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Japanese Verbs


Introduction

For many years I have been writing tutorials on the Japanese language for students of the language, and wish to convey my thanks to all those who have given me their compliments and support. I sincerely hope that this is, and will continue to be, a clear, concise, and convenient resource for those learning or reviewing Japanese, especially the more commonly used verb conjugations with their various add-ons and combinations. Each lesson will be kept short, with a gradual and natural introduction of new words and phrases.

Please have an English-Japanese/Japanese-English dictionary and notebook handy as you study. As new words are introduced, use your dictionary to learn or check their meanings, and make a word list in your notebook to add new vocabulary to. Write down the root word as well as any conjugated forms. It's a proven fact that the process of looking up and writing vocabulary will help the learning process, along with regular reviewing. A Word Check section will be added to the bottom of some lessons to aid the reviewing process.

Please see Getting Started with the Japanese Language for pronunciation guides and other relevant information.

Please note: In order to avoid getting too technical at an early stage of learning, only the most general translations and explanations of words and verb forms are given. There will always be exceptions and more to learn. Also, romaji (romanized Japanese words) used herein are written in their true, romanized form: elongated vowels are shown as such, etc.

© Tim R. Matheson


Table of Contents

Jump down to: Base 3 | Bases 4 & 5 | The Te Form | The Ta Form

1. Getting Started with the Plain Form

2. Godan Verbs with Base 2 and masu for Polite Present and Future Actions

3. Ichidan Verbs with Base 2 and masu for Polite Present and Future Actions

4. More Polite Masu Group Base 2 Verb Endings

5. About desu, iru and aru

6. Expressing Desired Actions with Base 2 and tai

7. Commands with Base 2 and nasai

8. Irregular Verbs kuru and suru

9. Forming Questions with ka

10. Go and Do / Come and Do with Base 2 and ni iku / ni kuru

11. Difficult to Do / Easy to Do with Base 2 and nikui / yasui

12. Overdoing it with Base 2 and sugiru

13. Doing Something While Doing Something Else with Base 2 and nagara

14. The Plain Negative Form Base 1 with nai

15. More Nai Group Verb Endings

16. Causing Action with Base 1 and seru / saseru

17. The Plain Form Base 3 with deshou

18. Supposed to Be with Base 3 and hazu

19. Expressing Preferred Ways with Base 3 and hou ga ii

20. Whether or Not with Base 3 and ka dou ka

21. Perhaps with Base 3 and kamo shiremasen

22. Expressing Reasons with Base 3 and kara

23. Although or But with Base 3 and keredomo

24. Expressing Ability with Base 3 and koto ga dekimasu

25. Expressing Decisions with Base 3 and koto ni shimasu

26. Expressing Until an Action with Base 3 and made

27. Do Not! Commands with Base 3 and na

28. Conditional Expressions with Base 3 and nara

29. Using Base 3 to Modify Nouns

30. Expressing Polite Emphasis with Base 3 and no desu

31. Expressing Requirements with Base 3 and no ni

32. Expressing Gerund (-ing) Forms of Verbs with Base 3 and no wa

33. Expressing Reasons with Base 3 and node

34. Expressing In Spite Of with Base 3 and noni

35. Expressing News with Base 3 and sou desu

36. Explaining Purposes with Base 3 and tame ni

37. Expressing Events or Conditions with Base 3 and to

38. Adding I think to Statements with to omoimasu

39. Expressing Intentions with Base 3 and tsumori

40. Expressing Appearances with Base 3 and you desu

41. Expressing Changes with Base 3 and you ni naru / you ni suru

42. Conditional Expressions with Base 4 and ba

43. Three More Conditional Expressions with Base 4 and ba

44. Base 4 Alone: the Plain Imperative

45. Expressing Ability with Base 4 and ru

46. Expressing Inability with Base 4 and nai

47. Expressing Ability as a Condition with Base 4 and reba or tara

48. Base 5

49. Expressing Polite Requests or Kindnesses Received with the Te Form and kudasai

50. Giving Respectfully with the Te Form and ageru

51. Respectful Requests for Actions with the Te Form and goran / goran nasai

52. Expressing Present Progressive Actions with the Te Form and iru

53. Expressing the Negative Present Progressive with the Te Form and inai

54. Expressing the Past Progressive with the Te Form and ita

55. Expressing Polite Requests with the Te Form and itadaku / morau

56. Expressing What Comes After with the Te Form and kara

57. Expressing Requests or Kindnesses Received with the Te Form and kureru

58. Expressing Gradual Achievement or Change with the Te Form and kuru / iku

59. Expressing Trial Actions with the Te Form and miru

60. Giving Permission with the Te Form and mo ii

61. Finalizing an Action with the Te Form and oku

62. Expressing Completed Actions with the Te Form and shimau

63. Expressing Suggestions or Asking About Things with the Te Form and wa ikaga / dou desu ka

64. Expressing Forbidden Things with the Te Form and wa ikemasen

65. Combining Actions with the Te Form

66. The Plain Past Ta Form

67. Ta Form Combinations Shared with Base 3

68. Expressing Actions Just Done with the Ta Form and bakari

69. Expressing Things Experienced with the Ta Form and koto ga aru

70. Conditional Expressions with the Ta Form and ra

71. Expressing News or Hearsay with the Ta Form and rashii

72. Expressing Multiple Vague Actions with the Ta Form and ri

73. Expressing Suppositions with the Ta Form and to shitara

74. Expressing Strong Opinions or Statements Concerning Suppositions with the Ta Form and to shitemo

75. Expressing Actions Coinciding with or Resulting From Other Events with the Ta Form and toki

76. Expressing Actions Just Done with the Ta Form and tokoro


Top of Contents


Lesson 1
Getting Started with the Plain Form

Please begin by remembering 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. Keeping this in mind will make further study much easier. Also, the basic sentence structure used in Japanese is subject-object-verb.

There are 3 types of verbs used in Japanese: godan1, ichidan, and irregular. First we will look at only some simple godan verbs, which can end in u, ku, gu, su, tsu, nu, bu, mu, or ru:

  • kau (to buy)
  • aruku (to walk)
  • isogu (to hurry)
  • kasu (to lend)
  • matsu (to wait)
  • shinu (to die)
  • asobu (to play)
  • yomu (to read)
  • kaeru return)

Now let's put a few of these in sentences:

  • Mama wa mise de banana o kau. (Mom 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 (to eat)
  • kimeru (to decide)
  • miru (to look, watch)
  • kariru (to borrow)

Here are a few example sentences:

  • Watashi wa ringo o taberu. (I'll eat an apple.)
  • Naomi wa terebi o miru. (Naomi will watch TV.)
  • Obaa-san no kasa o kariru. (I'll borrow Grandma's umbrella.)

The verbs used above are in their plain form or “Base 3” form. We could also call it the unconjugated form or dictionary form. When you look up a Japanese verb in your dictionary, it will usually be in this form.

Please remember that this form, as shown above, is very simple Japanese, and also very juvenile or "familiar." Only kids or people speaking with family or friends would use verbs in their plain form like these. Before actually trying out the language you will need to learn the Base 2 forms and the polite endings that go with them. We will start learning about those in Lesson 2.

Note the structure of the example sentences above. Again, in Japanese the subject usually comes first, the object comes next, and the verb with its conjugation comes last.

You may be wondering what the short words like wa, o and no are. These are called particles and act as indicators for the parts of the sentence.2 They come after whatever they indicate. Look at the last three example sentences above. The first two have wa in them to show that their subjects are watashi (I) in the first, and Naomi in the second. The third and last example sentence does not have wa in it because it does not have a subject. Here, watashi (I) is the subject, but since it is known or assumed it can be omitted. Unlike English, Japanese allows this omission of subjects, and also objects, when they are known. This can be very convenient at some times, but also confusing at others. In Japanese, the verb is the anchor of the sentence.

Word Check

Verbs:

kau: to buy
aruku: to walk
isogu: to hurry
kasu: to lend
matsu: to wait
shinu: to die
asobu: to play
yomu: to read
kaeru: to return
taberu: to eat
kimeru: to decide
miru: to look, watch
kariru: to borrow

Others:

mise: a store
manga: comic book
ojii-san: grandfather
sugu: soon
watashi: I
ringo: apple
terebi: TV3
obaa-san: grandmother
kasa: umbrella

Notes

1. Godan verbs are also called yodan or "type 1" verbs, depending on the source. Interestingly, the Japanese learn their own language in their own way, and do not use the terms godan or ichidan when teaching or learning verbs unless they are linguists or scholars of the language. Asking your native-speaking Japanese friends about these will probably not help. This method of verb instruction is used specifically for teaching Japanese verb forms to non-native speakers.

2. If you would like to learn more about Japanese particles at this time, please see my page about them.

3. Terebi is wasei eigo, or "Japanized English," and comes from television.


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Lesson 2
Godan Verbs with Base 2 and masu for Polite Present and Future Actions

The first ending you'll want to master is the polite form masu. Since masu requires the Base 2 form, godan verbs are changed so they end in i — their "Base 2" form — before the masu ending is added. Notice how the following godan verbs, which were introduced in Lesson 1, change in order to add masu, the present polite ending. Especially notice how verbs ending in su and tsu change:

Plain Verb

Base 2 Form

Polite Verb Form

kau (to buy)

kai

kaimasu

aruku (to walk)

aruki

arukimasu

isogu (to hurry)

isogi

isogimasu

kasu (to lend)

kashi

kashimasu

matsu (to wait)

machi

machimasu

shinu (to die)

shini

shinimasu

asobu (to play)

asobi

asobimasu

yomu (to read)

yomi

yomimasu

kaeru (to return)

kaeri

kaerimasu

Now we are ready to speak polite, "adult" Japanese. Let's convert the plain godan verb example sentences used in Lesson 1 into polite sentences by converting them to Base 2 and adding masu:

  • Mama wa mise de banana o kaimasu. (Mom 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.)


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Lesson 3
Ichidan Verbs with Base 2 and masu for Polite Present and Future Actions

As mentioned in Lesson 1, there are three types of Japanese verbs: godan verbs, ichidan verbs, and irregular verbs. We learned how to convert godan verbs to their Base 2 form in order to add masu in Lesson 2. We will now do the same thing to ichidan verbs.

Ichidan verbs end in either eru or iru. They are easy because you change them to Base 2 by just dropping the ru at the end. Look carefully at these popular ichidan verbs and how they conjugate, and notice how they differ from the godan verbs covered in Lesson 2:

Plain Verb

Base 2 Form

Polite Verb Form

taberu (to eat)

tabe

tabemasu

oboeru (to remember)

oboe

oboemasu

kimeru (to decide)

kime

kimemasu

deru (to leave, come out)

de

demasu

kariru (to borrow)

kari

karimasu

miru (to look, watch)

mi

mimasu

And here are some example sentences:

  • Watashi wa pizza o tabemasu. (I'll eat a pizza.)
  • Watashi wa ashita kimemasu. (I'll decide tomorrow.)
  • Jerry wa sugu heya kara demasu. (Jerry will come out of the room soon.)
  • Mike wa itsumo watashi no jitensha o karimasu. (Mike always borrows my bicycle.)
  • Ayako wa mainichi terebi o mimasu. (Ayako watches the TV every day.)

Now, you are probably thinking: How can I tell ichidan verbs from godan? True, there are also godan 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 godan or ichidan is a very minor one, and should not be worried about at this stage.

Word Check

ashita: tomorrow
sugu: soon
heya: a room
kara: from
itsumo: always
jitensha: bicycle
mainichi: every day
terebi: TV


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Lesson 4
More Polite Masu Group Base 2 Verb Endings

Once you have become familiar with Base 2 and masu, as explained in Lessons 2 and 3, learning these other four from what I call the "masu group" is easy. They are masen, mashita, masen deshita, and mashou, and they are added to godan and ichidan verbs the same way that masu is.

Let's first review masu, which is for polite, positive present or future expressions. Here are some sentences from Lessons 2 and 3:

  • Mama wa mise de banana o kaimasu. (Mom will buy bananas at the store.)
  • Jim wa manga o yomimasu. (Jim will read a comic book.)
  • Watashi wa pizza o tabemasu. (I'll eat a pizza.)
  • Mike wa itsumo watashi no jitensha o karimasu. (Mike always borrows my bicycle.)
  • Ayako wa mainichi terebi o mimasu. (Ayako watches the TV every day.)

Masen is for negative present or future expressions. Let's use the same sentences to introduce masen:

  • Mama wa banana o kaimasen. (Mom isn't going to buy bananas.)
  • Jim wa manga o yomimasen. (Jim isn't going to read a comic book.)
  • Watashi wa pizza o tabemasen. (I'm not going to eat a pizza.)
  • Mike wa watashi no jitensha o karimasen. (Mike isn't going to borrow my bicycle.)
  • Ayako wa mainichi terebi o mimasen. (Ayako doesn't watch TV every day.)

