boushi: a gray hat
It's only natural to think that adjectives which exist in English should exist in Japanese. Sure, most do, but many don't. In these, the "adjectival idea" is conveyed through verbs. Some examples of these are:
• o-naka (ga) suita: hungry • nodo (ga) kawaita: thirsty
Naka literally means "middle," and suku means "to be empty," so you're saying "my middle is empty" when you put these together. Nodo is "throat," and kawaku means "to be dry," so these together equal "I'm thirsty." Here, the ta form of the verb is used for the present, which will be a bit confusing to beginners because this form is normally used for the plain past. Just do what I do: think of this as "a verb in an adjective's role," and, as such, the rules slightly change. Using "hungry," let's take a look at the different popular tenses. Note the verb changes:
• O-naka (ga) suku deshou. (We'll probably get hungry.) (Base 3 for infinitives and the future tense) • O-naka (ga) suita deshou? (You're hungry, right?) (Ta Form for the present) • O-naka (ga) suite inai. (I'm not hungry.) (Te Form + inai / imasen for the negative present)
• O-naka (ga) suite ita. (I was hungry.) (Te Form + ita for the past) • O-naka (ga) suite inakatta. (I wasn't hungry.) (Te Form + inakatta / imasen deshita for the negative past)
The ga is optional, and is usually omitted in familiar situations.
Note also how naka gets the honorable o- prefix and nodo doesn't. I guess our throats aren't as honorable as our stomachs. The next time you're at a party with native speakers and run out of topics to discuss, ask about this. It will keep them hemming and hawing for a while.
Here are two more that are often used:
• yaseru: to lose weight; become thin • futoru: to gain weight; become fat
There are true adjectives for "fat" and "thin" (futoi and hosoi), but they, like their English counterparts, have to be used carefully because they can be offensive. When commenting about others, use the verbs:
• Sukoshi futotta mitai. (Looks like you've put on a little weight.) • Yasemashita ka. (Have you lost weight?)
There are a couple of strange, colloquial "-tai adjectives" that I should mention: nemutai and omotai. Actually, they are:
• nemui: sleepy • omoi: heavy
However, nemutai and omotai are used the most in daily conversation. As far as I know, these are the only adjectives that can do this. By the way, this -tai ending on these two adjectives has nothing to do with the "want to do" -tai ending used on Base 2 verbs. "Want to sleep" is netai.
Finally, when used as simple exclamations, native speakers will often leave the final i off of some adjectives:
• Samu! (It's cold!) • Atsu! (It's hot!) • Uma! (It's delicious!) • Mazu! (It's nasty!) • Ita! (Ouch!)
Lesson 2 Plain Positive and Plain Negative
As in English, using Japanese adjectives in plain positive statements is simple — just say the adjective. Here are some true adjectives:
• Oishii. (It's good. [delicious]) • Atsui. (It's hot.) • Muzukashii. (It's difficult.)
And here are some quasi-adjectives:
• Benri. (It's convenient.) • Raku. (It's comfortable.) • Kantan. (It's easy.)
Now let's make all these negative. Like the verbs, adjectives use nai to do this. True adjectives drop their final i and add ku before adding nai:
• Oishiku nai. (It's not good. [not delicious]) • Atsuku nai. (It's not hot.) • Muzukashiku nai. (It's not difficult.)
Note: The exception is ii (good). It is always used as it is and never conjugated.
Quasis add de and then nai:
• Benri de nai. (It's not convenient.) • Raku de nai. (It's not comfortable.) • Kantan de nai. (It's not easy.)
Note: Although de is standard after quasis in negative constructions, dewa or ja can be used instead. Use ja only in familiar settings.
Now let's look at some endings and combinations which can be added to plain adjectives. (There are others, but these are the most used in my opinion.) If you've already been through my Japanese Verbs, these should look familiar.
• deshou?: ..., right? (request for agreement) • deshou: it probably is • ka dou ka: whether or not it is • kamo shirenai / shiremasen: it may be • nara: if it is • rashii: it seems to be; I hear it is
• hazu: it is supposed to be • hou ga ii: it would be better if it were • no: one(s) (used in place of noun[s] when it/they are known) • node: because it is • noni: in spite of the fact that it is
• kara: because it is • keredomo / kedo: although it is • to omou: I think it is
You may want to call the above three groups "quasi handling groups" because they only apply to quasi-adjectives. We'll get to those a little later.
First, some positive examples. Any add-on from any group above can be added after a true adjective without changing it:
• Oishii, deshou? (It's good, isn't it?) • Muzukashii rashii. (I hear it's difficult.) • Shiroi hazu. (It's supposed to be white.)
• Yoi ka dou ka wakaranai. (I don't know if it's good or not.) • Mari no kaban wa ookii to omou. Chiisai no wa Keiko no. (I think Mari's bag is big. The small one is Keiko's.) • Yasui kara katta. (I bought it because it was cheap.)
With quasis, it gets a bit trickier. Those in Group A are added without any particle:
• Kara deshou. (It's probably empty.) • Benri kamo shirenai. (It might be convenient.) • Byouki nara byouin ni ikinasai. (If you're sick, go to the hospital.)
Note: In Japan you don't "go see a doctor," you "go to the hospital."
Those in Group B are added after first adding na:
• Motto kantan na hazu. (It's supposed to be easier.) • Ryokou wa raku na hou ga ii. (A relaxing trip is best.) • Carl wa byouki na noni gakkou ni kita. (Carl came to school even though he's sick.)
And add da before adding those in Group C:
• Kirei da kara, kanojo wa ninkimono desu. (She's popular because she's pretty.) • Ron wa ganko da kedo, seikaku ga ii. (Ron's stubborn, but he has a good personality.) • Kono mondai wa kantan da to omou. (I think this problem is easy.)
Da is actually the plain form of desu, which could be used with kara or kedo (keredomo) instead of da to make it more polite. For more about desu, please see Lesson 78 of my Japanese Verbs.
Now let's do some negative ones. First some with true adjectives:
• Oishikunai deshou? (It's not very good, is it. [with dropping intonation]) • Shirokunai hou ga ii deshou. (It would probably be best if it weren't white.) • Muzukashikunai rashii. (I hear it's not difficult.) • Mari no kaban wa ookikunai to omou. (I don't think Mari's bag is big.) • Yasukunai kamo shirenai. (It might not be cheap.)
And here are some with quasi-adjectives:
• Kara de nai deshou. (It's probably not empty.) • Benri de nai kamo shirenai. (It might not be convenient.) • Kantan de nai hazu. (It's not supposed to be easy.) • Carl wa byouki de nai noni gakkou ni konakatta. (Carl didn't come to school even though he's not sick.) • Ron wa ganko de nai kedo, seikaku ga muzukashii. (Ron's not stubborn, but he has a difficult personality.)
There are two more handy negative add-ons that I'd like to introduce here. They are:
• nakereba naranai / narimasen: it must be (literally, "if it's not..., it won't do") • nakute mo ii: it doesn't need to be (literally, "even if it's not..., it's good")
Here they are with a true adjective:
• Ookiku nakereba naranai. (It has to be big.)
• Ookiku nakute mo ii. (It doesn't have to be big.)
And with a quasi:
• Kantan de nakereba naranai. (It has to be simple.) • Kantan de nakute mo ii. (It doesn't have to be simple.)
Note: In written Japanese there are no spaces between "words." In my lessons I usually use what is most common for romanized Japanese, but may add spaces for clarification in long constructions. This is why there will sometimes be inconsistencies.
Lesson 3 Colors
Because colors are usually used as adjectives, and because Japanese colors have their own strange set of rules, I thought I'd make a separate lesson out of them.
Here are ten popular colors as they are used when not preceding a noun, which is most of the time:
• aka: red • ao: blue • kiiro: yellow • midori: green • murasaki: purple • daidaiiro: orange • chairo: brown • shiro: white • kuro: black • nezumiiro: gray
Please keep in mind that iro means "color," and that four of the above are made by adding iro to a noun:
• kiiro: yellow (ki [sulfur] + iro [color]) • daidaiiro: orange (daidai [a kind of orange] + iro [color]) • chairo: brown (cha [tea] + iro [color]) • nezumiiro: gray (nezumi [mouse] + iro [color])
While it is possible to leave off the iro in some instances, this is how these colors are used most of the time. It is also possible to add iro to the others which usually don't use it: midori iro (green, greenish); shiro iro (white, whitish); etc.
Here are a few examples where the color comes after the noun it modifies:
• Rick no kuruma wa aka. (Rick's car is red.) • Watashi no inu wa shiro to chairo. (My dog's white and brown.) • Kondo jitensha o kattara ao ga ii. (The next time I buy a bicycle I want a blue one.)
Again, most of the time the color of something is mentioned in Japanese, it's after the subject or object in question, like in the above examples. When you want to put a color directly before the object, add i to aka, ao, shiro and kuro; add no — not na — to midori, murasaki, daidaiiro and nezumiiro; and you can add either i or no to kiiro and chairo:
• Kanojo no utsukushii kuroi kami o mite. (Look at her beautiful black hair.) • Watashi wa shiroi kutsu o kaitai. (I want to buy some white shoes.) • Junko wa kiiroi kasa o motte iru. (Junko's holding a yellow umbrella.)
• Kono akai jisho wa dare no? (Whose red dictionary is this?) • Kono murasaki no fuusen wa mise de moratta. (I got this purple balloon at the store.) • Bob wa ooki na nezumiiro no tsukue o katta. (Bob bought a big gray desk.)
Colors with i added become and behave the same as true adjectives; those with no behave like quasis.
There's a handy prefix that works especially well with three colors. It's ma, and it means "true." Note how the pronunciation changes with ma added:
• makka: bright red • masshiro: pure white • makkuro: jet black
Strangely, you never add i to these; nor do you add no. They are regular quasi-adjectives, and use na:
• Ano makka na hana ga kirei desu ne. (That bright red flower is pretty, isn't it?)
And here's a useful suffix: -ppoi. It works like "-ish" in English, and comes in handy when you don't know what to call a color. All colors become true adjectives with it attached:
• Kanojo wa midorippoi boushi o kabutta. (She wore a greenish hat.) • Sono kiiroppoi sushi wa mazui. (That yellowish sushi is nasty.)
By the way, you will find that the names for colors in Japanese, especially the primary ones, have a more abstract role than their English counterparts. Aka can mean anything from dark orange to copper or reddish purple; ao from green to bluish purple; and kiiro from light orange to pale yellow. In Japan, you stop when the light's aka, and go when it's ao.
Lesson 4 Adjectives suki, kirai, hoshii, jouzu & heta
These five adjectives play by their own set of rules. Since they are used regularly, I think it would be good to get used to their weird ways as soon as possible.
Suki means "to like" and kirai means "to dislike." Yes, that's right — just as there are ideas conveyed through verbs in Japanese where adjectives would be used in English, as mentioned in Lesson 1, the reverse is also true. If you'll check your dictionary, you'll see that both of these exist in verb form: suku and kirau; but the chances are very slim that you'll ever hear them used that way. You will, however, hear them used in passive constructions, like:
• Kazuko wa doko ni itte mo sukareru. (Kazuko is liked wherever she goes.) • Nattou wa takusan no hito kara kirawarete iru. (Nattou [fermented soybeans] is disliked by many people.)
For regular, straightforward talk about what you and others like and don't like, use suki and kirai in quasi-adjective form:
• Nihon no aki ga suki. (I like autumn in Japan.) • Nihon no natsu wa mushiatsui kara suki dewa nai . (I don't like summer in Japan because it's hot and humid.) • Mina gokiburi ga kirai. (Everyone hates cockroaches.)
Note that ga is used to link suki or kirai to their object when there is no other necessary element between them.
You can put dai (a lot; very much) before suki or kirai to emphasize them: 17
• Linda wa ichigo ga dai suki. (Linda loves strawberries.) • Beth wa kumo ga dai kirai. (Beth really hates spiders.)
When you put the object in question after suki or kirai, use the quasi indicator na:
• Sore wa boku no suki na ongaku. (That's the music that I like.) • Tanaka-san wa boku no kirai na tabemono bakari tsukuru. (All the food Mrs. Tanaka makes is the stuff I don't
Interestingly, and mainly colloquially, these can also be used to modify the indirect object:
• Yasai no suki na kodomo ga sukunai. (There are few kids that like vegetables.) • Sashimi ga kirai na hito ga takusan imasu. (There are many people that don't like raw fish.)
While hoshii is a true adjective, it's used to represent the English verb "want." It also uses ga when following its object, but remains alone when preceding it:
• Fuusen ga hoshii! (I want a balloon!) • Watashi no hoshii iro ga nai. (They don't have the color I want.) • Akai fuusen no hoshii kodomo ga ooi. (There are many kids who want a red balloon.)
Although hoshii isn't necessarily a kid's word, outside of familiar circles it could make you sound like one when expressing your own desires, so you'll want to be careful with it.
Like suki and kirai, jouzu and heta are quasi-adjective opposites that fill the role of ideas usually expressed by verbs in English. They also use ga before or na after in the same manner. Jouzu means "to be good at; well done," and heta means the exact opposite:
• Kanojo wa ryouri ga jouzu desu ne. (She's a good cook, isn't she. [with falling intonation]) • Sore wa jouzu na e. (That's a nicely done painting.) • Watashi no piano ga hontou ni heta desu. (I'm really bad at playing the piano.) • Heta na uta! (What a poorly done song!) • Karaoke ga jouzu na hito ga sukunai. (There aren't many people who are good at karaoke.)
There are a few expressions with jouzu where the ga is often omitted:
• Kare wa eigo jouzu. (He's knows English well.) • Sachi wa ryouri jouzu deshou? (Sachi's a great cook, isn't she?)
Lesson 5 Adverbial Forms
Making adverbs from adjectives is quite easy. With true adjectives, just replace the final i with ku before adding the verb. With quasis, just add ni:
• Ojii-san wa itsumo osoku taberu. (Grampa always eats slowly.) • Hayaku shinasai! (Do it quickly!) • Kazuya wa e o jouzu ni kakeru. (Kazuya can draw pictures well.)
• Kono shigoto wa kantan ni dekiru yo. (You'll be able to do this job easily.)
The verb naru (to become) is often used with adverbs:
• Shinpai shinaide! Dandan jouzu ni naru yo. (Don't worry! You'll gradually become better at it.) • Mai toshi boku no shigoto wa muzukashiku narimasu. (My job gets more difficult every year.) • Lisa wa kaigai kara kaeru to, itsumo byouki ni naru. (Lisa always gets sick after returning from overseas.)
Use suru with descriptive adverbs for "to make":
• Ookiku shite kureru? (Would you make it bigger?) • Atatakaku shite agemashou. (I'll make it warmer for you.) • Watashitachi wa anzen ni shinakereba naranai. (We must make it safe.)
Lesson 6 Conditional Forms
To make positive conditionals, replace the final i with kereba in true adjectives, and add nara to quasis:
• Yasukereba kaimashou. (If it's inexpensive, let's buy it.) • Soto wa atsukereba detakunai. (I don't want to go out if it's hot outside.) • Inu wa byouki nara, juui ni tsurete ikou. (If the dog's sick, let's take him to the vet.)
Note: Naraba can also be used after quasi-adjectives, but nara is more common.
For negative conditionals, use ku nakereba (the negative-forming ku nai + kereba) with true adjectives, and de nakereba (the negative-forming de nai + kereba) with quasis:
• Ashita wa samuku nakereba ikimashou. (If it's not cold tomorrow, let's go.) • Kono PC ga hoshiku nakereba, betsu no mise ni ikimashou. (If you don't want this PC, let's go to another store.) • Mise no basho wa benri de nakereba, kyaku ga sukunai deshou. (If the store isn't in a convenient location, it
probably won't get many customers.)
Please see Lesson 2 for more about negative structures.
Lesson 7 Te Form + mo
There are just two adjective "te form" endings that I hear used often enough to mention. The first is mo ii, which means "it's okay if...," and the second is mo kamawanai, a similar ending meaning "I don't mind if...."
To convert true adjectives to the "te form," remove the final i and add kute; quasis just need a de. Here are a few examples:
• Ookikute mo ii. (If it's large that's okay.) • Sukoshi furukute mo ii. (It's all right if it's a little old.) • Kare wa heta de mo ii. (It's okay if he's not good at it.) • Johnson sensei wa kibishikute mo kamawanai. (I don't mind if Mr. Johnson's strict.) (Note: Sensei is the name
suffix for "teacher.") • Sono mise wa fuben de mo kamawanai no? (Don't you mind that store being inconveniently located?)
To make these polite, add desu to ii and use kamaimasen instead of kamawanai:
• Suzu wa tanki de mo ii desu. (It's okay if Suzu has a quick temper.) • Soto wa samukute mo kamaimasen. (I don't mind if it's cold out.)
The negative forms of -kute mo ii and de mo ii were covered at the bottom of Lesson 2.
Lesson 8 Plain Past
Use katta and datta to make adjectives plain and past. Datta is the universal plain form of deshita, and can be used at the end of many sentences to make them plain and past. Katta is for true adjectives only, however, and is added after removing the final i.
Here are a few true adjective examples:
• Kyou wa atsukatta! (It was hot today!) • Suugaku no shiken wa totemo muzukashikatta. (The math test was very difficult.) • Kinou no ryokou wa tanoshikatta. (Yesterday's trip was fun.)
And here are some quasi examples:
• Kinou byouki datta. (I was sick yesterday.) • Juu nen mae ni John wa binbou datta. (Ten years ago John was poor.) • Rekishi no shukudai wa kantan datta. (The history homework was easy.)
Now, having done this, you can further conjugate using the endings and combinations applicable to other plain forms, like those in Lesson 2:
• Samukatta deshou? (It was cold, wasn't it?) • Chiisakatta hazu. (It was supposed to be small.) • Kare wa totemo ganko datta rashii. (It seems he was very stubborn.)
Finally, if you're ending a sentence with an adjective and want to make it past and polite, just add desu after katta in true adjectives, and use deshita instead of datta with quasis:
• Kaigi wa nagakatta desu. (The meeting was long.) • Shokuji wa kanzen deshita. (The meal was perfect.)
Note: The adjective ii (good) is not conjugated into the past tense. Use yokatta to say that something "was good."
Lesson 9 Adjectives with sou and sugiru
This lesson should clarify sou (I hear that [something] is [adjective]) and sou ([something] looks/sounds/seems [adjective]).
Here's how they work: Sou (I hear that [something] is [adjective]) is basically used to report hearsay or the reports of others without the involvement of your personal senses or opinion. It is added after both true and quasi-adjectives with no change to the adjective itself:
• Ano daigaku no nyuugaku shiken wa muzukashii sou desu. (I hear that that university's entrance exam is difficult.)
• Sono hon wa takai sou desu. (I hear that book's expensive.) • Ano atarashii mise no basho wa fuben sou desu. (I hear that the new store is in an inconvenient location.)
The other sou ([something] looks/sounds/seems [adjective]) is used to express your own impression of something based on hearsay, seeing a picture, etc. This one takes the place of the final i in true adjectives, and is added after quasis, just like the other sou:
• Oishisou! (Sounds delicious!) • Sono jitensha wa takasou. (That bicycle looks expensive.) • Kare wa ganko sou na ojii-san desu ne. (He seems like a hard-headed old man, doesn't he?)
Thanks to various unwritten rules, these two sous are fairly easy to keep straight. In the first sou outlined above, sou is said without stress, in a matter-of-fact kind of way. Also, I've noticed that native speakers will usually add desu or da after it. (That's why I added desu in the examples.) The second sou is stressed and drawn out, and said with at least a little excitement if it's describing something good. It is often used as a simple exclamation:
• Tanoshisou! (Sounds fun!) • Samusou! (Looks cold! [as might be said while watching a program about Alaska]) • Mazusou! (Sounds nasty! [not good to eat]) • Kantan sou! (Looks easy!) • Raku sou! (Looks comfortable!)
Note: The adjective yoi is an exception with this sou. You need to add sa first: yosasou (sounds good). This, by the way, is how you add sou to the negative nai as well, for example: yoi (good) + nai = yokunai (not good) + sou = yokunasasou (doesn't sound good).
Sugiru means "too (much of something)," and is also used a lot. It works like the second sou above, meaning it replaces the final i of true adjectives:
• Kono o-cha wa atsusugiru! (This tea is too hot!) • Ano hako wa omosugiru! (That box is too heavy!) • Kyou no shiken wa muzukashisugita. (Today's test was too difficult.) • Kore wa kantan sugiru! (This is too easy!) • Kanojo wa kechi sugiru kara, tomodachi ga inai. (She doesn't have any friends because she's too stingy.)
Lesson 10 Adjective Modifiers
In this last lesson we will look at the bits and pieces needed to adjust the meaning of adjectives so they convey exactly what we mean. Everything on this page applies to either true or quasi-adjectives.
In sentences where an adjective is used to compare two things, use yori after the object which is used for comparison. Note how the compared object (in blue) sits between the subject and adjective of the main idea:
• Ken no inu wa Shizuka no inu yori ookii. (Ken's dog is bigger than Shizuka's dog.) • Kyou no shiken wa kinou no yori kantan datta. (Today's exam was easier than yesterday's.) • Watashi wa yakisoba yori yakimeshi ga suki. (I like fried rice more than fried noodles.)
Alternately, yori can be placed before the subject in structures that follow other finalized statements:
• Shizuka no inu wa ookii desu ga, Ken no inu wa yori ookii. (Shizuka's dog is big, but Ken's dog is bigger.) • Kyou wa atsukatta kedo, ashita wa yori atsukunaru sou desu. (Today was hot, but they say it's going to get
Note: Mo is sometimes added to yori — yorimo. It's completely optional and does not change the meaning of the sentence.
Another popular way to compare things is to use motto, which is roughly the equivalent of "more" in English. It is placed directly before the adjective it modifies, and could be used to replace yori in the last set of examples above:
• Shizuka no inu wa ookii desu ga, Ken no inu wa motto ookii. (Shizuka's dog is big, but Ken's dog is bigger.) • Kyou wa atsukatta kedo, ashita wa motto atsukunaru sou desu. (Today was hot, but they say it's going to get
Mottomo or the well-known ichiban ("number one") can be placed before adjectives to make them superlative. Ichiban without an adjective can be used to simply mean "the best":
• Kore wa kono mise no mottomo yasui PC desu. (This is the cheapest PC in this store.) • Sore wa boku no ichiban suki na hon desu. (That's my favorite book.) • Nakajima-san no ramen wa ichiban! (The ramen Ms. Nakajima makes is the best!)
Negative Comparatives and Superlatives
Negative comparatives and superlatives are not used that much in Japanese. In fact, there is no equivalent to the least. To convey something in a negative superlative way, just use an adjective with that meaning, or make the adjective negative, as in:
• Kore wa mottomo warui. (This is the worst.) • Kore wa ichiban takakunai. (This is the most inexpensive.)
For negative comparatives where "less" is implied, you can put hodo, which means "to the extent of," after the object of comparison. You must also make the adjective negative. Let's do this to the first two examples used in the Comparatives section above:
• Ken no inu wa Shizuka no inu hodo ookikunai. (Ken's dog isn't as big as Shizuka's dog.) • Kyou no shiken wa kinou no hodo kantan dewa nakatta. (Today's exam wasn't as easy as yesterday's.)
