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How to Form A Basic Sentence In Japanese

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

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こんにちは, everyone! Welcome back to Teach Me Japanese.


This time we're going to be taking a little break from the writing system for a grammar lesson. You should know at least Hiragana for this lesson, so if you need a refresher, check out our hiragana lesson here. Today we are going to be learning how to form a basic sentence in Japanese using the ~は~です structure and we will be breaking the lesson down into 4 parts(in order): subject, particle, noun/adjective/verb, です・ます.


Without further ado, let's get into the lesson!

 

TODAY'S VOCABULARY


subj.


私(わたし)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I/me (polite)

私(わたくし)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I/me (formal)

僕(ぼく)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I/me (masculine informal)

俺(おれ)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I/me (masculine informal)

わし ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I/me (sometimes used by elderly)

あたし ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I/me (feminine/young)

私たち(わたしたち) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- us/we

あなた ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- you (polite/formal)

お前(おまえ)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- you (informal)

君(きみ)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- you (informal)

~さん ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mr./Ms.

~君(くん)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- name ender (masculine/young)

~ちゃん ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ name ender(child/young/intimate)

~様(さま)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- formal name ender

~先生(せんせい)-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- name ender for teachers/doctors

彼(かれ)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- he; boyfriend

彼女(かのじょ)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- she; girlfriend


misc.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- subject marking particle (as for)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- connecting particle for n. & v.

~です ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- polite sentence ender


adj.


寒い(さむい)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ cold (weather)

綺麗(きれい)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ pretty; beautiful; clean

バカ ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- idiot; stupid; fool

かっこいい -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- cool; attractive; cute (guy)

可愛い(かわいい)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- cute; adorable; attractive (girl)

楽しい(たのしい)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- fun

難しい(むずかしい)---------------------------------------------------------------------------- difficult; hard

優しい(やさしい)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- kind; nice; easy

面白い(おもしろい)----------------------------------------------------------------------------- interesting; funny

赤い(あかい)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- red

青い(あおい)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- blue

黄色い(きいろい)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- yellow

茶色い(ちゃいろい)---------------------------------------------------------------------------- brown

黒い(くろい)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- black

白い(しろい)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- white

寂しい(さびしい)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- lonely

嬉しい(うれしい)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- happy

悲しい(かなしい)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- sad

眠い(ねむい)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- sleepy; tired

素敵(すてき)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- nice; lovely; wonderful


noun


アメリカ --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- America (USA)

カナダ -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Canada

フランス --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- France

ドイツ -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Germany

ロック -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- rock music

~人(じん)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- nationality (i.e ドイツ人)

宇宙(うちゅう)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- outer space

医者(いしゃ)-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- doctor

看護師(かんごし)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- nurse

教師(きょうし)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- teacher

サラリーマン ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ salary man

作家(さっか)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- writer; author

小学生(しょうがくせい)--------------------------------------------------------------------- elementary school student

中学生(ちゅうがくせい)--------------------------------------------------------------------- middle school student

高校生(こうこうせい)-------------------------------------------------------------------------- high school student

大学生(だいがくせい)-------------------------------------------------------------------------- college/university student

大学院生(だいがくいんせい)------------------------------------------------------------ graduate student

ピザ -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- pizza

ハンバーガー ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- hamburger

リンゴ --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- apple

ケーキ --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- cake

アイスクリーム -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ice cream

コーヒー ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- coffee

ソーダ --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- soda

日本語(にほんご)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Japanese (language)

フランス語(フランスご)--------------------------------------------------------------------- French (language)

数学(すうがく)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- mathematics

化学(かがく)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- chemistry

今日(きょう)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- today

明日(あした)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- tomorrow

雨(あめ)-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- rain

晴れ(はれ)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- sunny weather

曇り(くもり)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- cloudy weather

テニス ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- tennis

野球(やきゅう)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- baseball

ピアノ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- piano

ギーター ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- guitar

バイオリン ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ violin

漫画(まんが)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- manga

アニメ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- anime

本(ほん)-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- book

映画(えいが)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- movie


verb


食べます(たべます)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to eat

飲みます(のみます)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to drink

勉強します(べんきょうします)--------------------------------------------------------- to study

行きます(いきます)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to go

帰ります(かえります)---------------------------------------------------------------------------- to return; to go home

寝ます(ねます)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to sleep

弾きます(ひきます)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to play (i.e. piano/guitar)

頑張ります(がんばります)------------------------------------------------------------------- to work hard

話します(はなします)----------------------------------------------------------------------------- to talk/speak


 

1) SUBJECT


You're probably familiar with 私(わたし)at this point, but is just one of many ways to refer to yourself in Japanese. Depending on your gender and age, as well as the setting, the word you use may change. However, if you'd like to keep it simple, there's nothing wrong with just using 私(わたし).


わたし is already polite, but there is a more formal word, わたくし. They are spelled using the same kanji, and this form of わたし is reserved for more formal situations, such as job interviews or meetings with someone of high(er) status. When you're just talking with your peers, or even your teachers, わたし will work just fine.