Mashita is for positive past expressions. Here are the same sentences again, changed to past tense with mashita:

  • Mama wa mise de banana o kaimashita. (Mom bought bananas at the store.)
  • Jim wa manga o yomimashita. (Jim read a comic book.)
  • Watashi wa pizza o tabemashita. (I ate a pizza.)
  • Mike wa watashi no jitensha o karimashita. (Mike borrowed my bicycle.)
  • Ayako wa kesa terebi o mimashita. (Ayako watched TV this morning.)

Masen deshita is for negative past expressions:

  • Mama wa banana o kaimasen deshita. (Mom didn't buy bananas.)
  • Jim wa manga o yomimasen deshita. (Jim didn't read a comic book.)
  • Watashi wa pizza o tabemasen deshita. (I didn't eat a pizza.)
  • Mike wa watashi no jitensha o karimasen deshita. (Mike didn't borrow my bicycle.)
  • Ayako wa terebi o mimasen deshita. (Ayako didn't watch TV.)

Mashou is used a lot and is very easy. 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" or "Let me do (something) for you," as in:

  • Watashi ga hakobimashou. (I'll carry this / these [for you].)1
  • (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.)

Word Check

mise: store; shop
kau: to buy
manga: comic book
yomu: to read
taberu: to eat
kariru: to borrow
miru: to see; to watch; to look
kesa: this morning
iku: to go
yasumu: to rest; to take a break; to take or have a day off
hakobu: to carry
esa: pet food
ageru: to give
anata: you2
naosu: to repair

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

Notes

1. In Japanese, the object (as well as the subect) can be omitted when it is known or obvious. In this example, even hakobimashou alone would be both natural and grammatically sufficient.

2. Please see About You and Name Suffixes.


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Lesson 5
About desu, iru and aru

This would be a good place to leave the "action verb" endings just long enough to explain the "to be" verbs desu, iru and aru.

Desu is added to the end of 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...])

I should point out here that the above sentences do not need desu or da to be complete or grammatically correct. In fact, you will often hear them with neither. Desu or da are added to "finalize" the statement in some cases, with desu being the one to choose when the setting calls for polite speech.

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 converting them to their Base 2 form and adding masu. Iru is an ichidan verb, and aru is a godan, so be sure to convert them accordingly:

  • Tom wa imasu ka? (Is Tom there?)
  • Kouen ni ookina ki ga arimasu. (There's a big tree in the park.)

The plain negative forms of these are inai and nai:

  • Sumimasen, ima Tom wa inai. (Sorry, Tom's not here now.)
  • Jisho ga nai. (I don't have a dictionary.)

And the polite negative forms would use masen:

  • Sumimasen ga, ima Tom wa imasen. (Sorry, but Tom's not here now.)
  • Jisho ga arimasen. (I don't have a dictionary.)

The plain past of these are ita and atta, which should only be used in very familiar settings:

  • Kinou Tom wa ita. (Yesterday Tom was here.)
  • Koko ni ookina ki ga atta. (There was a big tree here.)

The polite past forms are imashita and arimashita:

  • Kinou Tom wa imashita. (Yesterday Tom was here.)
  • Koko ni ookina ki ga arimashita. (There was a big tree here.)

For plain past negative use inakatta and nakatta:

  • Kinou Tom wa inakatta. (Yesterday Tom was not here.)
  • Koko ni ki ga nakatta. (There was not a tree here.)

And for polite past negative use masen deshita:

  • Kinou Tom wa imasen deshita. (Yesterday Tom was not here.)
  • Koko ni ki ga arimasen deshita. (There was not a tree here.)

Now let's get back to desu. Its plain negative form is dewa nai or ja nai:

  • Kanojo wa juuhassai dewa nai. (She's not 18.)

And the polite negative is dewa arimasen:

  • Iie, kare wa haisha dewa arimasen. (No, he's not a dentist.)

The plain past, polite past, plain past negative, and polite past negative forms are datta, deshita, dewa nakatta, and dewa arimasen deshita, respectively.

There is another form of desu 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 will hear it is on historical dramas or documentary programs. If you are 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 in daily communication. Use desu instead.1

Compared to English, Japanese is "grammatically loose." You will run into lots of strange constructions which cannot be explained in English simply because they do not exist in English. With desu, there is one way it is often used which will throw the student who is still trying to "think out in English" everything heard in Japanese. This is when it is used after the object. A good example would be:

A: O-tousan wa? (Where's Dad?)
B: Shigoto desu. (He's at work.)

B could even answer o-tousan wa shigoto desu, which, to the mind of the student of Japanese, could mean "Dad is a job," but it doesn't. This is the "wild card" nature of desu.

I realize that making sense out of this will take some time, but Japanese allows much more "vagueness" than English does. In the example given above, desu is simply added behind the minimum required answer as a polite formality, and has no other value as a grammatical component. The seasoned listener will recognize this and not expect desu to mean anything more.

Word Check

kare: he; him
nijuu go: 25
sai: — years old
byouki: sick
ashita: tomorrow
ame: rain
sono: that —
gakkou: school
furui: old
hikouki: airplane
iya: disagreeable; unpleasant; No!2
kabe: wall
kumo: spider
jisho: dictionary
tsukue: desk
ue: the top (of something)
kouen: a park
ookina: big
ki: tree
ima: now
juuhassai: 18 years old3
haisha: dentist

Notes

1. Most native speakers do not voice the u on the end of masu or desu. If you want to sound like most natives, pronounce them "moss" and "dess." You will, however, occasionally hear a few speakers voice the final su, making them sound something like mah-su and deh-su, with just a very short su. You can imitate the version you like.

2. Iya da! is used as a simple reply to reject something, and is especially used by children.

3. In the word list above, nijuu go sai (25 years old) and juuhassai (18 years old) are written with or without spaces on purpose to show that either way is okay and to help clarify the sai element. Japanese does not have spaces between characters or words, and so there are no rules concerning Japanese when it's written in romaji; people just usually follow an English-like format where possible.

Numbers in Japanese make an interesting little study in itself, but here I will show just enough to clarify these two, 25 and 18:

ni: 2
juu: 10
ni juu: 20
go: 5
ni juu go: 25
hachi: 8
juu hachi: 18

Accordingly:

juu go: 15
ni juu ni: 22
ni juu hachi: 28
go juu: 50
hachi juu: 80
hachi juu go: 85

And so on.

When adding sai for "years old," it forms contractions with some numbers, like hachi (8). So, 8 years old is hassai (hachi + sai), 18 years old is juuhassai (juuhachi + sai), etc.

For more about numbers, see Japanese Numbers and Counting.


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Lesson 6
Expressing Desired Actions with Base 2 and tai

A very essential Base 2 ending is tai, which is used to show what you or others want to do:

  • Watashi wa kasa o kaitai. (I want to buy an umbrella.)
  • Soto de asobitai. (I want to play outside.)
  • Bob wa tempura o tabetai rashii. (It looks like Bob wants to eat tempura.)

The tai ending alone is plain. To make it polite, just add desu: Watashi wa kasa o kaitai desu, etc.

Again, tai shows that you or someone wants to do something, and is not used when you want something — a thing or an object. Accordingly, 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, "Watashi wa inu ga hoshii." 1

Now, what if you don't want to do something? In that case, we use takunai, which is tai 's negative form. Again, add desu to make it polite.

  • Watashi wa kasa o kaitakunai. (I don't want to buy an umbrella.)
  • Soto de asobitakunai desu. (I don't want to play outside.)

Another handy derivative is takereba, which is the conditional form of tai. Use it for "if (you) want to":

  • Terebi o mitakereba, yuushoku o hayaku tabenasai. (If you want to watch TV, hurry and eat your dinner.)
  • Shichiji no densha ni noritakereba, ashita hayaku okimashou. (If you want to make the 7:00 train, let's get up early tomorrow.)

Word Check

kasa: umbrella
asobu: to play
rashii: to seem like; to appear to be (see Lesson 71)
yuushoku: dinner
hayaku: early; fast, quickly
tabenasai: command form for to eat (Base 2 of taberu + nasai), which is covered in the next lesson
shichiji: 7:00 (shichi [seven] + ji ["o'clock"])
densha: train
noru: to ride
ashita: tomorrow
okiru: to get up

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

Notes

1. Although hoshii is used in place of a verb, it is actually an adjective and is used when objects are wanted. It is never used with the particle o, but with ga instead. For more exceptions like this, please see the section about the direct object indicator o on my page Japanese Particles.


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Lesson 7
Commands with Base 2 and nasai

Base 2 with nasai is a very simple one, and was used near the end of the last lesson. For simple commands, just add nasai to verbs in the Base 2 form:

  • Tabenasai! (Eat!)
  • Minasai! (Look!)
  • Yominasai! (Read it!)
  • Iinasai! (Tell me!)
  • Suwarinasai! (Sit down!)
  • Koko ni kinasai! (Come here!)

Word Check

taberu: to eat
miru: to look
yomu: to read
iu: to say
suwaru: to sit
kuru: to come

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)


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Lesson 8
Irregular Verbs kuru and suru

Did something seem amiss with the last example in the last lesson? I hope so, because it means you noticed that while kuru (to come) looks like a godan verb, it conjugated in a non-godan way. It is now time to introduce the irregular verbs kuru and suru.

We have already practiced a few verb conjugations using godan 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.)

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 ga shimasu. (I'll do it.)
  • Kare wa shimasen. (He won't do it.)
  • 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 have been introduced you will see them pop up from time to time in future lessons. Just remember that they are irregular and do not follow the same rules as the other verbs.


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Lesson 9
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 add 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 (Grandpa will return soon.) from Lesson 2? Well, just stick ka on the end and you've turned it into a question: Ojii-san wa sugu kaerimasu ka. (Will Grandpa return soon?) Simple.

Let's make questions out of some of our other previous examples:

  • Ayako wa kesa terebi o mimashita ka. (Did Ayako watch TV this morning?)
  • 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 lots of question marks used, usually in advertisements or trendy one-liners, but real Japanese literature does not use it. In a sense, ka is the question mark.


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Lesson 10
Go and Do / Come and Do with Base 2 and ni iku / ni kuru

Now that we are familiar with the verbs iku (go) and kuru (come), let's learn two very useful Base 2 endings that use them. Simply convert your reason for coming or going into Base 2, then add the relevant one with the particle ni in front of it:

  • Watashi wa kasa o kai ni iku. (I'm going to go buy an umbrella.)
  • Miki wa watashi no atarashii kuruma o mi ni kuru. (Miki is coming over to see my new car.)

Because these are left in their plain form, as explained in Lesson 1, we can add endings to them to clean them up or change the tense:

  • Watashi wa kasa o kai ni ikimasu. (I'm going to go buy an umbrella.)
  • Miki wa watashi no atarashii kuruma o mi ni kimashita. (Miki came over to see my new car.)

And here are some more good ones:

  • Chuuka ryouri o tabe ni ikimashou. (Let's go out and eat Chinese food.)
  • Watashi wa kouen ni asobi ni ikitai. (I want to go play in the park.)
  • Rob wa jitensha o kari ni kimasen deshita. (Rob didn't come to borrow the bicycle.)
  • Asobi ni kite ne. (Come over for a visit, okay?)1

Word Check

kasa: umbrella
atarashii: new
kuruma: car
chuuka ryouri: Chinese food
kouen: park
asobu: to play
jitensha: bicycle
kariru: to borrow
ne: okay?; right?; you know? — just said or added to try to get someone to agree with whatever is being said

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

Notes

1. Asobi ni kite is a set phrase used to invite someone "to come for a pleasure visit." (Kite is the Te Form of kuru, "to come.") You may hear this 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.


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Lesson 11
Difficult to Do / Easy to Do with Base 2 and nikui / yasui

These two are very handy. Use them to show that something is hard or easy to do.

To show that something is hard to do, put your verb in its Base 2 form and add nikui:

  • Kono budou wa tabenikui. (These grapes are hard to eat.)
  • Kono kanji wa yominikui. (These kanji are hard to read.)
  • Sono tatemono wa minikui. (That building is hard to see.)1

And for "easy to do," use yasui:2

  • Kono pasokon wa tsukaiyasui. (This computer is easy to use.)
  • Kanojo no namae wa oboeyasui. (Her name is easy to remember.)
  • Kono kanji wa kakiyasui. (This kanji is easy to write.)

Word Check

kono: this, these
budou: grapes
taberu: to eat
kanji: Chinese characters
yomu: to read
sono: that, those
tatemono: a building
miru: to see, look, watch
pasokon: computer (wasei eigo, a contraction of personal computer)
tsukau: to use
kanojo: she, her3
namae: name
oboeru: to remember
kaku: to write

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

Notes

1. Besides the converted verb minikui, which means "hard to see," there is also an adjective minikui meaning "ugly." Accordingly, the sentence sono tatemono wa minikui could also mean "that building is ugly." Be especially careful to make the intended meaning clear when using it to refer to people or their property.