There are two other handy modifiers I'll mention here because they're used a lot: toku ni and amari. Toku ni means "especially" and amari means about the opposite of that. Here's how they're used:
• Kyou wa toku ni isogashikatta. (Today was especially busy.) • Ano eiga wa amari omoshirokunai. (That movie is not really that interesting.) • Kenji no seiseki wa toku ni warui. (Kenji's grades are particularly bad.) • Kyou wa amari atsukunai, ne. (Today's not that hot, is it. [with dropping intonation])
Table of Contents
1. Japanese Verbs - The Plain Form
2. Yodan Verbs with Base 2 + masu
3. Ichidan Verbs with Base 2 + masu
4. Base 2 + masen
5. Base 2 + mashita
6. Base 2 + masen deshita
7. Base 2 + tai / tai desu
8. Base 2 + takunai / takunai desu
9. Base 2 + mashou
10. Base 2 + nasai
11. Irregular Verbs kuru and suru
12. Forming Questions with ka
13. Base 1 + nai - The Plain Negative Form
14. Base 1 + nai deshou
15. Base 1 + nakereba
16. About You and Name Suffixes
17. Base 1 + nakereba narimasen
18. Base 1 + seru / saseru
19. Base 3 + deshou
20. Base 3 + hazu desu
21. Base 3 + hou ga ii
22. Base 3 + ka dou ka
23. Base 3 + kamo shiremasen
24. Base 3 + kara
25. Base 3 + keredomo
26. Base 3 + koto ga dekimasu
27. Base 3 + koto ni shimasu
28. Base 3 + made
29. Base 3 + na
30. Base 3 + nara
31. Base 3 + (any noun)
32. Base 3 + no desu
33. Base 3 + no ni
34. Base 3 + no wa
35. Base 3 + node
36. Base 3 + noni
37. Base 3 + sou desu
38. Base 3 + tame ni
39. Base 3 + to
40. Base 3 + to omoimasu
41. Base 3 + tsumori desu
42. Base 3 + you desu
43. Base 4 + ba
44. Base 4 + ba ii
45. Base 4 by itself: the plain imperative
46. Base 4 + ru
47. Base 4 + nai
48. Base 4 + reba
49. Base 5
50. Te Form + kudasai
51. Te Form + ageru
52. Te Form + goran nasai
53. Te Form + iru
54. Te Form + inai
55. Te Form + ita
56. Te Form + itadaku / morau
57. Te Form + kara
58. Te Form + kureru
59. Te Form + kuru / iku
60. Te Form + miru
61. Te Form + mo ii
62. Te Form + oku
63. Te Form + shimau
64. Te Form + wa ikaga / dou desu ka
65. Te Form + wa ikemasen
66. Te Form for Continuing Statements
67. Ta Form: The Plain Past
68. Ta Form + Various Combinations Shared With Base 3
69. Ta Form + bakari
70. Ta Form + koto ga aru
71. Ta Form + ra
72. Ta Form + rashii
73. Ta Form + ri
74. Ta Form + to shitara
75. Ta Form + to shite mo
76. Ta Form + toki
77. Ta Form + tokoro
78. desu, iru and aru
Lesson 1 The Plain Form
Please remember that all Japanese verbs end in u, but to be more precise, it's the last syllable of the plain form that ends in u. Let's take the verb aruku, which means "to walk," for example: it ends in ku, not u. Remembering this will make further study much easier.
There are 3 types of verbs in Japanese: yodan, ichidan, and irregular.1 First we will look at only some simple yodan verbs, which can end in u, ku, gu, su, tsu, nu, bu, mu, or ru:
• kau (buy) • aruku (walk) • isogu (hurry) • kasu (lend) • matsu (wait) • shinu (die) • asobu (play) • yomu (read) • kaeru (return)
Let's try some in sentences:
• Mama wa mise de banana o kau. (Mom buys/will buy bananas at the store.) • Jim wa manga o yomu. (Jim will read a comic book.) • Ojii-san wa sugu kaeru. (Grandpa will return soon.)
Ichidan verbs all end in either eru or iru. Some frequently used ones are:
• taberu (eat) • kimeru (decide) • miru (look, watch) • kariru (borrow)
• Watashi wa ringo o taberu. (I'll eat an apple.) • Naomi wa terebi o miru. (Naomi will watch TV.)
This is very simple Japanese, and also very juvenile or "familiar." Only kids or people speaking with family or friends would use this plain form. Before actually trying out the language you need to learn the "Base 2" forms and the polite endings that go with them.
mise: a store manga: comic book ojii-san: grandfather sugu: soon watashi: I ringo: apple terebi: TV
1. I use the term yodan because it was the term used when I began studying Japanese thirty years ago. Some sources call these verbs godan, but there is no difference. Because of the difficulty in explaining the logic behind the names yodan and ichidan, many Japanese schools in Japan just call them "Type 1" and "Type 2."
Interestingly, the Japanese learn their own language in a completely different way, and do not use the terms yodan or ichidan when teaching or learning verbs. Asking your native-speaking Japanese friends about these will not help: they have never heard of them, unless it was from another foreigner. The yodan/godan/ichidan method of verb instruction only remains today as one method to teach Japanese verb forms to non-native speakers.
Lesson 2 Yodan Verbs with Base 2 + masu
The first ending you'll want to master is the polite form masu. Since masu requires the Base 2 form, yodan verbs are changed so they end in i -- their "Base 2" form -- before the masu ending is added. Notice how the following yodan verbs change in order to add masu, the present polite ending. Especially notice how verbs ending in su and tsu change:
Plain Verb (English) Base 2 Form Polite Verb Form kau (buy) kai kaimasu aruku (walk) aruki arukimasu isogu (hurry) isogi isogimasu kasu (lend) kashi kashimasu matsu (wait) machi machimasu shinu (die) shini shinimasu asobu (play) asobi asobimasu yomu (read) yomi yomimasu kaeru (return) kaeri kaerimasu
Now we're ready to speak polite, "adult" Japanese. Let's convert the plain yodan verb example sentences in Lesson 1 to polite sentences by converting them to Base 2 and adding masu:
• Mama wa mise de banana o kaimasu. (Mom buys/will buy bananas at the store.) • Jim wa manga o yomimasu. (Jim will read a comic book.) • Ojii-san wa sugu kaerimasu. (Grandpa will return soon.)
Lesson 3 Ichidan Verbs with Base 2 + masu
Ichidan verbs are a snap, because you change them to Base 2 by just dropping the ru at the end. Look carefully at these ichidan verbs and how they conjugate, and notice how they differ from the yodan group covered in Lesson 2:
Plain Verb (English) Base 2 Form Polite Verb Form taberu (eat) tabe tabemasu oboeru (remember) oboe oboemasu kimeru (decide) kime kimemasu deru (leave, come out) de demasu kariru (borrow) kari karimasu miru (look, watch) mi mimasu
Here are some examples:
• Watashi wa ashita kimemasu. (I'll decide tomorrow.) • Jerry wa sugu demasu. (Jerry will come out soon.) • Ayako wa mainichi terebi o mimasu. (Ayako watches the TV every day.)
Now, I'm sure you're thinking: How can I tell ichidan verbs from yodan? True, there are also yodan verbs that end in eru or iru, but with practice and experience they will gradually be mastered. A mistake made from not knowing whether a verb is yodan or ichidan is a very minor one, and should not be worried about at this stage.
ashita: tomorrow mainichi: every day
Lesson 4 Base 2 + masen
Now that you're a little familiar with Base 2, let's try masen, which is the negative form of masu. Look at these yodan examples:
• Watashi wa kasa o kaimasen. (I'm not going to buy an umbrella.) • Kare wa machimasen. (He won't wait.) • Kimiko wa Osaka ni ikimasen. (Kimiko isn't going to Osaka.)
And some ichidan:
• Watashi wa ima tabemasen. (I'm not going to eat now.) • Kanojo wa kasa o karimasen. (She isn't going to borrow an umbrella.)
Easy enough, right? In the next lesson we'll try past tense.
kasa: umbrella kau: to buy kare: he (him) matsu: to wait iku: to go ima: now taberu: to eat kanojo: she (her) kariru: to borrow
Lesson 5 Base 2 + mashita
Mashita is used to change verbs to their past polite form. Let's make some examples:
• John wa Hiroshima ni ikimashita. (John went to Hiroshima.) • Kodomotachi wa kouen de asobimashita. (The children played at the park.) • Yoshi wa ringo o tabemashita. (Yoshi ate an apple.) • Shizu wa manga o kaimashita. (Shizu bought a comic book.) • Bob wa sono eiga o mimashita. (Bob saw that movie.)
There are yodan and ichidan verbs in the examples above. Can you tell them apart?
kodomotachi: children kouen: a park asobu: to play ringo: apple taberu: to eat manga: a comic book kau: to buy sono: that eiga: movie miru: to see
Lesson 6 Base 2 + masen deshita
As you recall from Lesson 4, masen shows negative tense. To make that negative past tense we just add deshita. Let's change a few of the examples shown in Lesson 5:
• John wa Hiroshima ni ikimasen deshita. (John didn't go to Hiroshima.) • Kodomotachi wa kouen de asobimasen deshita. (The children didn't play at the park.) • Yoshi wa ringo o tabemasen deshita. (Yoshi didn't eat an apple.)
Lesson 7 Base 2 + tai / tai desu
Another very useful Base 2 ending is tai, which is used to show that you want to do something:
• Watashi wa kasa o kaitai. (I want to buy an umbrella.) • Kodomotachi wa asobitai. (The children want to play.) • Bob wa tempura o tabetai. (Bob wants to eat tempura.) • Miki wa sono eiga o mitai. (Miki wants to see that movie.)
The above examples are plain forms. To make them polite, add desu: Watashi wa kasa o kaitai desu, etc.
Please note that tai is only used with verbs, and is never used alone with an object. For example, you wouldn't say watashi wa inu o tai for "I want a dog," you would use the adjective hoshii and say, "Watakushi wa inu ga hoshii desu." This structure will be covered later on.
Lesson 8 Base 2 + takunai / takunai desu
These are used to show the opposite of tai and tai desu covered in the last lesson: that you don't want to do something. Add desu to make it polite. Let's make the examples in Lesson 7 negative. We'll make the first two plain:
• Watakushi wa kasa o kaitakunai. (I don't want to buy an umbrella.) • Kodomotachi wa asobitakunai. (The children don't want to play.)
Now let's make the next two polite:
• Bob wa tempura o tabetakunai desu. (Bob doesn't want to eat tempura.) • Miki wa sono eiga o mitakunai desu. (Miki doesn't want to see that movie.)
Simple enough, right? Two of these examples use yodan verbs, and two use ichidan. Can you still tell them apart?
Lesson 9 Base 2 + mashou
Sometimes it's written masho with a line above the o, but either way this one is easy to remember. It simply means "let's (do something)." For example:
• Ikimashou. (Let's go.) • Tabemashou. (Let's eat.) • Yasumimashou. (Let's take a break.)
As in English, this is also used to mean "I'll do (something) (for you)/Let me do (something) (for you)," as in:
• Watashi wa hakobimashou. (I'll carry this/these [for you].)* • (to a pet) Esa o agemashou. (Let's get you some food.) • Anata no jitensha o naoshimashou. (I'll fix your bicycle./I'll help you fix your bicycle.)
* In Japanese, the object (as well as the subject) can be omitted when it is known or obvious. In fact, in this example, hakobimashou would be both natural and grammatically sufficient.
iku: to go taberu: to eat yasumu: to rest; to take a break; to take/have a day off hakobu: to carry esa: pet food ageru: to give anata: you jitensha: bicycle naosu: to repair
Lesson 10 Base 2 + nasai
Add nasai to verbs in Base 2 form for simple commands:
• Tabenasai! (Eat!) • Minasai! (Look!) • Yominasai! (Read it!) • Iinasai! (Tell me!) • Suwarinasai! (Sit down!) • Koko ni kinasai! (Come here!)
taberu: to eat miru: to look yomu: to read iu: to say suwaru: to sit kuru: to come
Lesson 11 Irregular Verbs kuru and suru
Did something seem amiss with the last example in Lesson 10? I hope so, because it means you noticed that while it looks like a yodan verb, it conjugated like an ichidan. It is now time to introduce the irregular verbs kuru and suru.
We have already practiced using yodan and ichidan verbs. Besides these are the irregulars, but the good news is that there are only two: kuru, which means "to come"; and suru, which means "to do." These two have their own set of rules when it comes to conjugating, but since both are used frequently they can be mastered quickly and naturally.
The Base 2 form of kuru is just ki. Let's use it to review some of the endings already learned:
• Bob wa kimasu. (Bob will come.) • Sue wa kimasen. (Sue won't come/won't be coming.) • John wa kimashita. (John came.) • Ken wa kimasen deshita. (Ken didn't come.) • Yumi wa kitai desu. (Yumi wants to come.)
Suru is not only a handy "stand alone" verb, but is also used to make countless nouns into verbs: benkyou suru (study), shimpai suru (worry), chuumon suru (place an order), yakusoku suru (promise). The Base 2 form of suru is shi. Look at these examples:
• Watashi wa shimasu. (I'll do it.) • Kare wa shimasen. (He won't do it.) • Bill wa ashita benkyou shitai desu. (Bill wants to study tomorrow.) • Anata wa yakusoku shimashita. (You promised.) • Hiromi wa shimpai shimasen deshita. (Hiromi didn't worry.)
This should be enough about kuru and suru for the time being. Now that they've been introduced you'll see them pop up from time to time in future lessons. Just remember that they are irregular and don't follow the same rules as the other verbs. Lesson 12 Forming Questions with ka
Making questions in Japanese is easy. Unlike English, where you have that silliness of subjects and verbs trading places, in Japanese all you do is stick ka on the end of a word, phrase, or sentence to turn it into a question. For example, do you remember "Ojii-san wa sugu kaerimasu" from Lesson 2? (Grandpa will return soon.) Well, just slap ka on the end and you've turned it into a question: "Ojii-san wa sugu kaerimasu ka." (Will Grandpa return soon?) Let's make questions out of some of our other previous examples:
• Yoshi wa ringo o tabemashita ka. (Did Yoshi eat an apple?) • Miki wa sono eiga o mitai desu ka. (Does Miki want to see that movie?) • Yasumimashou ka. (Shall we take a break?)
By the way, true Japanese doesn't use a question mark. You will see it used often, usually in advertisements or trendy one-liners, but real Japanese literature does not use it. In a sense, ka is the question mark.
Lesson 13 Base 1 + nai - The Plain Negative Form
Before we look at Base 1, let's quickly review the types of verbs. There are yodan, like kau, iku, matsu, and yomu; ichidan, like taberu and miru; and the two irregulars kuru and suru. If you don't remember the meanings of these please go back and review them.
Ichidan are easy to convert into Base 1 because you just knock off the ru. In other words, their Base 1 is the same as their Base 2. The yodan group are changed so they end in a: iku changes to ika, matsu to mata, yomu to yoma, and etc. If the verb ends in u with another vowel before it, like kau, just change the u to wa; so kau becomes kawa. The irregular kuru changes to ko, and suru to shi, just like its Base 2 form.
Below are some tables to help clarify the way the three types of verbs are converted into Bases 1 and 2 from their plain forms, which happen to be Base 3. For the sake of simplification I didn't mention it then, but all the verbs introduced in Lesson 1 were in their Base 3 forms, which, again, is their true, unconjugated root form, and how they will usually look in a dictionary. Please note the changes carefully.
Base 3 (root form) Base 2 Base 1 kau kai- kawa- aruku aruki- aruka- isogu isogi- isoga- kasu kashi- kasa- matsu machi- mata- shinu shini- shina- asobu asobi- asoba- yomu yomi- yoma- kaeru kaeri kaera-
Base 3 (root form) Base 2 Base 1 taberu tabe- tabe- oboeru oboe- oboe- kimeru kime- kime- deru de- de- kariru kari- kari- miru mi- mi-
Base 3 (root form) Base 2 Base 1
kuru ki- ko- suru shi- shi-
Now what we want to do is use Base 1 + nai to change some verbs into their plain negative form: kau (buy) becomes kawanai (won't buy); kariru (borrow) becomes karinai (won't borrow); kuru (come), konai (won't come); and suru (do), shinai (won't do).
Look at these example sentences:
• John wa kasa o kawanai. (John isn't going to buy an umbrella.) • Jim wa manga o yomanai. (Jim doesn't read comic books.) • Ojii-san wa sugu kaeranai. (Grandpa isn't going to return soon.) • Watashi wa terebi o minai. (I'm not going to watch TV.) • Sachiko wa konai. (Sachiko won't be coming.)
It will be noticed that this ending can be used to mean "not going to do (something) for the time being" as well as "don't do at all," as a matter of personal policy. For example, Jim wa manga o yomanai could mean that Jim never reads comic books, or that he just isn't going to read a comic book now or in the near future. As in English, Japanese used in actual conversation would be modified as needed in order to make meanings clearer.
Please remember that the ending nai by itself is plain, and should only be used in very informal settings. Depending on the situation, you may want to upgrade it to a polite form, like Base 2 + masen, which we already covered in Lesson 4, or by simply adding desu on the end after nai:
• John wa kasa o kaimasen. (or) John wa kasa o kawanai desu. • Jim wa manga o yomimasen. (or) Jim wa manga o yomanai desu.
Can you get a good feel for the changeover between Base 2 + masen and Base 1 + nai here?
Lesson 14 Base 1 + nai deshou
Here's an easy one. Adding deshou after nai means that somebody is probably not going to do something, or that something is not likely to happen:
• John wa kasa o kawanai deshou. (John probably isn't going to buy an umbrella.) • Jim wa manga o yomanai deshou. (Jim probably doesn't read comic books.) • Yuki wa furanai deshou. (It probably won't snow.)
Actually, deshou is a handy add-on that works with other endings, like plain positive (Base 3) verbs and the Base 2 polite masu/masen:
• Ojii-san wa sugu kaeru deshou. (Grandpa will probably return soon.) • Sachiko wa kuru deshou. (Sachiko will probably come.) • Bill wa ika o tabemasen deshou. (Bill probably won't/doesn't eat squid.)
kasa: umbrella kau: to buy manga: comic book yomu: to read yuki: snow furu: to fall (from the sky: rain, snow, hail, etc.) ojii-san: grandfather sugu: soon kaeru: to return kuru: to come ika: squid taberu: to eat
Lesson 15 Base 1 + nakereba
Base 1 + nakereba is used to make negative conditional sentences -- what will happen if something doesn't happen. Look at these examples:
• Ojii-san wa sugu kaeranakereba watashi wa makudonarudo ni ikimasu. (If Grandpa doesn't return soon I'm going to McDonald's.)
• Miki wa heya o tsukawanakereba Junko wa tsukaitai desu. (If Miki isn't going to use the room Junko wants to use it.)
• Naoko wa kasa o karinakereba (kanojo wa) koukai suru deshou. (If Naoko doesn't borrow an umbrella she'll probably regret it.)
A very convenient thing about Japanese is the fact that you can omit subjects that are understood or obvious -- you don't have to retain them for the sake of good grammar, as in English. In the last example above there is no question that kanojo wa (she) is Naoko, so it is omitted.
Please remember that the na in nakereba comes from nai and is the negative element. The kereba is the conditional ("if") element. Remembering this will come in handy in future studies.
iku: to go heya: room tsukau: to use kariru: to borrow koukai suru: to regret
Lesson 16 About You and Name Suffixes
In Lesson 9 anata was introduced as meaning "you." Actually, the word "you" is not used in Japanese as often as in English, especially when talking to an individual. Once a person's name is known, it is usually used in place of "you" (as a native English speaker would consider it), when speaking to that person, which may sound a bit childish until you get used to it. For example, an English speaker wouldn't turn to his friend Bob and ask, "What does Bob want to eat for lunch?" but in Japanese that's exactly how it's done.
Additionally, names are usually not used alone; suffixes are attached depending on the person and situation. The ones you'll hear the most are san, sama, chan, and kun. Generally speaking, san is the "default" suffix for a person when none of the others are suitable. You will most likely want to use san with neighbors and business associates that you see regularly but perhaps not every day. San denotes friendliness and perhaps even familiarity while still including at least a touch of respectful distance.
Sama is an "honorific" suffix which is attached to the names of superiors or people you want to show special respect to, real or pretended. Customers who go into new car dealerships will have the luxury of hearing sama added to their names -- for a while, at any rate. After the sale is made, time passes, and the car is brought in for routine checks or service, the customer will find that he or she is no longer a "sama," but is now a "san." This is normal and good, however, because san shows that a closer, more familiar (and, hopefully, a more trusting) relationship has been created between customer and service provider.
Among close friends and family members chan is usually heard. Parents add chan to their children's names, and children add it to the words for father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, older brother or sister (but not younger), aunt, uncle, etc. Customarily, within families chan is added to the first names of those younger than yourself and to the names of cousins, but to the title of those older. Also, names are often shortened before adding chan. For example, a girl named Emiko would probably be called Emiko-chan or Emi-chan by older family members, cousins, and playmates, as well as classmates and co-workers later in life. A boy named Hiroki might go by Hiro-chan unless he's going by Hiroki-kun or Hiro-kun. For those older, these are commonly used:
• otou-chan (dad) • okaa-chan (mom) • ojii-chan (grandpa) • obaa-chan (grandma) • onii-chan (elder brother, older neighbor boy) • onee-chan (elder sister, older neighbor girl) • oji-chan (uncle, adult male neighbor, friend's father) • oba-chan (aunt, adult female neighbor, friend's mother)
Chan is also used with the names of pets.
Among male friends kun is used as the name suffix, unless an individual prefers chan. Teachers add kun to the names of male students, chan to female students. Bosses add these to the names of subordinates sometimes, though san is probably more common for females. Family, company, and personal preferences all come into play when choosing these suffixes.
As a safe rule, use san with colleague's names, kun with boys, and chan with girls. You most likely won't use sama unless you meet a company president or owner. Being observant and attentive will be the best guide for mastering name suffixes for the people you work with or know. And, you can always ask.
Now, let's get back to you. Again, "you" normally wouldn't be used when speaking to an individual when his or her name is known. If I wanted to ask my student Hiroki if he did his homework, the literal translation of the English sentence "Hiroki, did you do your homework?" would be: "Hiroki, anata wa anata no shukudai o shimashita ka", where anata is used for "you." This Japanese would be understood, of course, but would also sound very stiff, formal, and very odd. A native Japanese speaker would never use this kind of construction. The natural Japanese would be:"Hiroki-kun wa shukudai o shimashita ka", where the name of the person is used in place of the subject you. So, even though I introduced anata in Lesson 9, the fact is that it is very rarely used. It works fine, however, in problem #4 of C of Mini Test 5 because there is no name connected with the "you" -- anata becomes the necessary "default" subject of the sentence.