2. Yasui also exists as an adjective meaning "inexpensive."

3. Kanojo no is the possessive pronoun "her."


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Lesson 12
Overdoing it with Base 2 and sugiru

Sugiru is a verb which means "to pass by; to go too far." It teams up nicely with other verbs in the Base 2 form to mean to "overdo" something. As with any other verb, changing it to its Base 2 form with masu, sugimasu, makes it polite. Here are some examples:

  • Kare wa itsumo nomisugiru. (He always drinks too much.)
  • Kimiko wa tabesugimashita. (Kimiko ate too much.)
  • Iie, watashi wa tabesugimasen deshita yo! (No, I didn't eat too much!)
  • Kodomotachi wa terebi o misugiru. (The kids watch too much TV.)
  • Me ga itai! Benkyou shisugi! (My eyes hurt! I study too much!)

Sugiru is sometimes shortened in familiar conversation to sugi, as in the last example.

Word Check

itsumo: always
nomu: to drink
iie: no
yo: a suffix added for emphasis
me: eye
itai: hurt; sore; in pain
benkyou suru: to study

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)


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Lesson 13
Doing Something While Doing Something Else with Base 2 and nagara

When you need to say that someone is doing something while doing something else, use nagara. Add it to verbs in Base 2 to mean "while (doing something)...." Note how the action connected with nagara comes before it:

  • Bob wa hatarakinagara ongaku o kiku. (Bob listens to music while he works.)
  • Kimiko wa benkyou shinagara terebi o mimasen. (Kimiko doesn't watch TV while studying.)
  • Hanashinagara sanpo shimashou. (Let's take a walk while we talk.)

Easy enough. This should be enough of the Base 2 combinations for now. We will move on to Base 1 in the next lesson.

Word Check

hataraku: to work
ongaku: music
kiku: to listen, hear1
benkyou suru: to study
hanasu: to talk, speak
sanpo suru: to take a walk2

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

Notes

1. There is also a kiku which means "to ask" that is used often.

2. Use aruku for "to walk," as a means of getting somewhere. When walking is the object, use sanpo suru (to go for a walk).


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Lesson 14
The Plain Negative Form Base 1 with nai

We will now look at Base 1, which is mainly used for creating plain negative verb endings.

Ichidan verbs are easy to convert into Base 1 because you just knock off the ru. In other words, Bases 1 and 2 are the same. Verbs in the godan group are changed so that they end in a: iku changes to ika, matsu to mata, yomu to yoma, 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.

The following tables should help clarify the way the three types of verbs are converted into Base 1 from their plain Base 3 forms, with Base 2 thrown in for review and comparison. Please note the changes carefully.

Godan Verbs:

Base 3 (root form)

Base 2

Base 1

kau (to buy)

kai

kawa

aruku (to walk)

aruki

aruka

isogu (to hurry)

isogi

isoga

kasu (to lend)

kashi

kasa

matsu (to wait)

machi

mata

shinu (to die)

shini

shina

asobu (to play)

asobi

asoba

yomu (to read)

yomi

yoma

kaeru (to return)

kaeri

kaera

Ichidan Verbs:

Base 3 (root form)

Base 2

Base 1

taberu (to eat)

tabe

tabe

oboeru (to remember; to learn)

oboe

oboe

kimeru (to decide)

kime

kime

deru (to leave)

de

de

kariru (to borrow)

kari

kari

miru (to see; to look; to watch)

mi

mi

Irregular Verbs:

Base 3 (root form)

Base 2

Base 1

kuru (to come)

ki

ko

suru (to do)

shi

shi

Now what we want to do is use Base 1 + nai to change some verbs into their plain negative form: kau (to buy) becomes kawanai (will not buy); miru (to watch) becomes minai (will not watch); kuru (to come) becomes konai (will not come), etc.

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.)

Notice how 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 clear.

Please remember that the ending nai by itself is plain, and should only be used in 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 previous lessons, or by simply adding desu on the end after nai. Either way will make it polite:

  • John wa kasa o kaimasen. / John wa kasa o kawanai desu.
  • Jim wa manga o yomimasen. / Jim wa manga o yomanai desu.

Can you get a good feel for the changeover between Base 2 + masen and Base 1 + nai here?

Word Check

kasa: umbrella
kau: to buy
manga: a comic book, comics; cartoons
yomu: to read
ojii-san: grandfather
sugu: soon
kaeru: to return
terebi: TV
miru: to watch; to see; to look
kuru: to come

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)


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Lesson 15
More Nai Group Verb Endings

After becoming familiar with Base 1 + nai, these nai-based conjugations become convenient.

Nai + deshou. This is an easy one. Deshou works like probably in English, and adding it 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.)

Of course, deshou is a handy add-on that also works with plain positive (Base 3) verbs, as in:

  • Ojii-san wa sugu kaeru deshou. (Grandpa will probably return soon.)
  • Sachiko wa kuru deshou. (Sachiko will probably come.)
  • Bill wa ika o taberu deshou. (Bill will probably eat the squid.)

Naide. This is used often to attach kudasai, choudai, or kureru, which are used to request someone to not do something. Kudasai is formal, choudai is informal, and kureru is used to make it a question:

  • Ikanaide kudasai. (Please don't go.)
  • Tabenaide choudai. (Please don't eat.)
  • Ima terebi o minaide kureru? (Would you please not watch TV now?)

Nakatta (desu). This is the past tense of nai. This is nai with its i dropped and katta added. Remembering that na is the negative element and katta is for past tense will be a big help later on, since katta is used for converting other verb endings to plain, informal past. Let's make a few examples:

  • Watashi wa terebi o minakatta. (I didn't watch TV.)
  • Sachiko wa konakatta. (Sachiko didn't come.)
  • Yuki wa furanakatta. (It didn't snow.)
  • Kenji wa te o arawanakatta. (Kenji didn't wash his hands.)
  • Ojii-san wa yuushoku o tabenakatta. (Grandpa didn't eat dinner.)

As with other plain sentence endings, you can make these polite by converting to Base 2 with a masu group ending, or by just adding desu.

Nakereba. Base 1 with nakereba is used to make negative conditional sentences — to express what will happen if something doesn't happen. Here are some examples:

  • Ojii-san ga sugu kaeranakereba watashi wa makudonarudo ni ikimasu. (If Grandpa doesn't return soon I'm going to McDonald's.)
  • Miki ga sono ringo o tabenakereba boku wa taberu. (If Miki isn't going to eat that apple I'm going to eat it.)
  • Naoko wa kasa o karinakereba (kanojo wa) koukai suru deshou.1 (If Naoko doesn't borrow an umbrella she'll probably regret it.)

Just like the na part of nakatta mentioned in the last lesson, the na in nakereba comes from nai and is the negative element. The kereba is the conditional ("if") element which was introduced back in Lesson 6 with tai in takereba.

Nakereba narimasen. This verb ending is not only a long one, it's a bit of a tongue twister. It is 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 mentioned above, and narimasen means "will not become"; so in the example above you are saying "If I don't go it won't do."

Here are some more:

  • 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 have probably noticed that the polite negative ending masen is used 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). If we were to use the plain negative form of naru (naranai) instead, the ending becomes nakereba naranai, which changes the whole sentence to a plain and informal construction. This can be handy when adding other endings, like deshou. 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.

Nakereba narimasen is the clean, straight, formal and polite way to say "must do," but it's long and too formal for many settings. Due to this, there are many shorter and less formal ways to say this in everyday communication. Here are some. All of these mean "I must go" (iku [to go] put in its Base 1 form ika with a "must do" ending):

ikanakereba narimasen (polite)
ikanakute wa ikemasen (polite)
ikanakereba naranai (plain)
ikanakute wa ikenai (plain)
ikanai to ikenai (familiar)
ikan to dame (more familiar)
ikan to iken (very familiar western dialect)
ikan to ikan (very familiar western dialect)
ikanai to (abbreviated)
ikan to (very familiar abbreviated)
ikanakereba (abbreviated)
ikanakute wa (abbreviated)
ikanakucha (abbreviated and contracted)

Fascinating, right? And there are more, depending on where you are, where you are from, and who you are talking with. I would advise learning and using the first four, at least until you are familiar with the way it is usually said where you live or within your group.

Word Check

yuki: snow
furu: to fall from the sky2
ika: squid
taberu: to eat
ima: now
te: hand
arau: to wash
yuushoku: dinner
iku: to go
sono: that
ringo: apple
boku: I, me (masculine familiar)
kariru: to borrow
kanojo: she, her
koukai suru: to regret
deshou: probably

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

Notes

1. 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 this example there is no question that kanojo wa (she) is Naoko, so it is omitted.

2. Furu means "to fall down from the sky," like rain, snow, or hail. For falling objects, use ochiru.


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Lesson 16
Causing Action with Base 1 and seru / saseru

These are used when you want to let / have / make someone do something. In English we fortunately have three different words which allow us to easily adjust the meaning to the one 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 godan verbs, and saseru, for the others, are used for all of these. By the overall context and way of expression the different meanings, or feelings, as in "let him" vs. "make him," can be easily conveyed.

The important thing to remember is that godan verbs use Base 1 with seru, like this:

  • Obaa-san wa kodomotachi ni soto de asobaseru. (Grandma lets the children play outside.)
  • 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 after it.

One tricky thing is that there are some verbs which already have a "set form" to convey this meaning, and do not follow the above rules. A good example is 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 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 end in eru, they can be conjugated further like any other ichidan verb, making it easy to apply what has been learned in the previous lessons in order to make them negative, past tense, polite, etc. For example:

  • Ritsuko wa Kumi ni pen o kawasemashita. (Ritsuko had Kumi buy a pen.)
  • Ojii-san wa kodomotachi ni ame 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?)

These examples all use verbs in their Base 1 form with seru or saseru, which are further changed in order to add Base 2 endings. Please review any you may have forgotten.

Word Check

sensei: teacher
gakusei: student(s)
mainichi: every day
shimbun: newspaper
roku ji: 6:00
raishuu: next week
made ni: by (a time or date, to set a deadline: by 5:00, by tomorrow, etc.)
kimeru: to decide
kare: he, him
ashita: tomorrow
benkyou suru: to study
karera: they, them
ame: candy, sweets1
eigo: the English language
mise: a store, a shop

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

Notes

1. Yes, "rain" is also ame, but it uses a different kanji. The word ame for sweets is usually written in hiragana.


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Lesson 17
The Plain Form Base 3 with deshou

Deshou has already been introduced, so I thought that using 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, unsophisticated form used by kids or in very familiar situations, as explained in Lesson 1.

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 verbs are ichidan and which are godan. Please review Lesson 1 if necessary.

Getting back to deshou, it's an easy add-on which means "probably." For example, add it to kau (to 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 Okayama ni iku deshou. (I'll probably go to Okayama next week.)
  • Kenji wa atarashii kuruma o kau deshou. (Kenji will probably buy a new car.)
  • Ashita wa ame (ga furu) deshou.1 (It will probably rain tomorrow.)

Base 3 + deshou is very handy when you are not sure of something. Use it when you don't want to take full responsibility for an outcome. That is why you will 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?)
  • Tomoka wa eigo no shukudai o suru deshou? (Tomoka is going to do her English homework, right?)

And Deshou?! alone is often used to say emphatically, "See, I told you!" or "Just as expected!"

The plain forms darou and yarou are sometimes used in place of this more polite deshou. Personally, I have seldom heard darou used in conversation, while yarou is used frequently. However, it is very familiar and impolite, so don't use it unless everyone else around you does.

Word Check

raishuu: next week
atarashii: new
kuruma: car
ashita: tomorrow
ame: rain
furu: to fall (rain, snow, etc.)
eigo: English
shukudai: homework

Notes

1. The fact that the rain will fall is understood, making the verb unnecessary, so it is often omitted.


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Lesson 18
Supposed to Be with Base 3 and hazu

When something is "supposed to be," "ought to be," or "expected to be," we use the Base 3 form of the verb with hazu (plain) or hazu desu (polite) added on:

  • Raishuu Teruko wa Osaka ni iku hazu. (Teruko is supposed to go to Osaka next week.)
  • John wa sugu kuru hazu. (John should be coming soon.)
  • Kaigi wa mokuyoubi ni hirakareru hazu desu. (The meeting is supposed to be held this Thursday.)

Hazu can also be added to some conjugated forms:

  • Bob mo ikitai hazu. (Bob will surely also want to go.)