It's when speaking to groups that "you" becomes useful. Anatatachi could be used, but it conveys a certain distance, even displeasure: a teacher reprimanding a class might use this. So, the one left would be kimitachi, which shows familiarity, even some affection, toward the group concerned. There may be a certain feeling of "being talked down to" when kimi or kimitachi are used, but as long as the situation warrants it and the relationship between speaker and listener(s) makes it sound natural, there's no problem. When I first came to Japan and was only several years older than my students, I really didn't feel comfortable using kimitachi, but now that I'm old enough to be their father it feels very natural and fitting. I
would not use this with a class of people my age or older, I'd probably use mina-san (everyone), which is the best choice when talking to large, mixed groups.
I may as well say here that much, much more could be said concerning all the various words and "levels" used when addressing others, but the above should suffice for most students of Japanese for the first year or so.
Lesson 17 Base 1 + nakereba narimasen
This verb ending is not only a long one, it's a bit of a tongue twister. It's used quite a lot, because it means "must do." Let's take iku (to go), change it to Base 1 ika, and add nakereba narimasen to make this simple example sentence: Watashi wa ikanakereba narimasen. (I have to go.)
Looking at it literally, the nakereba means "if one does not...", as you'll remember from Lesson 15, and narimasen means "will not become"; so in the example above you're saying "If I don't go it won't do."
Let's look at some more examples:
• Jim wa ima kaeranakereba narimasen. (Jim has to return now.) • Laura wa kasa o kawanakereba narimasen. (Laura has to buy an umbrella.) • Kodomotachi wa tabenakereba narimasen. (The children must eat.)
You're probably clever enough to notice that the polite negative ending masen is stuck on the end here. Yes, this is a verb within a verb ending: naru (to become) is the root word here, which is in its Base 2 form with masen added on (narimasen). Accordingly, if we use the the plain negative form of naru instead (naranai), the ending becomes nakereba naranai, which changes the whole sentence to its plain form. This can be handy when adding other endings, like deshou from Lesson 14. Let's use this ending with the three examples above and see how the meanings are "softened":
• Jim wa ima kaeranakereba naranai deshou. (Jim probably has to return now.) • Laura wa kasa o kawanakereba naranai deshou. (Laura probably needs to buy an umbrella.) • Kodomotachi wa tabenakereba naranai deshou. (The children probably need to eat.)
As you grow accustomed to Japanese verb usage and ending patterns, you will see how the entire meaning or "feeling" of a sentence can be adjusted or "fine tuned" at will by combining the right ending components as you finish the sentence up. Lesson 18 Base 1 + seru / saseru
These are used when you want to let/have/make someone do something. In English we fortunately have these three different words to conveniently adjust the meaning which we want to convey. Accordingly, "I'll let him go to the store", "I'll have him go to the store", and "I'll make him go to the store" all have different nuances. In Japanese, however, seru, for yodan verbs, and saseru, for the others, are used for all of these. By the overall context and by using other "helper" words the different meanings, or feelings, as in "let him" or "make him," can be conveyed.
The important thing to remember is that yodan verbs use seru, like this:
• Ojii-san wa kodomotachi ni asobaseru. (Grandpa lets the children play.) • Okaa-chan wa Kimiko ni kasa o kawaseru. (Mom will have Kimiko buy an umbrella.)
• Sensei wa gakusei ni mainichi shimbun o yomaseru. (The teacher makes the students read the newspaper every day.)
And ichidan verbs and the irregular kuru use saseru :
• Roku ji ni kodomotachi ni yuushoku o tabesaseru. (I'll have the kids eat dinner at 6:00.) • John ni raishuu made ni kimesaseru. (I'll have John decide by next week.) • Kare ni ashita kosaseru. (I'll have him come tomorrow.)
With "suru verbs," suru is simply replaced with saseru :
• Otou-san wa Bob ni benkyou saseru. (Dad will make Bob study.) • Kanojo ni saseru. (I'll have her do it.)
As you can see, in these constructions the person being let or made to do something becomes the indirect object, which is signified by adding ni afterwards. Another tricky thing is that some verbs already have a set form to convey this meaning, like miseru, which means "to show" or "to let see," as in:
• Kare wa karera ni mainichi terebi o miseru. (He lets them watch TV every day.)
So, although miru is an ichidan verb, you won't hear or see "misaseru." As you get used to more and more natural Japanese expressions, you will know which verbs are conjugated as outlined above and which have their own "set forms" which are used instead.
Now for the easy part: Since seru and saseru can be conjugated like any other ichidan verb, it should be easy for you to apply what has been learned in the previous lessons to make them negative, past tense, polite, and etc:
• Ritsuko wa Kumi ni pen o kawasemashita. (Ritsuko had Kumi buy a pen.) • Ojii-san wa kodomotachi ni candy o tabesasemasen. (Grandpa won't let the children eat candy.) • Watashi wa Kenji ni eigo o benkyou sasetai desu. (I want to have Kenji study English.) • John ni mise ni ikasemashou. (Let's have John go to the store.) • Kodomotachi ni terebi o misemashou ka. (Shall we let the kids watch TV?)
kodomotachi: children asobu: to play sensei: teacher gakusei: student(s) mainichi: every day shimbun: newspaper yomu: to read yuushoku: dinner taberu: to eat raishuu: next week made ni: by (a deadline): by 5:00, by tomorrow, etc. kimeru: to decide kare: he, him ashita: tomorrow kuru: to come benkyou suru: to study kanojo: she, her karera: they, them eigo: the English language
mise: a store, a shop iku: to go
Lesson 19 Base 3 + deshou
Even though deshou has already been mentioned in Lesson 14, I thought it would be a nice and easy way to begin the Base 3 verb endings. But before we begin, please remember that Base 3 is actually the root or "dictionary" form of the verb -- the plain, unconjugated form used by kids or in very familiar situations, as explained in Lesson 1. (To my mind it would make more sense to call this form Base 1, but I suppose we must allow each language its quirks.)
Remember these examples?
• Jim wa manga o yomu. • Ojii-san wa sugu kaeru. • Watashi wa ringo o taberu. • Naomi wa terebi o miru. • Mama wa mise de banana o kau.
Not only should you be able to translate these, you should know which are ichidan and which are yodan. Please review Lesson 1 if necessary.
Let's get back to deshou. This is an easy add-on which means "perhaps" or "probably." For example, add it to kau (buy) in Mama wa mise de banana o kau and you have Mama wa mise de banana o kau deshou (Mom will probably buy some bananas at the store). Let's do a few more:
• Raishuu watashi wa Kurashiki ni iku deshou. (I'll probably go to Kurashiki next week.) • Kenji wa atarashii kuruma o kau deshou. (Kenji will probably buy a new car.) • Ashita wa ame (ga furu) deshou. (It will probably rain tomorrow.)
The verb furu, shown in the last example above, means "to fall," but only if it's rain or snow that's doing the falling (a falling object uses the verb ochiru). As in English, the fact that the rain will fall is understood, making the verb unnecessary, so it is often omitted.
Base 3 + deshou is very handy when you aren't sure of something. Use it when you don't want to take full responsibility for an outcome. That's why you'll hear it used at the end of practically every sentence of a weather forecast in Japan.
Another use for this form is questioning or confirming something already assumed, as we would use tag questions in English. Please note that ka is not added at the end; a rising intonation is used instead:
• Osaka ni iku deshou? (You're going to Osaka, aren't you?) • Sue wa kuru deshou? (Sue's coming, isn't she?) • Tomoko wa eigo no shukudai o suru deshou? (Tomoko will do her English homework, right?)
raishuu: next week atarashii: new kuruma: car ashita: tomorrow ame: rain
furu: to fall (rain, snow, etc.) eigo: the English language shukudai: homework
Lesson 20 Base 3 + hazu desu
When something is "supposed to be" or "ought to be," etc., we use the Base 3 form of the verb with hazu desu (polite) or hazu (plain) added on:
• (Watashi wa) Osaka ni iku hazu desu. (I'm supposed to go to Osaka.) • John wa sugu kuru hazu. (John should be coming soon.) • Anata wa motto eigo o benkyou suru hazu desu. (You ought to study English more.)
Hazu can also be added to some conjugated forms:
• Bob mo ikitai hazu. (Bob will probably also want to go.) • (Watashi wa) Keiko ni furansugo o benkyou saseru hazu desu ka. (Am I supposed to make Keiko study French?)
While hazu can be used for "supposed to" in most straightforward situations as conveyed in the above examples, the fundamental differences between Japanese and English may cause you to run into some structures where something other than hazu is preferred, like ni natte iru or beki. As usual, practice makes perfect. As you gain experience in how these are used in natural conversation and literature you'll get a feel for them. I hope to cover them in more detail later on. Lesson 21 Base 3 + hou ga ii
This one is used for "should do", "had better do", "would rather do." Actually, the hou means "way" or "method," and ii means "good" or "better," so when you use hou ga ii you're literally saying "...way is good/better."
• (Watashi wa) kanojo ni denwa suru hou ga ii. (I should call her.) • (Watashitachi wa) sukoshi yasumu hou ga ii. (We had better rest a little.) • (Anata wa) motto nihongo o benkyou suru hou ga ii. (You should study Japanese more.)
Hou ga ii is especially fitting when expressing a preferred choice or method:
• Kyou densha de iku hou ga ii. (It would be better to go by train today.) • Raishuu suru hou ga ii. (It would be better to do it next week.) • Ato de taberu hou ga ii. (It would be better to eat later.)
When showing personal preference, you can skip the verb and use hou ga ii right after a noun with no:
• Yakiniku no hou ga ii. (I'd rather have barbequed meat and vegetables.) • Inu no hou ga ii. (I'd rather get a dog.) • Hawaii no hou ga ii. (I'd rather go to Hawaii.)
As with most verb endings, and according to the grammar books, desu can be added to hou ga ii to make it more polite, but, frankly, I have yet to actually hear hou ga ii desu in daily conversation. When you hear it, the sentence will usually end with hou ga ii, which makes it easier to catch than many other endings.
If there is any confusion between hou ga ii and hazu, which was covered in Lesson 20, just remember that hou ga ii is generally active -- should do, prefer -- while hazu is more passive -- should be, should happen.
kanojo: she, her denwa suru: call (someone) on a telephone sukoshi: a little yasumu: to rest motto: more nihongo: the Japanese language benkyou suru: to study kyou: today densha: train iku: to go raishuu: next week suru: to do ato de: later taberu: to eat yakiniku: Japanese-style grilled meat with vegetables inu: dog
Lesson 22 Base 3 + ka dou ka
Ka dou ka is the Japanese equivalent of the English "whether or not." It's straightforward enough and easy to use:
• Kare wa dekiru ka dou ka kikimashou. (I'll ask him whether or not he can do it.) • Watashitachi wa iku ka dou ka mada wakarimasen. (I don't know yet if we are going.) • Inu wa ima tabetai ka dou ka mimashou. (Let's see if the dog wants to eat now.)
As can be seen in the examples above, ka dou ka does not end a sentence, but connects two phrases which contain verbs. It's like using "whether or not" in English, only the component order is opposite in Japanese. The color coding used in the examples above should make this clear.
kare: he, him dekiru: can; to be able to kiku: to ask mada: not yet wakaru: to know; to understand inu: dog ima: now taberu: to eat miru: to see, look, watch
Lesson 23 Base 3 + kamo shiremasen
Though a bit of a tongue twister, this one is used frequently, so you'll want to master it right away. Kamo shiremasen means "maybe, perhaps." Let's look at a few examples:
• Watashi wa raishuu Osaka ni iku kamo shiremasen. (Maybe I'll go to Osaka next week.) • Jack mo kuru kamo shiremasen. (Jack may also come.) • Ashita yuki ga furu kamo shiremasen. (It might snow tomorrow.)
As you sharp ones have noticed, this conjugation ends with the polite negative ending masen, meaning that, yes, you can change it to the plain form nai if you don't need to be polite:
• Ashita ame ga furu kamo shirenai. (It might rain tomorrow.) • Komban watashitachi wa soto de taberu kamo shirenai. (We may eat out tonight.)
Because nai follows shiru (to know) after it has been changed to its Base 1 form for plain negative (shiranai), and because masen follows shiru after it has been changed to its Base 2 form for polite negative (shirimasen), it is common for foreigners to slip when using kamo shirenai or kamo shiremasen and say "kamo shiranai" or "kamo shirimasen." These are incorrect, so please be careful when pronouncing.
Actually (for those who appreciate the technical aspect of things), the shire in this conjugation does come from shiru: it's its "conditional" Base 4 form, where it is converted to shireru (can know). As such, it is handled the same as an ichidan verb (please review Lesson 1 if necessary), and is conjugated accordingly. Simply put, shirenai and shiremasen are the Base 1 and 2 forms of shireru with the plain negative nai or the polite negative masen added on. Therefore, when you say kamo shirenai or kamo shiremasen you are saying "cannot be known."
Since this verb ending is rather long, people sometimes shorten it to just kamo, as in:
• Ashita Bob kara e-mail ga kuru kamo. (Perhaps we'll get an e-mail from Bob tomorrow.)
I suggest, however, that you don't abbreviate it in this way until you are familiar enough with the language to make it sound natural, and familiar enough with the culture to know whether or not it's appropriate.
komban: this evening; tonight soto: outside kara: from
Lesson 24 Base 3 + kara
Kara is the often-used equivalent to our "because" or "since." It comes at the end of the phrase it modifies, the reason or cause of the action:
• Tabun ame ga furu kara, kasa o motte ikimashou. (Since it will probably rain, let's take umbrellas.) • Beth wa itsumo okureru kara, denwa shimasu. (Beth is always late, so I'll call her.)
In spoken Japanese, you'll often hear the action stated first, with its reason, signified by kara at the end, given after. In this case, grammatically speaking, they each become separate sentences. Let's do this to the above examples:
• Kasa o motte ikimashou. Tabun ame ga furu kara. (Let's take umbrellas since it'll probably rain.) • Watashi wa Beth ni denwa suru. Itsumo okureru kara. (I'll call Beth because she's always late.
Kara is very handy and can be used with many other verb forms and endings. Let's look at a few examples:
• Gyuunyuu ga nai kara, mise ni ikimasu. (We don't have any milk, so I'm going to the store.) • Jisho o kaitai kara, honya ni ikimasu. (I'm going to the bookstore because I want to buy a dictionary.) • Suzuki-san no ie ni ikitakunai! Itsumo iya na mono o tabesaseru kara. (I don't want to go to Mr. Suzuki's place
because he always makes me eat nasty stuff.) • Ongaku o kikimasu. Terebi o mitakunai kara. (I'm going to listen to music because I don't want to watch TV.) • Kenji wa kanada no gakkou ni ikimashita kara, eigo ga jouzu desu. (Kenji went to a Canadian school, so his
English is good.)
You may remember a different kara from Lesson 23, which means "from." Just like English, Japanese has many words that are written and pronounced the same as others while having a different meaning, helping to make the study of languages the wonderfully complicated pain that it is! But, no problem. Again, just like English, context and experience with sentence structure will eventually make it all very easy.
tabun: probably ame: rain furu: to fall (rain, snow, etc.) motte iku: to take (something with you) itsumo: always okureru: to be late gyuunyuu: milk mise: store jisho: dictionary honya: bookstore ie: house, home iya na: bad, nasty, disgusting mono: thing; stuff ongaku: music kiku: to listen kanada: Canada gakkou: school eigo: the English language jouzu: be good at; skilled
Lesson 25 Base 3 + keredomo
This one is used for "although" or "but," so, as you can imagine, it's used a lot. Like "but" in English, it comes between the contrasting phrases. Let's try some examples:
• Kare wa nihongo o hanasu keredomo, heta desu. (He speaks Japanese, but he's not good at it.) • Keiko wa piano o yoku renshuu suru keredomo, jouzu ni narimasen. (Keiko practices the piano a lot, but she
doesn't get any better.) 44
• Jack wa kenkou ni ki o tsukeru keredomo, yoku byouki shimasu. (Although Jack is careful about his health, he gets sick a lot.)
Keredomo is easy to master because you'll hear it used often, as well as its shorter forms, keredo and kedo.
nihongo: the Japanese language hanasu: to speak heta: be poor at, not good at something; unskilled yoku: (used before a verb) often, a lot, frequently renshuu suru: to practice jouzu: be good at something; skilled (direct opposite of heta) ...ni naru: to become (something) kenkou: health ki o tsukeru: to take care byouki suru: to get sick, be sick
Lesson 26 Base 3 + koto ga dekimasu
Koto ga dekimasu is a long one, and is added to the plain (Base 3) form of a verb to simply show ability to do that verb. But first, in order to make this lesson as uncomplicated as possible, let's look at each part.
First is koto. No, this isn't the well-known instrument of Japanese classical music. This is the mundane koto that gets lots of daily wear and tear changing Japanese verbs to nouns. Well, it really doesn't change the verb, it is added after the verb so that it can be used like a noun. In English, we add ing to make a noun out of a verb, like reading in the sentence I like reading. (Remember studying "gerunds" in school?) Anyway, in Japanese we do the same thing by adding koto after a plain verb form. Like our ing, koto has no practical use by itself. If you have to have a translation, "the thing of" is probably the closest you can get. Better than all this talk would be an example. Watch carefully:
yomu (to read) + koto (the thing of) = yomu koto (the thing of reading; reading as a noun [gerund])
• Watashi wa yomu koto ga suki. (I like reading.)
The literal translation of the above example would be "I like the thing of reading; I like reading as a thing to do." Does this help? If not, no problem. It'll come. Let's move on.
Next, the verb dekiru means "can" or "be able to." In this lesson it is shown in its polite form dekimasu, but dekiru is also fine when you don't need to be polite. (If you need to review ichidan verbs with masu go back to Lesson 3.)
Finally, the particle ga is what you use to join koto and dekimasu. Just think of koto ga dekimasu as a set phrase. Here are some examples:
• Watashi wa nihongo o yomu koto ga dekimasu. (I can read Japanese.) • Keiko wa piano o hiku koto ga dekimasu. (Keiko can play the piano.) • Ashita Jack wa Tokushima ni iku koto ga dekimasu. (Jack can go to Tokushima tomorrow.)
Now, for kicks -- no, actually for review -- let's try some other endings on dekiru, and see what happens:
• Watashi wa furansugo o yomu koto ga dekimasen. (I can't read French.) • Bob wa Junko ni denwa suru koto ga dekimashita. (Bob was able to call Junko.) • Richard wa ika o taberu koto ga dekimasen deshita. (Richard couldn't eat the squid.)
And let's throw in one with a plain ending:
• (one boy to another) Boku wa jitensha ni noru koto ga dekiru! (I can ride a bicycle!)
Yes, it's a long ending for just "can," but there are a few shortcuts and alternatives. With "suru verbs," like denwa suru used in one of the above examples, you can drop the suru and just add dekiru. For example, "Bob wa Junko ni denwa suru koto ga dekimashita." can be shortened to: "Bob wa Junko ni denwa dekimashita." Denwa is a noun, and adding the suru makes it a verb, so instead of adding koto to make it a noun again (and long one), you can just omit suru. Here are a couple more:
• Furansugo o nihongo ni honyaku dekimasu. (I can translate French into Japanese. • Kinou, John wa benkyou dekimasen deshita. (John wasn't able to study yesterday.)
Either way, long or short, they're both used, but the shorter version is more common in daily conversation.
Again, dekiru or one of its forms can directly follow a noun as long as it's one that uses suru to change it to a verb; in that case the suru is omitted. After verbs you add koto ga before dekiru.
There is a short alternative for other verbs, but that'll have to wait until we get into the Base 4 endings.
One last thing: I described the meaning of koto as "the thing of," but please don't think that koto can mean any "thing." It generally means intangible "things": ideas, essences, meanings, expressions, actions, etc. It means "thing" as used in the sentence saving money is a good thing. It is generally not used for physical things or objects. It does not mean "thing" in money is a good thing to have. There is another word in Japanese which is used for physical things: mono; but we'll have to save that one for a future lesson.
Matsu koto ga dekimasu ka. (Can you wait?)
koto: the "thing" or idea of something done yomu: to read suki: to like something dekiru: can; to be able to do something nihongo: the Japanese language hiku: to play (a stringed instrument) ashita: tomorrow iku: to go furansugo: the French language denwa: a telephone denwa suru: to call someone using a telephone ika: squid taberu: to eat boku: I (masculine familiar) jitensha: bicycle noru: to ride honyaku suru: to translate kinou: yesterday
benkyou suru: to study matsu: to wait
Lesson 27 Base 3 + koto ni shimasu
The ending koto ni shimasu has essentially the same meaning as the verb kimeru, which was introduced long ago in Lesson 1. It shows that you have made a decision, and it shows that the decision was yours.
As I'm sure you know by now, koto ni shimasu is the polite form; koto ni suru is the plain.
Here are some polite present and past tense examples:
• Watashi wa ashita kaimono ni iku koto ni shimasu. (I'll go shopping tomorrow.) • Jones sensei wa ashita no suugaku no jugyou o junbi suru koto ni shimashita. (Mr. Jones decided to prepare for
tomorrow's math class.) • Watashi wa mainichi nihongo o benkyou suru koto ni shimashita. (I've decided to study Japanese every day.)
kimeru: to decide kaimono ni iku: to go shopping sensei: teacher (used as a title to replace san, etc.) suugaku: mathematics jugyou: a class or lesson in a particular subject junbi suru: to prepare mainichi: every day benkyou suru: to study
Lesson 28 Base 3 + made
This one is very easy. Made means "until," and is added after the plain form of a verb:
• Yukiko wa kuru made taberu koto ga dekimasen. (We can't eat until Yukiko comes.) • Bob wa denwa suru made matanakereba narimasen. (We have to wait until Bob calls.) • Shukudai ga owaru made terebi o misemasen. (I won't let you watch TV until you've finished your homework.)
As in English, made may be used with nouns which refer to times, periods, or seasons:
• Yuushoku made machinasai. (Wait until dinner.) • Natsu yasumi made ato ni shuu kan desu. (It's two weeks until summer vacation.) • Haru made matsu hou ga ii deshou. (It'll probably be best to wait until spring.)
matsu: to wait shukudai: homework owaru: to end, be finished terebi: TV miseru: to show; to let (someone) see, watch (something) yuushoku: dinner natsu yasumi: summer vacation ato: after, in (as in "It'll be spring in 2 months.") ni: two shuu kan: a week; a week-long period haru: spring
Lesson 29 Base 3 + na
This, you could say, is the counterpart to Lesson 10. In Lesson 10 we created short positive commands using Base 2 + nasai, like:
• Tabenasai! (Eat!) • Suwarinasai! (Sit down!) • Koko ni kinasai! (Come here!)
In this lesson we will make short negative commands -- "don't do's" -- by simply adding na to plain (Base 3) verbs. First, let's make the above examples negative:
• Taberu na! (Don't eat!) • Suwaru na! (Don't sit down!) • Koko ni kuru na! (Don't come here!; Stay away from here!; Stay away from me!)
Now let's add a few more:
• Terebi o miru na! (Don't watch TV!) • Sawaru na! (Don't touch!) • Enki suru na! (Don't put it off!)
And two which are very useful to teachers in Japan:
• Shaberu na! (Don't talk!) • Neru na! (Don't sleep!)