For past tense, use deshita (polite) or datta (plain):

  • Kimiko mo tetsudau hazu deshita. (Kimiko was also supposed to help.)
  • Erika wa ninjin mo kau hazu datta. (Erika was supposed to buy carrots, too.)

Word Check

iku: to go
sugu: soon
kuru: to come
kaigi: meeting
mokuyoubi: Thursday
hiraku: to open; to hold (a meeting or event)1
tetsudau: to help
ninjin: carrot(s)
kau: to buy

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

Notes

1. Hirakareru is the passive form of hiraku. See Notes on Japanese Verbs for more.


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Lesson 19
Expressing Preferred Ways with Base 3 and hou ga ii

This one is used for "should do," "had better do," "would rather do." The hou means "way" or "method," and ii means "good" or "better," so when you use hou ga ii you are literally saying "...way is good/better."

Examples:

  • Kanojo ni denwa suru hou ga ii. (I / we 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 used often 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.)

Now that it has been introduced, please note that today the plain past Ta Form is used almost always with hou ga ii in daily conversation instead of this present Base 3 form. The Base 3 version is usually only seen in formal writing. Although the Ta Form endings are mainly used for past tense, this is an exception — even with the Ta Form it is for the present or future, and it is used frequently. For more see Lesson 67.

Incidentally, you can use hou ga ii without a verb and right after a noun with no when expressing personal preference:

  • Yakiniku no hou ga ii. (I'd rather have a barbeque.)
  • 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, desu can be added to hou ga ii to make it more polite.

If there is any confusion between hou ga ii and hazu, which was covered in the last lesson, just remember that hou ga ii is generally active: should do, prefer; while hazu is more passive: should be, should happen.

Word Check

kanojo: she, her
denwa suru: to 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
suru: to do
ato de: later
taberu: to eat
yakiniku: Japanese-style grilled meat and vegetables
inu: dog


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Lesson 20
Whether or Not with Base 3 and ka dou ka

Ka dou ka is the Japanese equivalent of the English "whether or not." It's straightforward enough and easy to use. Just add it to a plain verb:

  • 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 if we are going yet.)
  • Hideki wa ashita yasumu ka dou ka wakarimasu ka. (Do you know if Hideki has tomorrow off?)

As you can see 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.

Word Check

dekiru: can; to be able to
kiku: to ask
mada: not yet (used with negative forms)
wakaru: to know; to understand
ashita: tomorrow
yasumu: to rest; to take a break; to take time off from work


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Lesson 21
Perhaps with Base 3 and kamo shiremasen

This one is used frequently, so you'll want to master it right away. Kamo shiremasen means "maybe, perhaps." Let's look at these 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 have probably 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.)
  • Konban 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 students of the language 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. It will take some practice.

Actually (and since you'll need to know this sooner or later), the shire in this conjugation does come from shiru, but it is its "conditional" Base 4 form, where it is converted to shireru (can know). As such, it is handled the same as an ichidan verb 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 in casual conversation, as in:

  • Ashita Bob kara meeru ga kuru kamo. (Perhaps we'll get an e-mail from Bob tomorrow.)1
  • Sanji goro watashi wa dekakeru kamo. (I might go out around three o'clock.)

I suggest, however, that you do not 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 when it is appropriate.

Word Check

raishuu: next week
yuki: snow
ame: rain
konban: this evening; tonight
soto: outside
kara: from
sanji: three o'clock
goro: about, around (used with times and dates)
dekakeru: to go out

Notes

1. The technically accurate term for e-mail in Japanese is denshi meeru, but it's usually just called meeru.


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Lesson 22
Expressing Reasons with Base 3 and kara

Kara is often used as the equivalent to our "because" or "since." It comes at the end of the phrase it modifies, the reason or cause of the action which follows:

  • Ame ga furu kara kasa o motte ikimashou. (Since it is going to rain, let's take umbrellas.)
  • Beth wa itsumo okureru kara denwa suru. (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. Ame ga furu kara. (Let's take umbrellas since it's going to 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.)
  • Kenji wa kanada no gakkou ni ikimashita kara eigo ga jouzu desu. (Kenji's English is good because he went to a Canadian school.)

You may remember a different kara used in the last lesson which means "from someone / somewhere." 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, it's no big problem. Again, just like English, context and experience with sentence structure will eventually make it all very easy. Kara after names and places will usually mean "from"; kara after verbs and adjectives, as in this lesson, means "because."

Word Check

furu: to fall (rain, snow, etc.)
motte iku: to take (something with you)
itsumo: always
okureru: to be late
denwa suru: to call someone on the telephone
gyuunyuu: milk
mise: store
jisho: dictionary
honya: bookstore
kanada: Canada
gakkou: school
eigo: the English language
jouzu: be good at (something); skilled


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Lesson 23
Although or But with Base 3 and keredomo

Keredomo is used like the English although or but, so, as you can imagine, it is 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.)
  • 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.

Word Check

nihongo: the Japanese language
hanasu: to speak
heta: be poor at (something); unskilled (direct opposite of jouzu introduced in the last lesson)
yoku: (adverb used before a verb) often, a lot, frequently; well
renshuu suru: to practice
...ni naru: to become (something)
kenkou: health
ki o tsukeru: to take care1
byouki suru: to get sick, be sick

Notes

1. Ki means "energy, spirit, attention," and tsukeru means "to attach." When combined, ki o tsukeru is an often used phrase meaning "take care" when saying good-bye to someone or warning them, or Attention! when calling a group to order.


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Lesson 24
Expressing Ability with Base 3 and 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 take a look at each part.

First is koto. No, this is not the well-known instrument of Japanese classical music. This is the mundane koto that gets lots of daily wear and tear changing Japanese verbs into nouns. Well, it really doesn't change the verb, but 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? Fun...) 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]), as in:

  • 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."

Next, the ichidan verb dekiru means "can" or "be able to (do something)." In this lesson it is shown in its polite form dekimasu, but dekiru is also fine when you don't need to be polite.

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 with 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 turn it back into a noun again, 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, both versions are used, but the shorter version is more common in daily conversation.

Again, dekiru or one of its forms can directly follow a noun only if it is one that uses suru to change it to a verb. In that case the suru is omitted. After other verbs you add koto ga before dekiru. There is a short alternative for other verbs, but that will 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" like 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, and that is mono.

Word Check

koto: the "thing" or idea of something done
suki: to like something
dekiru: can; to be able to do something
nihongo: the Japanese language
hiku: to play (a stringed instrument)
ashita: tomorrow
furansugo: the French language
denwa: a telephone
denwa suru: to call someone on 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


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Lesson 25
Expressing Decisions with Base 3 and koto ni shimasu

The ending koto ni shimasu has essentially the same meaning as the verb kimeru, which was introduced way back in Lesson 1. It shows that you have made a decision, and it shows that the decision was yours.

As I am 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 tabun ashita kaimono ni iku koto ni shimasu. (I'll probably decide to go shopping tomorrow.)
  • Jones sensei wa ashita no suugaku no jugyou no junbi o 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.)

Word Check

kimeru: to decide
kaimono ni iku: to go shopping
sensei: teacher (used as a title/name suffix 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


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Lesson 26
Expressing Until an Action with Base 3 and made

This one is very easy. Made means "until," and is added after the plain form of a verb:

  • Yukiko ga kuru made taberu koto wa dekimasen. (We can't eat until Yukiko comes.)
  • Bob ga 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 your homework is finished.)

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.1 (It'll probably be best to wait until spring.)

Word Check

matsu: to wait
shukudai: homework
owaru: to end, be finished
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

Notes

1. Haru made matta hou ga ii deshou would be more common these days, using the Ta Form of the verb with hou ga ii instead of Base 3, as was mentioned in Lesson 19. The Ta Form will be covered last.


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Lesson 27
Do Not! Commands with Base 3 and na

This, we could say, is the counterpart to Lesson 7, where 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 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 do 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 here are 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 or warnings 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.

Word Check

taberu: to eat
miru: to look, watch
suwaru: to sit
sawaru: to touch1
enki suru: to postpone, put off
shaberu: to talk
neru: to sleep

Notes

1. Be careful with suwaru and sawaru! They are very similar and can be easily mistaken. We have all heard (here in Japan) of the gaijin who got on the train and asked the girl if he could sit next to her. He thought he had said, "Mind if I sit down?" when he actually asked, "Mind if I touch?"


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Lesson 28
Conditional Expressions with Base 3 and nara

This is one of several ways to make conditional sentences — sentences with "if." We have 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 dekiru yo. (If we hurry we'll be able to make the next train.)
  • Dekakeru nara, kasa o motte ikinasai. (If you go out, take an umbrella.)
  • Ame ga furu nara, shiai o enki shinakereba naranai. (If it rains we'll have to put off the game.)
  • Tabako o suu nara, soto de suinasai. (If you're going to smoke, do it outside.)
  • 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.

Word Check

isogu: to hurry
tsugi: next
densha: train
noru: to ride
dekakeru: to go out
kasa: umbrella
motte iku: to take (te form of motsu [to hold] + iku [to go])
shiai: (a sports) game, match
tabako o suu: to smoke (tabako: cigarette, with suu: to suck, inhale)1
soto: outside
ima: now
sunakku: snack (This is wasei eigo, Japanese English.)
yuushoku: dinner

Notes

1. The Japanese tabako naturally comes from "tobacco," but in Japanese it means "cigarette." This is also wasei eigo.


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Lesson 29
Using Base 3 to Modify Nouns

In English we have what are officially called relative pronouns: words that connect a noun to an action. For 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," and who in "There's the man who I saw in the station yesterday."

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 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 in Japanese 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 require 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 and talk about these particles:

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.)1

Now, to get back to the lesson, let's translate one of the examples used at the beginning of the lesson:

  • Kore wa watashi no otouto no tanjoubi purezento ni kau jisho desu. (This is the dictionary I'll buy for my little brother's birthday present.)

Since this is natural Japanese, the watashi (I) telling who will 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.

Now let's do another example:

  • 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 unnecessary can be omitted. The problem is that the rules are totally different for 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, here is one last example:

  • Haru wa atarashii inochi o motarasu kisetsu desu. (Spring is the season that brings new life.)

This one is pretty straightforward, and should not 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!

Word Check

tokoro: a place
deru: to leave, depart
jikan: time
au: to meet
kyaku: customer, guest
otouto: younger brother
tanjoubi: birthday
purezento: a present2
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

Notes

1. For more see Japanese Particles

2. Purezento is yet another example of wasei eigo: words borrowed from English.


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Lesson 30
Expressing Polite Emphasis with Base 3 and no desu

There are two ways to look at this ending: one as simply another way to create polite sentences, and the other as a way to make emphatic ones.

We have already learned how to use Base 2 with masu to make polite sentences. 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.)

I hope you remember these. If not, please review them. 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 Base 2 with masu as long as they are said in a regular, bland tone. However, if you want to emphasize something, especially something you are sure of (or at least think you are), you put stress on the verb before no desu, as in:

  • Ashita watashi wa Kyoto ni IKU no desu! (I AM going to Kyoto tomorrow!)
  • Watashi wa kono sashimi o TABERU no desu! (I 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!)
  • 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.

Word Check

sashimi: specially prepared raw fish
bokutachi: masculine familiar form meaning "we" or "us" (boku + tachi)
chiimu: team (wasei eigo)
katsu: to win


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Lesson 31
Expressing Requirements with Base 3 and no ni

No ni is added to plain verb forms to show requirements needed in order to do something. Instead of being found at the end of a sentence, it is usually found somewhere near the middle, where it helps to establish certain conditions concerning the verb in question. As usual, a look at some examples will 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 necessary kanji.)

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.

Word Check

kono: this
tegami: letter
okuru: to send
ikura: how much?
-yuki: bound for (This is added after the destination: Osaka-yuki, Tokyo-yuki, etc.)
densha: train
noru: to ride; to board (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)1

Notes

1. Kakaru actually has many meanings and uses. Please consult a dictionary for more.


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Lesson 32
Expressing Gerund (-ing) Forms of Verbs with Base 3 and no wa

Do you remember koto, which was introduced back in Lesson 24? The no in no wa plays the same role, and is the easiest way to make a noun out of a verb. For example, yomu (to read) + no (wa) (the thing of) = yomu no wa ([the thing of] reading [is]). Wa indicates the subject, which is reading. Look at these example sentences:

  • 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 ['s] in English, 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.)
  • DVD doraibu no aru pasokon ga hoshii. (I want a computer that has a DVD drive.)

Word Check

tanoshii: fun, enjoyable
hanasu: to speak, talk
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: the color blue
aka: red
hontou (ni): real(ly)
mondai: problem, question
nai: to not be; to not exist
tabi: trip
doraibu: a computer drive (wasei eigo)
pasokon: computer (wasei eigo)


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Lesson 33
Expressing Reasons with Base 3 and node

Back in Lesson 22 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:

  • 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. Generally speaking, 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.

When talking about simple reasons for doing things, kara is usually used, 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.)

However, please 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.

Word Check

kyaku: guest; customer
ima: now
deru: go out; come out
ashita: tomorrow
neru: to go to bed; to sleep
eigo: the English language
hanasu: to speak
ii: good
shigoto: job
mitsukeru: to find
ame: rain


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Lesson 34
Expressing In Spite Of with Base 3 and noni

As promised in Lesson 31, here is a short lesson 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.

Word Check

yameru: to stop something; to quit a habit
iu: to say, tell (Itta used in the last example above is its Base 7 form, or "ta form," which is used for the plain past.)
kiku: to listen; to follow rules or orders; to heed advice
okiru: to get up (Okita used in the example is its "ta form," for the plain past.)
okureru: to be late (The example sentence using this also uses the "ta form.")
annani: that much; so much
doryoku suru: to work hard at something; to make efforts (Shita is the "ta form" of suru.)
asoko: there; over there (usually for emphasizing distance)


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Lesson 35
Expressing News with Base 3 and 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.)

Word Check

hiru kara: from noon; in the (early) afternoon
resutoran: restaurant (wasei eigo)
baito: a part-time job (This is wasei doitsugo, or Japanese German. The actual word is arubaito, but is usually shortened to baito.)1
hajimeru: to begin
yameru: to quit a job

Notes

1. 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 verb 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."


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Lesson 36
Explaining Purposes with Base 3 and tame ni

When you hear tame, it usually means "for the purpose of; in order to," and is often followed by the optional ni. Take a look at these examples:

  • 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 had to wait 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 to mean "for someone" or "for something." 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, very familiar])
  • Kore wa okaa-san no tame desu.1 (This is for you, Mom.)
  • Hai, Hawaii ni iku tame no koukuuken desu.2 (Okay, here are your air tickets to Hawaii.)
  • Kore wa nan no tame no kaigi? (What is the purpose of this meeting?)
  • Nan no tame no dougu? (What's this tool for? [very plain])

Word Check

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

Notes

1. Ni is always omitted when the polite ending desu is used after tame.

2. Use no when putting a noun/object after tame. That indicates the thing which has the purpose of something intended. In this example, it points to the tickets which will be used to go to Hawaii.


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Lesson 37
Expressing Events or Conditions with Base 3 and 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 kouen ga miemasu. (If you go straight you'll see the park.)
  • Natsu ni naru to kodomotachi wa umi ni ikitakunarimasu. (When summer comes the kids want to go to the beach.)
  • Watashi wa soba o taberu to byouki ni naru. (I get sick whenever I eat buckwheat noodles.)

For the curious, 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.)

Word Check

massugu: straight
mieru: to be able to see (something)
natsu: summer
naru: to become (something); to turn into (something)
kodomotachi: children
umi: the sea; the beach1
ikitakunaru: to begin to feel like going (somewhere)2
tanjou paateii: birthday party3

Notes

1. Literally, umi is "the sea." There is a Japanese word for beach (sunahama), but it is not generally used. When referring to "the beach" in Japanese, use umi.

2. Ikitakunaru belongs to the branch of Base 2 + tai / taku (to want) endings which were covered in Lesson 6. Although not specifically covered, takunaru puts tai and naru together, meaning "become 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, or "to become to want to go." It's as simple as that.

3. Paateii is wasei eigo for "party."


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Lesson 38
Adding I think to Statements with 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 are talking about may not be a fact. You just add it to a plain verb form at the end of a sentence, like this:

  • 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 it would rain today.)

In a way, this ending is a lot like deshou. The major difference is that deshou is usually used to show that you don't really know, don't really care, or don't really have any control over something, 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 irresponsible.

To omou / omoimasu can be used after some conjugated verbs, like:

  • Kyou wa, 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.

Word Check

omou: to think
goji: five o'clock (go [five] + ji [hour])
kaeru: to return (intransitive verb); to go back; to return home
eigo: the English language
hanasu: to speak
okureru: to be late
mou sugu: soon
kochira: here; towards me, us


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Lesson 39
Expressing Intentions with Base 3 and tsumori

Base 3 plus tsumori is used to express something you or someone else plans to do:

  • Watashi wa sanji made ni kaeru tsumori. (I plan to be back by three o'clock.)
  • Steve wa Canada ni iku tsumori da 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.)

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.

Word Check

sanji: three o'clock (san [three] + ji [hour])
made ni: by, when used to set a deadline, as in "to do (something) by (a certain time, day, etc.)"
daigaku: university1
hairu: to go inside (a room, etc.); to enter or enroll in (a school); to join (a club, church, etc.)

Notes

1. 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.


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Lesson 40
Expressing Appearances with Base 3 and you desu

You desu after Base 3 verbs works like "seems to" or "looks like" in English:

  • Mari wa ashita kuru you desu. (It seems that Mary will be coming tomorrow.)
  • Sachiko wa kanada 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 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, as in:

  • Ame ga furu sou desu. (It's going to rain [because the weatherman or someone said so].)
  • Ame ga furu you desu. (It's going to rain [because it suddenly got dark outside and you can smell it coming].)

Actually, you desu is not really used that much in informal conversation. In its place you will hear mitai a lot, which is a kind of "catch all" for you desu / sou desu statements. Ame ga furu mitai would be heard often instead of either of the above examples, meaning "it's going to rain" (either because someone said so or because 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 will often hear baka mitai, "you look like an idiot."

Although not introduced in the Base 2 group, there is a Base 2 + sou ending which is also very similar to Base 3 + you desu. This is usually used when something looks like it is just about to happen:

  • Ame ga furisou. (It looks like it's going to rain.)
  • Ano hako ga ochisou. (That box looks like it's about to fall.)

This one is especially easy to confuse with Base 3 + sou desu, so please take care.

Word Check

hiku: to play (the piano or other stringed instrument)
dekiru: to be able to (do something)
mitai: (something) looks like...
baka: idiot, fool
hako: box
ochiru: to fall (objects, not precipitation)


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Lesson 41
Expressing Changes with Base 3 and you ni naru / you ni suru

Naru and suru are just plain verbs. In general use, naru means "to become" and suru means "to do," but in some cases, as in after you ni, suru implies "to make" or "to cause," in order to bring about a change or to show progress. Naru is used for passive statements, and suru for active ones. First, here are some examples using naru:

  • Itsuka anata mo sushi o taberu you ni naru. (Someday you will also be eating sushi.)
  • Watashi no seito wa eigo o hanasu koto ga dekiru you ni naru. (My students will reach the point where they can speak English.)

And here are some using suru:

  • Korekara kodomotachi no terebi o miru jikan ga heru you ni suru. (From now on I will see that the kids watch less TV.)
  • Ashita kara maiasa motto hayaku okiru you ni suru. (Starting tomorrow I will work towards getting up earlier every morning.)

Since naru and suru are regular verbs, they can be conjugated as such:

  • Anata wa daibun nihongo o hanasu you ni narimashita ne. (You have come to be able to speak Japanese quite well, haven't you.)
  • Ano hana ga maitoshi saku you ni naru deshou. (That flower will surely reach the point where it blooms every year.)
  • Mainichi doitsugo o benkyou suru you ni shimasen deshita. (I didn't make myself study German every day.)
  • Keredomo, sukunaku tomo shuu ni san kai sore o benkyou suru you ni shimashita. (However, I made it so that I study it at least three times a week.)

Word Check

itsuka: someday
seito: student
eigo: the English language
hanasu: to speak
korekara: from now
jikan: time; hours; period
heru: to decrease1
maiasa: every morning
motto: more
hayaku: early; quickly (adverbial form of hayai)
okiru: get up; wake up
daibun: very much; very well; to a great degree
nihongo: the Japanese language
ano: that (to indicate an object)
hana: flower
maitoshi: every year
saku: to bloom
mainichi: every day2
doitsugo: the German language
benkyou suru: to study
keredomo: but; however
sukunaku tomo: at least
shuu: a week
san kai: three times
sore: that (to indicate an object)3

Notes

1. Heru is the intransitive verb form for "to decrease"; the transitive form is herasu.

2. Expressions which show frequency (mainichi: every day; maishuu: every week; maitsuki: every month; maitoshi: every year; maikai: every time; etc.) have no strict rule about placement. Depending on the sentence construction and what is to be stressed, they can be placed at the beginning of a sentence before the subject, before the object, or before the verb. Placement before the object appears to be the most common, however.

3. Concerning subject / object indicators kore / kono, sore / sono, and are / ano, here's a mini-lesson: In most cases:

  • Use kono for "this" when it is used before the object it indicates.
  • Use kore for "this" when it is not used before the object it indicates.
  • Use sono for "that" when it is used before the object it indicates.
  • Use sore for "that" when it is not used before the object it indicates.
  • Use ano for "that" when it is used before the object it indicates, and the object is not within reach or is relatively far away ("over there"), or an idea or similar intangible object.
  • Use are for "that" when it is not used before the object it indicates, and the object is not within reach or is relatively far away ("over there"), or an idea or similar intangible object.

Examples:

  • Kono pasokon wa hayai! (This computer is fast!)
  • Kore wa oishii! (This is delicious!)
  • Sono inu wa otonashii. (That dog is gentle.)
  • Kinou sore o mimashita. (I saw that yesterday.)
  • Ano ie wa furui. (That house is old.)
  • Are wa muzukashii mondai da. (That's a difficult problem.)

Please note that are can be rude if misused. Avoid using it to indicate possessions belonging to a person or persons you are speaking to or respect: Both Sore wa suteki na fuku ne and Are wa suteki na fuku ne mean "Those are great-looking clothes, aren't they," but the former is okay; the later is rude. Suteki na fuku ne without the subject would also be fine.


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Lesson 42
Conditional Expressions with Base 4 and ba

After a long hike through many Base 3 verb forms, I think it's about time to start on Base 4. 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 duel
4. EH, e as in red
5. OH, o as in mode

and that the verb changes to end with the vowel sound of the "base" it's in before anything is added to it. (There are some exceptions among the ichidan and irregular verbs, however.) 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 add-ons as necessary.

Now, let's borrow the tables from Lesson 14 and add a Base 4 column. Notice how the verbs change from their plain (Base 3) form. Also notice that this time the "bases" are in numerical order, and that the last letter, or vowel sound, of each verb 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.

Godan Verbs:

Base 1

Base 2

Base 3 (root 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

Ichidan Verbs:

Base 1

Base 2

Base 3 (root 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

Irregular Verbs:

Base 1

Base 2

Base 3 (root 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 28? Base 4 with ba allows you to do the same thing while being shorter and simpler.

Here are example sentences from Lesson 28, converted to Base 4 with ba:

  • Isogeba, tsugi no densha ni noru koto ga dekiru yo. (If we hurry we'll be able to make the next train.)
  • Ame ga fureba, shiai o enki shinakereba naranai. (If it rains we'll have to put off the game.)
  • Kodomotachi wa ima sunakku o tabereba, yuushoku o tabenai deshou. (If the kids eat a snack now, they probably won't eat dinner.)

Very handy.

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?


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Lesson 43
Three More Conditional Expressions with Base 4 and ba

In this lesson we are 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 with 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..." or "I wish you would..." 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 34) adds "in spite of the fact that" to ba ii, and is usually used to show that you are 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. It's like Base 3 with hou ga ii covered in Lesson 19, but not quite as strong. Adding noni shows your feelings regarding someone else's decision, especially when there's little chance of the decision being changed.

Adding yokatta to Base 4 + ba shows regret for a decision made after it's too late to change it:

  • 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 above. In the actual situation the subject(s) would be implied and known to all concerned, and therefore unnecessary in the sentence. This is very handy when you get used to it.

Word Check

soto: outside
ima: now
benkyou suru: to study
karui: (adjective) light
shokuji: food, a meal
tenki: the weather (This is sometimes used with the honorific o-: o-tenki.)
terebi: TV
nanji: what time (nan [what] + ji [hour])
goro: around (used with times and periods)
motto: more
hayaku: early (adverbial form of hayai)
suteeki: beef steak (wasei eigo)
chuumon suru: to place an order


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Lesson 44
Base 4 Alone: the Plain Imperative

If you want to give orders without a hint of kindness, just use Base 4 by itself. 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 will hear this form mostly when watching Japanese TV or movies, or maybe when hearing a group of guys talking. You could call it "ruffian talk." 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 this can be used without offense is when you are cheering for someone at 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 godan verbs. You wouldn't say sure for "do it" or mire for "look." For non-godans just use Base 2 with nasai for commands.1

Word Check

damaru: to be quiet
yaru: to do (plain)
hashiru: to run
gambaru: to try hard; to not give up

Notes

1. See Lesson 7


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Lesson 45
Expressing Ability with Base 4 and ru

We are now going to learn one of the handiest verb forms in the book: Base 4 with ru. This expresses ability just like Base 3 with koto ga dekiru introduced in Lesson 24, but is much shorter and simpler. For example, instead of the long Watashi wa iku koto ga dekiru ("I can go."), you can use Base 4 with ru and say the same thing with a much shorter expression: Watashi wa ikeru.