This is a command form with no politeness whatsoever connected to it. It usually conveys displeasure or even anger. It is generally used as a "last resort" after more polite requests are tried and ignored. However, as with English, it can be "softened" or used jokingly with the right intonation and facial expression.
This is one that will probably not be used very often, but if you do, be careful how, and to whom, you use it.
taberu: to eat miru: to look, watch suwaru: to sit sawaru: to touch
Note: Be careful with suwaru and sawaru! They are very similar and can be easily mistaken. We've all heard (here in Japan) of the gaijin who got on the train and asked if he could sit next to the girl. He thought he said, "Mind if I sit down?" when he actually asked, "Mind if I touch?"
enki suru: to postpone, put off kuru: to come shaberu: to talk neru: to sleep gaijin: foreigner
Lesson 30 Base 3 + nara
This is one of several ways to make conditional sentences -- sentences with "if." We've already covered negative conditionals in Lesson 15. Now let's use nara to make some positive ones:
• Isogu nara, tsugi no densha ni noru koto ga dekimasu. (If we hurry we'll be able to make the next train.) • Kare wa Yuko o miru nara, watashi ni shirasemasu. (If he sees Yuko, he'll let me know.) • Ame ga furu nara, watashitachi wa nureru deshou. (If it rains we're sure to get wet.) • John ni denwa suru nara, kuru deshou. (If you call John he'll probably come.) • Kodomotachi wa ima sunakku o taberu nara, yuushoku o tabenai deshou. (If the kids eat a snack now, they
probably won't eat dinner.)
Sooner or later you will run into naraba, which is just a slight variation. They are used the same way and mean the same thing, but nara is more common.
isogu: to hurry tsugi: next densha: train noru: to ride shiraseru: to notify nureru: to get wet kodomotachi: children ima: now sunakku: snack (This is wasei eigo, Japanese English.) yuushoku: dinner
Lesson 31 Base 3 + (any noun)
In English we have what are officially called relative pronouns, words that connect a noun to an action. As a quick review, they are like:
• which in "This is the dictionary which I'll buy for my brother's birthday present." • where in "Kobe is where she will take the exam." • that in "Spring is the season that brings new life."
Of course, most native English speakers tend to simply use that for all of them, or omit them completely when they can get away with it, like in the first example above.
In Japanese, there are no "relative pronouns." (This is why teaching about these pesky words and the grammar related to them is so difficult in Japan. And, to make matters worse, the way English grammar books used in the schools here are written gives you the impression that mastering all aspects and usages of relative pronouns is the most important thing one needs to learn about English. But, that's another story...) All you do is simply add the noun in question to the plain form of the verb in question. Let's look at these simple phrases:
• watashi ga noru densha (the train I'll take) • kare ga iku tokoro (the place he'll go) • kanojo no deru jikan (the time she'll leave) • watashitachi ga au kyaku (the customer we'll meet)
Now, as I sit here and look at these four phrases, which are examples involving a thing, a place, a time, and a person, respectively, I can see several things which need to be explained; things I'd like to explain, but can't without going off on a tangent which would warrant a completely new, and lengthy, page. For example, a new learner may well ask: why ga after the subjects above, instead of the usual wa? Why no after kanojo instead of ga? Well, to offer very general, but hopefully sufficient for the present, explanations, we'll go off on just a tiny tangent here:
Wa indicates the main subject or topic of the whole sentence, and is handled by the final verb. For example, the entire phrase watashi ga noru densha above could be the subject in: Watashi ga noru densha wa hachi ji ni demasu. (My train leaves at eight o'clock.) In this sentence, densha (train) is the main subject, and deru (to leave) tells us what it will do; watashi ga noru just gives us more information about the train, watashi ga noru densha simply pinning it down as the "train I will take" or "my train."
Ga indicates a subject within a phrase, a "sub-subject," you might say, or a noun which needs emphasis. Continuing with the above example, ga tells us who will take the train.
No is often used in place of ga, especially in informal spoken Japanese, which is why I decided to leave it as it is in the example above. Ga or no could be used here, so I feel that the learner may as well get used to both, since he or she will surely be hearing both. Please remember that no also has another job as the indicator for possessives, like our 's, as in Sore wa Kimiko no kasa desu. (That is Kimiko's umbrella.)
Now, back to the lesson:
First, let's translate the first example at the top of the page:
• Kore wa watashi no otouto no tanjoubi purezento ni kau jisho desu. (This is the dictionary I'll buy for my [younger] brother's birthday present.)
Since this is natural Japanese, the watashi (I) telling who'll buy the dictionary is obviously understood as the speaker, and therefore omitted. The watashi in the sentence is actually a part of the possessive pronoun watashi no (my). If you can
keep these things straight now it will really be a big help later. I've colored the main subject blue and the main verb red to help show how the Base 3 verb + noun relationship works.
One more point of interest is the word purezento here, which is yet another example of wasei eigo: words borrowed from English and twisted to serve in the Japanese language.
Now let's do the second example shown at the top of this page:
• Kobe wa kanojo ga shiken o ukeru tokoro desu. (Kobe is where she'll take the exam.)
In this one, the English "where," as a relative pronoun, automatically designates a place, but since Japanese has no equivalent, a substitute noun must be used. Kobe is a place, so tokoro is used after the verb. As you may have noticed, a truer English translation would be, "Kobe is the place where she'll take the exam," but "the place" is redundant and unnecessary in English, and so it would most likely be omitted. Tokoro and where are roughly equivalent here in only a grammatical sense; they do not mean the same thing.
As you can see, both English and Japanese have their own set of rules concerning what and when something is unnecessary and can be omitted. The problem is that the rules are totally different in each language. As a general, semi-accurate rule, English and Japanese are on opposite ends from each other on the "language spectrum"; what applies to one doesn't necessarily apply to the other, and vice versa; and when trying to make sense of one, you must forget all the rules of the other.
Finally, the last example from the top:
• Haru wa atarashii inochi o motarasu kisetsu desu. (Spring is the season that brings new life.)
This one is pretty straightforward, and shouldn't be too difficult.
I hope this lesson was clear enough. These "relative pronoun substitution" sentences can be difficult, and are in the realm of mid- to high-intermediate Japanese. Please come back regularly to review as necessary. Practice makes perfect!
noru: to ride densha: train tokoro: a place deru: to leave, depart jikan: time au: to meet kyaku: customer, guest otouto: younger brother tanjoubi: birthday purezento: a present shiken: examination ukeru: to receive; to take a test haru: (the season of) spring atarashii: new inochi: life motarasu: to bring about, produce; to cause to happen kisetsu: season
Lesson 32 Base 3 + no desu
There is two ways to look at this ending: one is simply another way to create polite sentences, and the other is a way to make emphatic ones.
We have already learned how to use Base 2 + masu to make polite sentences way back in Lessons 2 and 3. Here are the examples used in Lesson 2:
• Mama wa mise de banana o kaimasu. (Mom buys/will buy bananas at the store.) • Jim wa manga o yomimasu. (Jim will read a comic book.) • Ojii-san wa sugu kaerimasu. (Grandpa will return soon.)
Remember these? I hope so. If not, you need to review. Now we will end these same sentences by using Base 3 with no desu instead:
• Mama wa mise de banana o kau no desu. (Mom buys/will buy bananas at the store.) • Jim wa manga o yomu no desu. (Jim will read a comic book.) • Ojii-san wa sugu kaeru no desu. (Grandpa will return soon.)
The meanings are the same as long as they're said using a regular, unexcited intonation. However, if you want to emphasize something, especially something you're sure of (or think you're sure of), you put stress on the verb before no desu:
• Ashita watashi wa Kyoto ni IKU no desu! (I AM going to Kyoto tomorrow!) • Anta wa kono sashimi o TABERU no desu! (You WILL eat this raw fish!) • Bokutachi no chiimu wa KATSU no desu! (Our team WILL win!)
A variant of this is to leave out the no and instead attach an "n" sound onto the stressed verb, like this:
• Watashi wa IKUN desu! (I AM going!) • Kanojo wa KURUN desu. (She IS coming.) • Ashita wa ame ga FURUN desu. (I tell you, it IS going to rain tomorrow.)
As in any other language, the level of emphasis can vary greatly depending on the situation, need, or habits of the speaker, and may be fine-tuned by using certain voice inflections and facial expressions, as well as supporting body language like hand waving, fist pounding, stomping around, writhing, etc.
anta: familiar form of "you"; Care must be taken with this because it can be considered rude in some situations. sashimi: raw fish bokutachi: familiar form of "we" or "us" (boku + tachi) chiimu: team (This is wasei eigo, Japanese English.) katsu: to win
Lesson 33 Base 3 + no ni
No ni is added to plain verb forms to mean "in order to" (do whatever). There's nothing really tricky about it, except that instead of being found at the end of a sentence, it's usually found somewhere near the middle, where it helps to establish certain conditions concerning the verb in question. A look at some examples would probably be the best way to see how it works:
• Kono tegami o okuru no ni ikura desu ka? (How much will it cost to send this letter?) • Tokyo yuki no densha ni noru no ni asu hayaku okinakereba narimasen. (We'll have to get up early tomorrow in
order to make the train for Tokyo.) • Hitsuyou na kanji o subete oboeru no ni daibun jikan ga kakaru. (It takes quite a long time to learn all of the
Please keep in mind that there is also a noni, meaning "in spite of," which we will cover later on. These are easy to keep straight when used in context.
kono: this tegami: letter okuru: to send ikura: how much? -yuki: bound for (This is added after the destination: Osaka-yuki, Takamatsu-yuki, etc.) densha: train noru: to ride, get on (a mode of transportation) asu: tomorrow hayaku: early (quickly) okiru: to get up hitsuyou (na): necessary, essential kanji: Chinese characters; specifically, the characters which were adopted from the Chinese then modified to be used in modern Japanese subete: all oboeru: to learn, remember daibun (or daibu): quite, rather, considerably jikan: time kakaru: to take (time); to cost (money): Kakaru actually has many meanings and uses. Please consult a dictionary for more.
Lesson 34 Base 3 + no wa
Do you remember koto, which was introduced back in Lesson 26? The no in no wa plays the same role, and is the easiest way to make a noun out of a verb: yomu (to read) + no (wa) (the thing of) = yomu no wa ([the thing of] reading [is]). Wa is the subject indicator.
Look at these examples:
• Yomu no wa tanoshii desu. (Reading is enjoyable.) • Nihongo o hanasu no wa kantan desu. (Speaking Japanese is easy.)
• Hayaku okiru no wa tokidoki muzukashii desu. (Getting up early is sometimes difficult.) • Kasei ni sumu no wa mada fukanou desu. (Living on Mars is not yet possible.) • Hawaii ni iku no wa saikou desu! (Going to Hawaii is great!)
Please remember that there are other no's, mainly the one used for possessives, like our 's, as in:
• Jim no jisho wa ao de, boku no wa aka desu. (Jim's dictionary is blue; mine is red.);
and the one used with aru or nai to show the existence or non-existence of something, as in:
• Hontou ni mondai no nai tabi deshita. (It really was a problem-free trip.)
tanoshii: fun, enjoyable hanasu: to speak kantan: easy tokidoki: sometimes muzukashii: hard, difficult kasei: Mars sumu: to live mada: not yet; still not fukanou: not possible, impossible saikou: great; the greatest; the best jisho: dictionary ao: blue aka: red hontou (ni): real(ly) mondai: problem nai: to not be; to not exist tabi: trip
Lesson 35 Base 3 + node
Back in Lesson 24 we met kara, which is used to show reasons or causes. In this lesson we will take a look at node, which is used for pretty much the same thing in pretty much the same way:
• O-kyaku ga kuru node watashi wa ima deru koto ga dekimasen. (A guest is coming so I can't go out now.) • Ashita hayaku okiru node hayaku neru. (I have to get up early tomorrow so I'm going to bed early.) • Eiko wa eigo o hanasu koto ga dekiru node ii shigoto o mitsukeru deshou. (Since Eiko can speak English, she'll
probably find a good job.)
So, what's the difference between node and kara? Good question. My grammar book says that node simply states a fact while kara emphasizes the reason. From native speakers I have heard that node sounds "softer" and more polite, and is therefore preferred when people are involved. For example, in the first example sentence above a person (the guest) is concerned, and using node tells the listener(s) that there is respect and no displeasure regarding the visit. If kara was used instead, it could imply that the speaker would like to go out but can't because of an expected guest whose visit is not
exactly looked forward to. In other words, if you want to imply that a person is more than just a "reason" for something, use node; if you are talking about just a reason for something use kara, as in:
• Jisho ga nai kara kaimasu. (I'm going to buy a dictionary because I don't have one.) • Ashita ame ga furu kara ikimasen. (It's going to rain tomorrow so I'm not going.)
But remember that there's nothing grammatically wrong with using node here instead. It just depends on what you want to emphasize and the "feeling" you want to convey.
o-kyaku: guest (Just kyaku is "guest" out of context, the o- prefix makes it "honorific.") ima: now deru: go out ashita: tomorrow neru: to go to bed; to sleep eigo: English hanasu: to speak ii: good shigoto: job mitsukeru: to find ame: rain
Lesson 36 Base 3 + noni
As promised in Lesson 33, this short lesson is about noni, which is used to mean "in spite of":
• "Yamenasai" to iu noni, kanojo wa kikimasen. (Despite my telling her to stop, she won't listen.) • Hayaku okita noni okureta. (I was late even though I got up early.)
Noni is also put at the end of sentences to express aggravation at an unexpected or undesirable outcome:
• Annani doryoku shita noni! (After all my efforts!) • Asoko ni "iku na" to itta noni! (And after I told him not to go there!)
Noni is used a lot. Keep an ear out for it and you'll catch it.
yameru: to stop something; to quit a job or habit iu: to say, tell (Itta used in the last example above is its Base 7 form [sometimes called the "ta form"], which is used for plain past structures.) kiku: to listen; to follow rules or orders; to heed advice okiru: to get up (Okita used in the example above is its Base 7 form, for the plain past.) okureru: to be late (This example also uses the Base 7 form.) annani: that much; so much doryoku suru: to work hard at something; to make efforts (Shita is the Base 7 form of suru.) asoko: there; over there (usually emphasizes distance)
Lesson 37 Base 3 + sou desu
Use sou desu after Base 3 for things you've heard, understand to be, rumors, etc. For example:
• Hiru kara ame ga furu sou desu. (I hear it's going to rain in the afternoon.) • Kayo wa raishuu kara resutoran de baito o hajimeru sou desu. (I heard that Kayo's going to start working part-
time at a restaurant next week.) • Takada-san wa yameru sou desu. (I heard that Mr. Takada's quitting.)
Please remember that sou desu by itself has nothing to do with hearsay. It means "that's right" and often follows hai, as in "Hai, sou desu." (Yes, that's right.)
As you have probably guessed, sou da can be used when you don't feel like being polite.
hiru kara: from noon; in the (early) afternoon resutoran: restaurant (This is wasei eigo, Japanese English.) baito: a part-time job (This is wasei doitsugo, Japanese German. The actual word is arubaito, but is more often than not shortened to baito.)
Note: An interesting "culture" exists in the use of work-related words in Japan. While most English speakers who are asked what they did the day before will answer "I worked" if they worked, the Japanese will rarely use the equivalent Japanese hataraita. They use a noun geared to their type of job. A full-time employee will use shigoto, meaning "my regular job as a bona fide company employee"; a student will say baito, meaning "my part-time job I'm doing while going to school"; and a housewife will use paato (Japanized part from part-time), which means "the job I do as a part-timer along with being a housewife."
hajimeru: to begin
Lesson 38 Base 3 + tame ni
When you see tame, it usually means "for the purpose of; in order to," and is often followed by the optional ni. Take a look at these:
• Hiroko wa mensetsu o ukeru tame ni Osaka ni ikimasu. (Hiroko's going to Osaka for an interview.) • Nyuujouken o kau tame ni daibun machimashita. (I waited quite a while to buy tickets.) • Nihongo o benkyou suru tame ni atarashii jisho o kaimashita. (I bought a new dictionary to study Japanese.)
Tame is a very handy word, and can also be used in various expressions with nouns. Here are some popular ones:
• Kimi no tame ni shimashita yo! (I did it for you! [very familiar]) • Kore wa kimi no tame ni. (This is for you. [plain, talking down or very familiar]) • Kore wa okaa-san no tame desu. (This is for you, Mom. [The ni is deleted when the polite desu is added.]) • Hai, Hawaii ni iku tame no koukuuken desu. (Okay, here are your air tickets to Hawaii. [Use no when putting a
noun after tame. It shows the thing which has the purpose of something. In this case, tickets whose purpose is going to Hawaii.])
• Kore wa nan no tame no kaigi? (What is the purpose of this meeting? [plain])
• Nan no tame no dougu? (What's this tool for? [very plain])
Tame is used a lot. Good luck with it!
mensetsu: an interview ukeru: to get, receive; have (an interview); take (an exam) nyuujouken: an addmission ticket daibun: quite (a lot; a while) koukuuken: an air ticket nan/nani: what kaigi: a meeting dougu: a tool
Lesson 39 Base 3 + to
There are four basic uses for to. (Remember, that's pronounced "toh.") It can mean and, with, when, or if. After a plain (Base 3) verb it is roughly the same as when or if, or even both:
• Massugu iku to Ritsurin Kouen ga miemasu. (If you go straight you'll see Ritsurin Park.) • Natsu ni naru to kodomotachi wa umi ni ikitakunarimasu. (When summer comes the kids want to go to the
beach.) • Sashimi o taberu to byouki ni naru. (I get sick whenever I eat raw fish.)
Please keep in mind that to is used in this sense to show absolute, unchanging, or routine things: Ritsurin Park is always there, the kids always want to go to the beach in the summer, etc. It can also be used to mean "soon after" in constructions which mention single, past occurrences:
• Ie ni kaeru to, sugu shukudai o shimashita. (I did my homework as soon as I got home.)
Note that kaeru is left in its plain form; shukudai o suru is in the past tense.
And here are sample sentences with to as and and with:
• Kimiko to Bob wa tanjou paateii ni kimashita. (Kimiko and Bob came to the birthday party.) • Kimiko wa Bob to kimashita. (Kimiko came with Bob.)
massugu: straight mieru: to be able to see (something) natsu: summer naru: to become kodomotachi: children umi: the sea
Note: There is a Japanese word for beach (sunahama), but it is not generally used. When referring to the beach in Japanese, use umi.
ikitakunaru: to begin to feel like going (somewhere)
Note: The above belongs to the branch of Base 2 + tai/taku (to want) endings which were covered in Lessons 7 and 8. While not specifically covered, takunaru puts tai and naru together, meaning "come to want; begin to want." Iki (Base 2 of iku, to go) + taku (tai, to want to do, with the ku connector) + naru (to become) = ikitakunaru, to become to want to go. It's as simple as that.
sashimi: raw fish kaeru: to return; to go/come back sugu: right away; soon shukudai: homework tanjou paateii: birthday party (Paateii is wasei eigo, Japanese English, of "party.")
Lesson 40 Base 3 + to omoimasu
For better or worse, Japan is a country where being reserved is a good thing. It's okay to have an opinion, but speaking as if you're dead sure about something is looked down on, especially in the workplace. When promoting your own ideas or opinions, using to omoimasu after plain verbs is one of the most socially acceptable, and expected, things you can do. It means simply "I think," and shows that you admit that what you're talking about isn't a fact (even though it might be).
Now that it's been explained, I think it can be applied very easily:
• Bob wa goji ni kaeru to omoimasu. (I think Bob will come back at five o'clock.) • Eiko wa eigo o hanasu koto ga dekiru to omoimasu. (I think Eiko can speak English.) • Koji wa okureru to omoimasu. (I think Koji will be late.) • Sasaki-san wa mou sugu kochira ni denwa suru to omou. (I think Ms. Sasaki will call us soon.) • Ashita wa ame ga furu to omou. (I think it'll rain tomorrow.)
As you can see from the last examples, omou can be used for plain speech, omoimasu being simply its Base 2 form with polite masu added. Accordingly, the other Base 2 endings also apply:
• Eiko wa eigo o hanasu koto ga dekiru to omoimasen. (I don't think Eiko can speak English.) • Koji wa okureru to omoimasen deshita. (I didn't think that Koji would be late.) • Kyou ame ga furu to omoimashita. (I thought/knew it would rain today [, and it did.]) • Kyou ame ga furu to omoimashita noni. (I thought it would rain today [, but it didn't.])
In a way, this ending is a lot like deshou, which was covered in Lesson 19. The major difference is that deshou is used to show that you don't really know, don't really care, or don't really have any control over something, as in the "I think it'll rain tomorrow" example above, while to omoimasu shows that you do know (to a certain degree), care, or have some control. In the workplace you would always want to use to omoimasu concerning things you are responsible for because deshou would sound very irresponsible.
To omoimasu can be used after some conjugations, like:
• Kyou densha de iku hou ga ii to omou. (I think it would be better to go by train today.) • Kodomotachi wa umi ni ikitai to omou. (I think the kids want to go to the beach.)
Again, in Japan being reserved is a respected characteristic. People will use to omoimasu even when they know.
omou: to think goji: five o'clock (5:00) (go [five] + ji [time]) kaeru: to return (intransitive: someone returns, goes back, comes back) eigo: the English language hanasu: to speak okureru: to be late mou sugu: soon kochira: here; towards me, us
Lesson 41 Base 3 + tsumori desu
Base 3 plus tsumori is used to express an intention:
• Watashi wa sanji made ni kaeru tsumori. (I plan to be back by three o'clock.) • Steve wa Canada ni iku tsumori to omou. (I think Steve plans to go to Canada.) • Keiko wa Kyoto Daigaku ni hairu tsumori desu. (Keiko intends to go to Kyoto University.) • Aa! Goji ni Bob ni denwa suru tsumori deshita! (Oh, no! I meant to call Bob at five o'clock!)
As usual, add desu to make it polite. Deshita, as you should know by now, is for past tense.
In case you're wondering, yes, technically speaking, tsumori is the Base 2 form of its plain form tsumoru, but you will never hear tsumoru (to intend) used. You will, however, hear the other verb tsumoru, which means "to accumulate, build up," used a lot, especially in the winter when people talk about snow piling up: yuki ga tsumoru. While sounding alike, their meanings are completely different, so please be careful not to confuse them.
Well, that was a short one.
sanji: three o'clock (3:00) (san [three] + ji [time]) made ni: (do something) by (a certain time, day, etc.) daigaku: university
Note: Unlike in the U. S. and other countries where the word college is used loosely, in Japan it is never used when referring to a traditional four-year university. College (karejji in romanized Japanese) is only used for junior colleges and vocational schools. Always use daigaku for university.
hairu: to go inside (a room); to enter/enroll in (a school); to join (a club)
Lesson 42 Base 3 + you desu
You desu after Base 3 verbs works like "seems to" in English:
• Mary wa ashita kuru you desu. (It seems that Mary will be coming tomorrow.)
• Sachiko wa Canada ni iku you desu. (It looks like Sachiko is going to Canada.) • Ken wa piano o hiku koto ga dekiru you desu. (It looks like Ken can play the piano.)