Now, let's take three examples from Lesson 24 and shorten them using Base 4 with ru:

  • Watashi wa nihongo o yomeru. (I can read Japanese.)
  • Keiko wa piano o hikeru. (Keiko can play the piano.)
  • Ashita Jack wa Tokushima ni ikeru. (Jack can go to Tokushima tomorrow.)

Now, you know that these sentences would be more polite with the masu ending. No problem. We can easily add masu to these and make them polite. Here we learn an important point — so important that I'm going to underline it: Verbs in the Base 4 + ru form are treated the same as Base 3 (plain) ichidan verbs.

Take a good look: Base 4 with ru makes verbs end in eru, just like most ichidans, so that's how they are handled. 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 ikemasen deshita. (Jack was not able to go to Tokushima.)
  • Kare wa raigetsu ikeru kamo shiremasen. (He might be able to go next month.)

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 godan 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 is a "set verb" for "able to see": mieru, which was used in Lesson 37.) These you will just have to pick up as you go along. Please see Notes on Japanese Verbs for more.

Finally, it needs to be mentioned that ga is used instead of o when the object is emphasized. In the first two examples above, Keiko is emphasized. If we used ga instead — Keiko wa piano ga hikemasu. — the object (the piano) gets the emphasis.

Word Check

hiku: to play a stringed instrument
baiorin: violin
raigetsu: next month


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Lesson 46
Expressing Inability with Base 4 and nai

In the last lesson we saw how verbs in the Base 4 with 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 the Base 2 form. In this lesson we will use Base 4 with 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 14. (As you remember, Bases 1 and 2 are the same for ichidans.)

However, please keep in mind that these are godan verbs in Base 4 with nai added. I only mention this 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 in the last lesson, this form is only meant for godans, 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.)1

Word Check

neru: to sleep
koreru: to be able to come (This is a specialized verb.)
noru: to ride
aruku: to walk

Notes

1. When a vehicle is the object and noru is the verb, use ni after the object / vehicle.


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Lesson 47
Expressing Ability as a Condition with Base 4 and reba or tara

Base 4 with reba or tara added is used to express "if someone can":

  • Watashi wa nihongo o yomereba ii. / Watashi wa nihongo o yometara ii. (It would be nice if I could read Japanese.)
  • Shichiji ni ikereba Kiyoshi ni aeru. / Shichiji ni iketara Kiyoshi ni aeru. (If you can go at seven o'clock you will be able to meet Kiyoshi.)1
  • Hachi jikan nerereba genki ni naru deshou. / Hachi jikan neretara genki ni naru deshou. (If I can sleep eight hours I'll probably feel better.)

The reba ending is more classy; tara is more colloquial and more commonly used. These are mainly for godans, but there are exceptions as shown in the last example above.

The negative companion to these is Base 4 with nakereba (if someone can't), an example of which was included in the last lesson.

Word Check

shichiji: seven o'clock
au: to meet; to see (someone): aeru is its Base 4 form with ru
jikan: hour(s); time
neru: to sleep
genki: healthy; energetic; (physically) well
...ni naru: to get or become (something [adjective or noun])2

Notes

1. Au uses ni before its object.

2. ...in naru means to become or change itself. You would never use it to "get" an object, like a present, but to "get well" (genki ni naru), to "get good at (something [like playing the piano])," (jouzu ni naru), etc.


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Lesson 48
Base 5

I'm afraid there isn't much you can do with Base 5. Looking over my list of Base 5 possibilities, I see four that I feel are somewhat useful. We will cover them all in this lesson.

First, let's get out the tables from Lesson 42 and add Base 5:

Godan Verbs:

Base 1

Base 2

Base 3

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

Ichidan Verbs:

Base 1

Base 2

Base 3

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

Irregular Verbs:

Base 1

Base 2

Base 3

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 to end in an "oh" sound, the fifth vowel in the Japanese "alphabetical order": ah, ee, oo, eh, oh. (See Lesson 42.) 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 you can do needs no attachments. It will give you the plain form for "let's (do something)." The polite form is Base 2 with mashou, which we already mastered back in Lesson 4. Use Base 5 when you don't need to be particularly polite:

  • Ikou. (Let's go.)
  • Tabeyou. (Let's eat.)
  • Yasumou. (Let's take a break.)

Base 5 with ka. Adding question-forming ka (Lesson 9) quickly changes these to suggestions:

  • Ikou ka. (Shall we go?)
  • Tabeyou ka. (Shall we eat?)
  • Yasumou ka. (Do you want to take a break?)

Please note that question-forming no cannot be used here.

Base 5 with ka na / ka naa. These give 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 tenki ga ii kara, arukou ka na. (I think I'll walk today since the weather's nice.)

Base 5 with to suru. This one is to express "try to (do something)." Suru is shown plain, but can be 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.

Word Check

denwa suru: to call (on the telephone)
tenki: the weather
hikouki: airplane
mieru: to be able to see (something)


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Lesson 49
Expressing Polite Requests or Kindnesses Received with the Te Form and 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 godans can be tricky and may take some time to memorize. Let's take a look at the following tables and see how verbs change into the Te Form:

Godan Verbs:

Base 3 (root form)

Te Form

kau

katte

aruku

aruite

isogu

isoide

kasu

kashite

matsu

matte

shinu

shinde

asobu

asonde

yomu

yonde

kaeru

kaette

Ichidan Verbs:

Base 3 (root form)

Te Form

taberu

tabete

oboeru

oboete

kimeru

kimete

deru

dete

kariru

karite

miru

mite

Irregular Verbs:

Base 3 (root form)

Te Form

kuru

kite

suru

shite

Those godans look pretty scary, right? I still remember the headache I got trying to sort them out. Let's take a closer look:

Godan verbs that have a vowel before the final u, like au (to meet), kau (to buy), nuu (to sew): replace the final u with tteatte, katte, nutte.

Godan verbs that end in ku, like aruku (to walk), kiku (to listen; to ask), hataraku (to work): replace the final ku with itearuite, 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.

Godan verbs that end in gu, like isogu (to hurry), tsunagu (to connect), nugu (to take off [clothing or accessories]): replace the final gu with ideisoide, tsunaide, nuide.

Godan verbs that end in a vowel + su (not tsu), like kasu (to lend), kesu (to turn off; to put out [a fire]), tasu (to add): replace the final su with shitekashite, keshite, tashite.

Godan verbs that end in tsu, like matsu (to wait), motsu (to hold), katsu (to win): replace the final tsu with ttematte, motte, katte.

The only godan verb that ends in nu, shinu (to die): replace the final u with deshinde.

Godan verbs that end in bu, like asobu (to play), yobu (to call out), tobu (to fly): replace the final bu with ndeasonde, yonde, tonde.

Godan verbs that end in mu, like yomu (to read), momu (to massage), tsutsumu (to wrap): replace the final mu with ndeyonde, monde, tsutsunde.

Godan verbs that end in ru, like kaeru (to return), hairu (to enter), toru (to take): replace the final ru with ttekaette, haitte, totte. Please remember that while most verbs that end in eru or iru are ichidans, there are some godan exceptions like these.

As already shown, the ichidans are easy; and there are only the two irregulars to memorize.

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 will soon run into the very simple one from which kudasai comes.1 It means "under," "to go down," "to lower (something)," etc. So when you say chotto matte kudasai, technically you are 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 7. 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 need to 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 are 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.

For negative requests with kudasai, add de to verbs in their plain negative form (Base 1 + nai), then add kudasai:

  • Terebi o minaide kudasai. (Please don't watch the TV.)
  • Ikanaide kudasai. (Please don't go.)

As with positive requests, kudasai can also be omitted here to make simple mild commands:

  • Terebi o minaide. (Don't watch TV.)
  • Ikanaide. (Don't go.)

Kudasai is also often used in the past tense to express kindnesses received, whether or not they were requested:

  • John wa heya o souji shite kudasaimashita. (John kindly cleaned the room.)
  • Tanaka-san wa ginkou ni itte kudasaimashita. (Ms. Tanaka was kind enough to go to the bank.)

Please note that the Te Form is also sometimes called Base 6. I personally have heard it referred to as the Te Form more often, so that's what I will call it throughout these lessons.

Word Check

douzo: go ahead (used as a polite gesture)
chotto: a little; a moment
rokuji: six o'clock (roku [six] + ji [hour])
heya: a room
souji suru: to clean
ginkou: a bank
iku: to go

Notes

1. Although kudasai can be written using its kanji, and is seen written that way in formal writing, in normal correspondence these days it is usually written out in hiragana.


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Lesson 50
Giving Respectfully with the Te Form and ageru

In the last lesson we learned how kudasai means "to give down to (humble 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 "to 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.

It works the same way with verbs in the 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 with 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 with 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 also a great convenience. 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" or doing things for others 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

Word Check

sono: that
kono: this
ato de: later
kasu: to lend
kutsu: shoe(s)
himo: rope, string, laces
musubu: to tie; to connect

Notes

1. I have received inquiries about the Te Form with yaru as an alternative for ageru. Don't use it. It can be heard or read in Japanese manga (comics and cartoons), anime, computer games and samurai movies, but not in daily conversation except maybe among friends or families in the most informal situations. If used without care it could be very disrespectful. 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 even 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 or anime is no model for everyday Japanese.


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Lesson 51
Respectful Requests for Actions with the Te Form and goran / 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. As a general rule, use goran by itself to ask someone to try something or look at something when you are not certain about the outcome, and goran nasai when you need to make it stronger or when proving you are 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 some 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.)

That's how we use goran nasai.

Word Check

kiku: to ask
denwa suru: to call (on the phone)
sanjuu hachi: thirty-eight
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 for emphasis.)
kouen: a park
kouyou: autumn leaves; fall colors
ima: now
kirei: beautiful, pretty


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Lesson 52
Expressing Present Progressive Actions with the Te Form and iru

A verb's te form with iru is used to show the 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 unlike English doesn't change according to the subject. 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 Yokohama ni sunde iru. (We live in Yokohama. [We are living in Yokohama.])
  • 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 will 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 very 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 are 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.

Word Check

aruku: to walk
karera: they, them
zasshi: magazine
sumu: to live (somewhere)
nihongo: the Japanese language
shiru: to know
neru: to sleep
sakuban: last night
nani: what
suru: to play a sport or game; to do (something)
ko: kid, child1
imouto: little (younger) sister2
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)

Notes

1. 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.

2. 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.


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Lesson 53
Expressing the Negative Present Progressive with the Te Form and 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 cannot 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 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 yaru koto ga dekiru deshou. (If Bob wasn't studying we could play baseball.)
  • Bob wa benkyou shite inakattara yakyuu o yaru 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, though 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 endings.

Another handy use for the Te Form with 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.)
  • Yumi ni mada denwa shite inai no?1 (Haven't you called Yumi yet?)

You'll notice mada used in these examples, which is normally used in negative constructions to convey "not yet" along with the Te Form + inai.

Word Check

toki: time (usually a specific time)
yakyuu: baseball
mada: yet (used with negatives for "not yet")
kaimono: shopping
denwa suru: to telephone (someone)

Notes

1. No at the end of sentences plays the same role as ka, but is less formal. It's for asking questions, and goes especially well with plain ones.


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Lesson 54
Expressing the Past Progressive with the Te Form and ita

Since ita is the Ta Form of iru, I first thought I'd wait until we got into the Ta Form endings before introducing it. However, since it is not only a Te Form ending, but also an often 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 52 that we will 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 also add what the direct translation from Japanese would be, which is underlined:

A: Kinou wa nani o shite ita? (What did you do yesterday? [What were you doing yesterday?])
B: Kaimono o shite ita. Soshite terebi o mite ita. (I went shopping. And I watched TV. [I was doing shopping. And I was watching TV.])
A: Hontou? Boku wa kuruma o aratte ita. (Really? I washed my car. [Really? I was washing my car.])

Yes, that is 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, as well as ore or washi for "I." 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 clear and correct. Just for the fun of it, here is the same conversation as it would actually sound:

A: Kinou nani shiteta? (Whadja do yesterday?)
B: Kaimono shiteta. Soshite terebi miteta. (I went shopping. And watched TV.)
A: Hontou? Boku kuruma aratteta. (Really? I washed my car.)

Now that's real Japanese.

As usual, in settings where polite speech is called for, upgrade ita to imashita.