You desu and sou desu (Lesson 37) are similar and sometimes easy to confuse. Simply put, sou desu means you heard, directly or indirectly, that something is or will be, while you desu means you sensed something is or will be:
• Ame ga furu sou desu. (It's going to rain [because the weatherman, etc. said so].) • Ame ga furu you desu. (It's going to rain [because it suddenly got dark outside and you can smell it coming].)
To be honest, you desu is not really used that much in informal conversation. In its place you'll hear mitai a lot, which is a kind of "catch all" for you/sou desu statements. Ame ga furu mitai would be heard often instead of either of the above examples, meaning "it's going to rain" (because someone said so or there are signs that it's going to).
I might as well mention here that mitai can also be put after nouns to mean "looks like." If you watch TV or listen to young people talking you'll often hear baka mitai, "you look like an idiot."
hiku: to play (the piano or other stringed instrument) dekiru: to be able to (do something) (If you need to review koto ga dekiru go to Lesson 26.) mitai: it looks like... baka: idiot, fool
Lesson 43 Base 4 + ba
After a long hike through many Base 3 verb forms, I think it's about time to start on Base 4. First, let's borrow the tables used in Lesson 13 to review Bases 1 to 3, and show what Base 4 looks like. Remember that Bases 1 through 5 basically follow the Japanese vowels in their alphabetical order :
1. AH, a as in father 2. EE, e as in see 3. OO, u as in mule 4. EH, e as in red 5. OH, o as in mode
and that the verb changes to end with the vowel whose "base" it's of before anything is added to it. (There are some exceptions among the ichidan and irregular verbs.) Think of Base 3 as the "root," or "dictionary form," since that's the form you'll see when looking words up. Base 3 is the plain form of the verb; it's where you start. You change it into the other "bases" and add the endings or other stuff as necessary.
Now, look at these tables and notice how the verbs change from their plain (Base 3) form. Also notice how the last letter of each "base" corresponds in order with the vowels outlined above, except those pesky troublemakers in Bases 1 and 2 of the ichidans and Base 1 of the irregulars:
Base 1 Base 2 Base 3 (plain form) Base 4 kawa- kai- kau kae-
aruka- aruki- aruku aruke- isoga- isogi- isogu isoge- kasa- kashi- kasu kase- mata- machi- matsu mate- shina- shini- shinu shine- asoba- asobi- asobu asobe- yoma- yomi- yomu yome- kaera- kaeri- kaeru kaere-
Base 1 Base 2 Base 3 (plain form) Base 4 tabe- tabe- taberu tabere- oboe- oboe- oboeru oboere- kime- kime- kimeru kimere- de- de- deru dere- kari- kari- kariru karire- mi- mi- miru mire-
Base 1 Base 2 Base 3 (plain form) Base 4 ko- ki- kuru kure- shi- shi- suru sure-
Now that we know how to make Base 4, let's do a simple and useful conjugation. Do you remember Base 3 + nara, covered in Lesson 30? Well, Base 4 + ba does the same thing for you while being shorter and simpler.
Here are the example sentences from Lesson 30, converted to Base 4 + ba:
• Isogeba, tsugi no densha ni noru koto ga dekimasu. (If we hurry we'll be able to make the next train.) • Kare wa Yuko o mireba, watashi ni shirasemasu. (If he sees Yuko, he'll let me know.) • Ame ga fureba, watashitachi wa nureru deshou. (If it rains we're sure to get wet.) • John ni denwa sureba, kuru deshou. (If you call John he'll probably come.) • Kodomotachi wa ima sunakku o tabereba, yuushoku o tabenai deshou. (If the kids eat a snack now, they
probably won't eat dinner.)
Another use for this is to suggest doing something. Here, it's the equivalent of "Why don't you...?":
• Kyoto ni ikeba? (Why don't you go to Kyoto?) • Shichiji han ni dereba? (Why don't you leave at 7:30?) • A: Obaa-chan ni denwa shitai. (I want to call Grandma.)
B: Sureba? (Why don't you? [Go ahead and call her.])
This form of suggestion does not include the speaker, however. If you wanted to say "Why don't we go to Kyoto?" you would use mashou or something similar: Kyoto ni ikimashou ka?
shichiji han: 7:30 (shichi  + ji [hour; o'clock] + han [half])
Lesson 44 Base 4 + ba ii
In this lesson we are actually going to cover three Base 4 endings: ba ii and its handy cousins ba ii noni and ba yokatta. As we learned in the last lesson, Base 4 + ba gives you a conditional "if" meaning. Ii is Japanese for "good," and adding it to the Base 4 ba is a very easy way to convey the meaning "it would be good if..." as shown in these examples:
• Soto de asobeba ii. (It would be good if you played outside.) • Ima benkyou sureba ii. (Now would be a good time to study.) • Watashitachi wa karui shokuji o tabereba ii to omou. (I think it would be good if we ate a light meal.)
Adding noni (covered briefly in Lesson 36) adds "in spite of the fact that" to ba ii, and is usually used to show that you're bugged by someone or something not doing what you ask or wish, as in these example conversations:
• Mom: Tenki ga ii kara, soto de asobeba ii. (The weather's nice, so it would be good to play outside.) Kids: Terebi mitai. (We want to watch TV.) Mom, in a slightly discouraged or angry voice: Soto de asobeba ii noni. (Even though it would be nice to play outside. [I still wish you would play outside.])
• Naoko: Nanji ni kuru? (What time are you coming?) John: Goji goro. (Around five.) Naoko, slightly disappointed: Motto hayaku kureba ii noni. (It'd be nice if you could come earlier.)
As you can see, ba ii is for making suggestions or giving advice, like Base 3 + hou ga ii covered in Lesson 21 but not quite as strong. Adding noni shows your feelings regarding someone else's decision, especially when there's no chance of the decision being changed.
Adding yokatta to Base + ba shows regret for a decision already made:
• Hachiji ni kureba yokatta. (We should have come at 8:00.) • Kouen ni ikeba yokatta. (I wish we had gone to the park.) • Suteeki o chuumon sureba yokatta. (I wish I had ordered the steak.)
For those who may be wondering about the adjectives ii and yoi, yes, they both mean "good"; no, they are not completely interchangeable. Yoi can be used with ba instead of ii: Ima benkyou sureba yoi is fine and sometimes used. However, yoi is not used with noni. It's one of those things that feels okay in a grammatical sense but just isn't done. While most adjectives in Japanese have a past tense, quirky ii does not. When showing regret for mistakes the past tense of yoi, yokatta, is used after ba -- there is no such Japanese as ikatta.
Please bear in mind that the above explanation applies to familiar settings, and would not go over well when talking to superiors at work or anywhere where special respect is due. In those situations different constructions would be used.
By this stage of Japanese study, I trust that you are familiar with the wonderful convenience of being able to delete the subject when it is known. I have done this with most of the examples on this page. In the actual situation the subject(s) would be implied and known to all concerned, and therefore unnecessary in the sentence -- very handy when you get used to it.
soto: outside ima: now benkyou suru: to study karui: (adj.) light shokuji: food, a meal tenki: the weather (This is sometimes used with the honorific o-: otenki.) terebi: TV nanji: what time (nan [what] + ji [time, hour]) goro: around (used with times and periods) motto: more hayaku: early (adjectival form of hayai [fast]) suteeki: beef steak (wasei eigo) chuumon suru: to place an order
Lesson 45 Base 4 by itself: the plain imperative
If you want to give orders without a hint of kindness, just use Base 4. Actually, this is a form you really don't want to use. If you do, you'll probably be thought of as someone who has only limited and unconventional language ability. Or, if you look and act like you know what you're saying, you will definitely become unpopular quickly, and maybe even get into a fight. You'll hear this form mostly while watching Japanese TV and movies. It's simple: no subject or object needed, just the Base 4 form of the verb yelled out:
• Damare! (Shut up!) • Ike! (Go!) • Yare! (Do it!)
One situation where it can be used without offense is when you are cheering for someone during a sports event. There you will hear many yelling hashire! (Run!) or gambare! (Hang in there! / Go for it!)
Finally, please remember that this one only applies to yodan verbs. You wouldn't say sure for "do it" or mire for "look."
damaru: to be quiet yaru: to do (plain) hashiru: to run gambaru: to try hard; to not give up
Lesson 46 Base 4 + ru
You are now going to learn one of the handiest verb forms in the book: Base 4 + ru. I remember when I first learned this one -- it was like opening a new door. Simply put, Base 4 + ru is like a super shortcut to Base 3 + koto ga dekiru, which was covered back in Lesson 26. It shows ability to do something. For example, instead of the long Watashi wa iku koto ga dekiru (I can go) using Base 3 + koto ga dekiru, you can use Base 4 + ru and say the same thing with a much shorter expression: Watashi wa ikeru.
Now, let's take three examples from Lesson 26 and shorten them using Base 4 + ru:
• Watashi wa nihongo o yomu koto ga dekimasu. / Watashi wa nihongo o yomeru. (I can read Japanese.) • Keiko wa piano o hiku koto ga dekimasu. / Keiko wa piano o hikeru. (Keiko can play the piano.) • Ashita Jack wa Tokushima ni iku koto ga dekimasu. / Ashita Jack wa Tokushima ni ikeru. (Jack can go to
Now, you should know that the original sentences are more polite with the masu ending. No problem. We can put the masu ending on the others and make them polite, too. Here we realize an important point -- so important I'm going to underline it: Verbs in the Base 4 + ru form can be treated the same as Base 3 (plain) ichidan verbs. Take a good look. Base 4 + ru makes verbs end in eru, just like most ichidans. As such, they can be treated like plain ichidans. Let's look at some possibilities using endings already learned:
• Keiko wa piano o hikemasu. (Keiko can play the piano. [polite]) • Keiko wa baiorin o hikemasen. (Keiko can't play the violin.) • Jack wa Tokushima ni ikemashita. (Jack was able to go to Tokushima.) • Kare wa Osaka ni ikemasen deshita. (He wasn't able to go to Osaka.) • Kare wa raigetsu ikeru kamo shiremasen. (He might be able to go next month.)
Have you got it? Great! You should be able to see how this form will make life in Japanese easier. It's very, very useful. And most of the other Base 3 endings or combinations which work with ichidans can be applied in the same way.
Please keep in mind that while grammar books state that this is only to be used with yodan verbs, there are many exceptions among the ichidans. For example, you will hear taberemasen for "I can't eat it," but you won't hear miremasen for "I can't see it." (There's a "set verb" for "able to see": mieru.) These you'll just have to pick up as you go along. The irregulars kuru and suru cannot use this form.
hiku: to play a stringed instrument baiorin: violin (Yes, this is wasei eigo.) raigetsu: next month
Lesson 47 Base 4 + nai
In the last lesson we saw how verbs in the Base 4 + ru "can do" plain form can be treated the same as Base 3 ichidan verbs ending in eru. We looked at some examples which use polite endings just as if they were ichidan verbs in Base 2 form. In this lesson we will use Base 4 + nai, the "cannot do" plain form. If it helps, you can pretend that we are converting ichidan verbs to Base 1 and adding nai for the plain negative ending, which was covered in Lesson 13. (As you remember, Bases 1 and 2 are the same for ichidans.)
Please keep in mind that these are yodan verbs in Base 4 + nai. I only mention the above because they act just like ichidans in many ways, which makes the logic behind converting them easier to most people. It made sense to me, and I hope it will make sense to you. Let's take the same examples from the last lesson and change them to plain negative:
• Watashi wa nihongo o yomenai. (I can't read Japanese.) • Keiko wa piano o hikenai. (Keiko can't play the piano.) • Ashita Jack wa Tokushima ni ikenai. (Jack can't go to Tokushima tomorrow.)
See how that works? As mentioned last time, this form is only meant for yodans, but there are exceptions like taberenai (I can't eat it) and nerenai (I can't sleep).
As you may have guessed, there are other nai-related endings that will work here. Here are two we've already covered:
• Jack wa korenai deshou. (Jack probably won't be able to come.)
Jitensha ni norenakereba arukimashou. (If you can't ride a bicycle let's walk.)
neru: to sleep koreru: to be able to come (This is a specialized verb.) noru: to ride aruku: to walk
Lesson 48 Base 4 + reba
To be frank, at first I thought I wouldn't do this one because it's really not used that often. But then I decided to do it because there just might be parts of Japan where it's used more than in my neck of the woods. Base 4 + reba is used to express "if someone can":
• Watashi wa nihongo o yomereba ii. (It would be nice if I could read Japanese.) • Shichiji ni ikereba Mark ni aeru. (If you can go at seven o'clock you'll be able to meet Mark.) • Hachi jikan nerereba genki ni naru deshou. (If I can sleep eight hours I'll probably feel better.)
Again, this form is mainly for yodans, but there are exceptions like the last example above.
The negative companion to this is Base 4 + nakereba (if someone can't), an example of which was included in the last lesson.
So, you may wonder, what do people use around here to express this? I usually hear Base 4 + tara, as in Iketara iku yo (I'll go if I can). I have yet to find grammatical verification for this, but who cares? Everyone uses it, so I do too.
shichiji: seven o'clock au: to meet; to see (someone) hachi: eight jikan: hour neru: to sleep genki: healthy; energetic; (physically) well (adjective or noun) ni naru: to get/become (adjective or noun)
Lesson 49 Base 5
I'm afraid there isn't much you can do with Base 5. Looking over my list of Base 5 possibilities, I saw four that I feel are somewhat useful. If you don't mind, I think we'll cover them all in this lesson.
First, let's get out the tables from Lesson 43 and add Base 5 to them:
Base 1 Base 2 Base 3 (plain form) Base 4 Base 5 kawa- kai- kau kae- kaou aruka- aruki- aruku aruke- arukou isoga- isogi- isogu isoge- isogou kasa- kashi- kasu kase- kasou mata- machi- matsu mate- matou shina- shini- shinu shine- shinou asoba- asobi- asobu asobe- asobou yoma- yomi- yomu yome- yomou kaera- kaeri- kaeru kaere- kaerou
Base 1 Base 2 Base 3 (plain form) Base 4 Base 5 tabe- tabe- taberu tabere- tabeyou oboe- oboe- oboeru oboere- oboeyou kime- kime- kimeru kimere- kimeyou de- de- deru dere- deyou kari- kari- kariru karire- kariyou mi- mi- miru mire- miyou
Base 1 Base 2 Base 3 (plain form) Base 4 Base 5 ko- ki- kuru kure- koyou shi- shi- suru sure- shiyou
As you can see, Base 5 obediently follows the "vowel order rule" (Don't quote me, I just made that up...) by changing verbs to end in an "oh" sound, the fifth vowel in the Japanese "alphabetical order": ah, ee, oo, eh, oh. Also, in Base 5 the "oh" is elongated, so stretch it out a bit when you use it.
Base 5 Alone
The first handy thing needs no attachments. It'll give you the plain form for "let's do (something)." The polite form is Base 2 + mashou, which we already mastered back in Lesson 9. Use Base 5 when you don't need to be polite:
• Ikou. (Let's go.) • Tabeyou. (Let's eat.) • Yasumou. (Let's take a break.)
Base 5 + ka
Adding question-forming ka (Lesson 12) quickly changes these to suggestions:
• Ikou ka. (Shall we go?) • Tabeyou ka. (Shall we eat?) • Yasumou ka. (Do you want to take a break?)
Base 5 + ka na / ka naa
This gives you the equivalent of "I wonder if I should..." Ka na usually means the mind is pretty much made up; the drawn out ka naa means someone is still not sure:
• Kaimono ni ikou ka na. (I think I'll go shopping.) • Kaimono ni ikou ka naa. (I wonder if I should go shopping.) • Terebi o miyou ka na. (Maybe I'll watch TV.) • Bob ni denwa shiyou ka naa. (I wonder if I should call Bob.) • Kyou wa o-tenki ga ii kara, arukou ka na. (I think I'll walk today since the weather's nice.)
Base 5 + to suru
This one is to express "try to do (something)." Suru is shown plain, but is converted as necessary:
• John wa koyou to suru to omou. (I think John will try to come.) • Naoto wa hikouki o miyou to shimashita ga, miemasen deshita. (Naoto tried to see the airplane, but he couldn't.)
These are the more useful Base 5 forms. You probably won't hear any others unless you watch samurai dramas or talk with people who don't get out very often. I'm sure you'll be able to get them memorized quickly.
kaimono: shopping denwa suru: to call (on the telephone) tenki: the weather (The honorific prefix o is often added.) ii: good aruku: to walk hikouki: airplane mieru: to be able to see (something)
Lesson 50 Te Form + kudasai
Since kudasai is one of the most useful Te Form endings, one that is indispensable for polite and proper speech, I have decided to begin the Te Form with it. But first we need to get a better look at this Te Form and see what it does to verbs.
As you have most likely guessed, the Te Form changes verbs so they end in te, but there are also some that are "softened" to de instead. Ichidan verbs are a snap because you just change the final ru to te, but the yodans can be tricky and may take some time to memorize. Let's take a look at the tables and see how verbs change into the Te Form:
Base 3 (plain form) Te Form kau katte aruku aruite isogu isoide kasu kashite matsu matte shinu shinde asobu asonde yomu yonde kaeru kaette
Base 3 (plain form) Te Form taberu tabete oboeru oboete kimeru kimete deru dete kariru karite miru mite
Base 3 (plain form) Te Form kuru kite suru shite
Those yodans look pretty scary, right? I still remember the headache I got trying to sort them out. Let's take a closer look:
• Yodan verbs that end in a vowel + u, like au (to meet), kau (to buy), nuu (to sew): replace the final u with tte -- atte, katte, nutte.
• Yodan verbs that end in ku, like aruku (to walk), kiku (to listen; to ask), hataraku (to work): replace the final ku with ite -- aruite, kiite, hataraite. Please note this one important exception: iku. It's important because it's used a lot. The Te Form of iku (to go) is itte, not iite. We'll cover pronunciation a little later.
• Yodan verbs that end in gu, like isogu (to hurry), tsunagu (to connect), nugu (to take off [clothing or accessories]): replace the final gu with ide -- isoide, tsunaide, nuide.
• Yodan verbs that end in a vowel + su (i.e., not tsu), like kasu (to lend), kesu (to turn off; to put out [a fire]), tasu (to add): replace the final su with shite -- kashite, keshite, tashite.
• Yodan verbs that end in tsu, like matsu (to wait), motsu (to hold), katsu (to win): replace the final tsu with tte -- matte, motte, katte.
• The only yodan verb that ends in nu, shinu (to die): replace the final u with de -- shinde. • Yodan verbs that end in bu, like asobu (to play), yobu (to call out), tobu (to fly): replace the final bu with nde --
asonde, yonde, tonde. • Yodan verbs that end in mu, like yomu (to read), momu (to massage), tsutsumu (to wrap): replace the final mu
with nde -- yonde, monde, tsutsunde. • Yodan verbs that end in ru, like kaeru (to return), hairu (to enter), toru (to take): replace the final ru with tte --
kaette, haitte, totte. Please remember that while most verbs that end in eru or iru are ichidans, there are some yodan exceptions like the two used here.
As you can see, the ichidans are easy and there are only the two irregulars.
Now we'll add kudasai for a polite request:
• Douzo, tabete kudasai. (Go ahead, please eat.) • Chotto matte kudasai. (Please wait a bit.) • Rokuji ni kite kudasai. (Please come at six o'clock.)
Kudasai not only adds a "please"-like effect, it also puts the person you're talking to above yourself. When you start learning kanji, you'll soon run into the very simple one from which kudasai was hatched. It means "under," "to go down," "to lower (something)," etc. So when you say chotto matte kudasai, technically you're saying something like "Please bring yourself down to wait a bit for lowly, humble me."
There are several handy variations of kudasai. Kudasai itself is actually a mild command form used to ask or even tell someone to do something, depending on the tone of voice used. It combines the elements of its plain form kudasaru and the order-giving nasai, which was introduced back in Lesson 10. Adding masu or masen further softens it and gives the listener room to reply. These examples should clearly illustrate the possibilities:
• Rokuji ni kite kudasai. (Please come at six o'clock.) • Rokuji ni kite kudasaru? (Will you please come at six o'clock? [plain]) • Rokuji ni kite kudasaimasu ka. (Will you please come at six o'clock? [polite]) • Rokuji ni kite kudasaimasen ka. (Won't you please come at six o'clock?)
I must add here that verbs in the Te Form can also be used without kudasai or anything else for plain, mild commands in familiar settings:
• Rokuji ni kite. (Come at six o'clock.) • Matte. (Wait.) • Douzo, tabete. (Go ahead and eat.)
In English we (thankfully) don't have to give any attention to double vowels or consonants, but in Japanese we do. The basic rule is simple: give each sound equal time. For practice let's use kuru (to come), kiku (to listen), and kiru (to cut). Put these three verbs into the Te Form and they become kite, kiite, and kitte:
• Koko ni kite. (Come here.) • Kore o kiite. (Listen to this.) • Kore o kitte. (Cut this.)
The pronunciation goes like this: kite: KEE-TEH, while making each syllable as short as possible (Some Japanese make them so short they're barely discernible.); kiite: KEE-EE-TEH, just like counting 1-2-3, giving each equal time while making them short; and kitte: KEET-TEH, while holding the tongue silently for a half second in the "T position" between syllables.
Please note that the Te Form is also sometimes called Base 6. I believe that I have heard it referred to as the Te Form more often, so that's what I've decided to call it throughout these lessons.
douzo: go ahead chotto: a little; a moment rokuji: six o'clock (roku [six] + ji [hour])
Lesson 51 Te Form + ageru
In Lesson 50 we learned how kudasai means "to give (down to me)." Ageru also means "to give," but it means "to raise; to give (up to someone)," putting the receiver on a higher level than the giver. Let's set aside the Te Form for a minute and confirm the kudasai / ageru relationship with these simple examples:
• Sono pen o kudasai. (Please give me that pen.) • Kono pen o agemasu. (I'll give you this pen.)
As you can see, kudasai and ageru (made polite here with the Base 2 + masu ending) both work with a noun (a pen) as "give," but kudasai is used with "me" and brings the giving direction down, showing a "humbler" position, while ageru is used with "you" to take the giving direction up, to show respect.
Now, it works the same way with verbs in Te Form, showing that someone is going to do something for someone else. If you ask someone to do something for you, you use the Te Form + kudasai, as covered in the last lesson, but when you want to state that you'll do something for someone, you use the Te Form + ageru:
• Matte ageru. (I'll wait for you.) • Ato de denwa shite ageru. (I'll call you later.) • Tabetakunakereba, tabete ageru. (If you don't want to eat it, I'll eat it for you.)
In Japanese, verbs and their conjugations are truly 80% of the language, as these examples show. The ability to omit understood subjects and objects not only helps to make this possible, it's a great convenience besides. Remember to use agemasu in situations where politeness is needed.
Finally, as a general rule, use agete — the Te Form of ageru with nothing attached — when asking someone to do something for someone else:
• Bob ni pen o kashite agete. (Lend Bob your pen.) • Shizuka no kutsu no himo o musunde agete. (Tie Shizuka's shoelaces.)
There are many more verbs and combinations that express "giving / doing for" in Japanese, which are chosen depending on the situation, the position of the giver or receiver, and, in cases where there's a third person, whether or not he or she is in hearing range. However, kudasai and ageru are the most basic and useful of them all, and will work nicely in most cases. 1
sono: that kono: this ato de: later kutsu: shoe(s) himo: rope, string, laces musubu: to tie; to connect
1. I have received inquiries about the Te Form with yaru as an alternative for ageru. Don't use it. It can be heard in Japanese manga (comics and cartoons) and samurai movies, but not in daily conversation except maybe among guys "talking tough." It is disrespectful at best. You will not make any friends or impress anyone (except negatively) if you were to use it in Japan. It's for "talking down" to, and showing contempt for others.
Just as the English used in R-rated American movies cannot be thought of as a model for everyday speech in daily conversation in mixed company in America or elsewhere, the Japanese used in manga is no model for everyday Japanese.
Lesson 52 Te Form + goran nasai
Goran literally means "to honorably take a look." You use it to ask someone to try something, usually in short, mild command-like sentences. You never use it on yourself. Adding nasai gives it a stronger command element, which is used to prove a point. Use goran by itself to ask someone to try something or look at something when you're not certain about the outcome, and goran nasai when proving you're right about something (or think you are):
• Bob ni kiite goran. (Ask Bob and see what he says.) • Tabete goran. (Taste it and see if you like it.) • Mite goran. (Take a look.) • Sanae ni denwa shite goran. (Try calling Sanae.) • Kare wa sanjuu hachi to kaite aru. Yonde goran nasai. (It says he's 38. Read it for yourself.) • Tana no ue ni shio ga aru yo. Mite goran nasai. (There is salt on the shelf. See for yourself.) • Kouen no kouyou wa ima kirei yo. Itte goran nasai. (The autumn leaves in the park are beautiful now. Go and
see for yourself.)
kiku: to ask denwa suru: to call (on the phone) sanjuu hachi: thirty-eight (38) kaite aru: is written (Te Form of kaku [to write] + aru [to be; to exist]) yomu: to read tana: shelf ue ni: on/above (the top of) something shio: salt yo: (This is added to the end of sentences to emphasize something.) kouen: a park kouyou: autumn leaves ima: now kirei: beautiful, pretty
Lesson 53 Te Form + iru
A verb's te form with iru is used to show present progressive tense. This is probably the most used verb form of them all, and provides an important grammatical base from which many other relevant forms can be made. Iru by itself is an ichidan verb meaning "to be; to exist," and when connected to another verb using the Te Form means "to be doing (something)." So, in a way, it works like English, but thankfully doesn't change according to the subject like English does. Look at these examples:
• Watashi wa koko ni iru. (I am here.) • Watashi wa aruite iru. (I am walking.) • Karera wa zasshi o yonde iru. (They are reading a magazine.) • Watashitachi wa Takamatsu ni sunde iru. (We live in Takamatsu. [We are living in Takamatsu.]) • Shizuko wa tabete iru. (Shizuko is eating.) • Kanojo wa sushi o tabete iru. (She is eating sushi.) • Bill wa nihongo o benkyou shite iru. (Bill is studying Japanese.)
These examples should help you get a good idea as to how this form works. Note how Japanese is more "grammatically true" than English in some cases, like when using the verb sumu (to live [somewhere]), as in the fourth example above. Even though living in a place is present and progressive, we can get away with using just "live" in English. Because of this, it is natural for foreigners to slip and directly translate that to sumu in Japanese, when they really should use sunde iru.
Another easy slip for foreigners is the simple phrase "I know." When someone tries in English to dazzle us with some bit of information we've already heard, we say "I know," but in Japanese we say shitte iru (literally, "I'm knowing [it]."), and not shiru. When you stop making this mistake you'll know that you're starting to think in Japanese.
Since iru is a plain ichidan verb, it can be conjugated as such and some of the other endings applied. Especially important are masu, mashita, masen, and masen deshita, which were covered in the Base 2 endings. As you already know, these are polite endings and should be used in all but familiar settings. Let's review these through some Te Form examples:
• Watashi wa shimbun o yonde imasu. (I'm reading the newspaper.) • Kinou nete imashita. (Yesterday I slept all day. [Yesterday I was sleeping all day.]) • Kare wa furansugo o benkyou shite imasen. (He's not studying French.) • Kyou terebi o mite imasen deshita. (I didn't watch TV today. [I wasn't watching TV today.])
It should be mentioned here that the Japanese use the past progressive tense much more than we use it in English. For example, in English we would normally ask a person, "What did you do last night?" and not "What were you doing last night?" In Japanese it's the opposite. It's common to use the past progressive tense: Sakuban nani o shite imashita ka. (What were you doing last night?) Accordingly, the answer will be in the same tense: Terebi o mite imashita. (I was watching TV.)
Another thing that needs to be mentioned about the Te Form + iru is that it is often "slurred" together. For example, yonde iru (reading) will sound like yonderu. In fact, it is even written this way -- with the i in iru omitted -- in comics and novels where the writer wants to show characters using everyday conversational Japanese.
Finally, this form also plays a vital role in sentences where a relative pronoun would be used in English:
• Tennis o shite iru ko wa Bob no imouto desu. (The kid [who is] playing tennis is Bob's [younger] sister. • Sunahama de asonde iru inu wa boku no desu. (The dog [that's] playing on the beach is mine.)
I know you're wondering, so I'll tell you: "to play; to do" (shite iru) should sound like SHTEH-EERU or SHTERU; "to know" (shitte iru) should sound like SHEET-TEH-EERU or SHEET-TERU. Listening carefully becomes the best teacher here.
We'll take a look at some useful negative forms of this in the next lesson.
koko: here aruku: to walk karera: they zasshi: magazine sumu: to live (somewhere) nihongo: the Japanese language shiru: to know neru: to sleep furansugo: the French language sakuban: last night nani: what suru: to play a sport or game; to do (something) ko: kid, child
Note: Strangely, there is no single, simple word in Japanese for "girl" or "boy." The correct way to say "girl" is onna no ko and "boy" is otoko no ko (literally, "woman-child" / "man-child"). These can be shortened to ko in many situations, but, like "kid" in English, there may be times when this will not be appreciated if used in front of the parents.
imouto: little (younger) sister
Note: In Japanese, different words are used for older siblings than younger ones: ani for older brother, ane for older sister, otouto for younger brother, and imouto for younger sister.
sunahama: beach asobu: to play (without any particular purpose or object, as a small child or animal does) inu: dog boku: I (familiar form used by males)
Lesson 54 Te Form + inai
As mentioned in the last lesson, iru is an ichidan verb meaning "to be; to exist." As such, it can be changed into a negative and take the various negative Base 1 endings just like other verbs. While there are some negative endings that can't be used when it's combined with the Te Form, which makes them present or past progressive, there are many that can. First let's do some plain negative examples, which are based on those used in the last lesson:
• Sam wa koko ni inai. (Sam's not here.) • Karera wa zasshi o yonde inai. (They aren't reading a magazine.) • Watashitachi wa Okayama ni sunde inai. (We don't live in Okayama.) • Bill wa nihongo o benkyou shite inai. (Bill isn't studying Japanese.) • Tabete inai ko wa Shizuko desu. (The child who isn't eating is Shizuko.)
Remember to use masen for polite speech:
• Sam wa koko ni imasen. (Sam's not here.) • Karera wa zasshi o yonde imasen. (They aren't reading a magazine.) • Watashitachi wa Okayama ni sunde imasen. (We don't live in Okayama.)
We can easily apply nai deshou and nakereba, which were covered in the Base 1 endings:
• Kodomotachi wa benkyou shite inai deshou. (The kids probably aren't studying.) • Benkyou shite inakereba, nani o shite iru deshou ka. (If they're not studying, what are they doing?)
Now I think it's time to introduce two other closely related negative endings, which were purposely not covered in the original Base 1 endings: nakatta and nakattara. Nakatta is used for plain negative past, and adding ra makes it conditional. Please look at the following examples, carefully noting and confirming the differences between plain and polite, present and past, infinitive and progressive:
• Watashi wa ringo o tabenakatta. (I didn't eat an apple. [plain]) • Watashi wa ringo o tabemasen deshita. (I didn't eat an apple. [polite]) • Watashi wa tabete inai. (I'm not eating [now]. [plain]) • Watashi wa tabete imasen. (I'm not eating [now]. [polite]) • Sono toki tabete inakatta. (I wasn't eating then. [plain]) • Sono toki tabete imasen deshita. (I wasn't eating then. [polite]) • Bob wa benkyou shite inakereba yakyuu o suru koto ga dekiru deshou. (If Bob wasn't studying we could play
baseball.) • Bob wa benkyou shite inakattara yakyuu o suru koto ga dekita deshou. (If Bob hadn't been studying we could
have played baseball.)
Please remember that Japanese lets you leave out the subject when it's understood (or thought to be), which can be convenient at times, vague and troublesome at others. The last two above are good examples of this. In either, "we could" could be "he could," depending on the actual situation. To make the meaning perfectly clear, we would have to add watashitachi wa or kare wa before yakyuu.
Dekita, which appears in the last example, is the Ta Form of dekiru (can; to be able). We'll get into the Ta Form after covering the Te Form.
Another handy use for the Te Form + inai is to express "not yet," as in:
• Watashi wa mada tabete inai. (I haven't eaten yet.) • Seiko wa mada kaimono ni itte inai. (Seiko hasn't gone shopping yet.) • Mada Yumi ni denwa shite inai no? (Haven't you called Yumi yet?)
The no in the last example above plays the same role as ka. It's for asking questions, and goes especially well with plain ones.
sono: that toki: time yakyuu: baseball mada: yet (used with negatives) kaimono: shopping denwa suru: to telephone (someone)
Lesson 55 Te Form + ita
Since ita is the Ta Form of iru, I first thought I'd wait until we got into the Ta Form before introducing it. However, since it is not only a Te Form ending, but also a much-used element of conversational Japanese, I decided to go ahead and cover it here. Put simply, ita is the plain past form of iru, and expresses the past progressive tense when added to verbs in the Te Form:
• John wa terebi o mite ita. (John was watching TV.) • Karera wa zasshi o yonde ita. (They were reading a magazine.) • Bill wa benkyou shite ita. (Bill was studying.)
There were two points mentioned in Lesson 53 that we'll review here. They are important because they are used constantly in daily conversation. The first is that in Japanese the past progressive tense is used much more than it is in English. In fact, there are cases where it would sound odd if translated directly into English in the same tense and used that way. To illustrate this I have made up a short yet very natural conversation. I include the usual English translation, but have added what would be the direct translation from Japanese in blue type, and then what I believe would be the natural English actually used between native speakers in black: A: Kinou wa nani o shite ita? (What were you doing yesterday? [What did you do yesterday?]) B: Kaimono o shite ita. Soshite terebi o mite ita. (I was doing shopping. [I went shopping.]) A: Hontou? Boku wa kuruma o aratte ita. (Really? I was washing my car. [Really? I washed my car.]) Yes, that's actually how Japanese speak of past everyday events with friends and family: the past progressive Te Form + ita is often used. Also, this would be two males speaking. Males usually use boku in familiar settings; teenagers and old men occasionally use washi. Females usually use watashi or sometimes atashi.
The second point is that in actual conversation the verb and ita are often jammed together. The above example conversation looks all proper when written, but no real friends or family members -- at least those who are at a familiar enough level to use plain endings in the first place -- are going to speak so grammatically correct. Just for the fun of it, here is the same conversation as it would actually sound:
A: Kinou nani shiteta? (Whaja do yesterday?) B: Kaimono shiteta. Soshite terebi miteta. (I went shopping.) A: Hontou? Boku kuruma aratteta. (Really? I washed my car.) That's real Japanese.
As I'm sure you know by now, in settings where polite speech is called for, upgrade ita to imashita.
soshite: also hontou: really kuruma: car arau: to wash
Lesson 56 Te Form + itadaku / morau
Please forget that itadaku is shown in its plain form in the title of this lesson. Because itadaku is a very polite word, meaning something like "I humbly partake," it will almost always be used with one of the masu endings. The Te Form + itadaku can be used like the Te Form + kudasai to ask favors, as covered in Lesson 50, and it can also be used to show appreciation for favors received. Itadakimasu! by itself is the standard salutation used in Japan before eating a meal, and can be used when receiving or taking something from someone.
When asking for something in the workplace or other "non-familiar" settings, itadaku is often converted to Base 4 and masu ka added. (Please review Lesson 46 if necessary.) This creates a very nice "may I humbly partake of your doing (something) for me" request. Here are some examples. The literal "humbly partake" nonsense will be replaced with a more natural English translation:
• Johnson-san ni denwa shite itadakemasu ka. (Would you please call Mr. Johnson?) • O-namae o oshiete itadakemasu ka. (May I please have your name?) • Niji ni kite itadakemasu ka. (Would you please come at two o'clock?)
And here are a few more variations that are often used:
• Ashita watashi ni denwa shite itadakemasen ka. (Won't you please call me tomorrow?) • Kono shorui o kinyuu shite itadakemasen deshou ka. (Could I possibly get you to fill out these forms?) • Murai-san ni senshuu ginkou ni itte itadakimashita. Oboete imasen ka. (I had you [Murai-san] go to the bank
for me last week. Don't you remember?) (If necessary, please review Lesson 16 concerning subject name use and suffixes.)
As in English, the rule of thumb is to make the request more polite as its level of difficulty or ridiculousness increases.
I have always considered itadaku to be a "true Japanese" word, one that conveys certain traditional cultural points. While "I humbly partake" serves as a general translation and starting point, it's not easy to define the full "essence" of itadaku in English. It can, however, be gradually understood by osmosis as one gets accustomed to the culture of Japan, particularly giving and receiving and the levels occupied by giver and receiver.
While kudasai and itadakimasu and their relevant forms are often interchangeable, the important difference has to do with subject emphasis. With kudasai, you automatically becomes the understood subject and you're asking "please give down to me." With itadakimasu, I automatically becomes the understood subject and you're saying "I humbly receive from you."
When there's no need to be very polite, use morau instead of itadaku. Make no mistake, morau is not impolite, it's just plain. As usual, adding a masu ending makes it polite, but not quite as polite -- not as "respectful" -- as itadakimasu. Also, morau works best when talking about a third party. However, itadakimasu is always used with food, even when the giver is not present. Morau is okay when referring to other things.
I realize that all of this sounds complicated, and it can be at times. Actually being present in a situation where this stuff is being used helps a lot, but since we can't do that now, we'll look at some more examples:
Mom: Kimiko ni mise ni itte moraitai. (I want you [Kimiko] to go to the store for me.) Kimiko: Ima shukudai o shite iru. Ken ni itte moratte. (I'm doing homework now. Get Ken to go.)
This is a family situation, so all the plain forms are perfectly normal. No particular reservations are needed here.
Mom: Kimiko ni mise ni itte moraitai. (I want you [Kimiko] to go to the store for me.) Kimiko: Ima shukudai o shite iru. Ojii-chan ni itte moraimashou ka. (I'm doing homework
now. Shall I get Grandpa to go?) Mom: (not wanting to bother Grandpa) Ken ni itte moraou ka naa. (I wonder if I should get
Ken to go.) Kimiko: (thinking that Grandpa needs to get out more) Ken wa ima inai. Ojii-chan ni itte
moraimasu. (Ken's not here now. I'll get Grandpa to go.)
This is the same family, but note how verbs connected with Grandpa are made polite with masu. Traditionally, if Grandpa deserves respect and is in earshot, this would be the best way to go.
Mom: Tabemashou! (Let's eat!) Everyone: Itadakimasu! (I "humbly receive" this.)
Itadakimasu is always used with food, even if all you're taking is a potato chip.
Suzuki-san: Ginkou ni ikimashou ka. (Shall I go to the bank?) Tanaka-san: Murai-san ni itte moraimashita. (I had Ms. Murai go.)
This is at the office, and these two are being courteous. They probably don't see each other every day, or they may be in an area where customers or clients are and want to make a good impression with their polite speech. If they belonged to a close-knit group that worked together every day by themselves they would probably use plain forms.
Suzuki-san: O-namae o oshiete itadakemasu ka. (May I please have your name?) Customer: Hai. (Sure.)
Customers are always treated like royalty and get the most polite forms.
Kimiko: Pen moraimashita ka. (Did you get a pen?) Grandpa: Hai, moraimashita. (Yes, I got one.)
Kimiko and her grandfather are at a shopping center where they're handing out free pens. Moraimashita shows ample respect between these two.
Sales Clerk: Pen o agemasu. (I'll give you a pen.) Kimiko: Itadakimashita. (I got one [already].)
Here the sales clerk offers a free pen to Kimiko, but she already has one and doesn't want another. Since the clerk represents the store that's giving them out, itadakimashita is the nicest reply.
It would be impossible to cover all the possibilities, but this should cover the main questions and suffice as a guide. Just like anywhere else, each home, office, company, and region will have its own "atmosphere" and certain unwritten rules pertaining to language use.
namae: name (The honorific o- prefix is used with strangers, customers, clients, etc.) oshieru: to teach, tell shorui: forms, documents, paperwork kinyuu suru: to fill out (forms) senshuu: last week ginkou: bank oboeru: remember mise: store shukudai: homework ima: now
Lesson 57 Te Form + kara
This one's a snap. Simple and useful, the Te Form + kara means "after (doing something)...," as in:
• Tabete kara kaimono ni iku. (After I eat I'm going shopping.) • John wa shukudai o shite kara kuru. (John's coming over after he does his homework.) • Naomi ga kaette kara tabemashou. (Let's eat after Naomi comes back.)
Please keep in mind that this one only works after verbs in the Te Form. You can't use it directly after nouns, such as summer to mean "after summer." There are other ways to do that. With nouns that require the active participation of the subject, such as those two common ones work and school, you just make them the subject/object with ga, then add the Te Form of owaru, which means "to finish":
• Gakkou ga owatte kara yakyuu o yarou. (Let's play baseball after school['s over].) • Shigoto ga owatte kara eiga o mi ni ikimashou. (Let's go see a movie after work.)
Please also remember that there's another kara that means "because" which is used with Base 3 (Lesson 24) and the Ta Form (coming later).
kaeru: to return; to come home owaru: to end; to be over gakkou: school yakyuu: baseball yaru: to do (plain); to play (games or sports) shigoto: work (noun); a job eiga: movie mi ni iku: go (and) see (This is the Base 2 form of miru [to see] with the directional indicator ni and iku [to go].)
Lesson 58 Te Form + kureru
In Lesson 50 we did kudasai, the polite "please" or "kindly" used for favors requested or received. Kureru is used in generally the same way, and it's used constantly in familiar daily conversation when rank or greatness doesn't need to be worried about. Let's plug kureru into some example sentences:
• Rokuji ni kite kureru? (Will you please come at six o'clock?) • Jitensha o kashite kureru? (Would you please loan me your bicycle?)
You'll hear plain kureru after the Te Form a lot. This is the simplest way to ask a favor, but I wouldn't use it on my boss or the emperor when he's in town. It's good for family members and close friends. Some people add the question-forming no on the end. This is also often used as a way to confirm something which appears to be obvious but wasn't expected. For example, if someone appears to be getting ready to pay for your lunch (and you don't mind), you might say Ah, ogotte kureru no?, which literally means "Oh, are you kindly going to pay for mine?" When using kureru without no for a sincere request, it’s customary to say kureru with a rising "pretty please" kind of intonation.
A masu ending always makes verbs sound nicer, and works great when talking to colleagues or about others:
• Denwa bangou o oshiete kuremasu ka. (Will you please tell me your phone number?) • Ritsuko wa heya o souji shite kuremashita. (Ritsuko kindly cleaned the room.)
Use plain negative nai for an urgent, repeated request, especially one that's already been turned down:
• Kyuukei sasete kurenai ka. (Won't you please let me take a break?) • Watashitachi to issho ni kite kurenai no. (Won't you please come with us?)
(Kurenai no is softer than kurenai ka.)
And finally, the "kure command":
• Kite kure. (Please come here.) • Matte kure. (Please wait.)
I recommend avoiding this one until you get a feel for its various nuances according to intonation used. Again, this is the "command" form of kureru, and it would be offensive in some cases. (You could say that it takes all the "please" out of kureru.) There may not be a big difference between kudasaimashita and kuremashita, but there is a huge difference between kudasai and kure. In fact, a verb in Te Form with nothing after it can sound nicer than with kure, depending on intonation. After watching enough Japanese TV or movies, you'll see what I mean.
jitensha: a bicycle kasu: to lend ogoru: to treat (someone) to a meal denwa bangou: telephone number oshieru: to tell; to teach heya: a room souji suru: to clean kyuukei suru: to take a break issho ni: together; with matsu: to wait
Lesson 59 Te Form + kuru / iku
As you already know, kuru and iku mean "to come" and "to go," but when used after the Te Form they take on a whole new dimension which may have nothing to do with physical movement. Just as kuru and iku mean to come to or leave a given place, after the Te Form they can also mean to come up to or start from a given time. Notice how kuru comes up to a point and iku takes off or continues from one:
• Ron wa sukoshi zutsu nihongo ga wakatte kimashita. (Little by little Ron came to understand Japanese.) • Doitsu no rekishi o benkyou shite kimashita. (I have been studying German history.) • PC wa yasuku natte iku deshou. (PCs will most likely get less and less expensive.) • Sono tame, PC no shiyousha ga fuete iku to omou. (Because of that, I think that the number of PC users will
As can be seen, the Te Form + kuru points to results or events leading up to the present or another point in time, while iku takes off from the present or another point in time, expresses future plans, dreams, assumptions, etc.
One very good example of this form being used to express a physical going and coming is itte kuru, the Te Form of "to go" followed by "to come." Usually upgraded with masu, Itte kimasu! is the traditional expression one uses when going out, and means exactly what it's supposed to: "I'm going out and coming back." (If you say just ikimasu, the literal equivalent of "I'm going," it's considered unlucky because it will be interpreted as "going away and not coming back," so avoid saying that unless you really mean it.) Accordingly, people will sometimes use this to ask others where they went: Doko e itte kita? (Where did you go [and come back from]?)
Other simple examples of this are:
• Tabete kita. (I ate before coming over.) • Shirabete kuru. (I'll go check it [then come back].)
Please be careful not to confuse these with Base 2 + ni kuru / ni iku, which emphasize the purpose in going or coming. These were not covered in the Base 2 lessons, but should be easily understood. We'll finish up with a few examples of these:
• Chuuka ryouri o tabe ni ikimashou. (Let's go eat Chinese food.) • Doubutsuen no tora o mi ni ikimashita. (I went to see the tiger in the zoo.) • Kyoukasho o kari ni kimashita. (I came to borrow a textbook.) • Douzo, asobi ni kite kudasai. (Please come over [sometime].)
sukoshi zutsu: little by little nihongo: the Japanese language wakaru: to understand doitsu: Germany rekishi: history benkyou suru: to study yasuku naru: to become less expensive (yasui (adj.): cheap, inexpensive, combined with naru: to become; to grow) sono tame: due to that shiyousha: user (shiyou suru: to use, combined with sha: person) fueru: to increase omou: to think (used after to to mean "[I] think that..." See Lesson 40.) shiraberu: to check (something); to examine; to look up (as in a dictionary or telephone book) chuuka ryouri: Chinese food
Note: Please don't assume that chuuka can be used to mean "Chinese" in general. There are several "set combinations" where it is used, but when uncertain, use the country name chuugoku followed by the possessive no, as in chuugoku no rekishi (Chinese history). The word ryouri by itself means a certain type of cooking, food, or cuisine.
doubutsuen: zoo tora: tiger miru: to see kyoukasho: textbook kariru: to borrow douzo: please; go ahead asobu: to play; to entertain oneself; to enjoy oneself
Note: asobi ni kuru is a set phrase used to invite someone "to come for a pleasure visit." You may hear it often, but don't take it literally. Most of the time it is just a polite nothing, made obvious by having no date or time attached to it.