Word Check

soshite: also; besides; and
hontou: really
kuruma: car
arau: to wash


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Lesson 55
Expressing Polite Requests with the Te Form and 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 ending can be used like Te Form + kudasai to ask favors, as covered in Lesson 49, 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. 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?)

(Concerning name use and suffixes, please see About You and Name 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 various forms are often interchangeable, the important difference has to do with subject emphasis. With kudasai, you automatically becomes the understood subject and you are asking "please give down to me." With itadakimasu, I automatically becomes the understood subject and you are saying "I humbly receive from you."

When there is 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 still not as polite — not as "respectful" — as itadakimasu. Also, morau is the one to use 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 here, 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.)

As you can see, this is a family situation, so all the plain forms are perfectly normal. No particular reservations are needed here. Now let's look at a slightly different conversation:

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: Gohan yo! Tabemashou! (Dinner's ready! Let's eat!)

Everyone: Itadakimasu! (Let's eat! [Literally, I/we 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.

Here's another good example situation: Kimiko and her grandfather are at a shopping center where they are handing out free pens. The salesclerks would say agemasu as they give the pens out (and up) to their customers. As the customers take the pens they might say arigatou (thank you) or itadakimasu (I humbly receive).

If Grandpa wants to ask Kimiko if she got one, he'd probably use moratta ka (Did you get one?) or maybe moraimashita ka, which would be more polite. Kimiko, being in the same situation as her grandfather as a receiver, would naturally use the same verb and say hai, moratta or moraimashita (Yes, I got one).

Now, if a different salesclerk offers another pen to Kimiko and she wanted to say that she already got one, she would say itadakimashita (I already received one), which would be the most polite and adult thing to say since the salesclerk represents the giver (the store) here. To say moratta could sound rude or juvenile.

It would be impossible to cover all the subtle language possibilities and nuances here regarding giving and receiving in Japan. The words and wording will change according to your position as giver or receiver, your age and relationship with the other(s), and other variables. However, this should cover the main questions and suffice as a guide. Keep in mind that, just like anywhere else, each home, office, company, and region will have its own "atmosphere" and certain unwritten rules pertaining to language use.

Word Check

o-namae: name (The honorific o- prefix is used with strangers, customers, 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


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Lesson 56
Expressing What Comes After with the Te Form and kara

Simple and very useful, the Te Form with kara added 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 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.)
  • Shigoto ga owatte kara eiga o mi ni ikimashou. (Let's go see a movie after work.)

There is another kara that goes with the Base 3 verb form which means "because," as we learned in Lesson 22. It also can be used with the plain past Ta Form which will be covered in Lesson 67.

Word Check

kaeru: to return; to come home
owaru: to end; to be finished
gakkou: school
yakyuu: baseball
yaru: to do (plain form of suru); to play games or sports
shigoto: work (noun); a job
eiga: movie
mi ni iku: to go (and) see (This is the Base 2 form of miru [to see] with the directional indicator ni and iku [to go]. See Lesson 10.)


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Lesson 57
Expressing Requests or Kindnesses Received with the Te Form and kureru

In Lesson 49 we learned about kudasai, the polite "please" 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 formality 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?)
  • Jitensha o kashite kureru? (Would you please loan me your bicycle?)

You will 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, close friends, and students, if you teach. 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 going to (kindly) 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, there is the "kure command":

  • Kite kure. (Please come here.)
  • Matte kure. (Please wait.)

However, 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 could be offensive in some cases. (You might 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.

Word Check

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


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Lesson 58
Expressing Gradual Achievement or Change with the Te Form and kuru / iku

As you 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.)
  • Pasokon wa yasuku natte iku deshou. (Computers will most likely get less and less expensive.)
  • Sono tame, pasokon no shiyousha ga fuete iku to omou. (Because of that, I think that the number of computer users will increase.)

As can be seen, the Te Form with 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, expressing 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 and ni kuru / ni iku, which were covered in Lesson 10. Please review if necessary.

Word Check

sukoshi zutsu: little by little
nihongo: the Japanese language
wakaru: to understand
doitsu: Germany
rekishi: history
benkyou suru: to study
pasokon: computer (wasei eigo)
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 38.)
shiraberu: to check (something); to examine; to look up (as in a dictionary or telephone book)


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Lesson 59
Expressing Trial Actions with the Te Form and miru

Since miru means "to see," this one is easy to remember. In English we sometimes say "I'll see if I can...," meaning that we will give something a try. 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 be converted further as necessary to suit the needs of the occasion:

  • Kono kanji o yonde miru. (I'll try to read these kanji.)
  • Kono atarashii pasokon o tsukatte miyou. (Let's give this new computer a try.)
  • Sushi o tabete minai no? (Aren't you going to try the 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.)

Word Check

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 out1

Notes

1. Rusu looks 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 sit 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 here now."


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Lesson 60
Giving Permission with the Te Form and mo ii

This one is used to ask or give permission. We have already looked at ii in other verb forms and combinations, 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. Let's do a few examples:

  • Boku no pasokon o tsukatte mo ii yo. (You can use my computer.)
  • 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?)

Some grammar books 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 have never heard desu by itself used after ii for a polite, positive response. There is 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 will 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 may sound like you are talking down to people if you use this to give permission, so I would advise avoiding it unless you are 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 yo. (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 already mentioned, Japanese is much more forgiving and "grammatically unfussy" than English, a fact that makes it easy to work with at times.

Now, I just mentioned that I've never heard desu used by itself after ii for a polite, positive reply. It is used a lot, however, for conveying a different and negative meaning. If you hear people arguing, you may hear an ii desu! yelled out by one of the arguers, with the ii strongly emphasized, said much louder than the desu. Sometimes you may hear a long mou before the ii: mou ii desu. (It sounds like mou-EEEEE-dess!) Either way, it's equivalent to our "Enough already! Just forget it!"

Word Check

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: food1
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)
hayaku: quickly
kaeru: to go home; to return

Notes

1. 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 had a meal [=dinner]).


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Lesson 61
Finalizing an Action with the Te Form and oku

By itself, oku is a verb which 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. It has a "will go ahead and do" kind of feeling to it, making actions sound definite and final.

This Te Form with oku is also 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. As usual, remember to convert oku to Base 2 with a masu ending to make it polite.

All right. Now that all the explaining is out of the way, 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 be careful not to confuse them.

I should mention here that verbs in the Te Form with oku can sometimes be very difficult to catch. That's because very few native speakers speak as neatly as the examples written above. The te + oku is usually compressed into something that sounds like "toku." For example, most native speakers would say the last example above so that it sounds like: Shukudai shtokimashita. That's what you would actually hear.

Word Check

oku: to put
mado: window
akeru: to open
ki o tsukeru: to be careful; to take care1
iu: to say; to tell
shukudai: homework
hon: book(s)
tsukue: desk
ue: the top (of something)
you ni: in order to; in order that; for (a certain purpose or result); so (something will take effect or happen)

Notes

1. 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. It's used often.


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Lesson 62
Expressing Completed Actions with the Te Form and shimau

Shimau alone means "to finish" or "put away," 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 with 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.)1
  • 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 or the dismay at finding out that something negative happened:

  • Watashi no fuku ga yogorete shimau! (My clothes'll get dirty!)
  • Ah! Fuku ga yogorete shimaimashita. (Oh, no! My clothes got dirty.)
  • Densha ni noriokurete shimau yo! (We'll miss the train!)
  • Ah! Kippu o 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. 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 noriokurechau yo! (We'll miss the train!)
  • Ah! Kippu o nakuschaimashita! (Oh, no! I lost my ticket!)

Yes, this slang form takes the hite out of shite and really compresses things: shite with chau becomes schau. The others are: -te with chau becomes -tchau and -nde with chau becomes -njau. Again, I realize that this complicates things, which is why I advise not even thinking about it until you have been learning Japanese for a while and feel comfortable with the old standard shimau and its uses. You will hear these contracted forms quite often in daily conversation, however, so having this basic knowledge of them may be useful.

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.

Word Check

shimau: to put away; to finish
choushoku: breakfast
heya: a room
souji suru: to clean
kuruma: car
ude: arm
hone: bone1
oreru: to break1
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 a small ticket for a train, bus, or ferry)
nakusu: to lose (something)

Notes

1. Here we must give English the nod for being easy. If you break a bone in Japanese, you have to be technically correct and 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."


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Lesson 63
Expressing Suggestions or Asking About Things with the Te Form and wa ikaga / dou desu ka

These are a couple of simple ways to suggest things, as in:

  • Ima chuushoku o tabete wa ikaga desu ka. (How about having lunch now?)
  • Ashita kouen ni itte wa ikaga desu ka. (What do you think about going to the park tomorrow?)
  • Atarashii terebi o katte wa dou desu ka. (What do you say we buy 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 are going to use it in this way, put in the desu: Ikaga desu ka or Dou desu ka sounds so much better.

Incidentally, either of these can be put after a noun / subject to ask about its condition or to suggest it:

  • Kyou wa, ikaga desu ka. (How is it going today?)
  • Sachiko wa dou desu ka. (How is Sachiko?)
  • Ashita no tenki wa dou desu ka. (How does the weather look for tomorrow?)
  • Ocha wa ikaga desu ka. (How about some tea?)

Word Check

ima: now
chuushoku: lunch
taberu: to eat
ashita: tomorrow
iku: to go
atarashii: new
terebi: TV (wasei eigo created from television)
kau: to buy
tenki: the weather
ocha: tea (The basic noun for tea [cha] almost always has the honorific o prefix attached in Japanese.)


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Lesson 64
Expressing Forbidden Things with the Te Form and 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 are bound to hear either of these, especially Ikenai! When placed after the Te Form with wa, ikemasen or ikenai point to what is forbidden:

  • Shashin o totte wa ikemasen. (You can't take pictures.)
  • Okurete wa ikemasen yo. (Don't be late.)
  • Boku no pasokon o sawatte wa ikenai! (Don't touch my computer!)

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 pasokon o sawatcha ikenai! To make it even more colorful, ikenai will often be put into a dialectal form, like ikan (Kagawa), 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 will have the opportunity to learn a new way to say this. Put another way, each time you move to a new area or make a new friend from one, you will have 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, or that something has gone amiss:

  • Ikenai! Joushaken o wasurete shimaimashita! (Oh, no! I forgot my ticket!)
  • Ikenai! Kimiko wa kasa o motte iku no o wasuremashita! (Oh, no! Kimiko forgot to take her umbrella!)
  • Ikenai! Jitensha no kagi ga mitsukarimasen! (Oh, no! I can't find my bicycle key!)

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: "...(verb) -te wa naranai."

Word Check

shashin: a photograph
toru: to take1
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].)
jitensha: bicycle
kagi: a key
mitsukaru: to be found2

Notes

1. The verb toru has many different usages, many of 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.) Another important point is that there are also many actions that use take in English that do not use toru in Japanese, like "take a bath," for example. So please don't assume that toru can be used universally for take. (In Japanese you get into the bath: ofuro 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 verb, meaning "to pass (by/over something)."

2. Mitsukaru is an intransitive verb; mitsukeru ("to find") is its transitive companion. In Japanese, mitsukaru is preferred for things lost or looked for, while mitsukeru is usually used for things found by accident.


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Lesson 65
Combining Actions with the Te Form

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 naranai. (I've got to call Shizu, straighten up the room, and go shopping.)
  • Kesa watashi wa shichiji ni okite, gohan o tabete, hachiji ni ie o demashita. (This morning I got up at seven o'clock, ate breakfast, and left home at eight.)

As you can see, when a certain 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 different one, just put that conjugation in the Te Form and continue:

  • 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 own dinner.)

Please keep in mind that not all conjugations have or use the Te Form. When you are 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.

Incidentally, Base 2 can also be used to end a phrase and continue on:

  • Shizu ni denwa shi, heya o katazuke, kaimono ni iku. (I'm going to call Shizu, straighten up the room, and go shopping.)