Lesson 60 Te Form + miru
As you know, miru means "to see," which makes this one easy to remember. In English we sometimes say "I'll see if I can...," meaning that we'll give something a try. Well, you can do the same thing in Japanese by putting the verb you want to try in the Te Form, and adding miru, which can also be converted to suit the needs of the occasion:
• Kono kanji o yonde miru. (I'll try to read these kanji.) • Kono atarashii PC o tsukatte miyou. (Let's give this new PC a try.) • Sushi o tabete minai no? (Won't you try some sushi?) • John ni hanashite mimasu. (I'll try to talk to John.) • Kare ni denwa shite mimashita ga, rusu deshita. (I tried calling him, but he wasn't in.)
kanji: Chinese characters adapted for use in writing Japanese yomu: to read atarashii: new tsukau: to use taberu: to eat hanasu: to talk; to speak to (someone) denwa suru: to telephone (someone) rusu: to be out
Note: Rusu looks and acts like a verb, but it's not. In Japanese grammar, it acts like a "quasi adjective," but technically it's not one of those either. It's one of those words that reside on the pile of irregulars, with its own set phrases. For example, you can use it as a verb if you add ni suru after it, as in Bob wa ima rusu ni shite imasu. Or, you can use it like an adjective by adding something from the desu group after it: Bob wa ima rusu desu. Either way, the meaning is the same: "Bob's not in now."
Lesson 61 Te Form + mo ii
This one is used to ask or give permission. We have already looked at ii in other verb forms and combinations (Lessons 21 and 44), so you should be a little familiar with it. It's an adjective which means "good," "fine," "okay," etc. The mo after a verb in its Te Form means something like "if (someone) were to...." Accordingly, adding the ii makes it "if (someone) were to (do something) it would be okay," "it's okay if (someone does something)," etc., as in:
• Boku no PC o tsukatte mo ii yo. (You can use my PC.) • Gohan o tabete kara terebi o mite mo ii. (You can watch TV after you've eaten your dinner.) • Jisho o karite mo ii? (Can I borrow your dictionary?)
There are a couple of things the grammar books won't tell you. The ones I have checked give you the impression that desu is used after ii to make it polite. Yes, that is the way it works grammatically, as with all adjectives, but I've never heard desu by itself used after ii for a polite, positive response. There's usually something else added on, like yo: ii desu yo (Sure you can...); or ka: ii desu ka (May I...?).
In the workplace, ii is often upgraded to the more formal yoroshii, a word you'll hear a lot if you watch the samurai dramas:
• Raishuu no getsuyoubi o yasunde mo yoroshii desu ka. (May I take off next Monday?) • Kyou, hayaku kaette mo yoroshii. (You may go home early today.)
You'll really sound like you're talking down to people if you use this to give permission, so I'd advise avoiding it unless you're a big boss or want to pretend you're one. As with most Japanese, however, the right intonation with desu yo after it can soften it for more informal use.
Another handy thing to know is that it's perfectly okay to omit the mo in familiar conversation:
• Watashi no jisho o tsukatte ii yo. (Sure, you can use my dictionary.) • Hai, terebi mite ii. (Yeah, you can watch TV.)
(Yes, you can also get away with omitting particles, like the object indicator o, in familiar situations as in the last example above. As I've probably mentioned before, Japanese is much more forgiving and "grammatically unfussy" than English.)
Now, I said above that I've never heard desu used by itself after ii for a polite, positive reply. It is used a lot, however, but has a different and negative meaning. If you hear people arguing, you may hear an II desu yelled out by one of the arguers. In this expression, the ii is always yelled much louder than the desu. Sometimes you may hear a long mou before the ii: mou II desu. Either way, it's equivalent to our "Enough already! Just forget it!"
boku: I (used only by males in familiar settings) tsukau: to use yo: You bet I mean that... (...or something like that. It's added to the end of sentences for overall emphasis.) gohan: food
Note: Gohan actually means "cooked rice," but is often used to loosely mean "food," especially "a meal" in general. When the time of day can be guessed, gohan will usually be used instead of the words for "breakfast," "lunch," or "dinner": Bokutachi wa shichiji ni kaette, gohan o tabeta. (We got back at seven, then ate a meal [=dinner]).
jisho: dictionary kariru: to borrow raishuu: next week getsuyoubi: Monday yasumu: to rest; to take a break; to have time off from work (of a short or long duration) kyou: today hayaku: quickly kaeru: to go home; to return
Lesson 62 Te Form + oku
By itself, oku means "to put," but after a verb in the Te Form it means "will certainly do (that verb)," or "will go ahead and do (that verb)." There isn't a whole lot of difference between shite oku and plain old suru to express "will do," but shite oku, or any verb in the Te Form with oku, expresses the fact that someone will definitely do that something right away or in the very near future. Also, it is normally used for things which can be done in a relatively short amount of time. It can even be used in the past tense to state that you went ahead and did something. It isn't used in the negative; we don't use it to say that we won't or didn't do something. Remember to convert oku to Base 2 with a masu ending to make it polite.
All right. We've got all that talk out of the way, so let's make some sentences:
• Ron ni denwa shite oku. (I'll call Ron.) • Mado o akete oku. (I'll open the window.) • Kasa o katte okimasu. (I'm going to buy an umbrella.) • Kanojo ni ki o tsukeru you ni itte okimasu. (I'll tell her to be careful.) • Shukudai o shite okimashita. (I [went ahead and] did my homework.)
Again, when not following a verb in the Te Form, oku means "to put," as in: Hon wa, tsukue no ue ni oite kudasai (Please put the books on the desk), so please don't confuse them.
oku: to put mado: window akeru: to open kasa: umbrella kau: to buy kanojo: she, her; (a steady) girlfriend ki o tsukeru: to be careful; to take care
Note: Ki is a noun with many meanings, like "heart," "mind," and "energy." In this idiom it means "attention." Tsukeru means "to attach" or "apply," so the overall meaning becomes clear: to pay attention; to be careful. You'll hear it often.
you ni: in order to; in order that; for (a certain purpose or result); so (something will take effect or happen) iu: to say; to tell shukudai: homework hon: book(s) tsukue: desk (no) ue: the top (of something)
Lesson 63 Te Form + shimau
Shimau alone means "to finish" or "put away (something)," and it retains the same general meaning when combined with a verb in the Te Form, pointing towards the completion of a task. Since shimau is a standard verb, you can also conjugate it in a dozen different ways. A few examples are:
• Shukudai o shite shimaimashou. (Let's finish up our homework.) • Choushoku o tabete shimaimashita. (I've finished eating breakfast.) • Heya o souji shite shimau hou ga ii yo. (You should finish cleaning up your room.)
One other role that this Te Form + shimau plays is to express the doing of something which was hard to decide to do, doing something unexpected, or the happening of something unexpected:
• Kuruma o katte shimaimashita. (I bought a car.) • Bob wa ude no hone o orete shimaimashita. (Bob broke his arm.) • Kanojo wa Osaka ni itte shimaimashita. (She [up and] went to Osaka.)
And that's not all. Shimau is also used for expressing concern about the possibility of something negative happening and/or the dismay at finding out that something negative happened:
• Watashi no fuku wa yogorete shimau! (My clothes'll get dirty!) • Ah! Fuku wa yogorete shimaimashita. (Oh, no! My clothes got dirty.) • Densha ni noriokurete shimau yo! (We'll miss the train!) • Ah! Kippu wa nakushite shimaimashita! (Oh, no! I lost my ticket!)
Finally, I guess I'll mention that in everyday, familiar settings a "slang" form of shimau is often used. I'll confess that at first I decided to leave this point out because I felt that it would just complicate things, but then one of my readers mentioned it, which made me think it over again; and, since it is used a lot, I've decided to go ahead with it. It's "chau," and, borrowing two examples from above, it sounds like this:
• Densha ni noriokuretchau yo! (We'll miss the train!) • Ah! Kippu wa nakuschaimashita! (Oh, no! I lost my ticket!)
Yes, this slang form takes the hite out of shite and really compresses things: shite + chau = schau. The others are: -te + chau = -tchau and -nde + chau = -njau. Again, I realize that this complicates things, which is why I advise not even thinking about it until you've been learning Japanese for a while and feel comfortable with the old standard shimau and its uses.
Also, I should mention that the last example above is a bit unnatural -- grammatically fine (in a slangy kind of way), just unnatural -- because you've got the slang with a polite masu ending. The way to make this natural would be to put it in the plain past Ta Form: nakuschatta! We'll be getting into the Ta Form soon.
shimau: to put away; to finish choushoku: breakfast heya: a room souji suru: to clean kuruma: car ude: arm hone: bone oreru: to break
Note: Here we must give English the nod for being smart. If you break a bone in Japanese, you have to include the word hone (bone) in the expression. You can't just say "I broke my arm," you have to say "I broke my arm's bone."
fuku: clothes yogoreru: to get dirty densha: train noriokureru: to miss (a mode of scheduled transportation. This is a compound from the verbs noru [to ride] and okureru [to be late].) kippu: ticket (usually for a train or other type of ride) nakusu: to lose (something)
Lesson 64 Te Form + wa ikaga / dou desu ka
These are a couple of simple ways to say "How about (doing something)?":
• Ima chuushoku o tabete wa ikaga desu ka. (How about having lunch now?) • Ashita Ritsurin Kouen ni itte wa ikaga desu ka. (What do you think about going to Ritsurin Park tomorrow?) • Atarashii terebi o katte wa dou desu ka. (What do you think about buying a new TV?)
These are, of course, polite. You can omit the desu ka for plain, familiar talk. If you do, do not add the plain, question-forming no -- these don't use it. Instead, at the very end make the intonation fall a little then return. You can say dou ka, but not ikaga ka. (Well, you can say it, but I doubt that you'll ever hear it.) Actually, dou ka is not really used that often after -te wa, but usually alone, meaning "What do you think?" or "How is it going?" However, if you're going to use it in this way, put in the desu: Ikaga desu ka and Dou desu ka sound so much better.
ima: now chuushoku: lunch taberu: to eat ashita: tomorrow iku: to go atarashii: new terebi: TV (wasei eigo created from "television") kau: to buy
Lesson 65 Te Form + wa ikemasen
Polite ikemasen or plain ikenai are used alone to mean "Don't do that!", "You mustn't do that!", "Naughty!", etc. Just go to a shopping center where mothers and kids are together, and you're bound to hear either of these, especially ikenai, used in a normal, everyday setting. When placed after the Te Form with wa, ikemasen or ikenai point to what's forbidden before the temptation arises:
• Shashin o totte wa ikemasen. (You can't take pictures.) • Okurete wa ikemasen yo. (Don't be late.) • Boku no PC o sawatte wa ikenai! (Don't touch my PC!)
Since statements like these are mainly used in familiar situations, plain ikenai will be heard more often than ikemasen. Also, the -te wa element is often "crushed" into a colloquial form that sounds like "-tcha": Boku no PC o sawatcha ikenai! Also, to make it even more colorful, ikenai will often be put into a dialectal form, like ikan (Takamatsu), iken (Okayama), akan (Osaka), etc. So, if you move to a new area or make a new friend from one, chances are good that you'll have the opportunity to learn a new way to say this.
Ikenai! by itself is also handy for expressing your aggravation at realizing that something has been forgotten:
• Ikenai! Joushaken o wasurete shimaimashita! (Oh, no! I forgot my ticket!) • Ikenai! Kimiko wa kasa o motte iku koto o wasuremashita! (Oh, no! Kimiko forgot to take her umbrella!)
Getting back to -te wa ikenai / ikemasen, there are other ways to say the same thing that you may hear. A very popular substitute for -te wa ikenai in familiar settings is -te wa dame (-tcha dame), and a more formal one is -te wa naranai / narimasen. In fact, "Thou shalt not..." in the Japanese version of the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament is translated (-te) wa naranai.
shashin: a photograph toru: to take
Note: The verb toru has many different usages, many which parallel its English counterpart: to take something from a place or person; to take a picture with a camera; to take (steal) something from someone. However, the kanji used for each meaning are different, so keep that in mind when you start studying kanji. (Because of this it is often just written in hiragana these days.) Also, there are actions that use take in English but not toru in Japanese, like "take a bath," so please don't assume that toru can be used universally for take. (In Japanese you get into the bath: ofuuro ni hairu.) Be careful not to elongate the o in toru when pronouncing it, which is easy to do, because tooru is a totally different vowel, meaning "to pass (by/over something)."
okureru: to be late boku no: my (male familiar) sawaru: to touch joushaken: a train ticket wasureru: to forget kasa: umbrella motte iku: to take (something away with you or for someone else to do so); to carry away (This is a combination of motsu [to hold] and iku [to go].)
Lesson 66 Te Form for Continuing Statements
Let's wrap up the Te Form with one of its basic and very convenient uses: talking about multiple or further actions. First, some simple ones. Let's combine three actions into one statement:
• Shizu ni denwa shite, heya o katazukete, kaimono ni ikanakereba narimasen. (I've got to call Shizu, straighten up the room, then go shopping.)
• Kesa watashi wa shichiji ni okite, choushoku o tabete, hachiji ni ie o demashita. (I got up at seven o'clock, ate breakfast, and left home at eight.)
As you can see, when a conjugation applies to all verbs in a construction, only the final verb is conjugated to give the intended meaning; the ones preceding it in the Te Form will automatically assume the same conjugation. To end a
particular conjugation (intended meaning) and continue with a new one, just put that conjugation in the Te Form and continue:
• Bob ni Shizu ni denwa shite, heya o katazukete moratte, watashi wa kaimono ni iku. (I'm going to have Bob call Shizu and straighten up the room, and I'm going shopping.)
• Kinou watashi wa inu ni soto de asobasete, esa o ataete, jibun no yuushoku o tsukurimashita. (Yesterday I let the dog play outside, fed him, and [then] made my dinner.)
Please keep in mind that not all conjugations have or use the Te Form. When you're not sure, just start a new sentence. You don't want to get into the habit of making run-on sentences, which can happen in Japanese as easily as it can in English.
heya: a room katazukeru: to clean up; to straighten up; to put in order kaimono: shopping kesa: this morning okiru: to get up choushoku: breakfast ie: home; a house deru: to leave; to go/come out kinou: yesterday inu: dog soto: outside asobu: to play esa: pet food; bait ataeru: to give jibun: self yuushoku: dinner tsukuru: to make
Lesson 67 Ta Form: The Plain Past
We finally arrive at the Ta Form, whose major purpose is to make things plain, past, and simple. Let's first make sure we can convert all the verb types into the Ta Form. It will be a snap if you have mastered converting into the Te Form, because the Ta Form is the same except that the final e is instead an a. Just for a quick check, let's drag out the tables used to introduce the Te Form and convert them to show the Ta Form:
Base 3 (plain form) Ta Form kau katta aruku aruita isogu isoida kasu kashita matsu matta shinu shinda
asobu asonda yomu yonda kaeru kaetta
Base 3 (plain form) Ta Form taberu tabeta oboeru oboeta kimeru kimeta deru deta kariru karita miru mita
Base 3 (plain form) Ta Form kuru kita suru shita
As with the Te Form, there are a few weird ones among the yodans. Also, iku (to go) remains an oddball: it becomes itta.
Once again, the Ta Form's major role is to make things plain and to put them in the past tense. It's what you use when you don't need the politeness of Base 2 with mashita. Let's do some real basic, everyday phrases — ones so familiar that the particles are left out:
• Shita. (I did it.) • Kami kitta. (I got a haircut.) • Ohiru tabeta. (I ate lunch.) • Terebi mita. (I watched TV.) • Hon yonda. (I read a book.) • Ginkou itta. (I went to the bank.) • Boku no kingyo shinda. (My goldfish died.)
Let me say here that even though certain particles have been omitted in the above examples, there are limits. There are cases where particles would never be cut, even by the fastest-talking Japanese. Please be sure to learn the particles and get comfortable using them, and only omit them when everyone else does. In the long run, you will impress far more Japanese friends and associates by speaking proper Japanese than by using shortcuts and slang.
The Ta Form is also used as a noun modifier. For example, hon yonda means "I (or someone else) read a book." If we switch these around to yonda hon, yonda modifies hon like an adjective, hon becomes the subject, and the meaning becomes "the book I (or someone) read." Very handy, right? Let's do some more:
• Watashi ga karita kasa wa Kimiko no. (The umbrella I borrowed is Kimiko's.) • Shinda kingyo wa, roku nen mae ni katta. (The goldfish that died I bought six years ago.) • Joy ga tsukutta keeki wa oishikatta. (The cake Joy made was delicious.) • Boku ga katta PC wa, juu hachi man en deshita. (The PC I bought was one hundred eighty thousand yen.) • Bob ga benkyou shita koto wa totemo yakudatta. (The things Bob studied were very helpful.)
As the Te Form is sometimes called Base 6, the Ta Form is sometimes called Base 7; but since I hear it called the Ta Form more often, that's what I'll be calling it throughout these lessons.
kami: the hair on one's head
Note: Kami no ke is the literally correct and complete way to refer to the hair on your head. Ke alone is hair — any hair, anywhere, even on a caterpillar. (Caterpillar in Japanese is kemushi, literally "hairbug.") To refer to your hairstyle or the hair on your head as a whole, use kami.
kiru: to cut; to wear
Note: Kami kitta is always a puzzler to students of Japanese. Although it literally means "I cut my hair," it is used for "I got a haircut; I had someone cut my hair." There are a few of these, where it's acceptable to say you did something that you actually had someone else do. You could call it an understood and accepted inaccuracy. Another commonly used one is ie o tatete iru for "I'm having a house built."
ohiru: lunch (This is the honorific o combined with "midday," and is less formal than chuushoku.) ginkou: bank kingyo: goldfish roku: six nen: year(s) mae (ni): before, beforehand; ago tsukuru: to make keeki: cake (wasei eigo) oishikatta: was delicious (This is the adjective oishii [delicious] combined with its past tense-forming conjugation -katta.) juu hachi: eighteen (juu [ten] + hachi [eight]) man: (a unit of) ten thousand en: Japanese yen benkyou suru: to study koto: thing(s) (usually intangible ones) totemo: very yakudatsu: to be helpful or useful
Lesson 68 Ta Form + Various Combinations Shared With Base 3
Now that we've seen how the Ta Form works, the rest really isn't too difficult. There are a few "ta form only" combinations, but there are many more that we have already become familiar with back in the Base 3 section.
I trust you remember that Base 3 is the plain, root form of Japanese verbs. (If necessary, please see Lesson 1 for a quick review.) You could think of the Ta Form as a very close relative, the major difference being that while it expresses the plain past, Base 3 is used for the plain future. Due to this, these two share many add-ons and endings. Since we have already covered these, I feel that separate lessons just to show them in the past tense are unnecessary. Instead, I've decided to cover some of them here along with corresponding Base 3 plain future constructions, which will serve as a nice review.
Again, these are not all of the verb add-ons and endings shared by Base 3 and the Ta Form. They are some of the more useful ones which have already been introduced in my Base 3 lessons. Each one will have an example of a Base 3 form for the plain future tense, and the same form converted to the Ta Form for plain past. Carefully note the similarities and differences. For a more detailed review, please click the lesson links.
» deshou (Lesson 19):
• Yumiko wa Kyoto ni iku deshou. (Yumiko will probably go to Kyoto.) • Yumiko wa Kyoto ni itta deshou. (Yumiko probably went to Kyoto.)
» hazu desu (Lesson 20):
• Kare wa rokuji ni kuru hazu. (He's supposed to come at six.) • Kare wa rokuji ni kita hazu. (He was supposed to come at six.)
Note: We already know that desu can be added to various structures to make them polite, and some examples in Lesson 20 included it. And, because deshita is the past form of desu, it is easy to make the mistake of adding it to past tense sentences although it is unnecessary. Where the action verb is changed to the Ta Form to make the structure past tense, as in the last example above, use desu to make it polite, not deshita. One past tense element is enough.
» hou ga ii (Lesson 21):
• Kyou densha de iku hou ga ii. (It would be better to go by train today.) • Kyou densha de itta hou ga ii. (It would be better to go by train today.)
Note: Yes, whether you use present or past with hou ga ii, the meaning — the tense of the meaning — is the same. The bottom example in past tense can easily be mistaken for expressing regret: "It would have been better if..." Please don't make this mistake. For expressing regret, use Base 4 + ba yokatta: Kyou densha de ikeba yokatta. (I should have taken the train today.)
» ka dou ka (Lesson 22):
• Kare wa dekiru ka dou ka kikimashou. (I'll ask him whether or not he can do it.) • Kare wa dekita ka dou ka kikimashou. (I'll ask him whether or not he was able to do it.)
» kamo shirenai / shiremasen (Lesson 23):
• Konban, Jun wa The Lord of the Rings o miru kamo shirenai. (Jun might see The Lord of the Rings tonight.) • Kinou no ban, Jun wa The Lord of the Rings o mita kamo shirenai. (Maybe Jun saw The Lord of the Rings last
» kara (Lesson 24):
• Beth wa itsumo okureru kara, sensei ga okoru. (The teacher gets angry because Beth is always late.) • Beth wa okureta kara, sensei ga okotta. (The teacher was angry because Beth was late.)
» noni (Lesson 36):
• Hayaku okiru noni mainichi okureru. (Even though I get up early, I'm late every day.) • Hayaku okita noni okureta. (Even though I got up early, I was late.)
» sou desu (Lesson 37):
• Takada-san wa yameru sou desu. (I heard that Mr. Takada's quitting.) • Takada-san wa yameta sou desu. (I heard that Mr. Takada quit.)
Note: This sense of sou is not used without desu.
» to omoimasu (Lesson 40):
• Bob wa goji ni kaeru to omoimasu. (I think Bob will come back at five o'clock.) • Bob wa goji ni kaetta to omoimasu. (I think Bob came back at five o'clock.)
» mitai (you desu) (Lesson 42):
• Ame ga furu mitai. (It looks like it's going to rain.) • Ame ga futta mitai. (It looks like it rained.)
kyou: today dekiru: can; to be able to (do something) konban: this evening (kon [now, the present] + ban [evening]) kinou: yesterday itsumo: always sensei: teacher okureru: to be late okoru: to get angry hayaku: (adverb) quickly; early okiru: to get up mainichi: every day (mai [every] + nichi [day]; mai is used with units of time, not with people or objects.) yameru: to quit a job; to quit or end a task (Note to advanced learners: These two "quits" use different kanji.) furu: to fall as precipitation (rain, snow, etc.)
Lesson 69 Ta Form + bakari
To express "(did something) just now," put bakari after a verb in its ta form:
• Okaa-chan wa kaetta bakari. (Mom just got back.) • Watashi wa tabeta bakari. (I just ate.) • John wa deta bakari. (John just left.) • Kono heya o souji shita bakari. (I just cleaned this room.) • Sono kasa o katta bakari. (I just bought that umbrella.)
In fact, now that I think of it, it's more common in Japanese to use katta bakari to say that something is new than to use the adjective atarashii. In other words, if you wanted to say "that's a new umbrella," sono kasa o katta bakari would be the natural way to say it, while the direct translation sore wa atarashii kasa desu sounds awkward, like something memorized from a grammar book.
There is another flavor of bakari that I'll introduce here. It's a colloquial expression that means "all (someone) ever does is...," usually as a complaint. This is used after the Te Form, like this:
• Tabete bakari. (All you ever do is eat.) • Ano ko wa terebi geemu o yatte bakari. (All that kid does is play computer games.) • Shizuka wa eigo o benkyou shite bakari. (All Shizuka ever does is study English.)
As you can see, the meaning of -ta bakari is quite different than -te bakari. Once you get these sorted and memorized, you'll find them very useful.
okaa-chan: Mom, mother (familiar) kaeru: to return; to go/come back deru: to leave; to go/come out heya: a room souji suru: to clean ano: that (over there); that (subject we're talking about) ko: child, kid (familiar) terebi geemu: computer game(s) (wasei eigo for "TV games") yaru: to play (games or sports); to do (familiar, not as polite as suru) eigo: the English language
Lesson 70 Ta Form + koto ga aru
To talk about things you or others have experienced, use koto ga aru after a ta form verb. First, let's look at a couple of sample conversations where the plain, most common form is used:
A: Nihonshoku o tabeta koto ga aru? (Have you ever eaten Japanese food?) B: Hai, sushi to sukiyaki o tabeta koto ga aru. (Yes, I've eaten sushi and sukiyaki.)
A: Tako o tabeta koto ga aru? (Have you ever eaten octopus?) B: Iie, tabeta koto ga nai. Tabete mitai kedo. (No, I haven't. I'd like to try it, though.)
And here is one using polite arimasu: A: Okinawa ni itta koto ga arimasu ka. (Have you ever been to Okinawa?) B: Hai, arimasu. Nikai ikimashita. (Yes, I have. I've been twice.) There are two things about this conversation that I would especially like to point out. The first is that when you ask "have you been to..." in Japanese, you use the verb iku (to go) and literally ask "have you gone to...," which, to me, makes more sense than our English use of the past participle been. The second is that in using this form, you're admitting having experienced something at least once. If you want to mention how many times you've done that something, you don't use this form, but regular past tense. As in B's reply above, in Japanese you don't say "I've been twice," but "I went twice."
Finally, you should know that in everyday familiar conversation the ga is often omitted:
A: Kono hon yonda koto aru? (Have you read this book?) B: Iie, mada yonde inai. (No, not yet. [No, I haven't read it yet.]) (The Te Form + inai conjugation for "not yet" was mentioned at the bottom of Lesson 54.)
nihonshoku: Japanese food (This is a simple compound: nihon [Japan] + shoku [food]) tako: octopus -te mitai: want to try (Base 2 + tai form of the Te Form + miru. See Lessons 7 and 60.) kedo: however; although (This is an abbreviated form of keredomo.) nikai: twice (This is a compound of ni [two] + kai [times]) mada: (not) yet
Lesson 71 Ta Form + ra
Simply said, the Ta Form + ra does the same thing as Base 3 + nara (Lesson 30) or Base 4 + ba (Lesson 43): it provides the "if" element for conditionals, but is used more frequently in familiar settings than the other two.
Let's make some examples showing each of these three conditional structures. First, let's review Base 3 + nara:
• Yukiko o miru nara oshiete kudasai. (Please tell me if you see Yukiko.) • John ni denwa suru nara, kare wa kuru deshou. (If you call John he'll probably come.) • Kodomotachi wa sunakku o taberu nara, chuushoku o tabenai deshou. (If the kids eat a snack, they probably
won't eat lunch.)
Next, we'll convert these to Base 4 + ba:
• Yukiko o mireba oshiete kudasai. (Please tell me if you see Yukiko.) • John ni denwa sureba, kare wa kuru deshou. (If you call John he'll probably come.) • Kodomotachi wa sunakku o tabereba, chuushoku o tabenai deshou. (If the kids eat a snack, they probably won't
And here's what they look like using the Ta Form + ra:
• Yukiko o mitara oshiete kudasai. (Please tell me if you see Yukiko.) • John ni denwa shitara, kare wa kuru deshou. (If you call John he'll probably come.) • Kodomotachi wa sunakku o tabetara, chuushoku o tabenai deshou. (If the kids eat a snack, they probably won't
Again, this one seems to be preferred in everyday, familiar conversation. I think you'll find it easy enough to master.
oshieru: to tell; to inform; to teach sunakku: a snack (wasei eigo) chuushoku: lunch
Lesson 72 Ta Form + rashii
Just as mitai is often used colloquially as the informal substitute for you desu (Lesson 42), rashii is often used as the informal substitute for sou desu (Lesson 37), meaning "It seems that...," "I hear that...," etc. Rashii was not introduced in the Base 3 group, but it does essentially the same thing as Base 3 + sou desu:
• Takada-san wa yameru sou desu. (I heard that Mr. Takada's quitting.) • Tanaka-san wa yameru rashii. (I heard that Mr. Takada's quitting.)
Desu is usually used after sou, making it more formal than rashii. Yes, you can make it plain by using da instead of desu, but most native speakers will just use rashii if they want to be informal. According to the books, desu can added after rashii to make it polite, but I personally have never heard it.
Now that all the explaining is out of the way, let's get back to the Ta Form and make some plain past examples:
93• Sachiko wa Canada ni itta rashii. (I hear that Sachiko went to Canada.)
• Bob wa daibun futotta rashii. (I hear that Bob has gained a lot of weight.) • Ken wa atarashii PC o katta rashii. (I hear that Ken bought a new PC.)
daibun: considerably; to a great degree futoru: to gain weight atarashii: new
Lesson 73 Ta Form + ri
Add ri to verbs in the Ta Form to mention various actions where accuracy or detail isn't necessary. Structures which use two or more verbs are most common. Be sure to add a form of suru after the last one:
• Kinou no ban watashi wa terebi o mitari, ongaku o kiitari, shukudai o shitari shite imashita. (Last night I watched TV, listened to some music, and did some homework.)*
This form is used to give the listener a general idea of actions done without particularly emphasizing the order of things done, and also implies that other things were done that don't need to be mentioned. If you want, you can use just one action verb for a quick answer:
• Watashi wa terebi o mitari shite ita. (I watched TV and stuff.) • Watashi wa manga o yondari shite, yuushoku o tabeta. (I read comics and stuff, then ate dinner.)
Now, just because the Ta Form is mainly used to convey the past tense, please don't think that this conjugation can only refer to the past. It can also be used for present or future happenings. Above I said to be sure to add a form of suru, right? This is where you control the tense:
• Jim wa furui mono o kattari uttari suru. (Jim buys and sells old things.) • Ashita watashi wa benkyou shitari, souji shitari, terebi o mitari suru deshou. (Tomorrow I'll probably do some
studying, some cleaning, and watch TV.)
If you need to add more detail or emphasize the order of actions, use the Te Form for multiple statements as covered in Lesson 66):
• Kinou no ban watashi wa yuushoku o tabete kara terebi o mite, ni jikan gurai ongaku o kiite, ichi ji made shukudai o shimashita. (Last night after dinner I watched TV, listened to music for about two hours, then did homework until one o'clock.)
How about a complex combination to wrap this up? I think you're ready:
• Kyou Sachiko wa heya o souji shitari kaimono ni ittari shite, chuushoku o tabete, hiru kara tomodachi no ie ni ittari piano o renshuu shitari shite, sore kara yuushoku o tsukutte kureta. (Today Sachiko cleaned her room and did some shopping, ate lunch, then in the afternoon went to a friend's house, practiced the piano and things, then she made dinner.)
I realize that this is a run-on sentence, but it just so happens that they happily survive in great numbers in the Japanese language.
* Note: While unnatural in English, it is common practice to use the past progressive shite ita / shite imashita in Japanese in constructions like this. Please review Lessons 53 and 55.
ongaku: music shukudai: homework manga: a comic book furui: old mono: thing(s) (physical, tangible things) kau: to buy uru: to sell -te kara: after (doing something) (Lesson 57) gurai: about, approximately tomodachi: friend ie: house renshuu suru: to practice tsukuru: to make -te kureru: to kindly (do something) (Lesson 58)
Lesson 74 Ta Form + to shitara
For suppositional statements, use the Ta Form with to shitara:
• Ashita Bob ga kita to shitara, watashi wa hontou ni komaru. (If Bob were to come tomorrow, I'd really be at a loss.)
• Gogo kara ame ga futta to shitara, dou shimashou ka. (Supposing it rains this afternoon; what shall we do?) • Ima oyogi ni itta to shitara, tabun koukai suru deshou. (If you were to go swimming now, you'd probably regret
To sureba and to suru to are also suppositional and are often used as substitutes for to shitara.
hontou ni: really; without doubt komaru: to be confused, perplexed gogo: afternoon ame: rain furu: to fall naturally from the sky (rain, snow, etc.) ima: now oyogu: to swim tabun: probably koukai suru: to regret
Lesson 75 Ta Form + to shite mo
This combination is closely related to the Ta Form + to shitara covered in the last lesson, but it adds a light warning or something extra to consider to the supposed idea. In English it would probably go something like "even IF (something were to happen), you must remember that (something else)...." As usual, let's look at some examples to help make it clear:
• Ashita Bob ga kita to shite mo, watashi wa asatte made au koto ga dekimasen. (Even if Bob were to come tomorrow, I wouldn't be able to see him until the day after tomorrow.)
• Anata wa supeingo o benkyou shita to shite mo, shigoto de tsukaenai deshou. (Even if you studied Spanish, you probably wouldn't be able to use it in your work.)
• Kenkou shokuhin o takusan tabeta to shite mo, undou shinakereba imi ga nai deshou. (Even if you were to eat lots of health food, it would be meaningless if you didn't exercise.)
As you can see, this combination is created by adding mo to suru in the Te Form. In fact, mo can be added to any verb in the Te Form for that "although" meaning:
• Setsumeisho o yonde mo, kono sofuto ga wakarimasen. (Even if I read the manual, I can't understand this software.)
• Kare wa ikura tabete mo, zenzen ippai ni naranai. (No matter how much he eats, he never gets full.)
ashita: tomorrow asatte: the day after tomorrow (Yes, the Japanese have one convenient word for that!) made: until au: to meet; to see (someone for an appointment) supeingo: Spanish (supein [Spain] + go [language]) shigoto: a job; one's work tsukau: to use kenkou: health shokuhin: food items; groceries takusan: a lot undou suru: to (get) exercise imi: a meaning setsumeisho: an instruction book; a manual (setsumei [explanation] + sho [handbook, document]) sofuto: software (wasei eigo) wakaru: to understand ikura: how much/many zenzen: not at all; never (used to emphasize or exaggerate negatives) ippai: full -ni naru: to become (something [noun] or some condition [adjective])
Lesson 76 Ta Form + toki
There are several ways to translate time into Japanese, but toki is used when talking about the time that certain events occurred. After the Ta Form, it is equivalent to "when" in "when I saw that...." Here are some examples:
• Watashi wa sore o yonda toki totemo odorokimashita. (When I read that, I was very surprised.) • Sore o kiita toki waratta. (I laughed when I heard that.) • John wa koketa toki zubon ga yabureta. (John's pants were torn when he fell.)
While not covered before, toki will also work with Base 3 for future events or infinitives. For example, it can be used in place of to in the third example given in Lesson 39:
• Sashimi o taberu toki byouki ni naru. (I get sick whenever I eat raw fish.)
However, to is usually used because of its flexibility.
totemo: very odoroku: to be surprised warau: to laugh kokeru: to fall (as in to stumble and fall; to trip and fall) zubon: pants yabureru: to get torn sashimi: specially prepared edible raw fish byouki: to be sick; sickness
Lesson 77 Ta Form + tokoro
This is a simple add-on that states that you (or someone else) have done something just now. One similar to this, the Ta Form + bakari, was already covered in Lesson 69. The major difference between these two is that bakari has a kind of "relatively speaking" sense to it, while tokoro really means just now. For example, sono kasa o katta bakari (I just bought that umbrella) could be used even if the umbrella was bought a week ago — relatively speaking, it's still brand-new. However, if tokoro were used in this sentence instead of bakari, it would mean that the person had just bought the umbrella a moment ago; or, in the least recent sense, that the person had just arrived home from buying it.
Here are some examples where tokoro can be used naturally. Ima (now) is often placed before the verb to emphasize the freshness of the event:
• Watashi wa ima kaetta tokoro. (I just got back now.) • Kodomotachi wa ima tabeta tokoro. (The kids just finished eating.) • Kono heya o souji shita tokoro desu. (I just cleaned this room.)
As usual, add desu to make a statement polite.
kasa: umbrella kau: to buy ima: now kaeru: to return; to go/come back kodomotachi: children (kodomo [child] + tachi [plural maker for people-related nouns]) taberu: to eat heya: a room souji suru: to clean
Lesson 78 desu, iru and aru
As you know, desu makes things polite. You can add it to many statements to make them polite, including ones that end in plain verb forms or their conjugations. Do not add it to verbs that are already in a polite form, like something from the masu group.
After nouns and adjectives, desu acts like English "be verbs" (am, are, is, etc.) and states that something (a noun) is something (a noun or adjective):
• Kare wa Tanaka-san desu. (He is Mr. Tanaka.) • Carol wa nijuu go sai desu. (Carol is 25 years old.) • Bob wa byouki desu. (Bob's sick.) • Ashita wa ame desu. (Tomorrow it will rain. [The weather forecast for tomorrow is rain.]) • Sono gakkou wa furui desu. (That school is old.)
The plain form of desu is da, which is used by kids and adults in familiar settings:
• Mite! Hikouki da! (Look! An airplaine!) • Iya da. (No. [I don't want to...])
Iru and aru mean "to be (in a certain place)" or "to exist." Generally speaking, iru is used for people and animals, and aru for everything else:
• Tom wa iru? (Is Tom here/there?) • Hai, Tom wa iru yo. (Yes, Tom's here.) • Kabe ni kumo ga iru. (There's a spider on the wall.) • Jisho wa tsukue no ue ni aru. (The dictionary is on the desk.) • Kouen ni ookina ki ga aru. (There's a big tree in the park.)
You can make these polite by using Base 2 + masu:
• Tom wa imasu ka? (Is Tom there?) • Kouen ni ookina ki ga arimasu. (There's a big tree in the park.)
(Iru is an ichidan verb; aru is a yodan.)
The plain negative forms of these are inai and nai:
• Sumimasen, ima Tom wa inai. (Sorry, Tom's not here now.)
• Jisho wa nai. (I don't have a dictionary.)
And the polite forms would be:
• Sumimasen, ima Tom wa imasen. (Sorry, Tom's not here now.) • Jisho wa arimasen. (I don't have a dictionary.)
Now, getting back to desu, there is another form that I've been asked about: de aru. This is one that is rarely used these days. You really don't need to concern yourself with it at all unless you decide to study Japanese literature. The only time you'll hear it is on historical dramas or documentary programs. If you're really interested in the technical background, here it is: Among the several roles of de, one is "as," as in being in a certain position, state or condition. Connected with aru it means "to exist as...." So, if you were to say John wa gakusei de aru, you're technically saying "John presently exists as a student" (John is a student). Again, it is rarely used these days. Use desu instead.
gakkou: school furui: old hikouki: airplane iya: (adjective) disagreeable; unpleasant; No! (Iya da! is used as a simple reply to reject something, and is especially used by children.) kabe: wall kumo: spider tsukue: desk ue: the top (of something) ookina: big ki: tree sumimasen: sorry; excuse me jisho: dictionary
Notes on Japanese Verbs
In any language there are always certain little things that are nice to know which are not mentioned in grammar books or dictionaries — things which can only be figured out by living among native speakers and carefully listening to them for years. Japanese is no exception. You could go "by the book" and choose structures and verb forms which will convert your English into Japanese in order to make yourself understood well enough, even though the words you choose are not what native Japanese speakers would use. What makes it worse is the fact that very, very rarely will they correct you, even when you make it clear that you'd appreciate it.
The purpose of this page is to introduce certain patterns and exceptions among the verbs which will hopefully help to streamline the memorization process and shorten the road leading to correct usage. This is certainly not a complete list. It only represents the tip of the iceberg, but it should help you get a better idea of what the whole iceberg is like.
So that there is no misunderstanding, the verbs listed in bold black are in their plain (Base 3) form. They are not conjugations. They are "specialized verbs" with "set suffixes" added to the root kanji. Accordingly, they are already divided into transitive/intransitive, active/passive forms.
» -aru / -eru
In these pairs, one is a yodan verb ending in -aru, which is intransitive (has no direct object); and the other is an ichidan ending in -eru, which is transitive (acting on a direct object):
agaru: to rise; to go/come up ageru: to raise up; to give
• Agatte kudasai. (Please come in.) • Hai, ageru. (Here, I'll give you this.)
Note: These two, agaru and ageru, have close ties with Japanese culture. Because Japanese houses have a genkan (the space just inside the door which "shares dirt" with the outside) where you take off your shoes before stepping up into the house, agaru is used for "come inside." When exchanging gifts, you always receive downwardly and give upwardly (see Lesson 51).
atsumaru: to get/come together atsumeru: to bring together; to collect
• Shichiji han ni atsumarimashou. (Let's all meet at seven thirty.) • Wendy wa furui kitte o atsumete iru. (Wendy collects old stamps.)
kimaru: to be decided kimeru: to decide
• Sore wa ashita no kaigi de kimaru deshou. (That will probably be decided at tomorrow's meeting.) • Hayaku kimete kudasai. (Please make up your mind quickly.)
mitsukaru: to be found mitsukeru: to find
• Boku no jisho ga mitsukatta! (I found my dictionary!) • Nikibi mitsuketa. (I found a pimple.)
Note: These two cause a lot of stumbling. Strangely, when you find something that was lost, in Japanese you use mitsukaru, as if it just found itself. Use mitsukeru for things that you find unintentionally. Also, even though it seems natural to use mitsuketai for "I'd like to find...," it's not. Use sagashite iru (sagasu: to look for).
tasukaru: to be of help; to be rescued tasukeru: to rescue; to help
• Arigatou. Hontou ni tasukarimashita. (Thank you. You were really a great help.) • Dareka tasukete! (Someone help me!)
Note: Deciding where tasukeru is suitable can sometimes be tricky. It's usually used in life-or-death matters and when helping people in real trouble. For routine helping, like helping in the kitchen, use tetsudau.
» -eru / -u
There are other pairs like the ones above where the intransitive ends in something else:
todokeru: to send; to deliver (something to someone) todoku: to be delivered; to arrive (a package, etc., not a person)
• Jim no tokoro ni kore o todokete kureru? (Would you take this over to Jim's place?) • Boku no imouto kara tegami ga todoita! (I got a letter from my sister!)
tsuzukeru: to continue (doing something) tsuzuku: to continue (seemingly on its own)
• Sagashi tsuzukete kudasai. (Please continue looking for it.) • Kono bangumi wa itsu made tsuzuku no? (How long is this program going to run?)
Note: Here's a handy verb form for you to add to your list of extra goodies: Base 2 + tsuzukeru; to continue doing (whatever the Base 2 verb is).
» -su / -u
And there are pairs where the one ending in su is transitive and the other one is intransitive:
dasu: to send out; to force out deru: to come/go out
• Inu o dashinasai. (Let the dog out.) • Ojii-chan wa soto e deta. (Grandpa went outside.)
herasu: to decrease; to lessen (something) heru: to decrease (on its own)
• Shuppi o herashite kudasai. (Please cut down on your spending.) • Kouen no hato ga daibun herimashita. (The number of pigeons in the park has greatly decreased.)
Note: Heru is one good example of a yodan verb that ends in eru.
kaesu: to return (something to someone) kaeru: to return (home or where you belong)
• Raishuu kaeshite mo ii? (Is it okay if I return it next week?) • Juuji made ni kaette ne. (Be back by ten o'clock, okay?)
kowasu: to break kowareru: to be broken
• Dare ga boku no jitensha o kowashita? (Who broke my bicycle?) • Kopiiki ga kowareta. (The copier is broken.)
nokosu: to leave (something) behind nokoru: to stay behind
• Zenbu tabete. Nokosanaide kudasai. (Eat all this. Please don't leave any.) • Kaigi ga owattara, chotto nokotte kudasaimasu ka. (Would you please stay a little after the meeting?)
Note: Don't use nokosu for something you accidentally left behind, use okiwasureru (oku: to put; to place + wasureru: to forget):
• Ah! Honya ni kasa o okiwasurete shimatta! (Oh, no! I left my umbrella at the bookstore!)
orosu: to lower; to put down oriru: to go/come down; to get off or get out of a vehicle
• Koko ni oroshite. (Put it down here.) • Takamatsu eki ni orite kudasai. (Please get off at Takamatsu Station.)
ugokasu: to move something or cause something to be moved ugoku: to move (on its own)
• Sono kikai o ugokashite wa ikenai. (Don't move that machine.) • Kemushi ga ugoita. (The caterpillar moved.)
yogosu: to make dirty yogoreru: to get dirty
• Atarashii kutsu o yogosanaide ne. (Don't get your new shoes dirty, okay?) • Boku no boushi ga yogoreta. (My hat got dirty.)
Of course there are others, but these should give you a good start.
For most standard verbs, where there is no special intransitive or passive form, conversion can be done by:
• yodan verbs: Base 1 + reru • ichidan verbs: Base 1 + rareru • suru verbs: change suru to sareru
and then conjugate accordingly, as in:
• Sono megane o kaketara, warawareru deshou. (If you wear those glasses, you'll probably be laughed at.) • Kono keeki wa taberarenai deshou. (This cake probably won't be eaten.) • Shuuri sareta PC wa dochira desu ka. (Which PC is the one that was repaired?)
Note: One area where Japanese is much more complicated than English is in the "wear verbs." The verb used depends on where and how something is worn. Here they are:
• kiru: to wear around one's body, like a shirt, jacket, dress, kimono, etc. • haku: to wear on or around one's lower body or feet, like pants, a skirt, socks, shoes, etc. • kaburu: to wear (literally "cover") on one's head, like a hat or cap • kakeru: to wear (literally "hang") on one's face, like glasses • shimeru: to wear (literally "tie around") around one's waist or neck, like a belt, necktie, obi, etc. • hameru: to wear on a finger, like a ring • tsukeru: to wear (literally "attach") on one's clothes, like a name tag or pin
Besides these, suru is often used instead of the bottom four, and especially when talking about accessories.
This completes Japanese Verbs. Thank you for making it a part of your Japanese studies.
My best wishes and gambatte kudasai!