Word Check

heya: a room
katazukeru: to clean up; to straighten up; to put in order
kaimono: shopping
kesa: this morning
okiru: to get up
gohan: a meal
ie: home; a house
deru: to leave; to go / come out
kinou: yesterday
inu: dog
soto: outside
esa: pet food; bait
ataeru: to give
jibun: self
yuushoku: dinner
tsukuru: to make


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Lesson 66
The Plain Past Ta Form

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 easy if you have mastered converting into the Te Form, because the Ta Form is the same except that the final e is instead an ata instead of te. Just for a quick check, let's pull out the tables used to introduce the Te Form and convert them to show the Ta Form:

Godan Verbs:

Base 3 (root form)

Ta Form

kau

katta

aruku

aruita

isogu

isoida

kasu

kashita

matsu

matta

shinu

shinda

asobu

asonda

yomu

yonda

kaeru

kaetta

Ichidan Verbs:

Base 3 (root form)

Ta Form

taberu

tabeta

oboeru

oboeta

kimeru

kimeta

deru

deta

kariru

karita

miru

mita

Irregular Verbs:

Base 3 (root form)

Ta Form

kuru

kita

suru

shita

As with the Te Form, there are a few weird ones among the godans that will take some getting used to. 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. This is 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:

  • Watashi shita. (I did it.)
  • Kami kitta. (I got a haircut.)
  • O-hiru tabeta. (I ate lunch.)
  • Terebi mita. (I watched TV.)
  • Hon yonda. (I read a book.)
  • 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 make some more of these:

  • Watashi ga karita kasa wa Kimiko no. (The umbrella I borrowed is Kimiko's.)
  • Shinda kingyo wa, roku nen kan katte ita. (The goldfish that died I had six years.)
  • Joy ga yaita keeki wa oishikatta. (The cake Joy made was delicious.)
  • Boku ga katta pasokon wa, juu hachi man en deshita. (The computer I bought was one hundred eighty thousand yen.)
  • Bob ga benkyou shita koto wa totemo yakudatta. (The things Bob studied were very helpful.)

Just as the Te Form is sometimes called Base 6, the Ta Form is sometimes called Base 7; but since I hear or see it called the Ta Form more often, that's what I'll be calling it throughout these lessons.

Word Check

kami: the hair on one's head1
kiru: to cut2
o-hiru: lunch (This is "midday" with the honorific o prefix, and is less formal than chuushoku.)3
kingyo: goldfish
nen: year(s)
yaku: to cook; to bake; to burn4
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 yen5
benkyou suru: to study
koto: thing(s), usually intangible ones
totemo: very
yakudatsu: to be helpful or useful

Notes

1. 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.

2. Kami kitta is always a puzzler to students of Japanese. Although it literally means "I cut my hair," it actually means the passive "I got a haircut; I had someone cut my hair." There are a few of these which are commonly used, where it is acceptable to say you did something that you actually had someone else do. You could call it an understood and accepted inaccuracy. Another one you will often hear is ie o tatete iru for "I'm having a house built."

Incidentally, there is another kiru which means "to wear."

3. Interestingly, the words asa, hiru, and yoru (morning, noon, night) are also used to mean the meals associated with those times, especially in casual speech. The strange thing is that only hiru gets the "honorific o" prefix: asa: breakfast; o-hiru: lunch; yoru: dinner.

4. Yaku is a multi-purpose verb, and has to do with fire, whether it's cooking or burning something. Even "sunburn" uses it: hiyake. If something has been baked in an oven, yaku is the verb usually used with that object.

5. Although Japanese currency is known to everyone in the west as "yen," in Japanese there is no "y" sound at the beginning. It is just en.


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Lesson 67
Ta Form Combinations Shared with Base 3

Now that we have 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 present or 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 the Base 3 lessons. Each one will have an example of a Base 3 form for the plain future tense, and then 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 17):

  • Yumiko wa Kyoto ni iku deshou. (Yumiko will probably go to Kyoto.)
  • Yumiko wa Kyoto ni itta deshou. (Yumiko probably went to Kyoto.)

hazu (Lesson 18):

  • 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.)

We already know that desu can be added to various structures to make them polite, and one of the examples in Lesson 18 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 19):

  • 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.)

That's right, whether you use present or past with hou ga ii, the meaning — the tense of the meaning — is the same. Please take careful note of this. The bottom example above might be mistaken for expressing regret: "It would have been better if..." Please don't make this mistake. To express regret, use Base 4 + ba yokatta: Kyou densha de ikeba yokatta. (I should have taken the train today.)

Please also note that the past (Ta Form) with hou ga ii is used much more in daily conversation than the present (Base 3), as explained in Lesson 19.

ka dou ka (Lesson 20):

  • Kare ni dekiru ka dou ka kikimashou. (I'll ask him whether or not he can do it.)
  • Kare ni dekita ka dou ka kikimashou. (I'll ask him whether or not he was able to do it.)

kamo shirenai / shiremasen (Lesson 21):

  • Konban, Jun wa eiga o mi ni iku kamo shirenai. (Jun might go and see a movie tonight.)
  • Kinou no ban, Jun wa eiga o mi ni itta kamo shirenai. (Maybe Jun went and saw a movie last night.)

kara (Lesson 22):

  • Beth ga itsumo okureru kara sensei wa okoru. (The teacher gets angry because Beth is always late.)
  • Beth ga okureta kara sensei wa okotta. (The teacher was angry because Beth was late.)

noni (Lesson 34):

  • 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 35):

  • 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.)

Please remember that this sense of sou is not used without desu.

to omoimasu (Lesson 38):

  • 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 40):

  • Ame ga furu mitai. (It looks like it's going to rain.)
  • Ame ga futta mitai. (It looks like it rained.)

Word Check

kyou: today
dekiru: can; to be able to (do something)
konban: this evening (kon [now, the present] + ban [evening])
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
furu: to fall as precipitation (rain, snow, etc.)


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Lesson 68
Expressing Actions Just Done with the Ta Form and bakari

To express that someone did something just now, or very recently, 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 atarashii, the adjective for "new." 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, since this seems like a good place to do so. 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 will find them very useful.

Word Check

okaa-chan: Mom, mother (familiar)
deru: to leave; to go / come out
heya: a room
souji suru: to clean
ano: that (thing 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


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Lesson 69
Expressing Things Experienced with the Ta Form and 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 wa tabeta koto ga aru? (Have you ever eaten octopus?)
B: Iie, tabeta koto ga nai ga, tabete mitai. (No, I haven't, but I'd like to try it.)

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 there 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 (a place)" in Japanese, you use the past tense of 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 are admitting having experienced something at least once. If you want to mention how many times you've done that something, you do not 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."

Another point to remember about this conjugation is that the ga is often omitted, and that's okay:

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 mada + Te Form + inai conjugation for "not yet" was mentioned at the end of Lesson 53.)

Word Check

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 6 and 59.)
nikai: twice (This is a compound of ni [two] + kai [times])
mada: (not) yet


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Lesson 70
Conditional Expressions with the Ta Form and ra

Simply said, the Ta Form with ra does the same thing as Base 3 with nara or Base 4 with ba: it provides the "if" element for conditionals, but this one is used more frequently in familiar settings than the other two.

Let's make some examples showing each of these three conditional structures, for comparison and review. First, Base 3 + nara:

  • Dekakeru nara, kouto ga hitsuyou ni naru deshou. (If you're going out, you'll probably need a coat.)
  • Denwa suru nara, kare wa kuru deshou. (If you telephone him, he'll probably come.)
  • Ima kodomotachi wa sunakku o taberu nara, o-hiru o tabenai deshou. (If the kids eat a snack now, they probably won't eat lunch.)

Next, we will convert these to Base 4 + ba:

  • Dekakereba, kouto ga hitsuyou ni naru deshou. (If you're going out, you'll probably need a coat.)
  • Denwa sureba, kare wa kuru deshou. (If you telephone him, he'll probably come.)
  • Ima kodomotachi wa sunakku o tabereba, o-hiru o tabenai deshou. (If the kids eat a snack now, they probably won't eat lunch.)

And here is what they look like using the Ta Form with ra:

  • Dekaketara, kouto ga hitsuyou ni naru deshou. (If you're going out, you'll probably need a coat.)
  • Denwa shitara, kare wa kuru deshou. (If you telephone him, he'll probably come.)
  • Ima kodomotachi wa sunakku o tabetara, o-hiru o tabenai deshou. (If the kids eat a snack now, they probably won't eat lunch.)

Again, this one is preferred in everyday, familiar conversation. I think you will notice it being used a lot, making it easy to master.

I must add here that not all three conditional forms used in the examples above can be used in all conditional senses. There are always exceptions. Because there are so many possible nuances and contexts, it would be impossible to cover them here. There are cases where just one of these will be natural and correct in a given situation. However, the -tara form does appear to be the most preferred in daily conversation.

Incidentally, -tara dame is used a lot for "Don't (do something)" instead of -te wa ikenai (Lesson 64). For example, Ima tabetara dame would be used for "Don't eat now."

Word Check

dekakeru: to go out
hitsuyou ni naru: to be/become necessary
sunakku: a snack (wasei eigo)
o-hiru: lunch


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Lesson 71
Expressing News or Hearsay with the Ta Form and rashii

Just as mitai is often used colloquially as the informal substitute for you desu (Lesson 40), rashii is often used as the informal substitute for sou desu (Lesson 35), 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 with sou desu:

  • Takada-san wa yameru sou desu. (I heard that Mr. Takada's quitting.)
  • Takada-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:

  • Sachiko wa kanada 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 pasokon o katta rashii. (I hear that Ken bought a new computer.)

That's all there is to it.

Word Check

daibun: considerably; to a great degree
futoru: to gain weight
atarashii: new


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Lesson 72
Expressing Multiple Vague Actions with the Ta Form and 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. This form can also be used for present or future happenings. Above I mentioned to be sure to add a form of suru; 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 65):

  • 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 one to wrap this up?

  • Kyou Sachiko wa heya o souji shitari kaimono ni ittari shite, chuushoku o tabete, hiru kara yuujin 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.)

Word Check

ongaku: music
shukudai: homework
manga: a comic book
furui: old
mono: thing(s) (usually physical, tangible things)
kau: to buy
uru: to sell
-te kara: after (doing something) (Lesson 56)
gurai: about, approximately
yuujin: friend
ie: house
renshuu suru: to practice
tsukuru: to make


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Lesson 73
Expressing Suppositions with the Ta Form and 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 kara oyogi ni itta to shitara, tabun koukai suru deshou. (If you were to go swimming now, you'd probably regret it.)

To sureba and to suru to are also suppositional and are sometimes used in place of to shitara.

Word Check

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 kara: (from) now
oyogu: to swim
tabun: probably
koukai suru: to regret


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Lesson 74
Expressing Strong Opinions or Statements Concerning Suppositions with the Ta Form and to shitemo

This combination is closely related to the Ta Form with to shitara covered in the last lesson, but it adds a warning, opinion, or something extra to consider in regards to the supposed idea. In English it would probably go something like: "Even IF (something were to happen), you must remember that (something else)...." 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 may 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 to get that "although" meaning:

  • Setsumeisho o yonde mo, kono sofuto ga wakarinikui. (Even if you read the manual, this software is hard to understand.)
  • Kare wa ikura tabete mo, ippai ni naranai. (No matter how much he eats, he never gets full.)

While similar, the Ta Form with to shitemo is stronger and more emphatic than the Te Form with mo.

Word Check

asatte: the day after tomorrow1
made: until
au: to meet; to see (someone for an appointment)
supeingo: the Spanish language (supein [Spain] + go [language])
shigoto: a job; one's work
tsukau: to use
kenkou: health
shokuhin: food items; groceries
takusan: many, much; 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
-nikui: difficult to (do something)2
ikura: how much/many
ippai: full
-ni naru: to become (something [noun] or some condition [adjective])

Notes

1. Yes, the Japanese have one convenient word for "the day after tomorrow," just as they have one for "the day before yesterday," ototoi.

2. See Lesson 11.


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Lesson 75
Expressing Actions Coinciding with or Resulting From Other Events with the Ta Form and 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 you came over last week...." 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 tore when he fell.)

Use sono toki for "At that time...":

  • Sono toki John wa hassai datta. (At that time John was eight years old.)
  • Sono toki totemo atsukatta! (It was very hot then!)

Word Check

totemo: very
odoroku: to be surprised
warau: to laugh
kokeru: to stumble and fall; to trip and fall
zubon: pants
yabureru: to tear (intransitive); to be torn
hassai: eight years old1
datta: was (plain past form of deshita)
atsukatta: was hot2

Notes

1. Sai is added to numbers to show age. With some, like ichi (1) and hachi (8), sai is connected to form a contraction: issai (ichi + sai) for one year old, and hassai (hachi + sai) for eight years old.

2. Katta is added to true adjectives to make them past tense: atsui (hot) + katta (was) = atsukatta (was hot). See Japanese Adjectives for more.


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Lesson 76
Expressing Actions Just Done with the Ta Form and tokoro

This is a very simple add-on that states that you (or someone else) have done something just now. One similar to this, the Ta Form with bakari, was already covered in Lesson 68. 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, because, relatively speaking, it's still 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 is used frequently. 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.

There is another handy use for tokoro, and that is with plain (Base 3) verbs with datta (plain) or deshita (polite) added on. It's used to convey "was just about to...":

  • Ima Sachiko ni denwa suru tokoro datta. (I was just about to call Sachiko.)
  • Watashi no saifu o wasureru tokoro datta. (I almost forgot my wallet.)

Word Check

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])
heya: a room
souji suru: to clean
saifu: wallet
wasureru: to forget




Please also see Notes on Japanese Verbs and Japanese Verbs Supplement


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