僕(ぼく) and 俺(おれ) are used by men (though occasionally some tomboys have been known to take up the term), the difference being that can be seen as a little more rude/crass. can be used in a lot more settings, but is best when reserved just for friends and family.


What if you want to talk about someone else? or if you are talking to someone?


If you are talking to someone, but do not know their name, It is acceptable to use the word あなた(you). Once that person has told you their name, it can seem quite rude to use あなた. instead, you should use their name plus さん. Also, you will use the name plus さん when you are talking about someone else. For example:


あなたは綺麗です。

--->あなたはきれいです。 *When you do not know the other party`s name*

-------> You are beautiful.


本田さんは綺麗です。

--->ほんださんはきれいです。 *When you do know the other party's name, or you are

-------> Honda-san is beautiful. talking about someone else whom you know*


There are many other words you can use instead of あなた, namely お前(おまえ) or 君(きみ), but they sound crass unless used with someone whom you are very close with. When using somebody's name with さん, it is polite to use their last name, unless you are well acquainted.


お前/君はバカです。       *This can either be an endearing tease or

---> おまえ/きみはバカです。 extremely insulting, depending on your relationship

--------> You're an idiot. relationship w/the person*


Also, depending on the person, you may find your self using 君(くん), ちゃん, or 様(さま)instead of さん.

君(くん)- usually used for young boys/men, also girls use it for their male peers sometimes or their romantic interests.

ちゃん - usually used for small children, sometimes used towards young women, family members, and between friends.

様(さま)- used in formal settings, and to people of high status. Also used in customer service.


If you want to say "he" you would say 彼(かれ) and if you want to say she you would say 彼女(かのじょ). However, depending on context, it might sound like you are talking about your boyfriend/girlfriend as both meanings share the same term.


You can also use nouns as your subject. For example:


今日は雨です。

--->きょうはあめです。

------>It is going to rain today.


テニスは楽しいです。

--->テニスはたのしいです。

------->Tennis is fun.

 

2) PARTICLE


In previous lessons, we've briefly touched on the particle .*Remember that the pronunciation of this particle is irregular, because it is pronounced "wa" instead of "ha". is commonly mistaken as an equivalent of the "to be" verb in English. However, it is best to think of as signifying "as for __". For example:


アメリカ人です。

--->わたしアメリカじんです。

------->As for me, I am an American.

*Although is translated as "as for", this sentence has the exact same meaning as if you were to say "I'm American" in English. The meaning is the same, the sentence structure is different.


In this example, it might make sense to conclude that is the equivalent to our "to be" verb.

However, take a look at this example:


ロックが好きです。

--->わたしロックがすきです。

------->As for me, I like rock music.


We'll be covering ~がすきです in a later lesson, but for now I want you to think about what the translation of that sentence would sound like if we used "" as "to be".

"I am like rock music"


Weird, right?


In some sentences, は might be replaced by が, but that is something we will save for a future lesson.

 

3)Noun/Adjective/verb



The next part of our sentence will be constructed of a noun, adjective, noun adjective combination, verb, or noun を verb. There's 2 types of adjectives in Japanese, and we will be covering them in a lesson coming soon, so stay tuned for that!


*Noun:

1. 私は宇宙人です。

--->わたしはうちゅうじんです。

-------->I'm an alien.

2. 大野さんは医者です。

--->おおのさんはいしゃです。

-------->I'm a doctor.

3. 彼は大学院生です。

--->かれはだいがくいんせいです。

-------->He(my boyfriend) is a graduate student.


*Adjective:


1. 私は寒いです。

--->わたしはさむいです。

-------->I'm cold(because of weather/room temperature)

2. ロバートさんはかっこいいです。

--->Robert is cool/attractive.

3.日本語は難しいです。

 --->にほんごはむずかしいです。

-------->Japanese is hard.



*Noun + Adjective:


1. 林先生は優しい人です。

--->はやしせんせいはやさしいひとです。

------->Hayashi-sensei is a kind person.

2. すみちゃんはかわいい子です。

--->すみちゃんはかわいいこです。

------->Sumi-chan is a cute kid.

3.スキップビートは面白い漫画です。

--->スキップビートはおもしろいまんがです。

-------> Skip Beat! is an interesting manga.


*Verb:

-for verbs not requiring a noun-


1. 私は帰ります

--->わたしはかえります

-------> I'm going home.

2. 明日は勉強します

--->あしたはべんきょうします

-------> I'll study tomorrow.

3. ジョンさんは行きます

--->ジョンさんはいきます

-------> John-san is going.


*Noun を Verb:

- is a particle used to connect nouns to verbs (pronounced oh)-


1. 私はピザを食べます。

--->わたしはピザをたべます

--------> I eat pizza.

2. チェルシーはギーターを弾きます

--->チェルシーはギーターをひきます

--------> Chelsea plays guitar.

3. 私たちは日本語を話します

--->わたしたちはにほんごをはなします

--------> We speak Japanese.


If you want to get fancy, you can use Adjective+NounをVerb:


私は赤いリンゴを食べます

--->わたしはあかいリンゴをたべます

-------->I eat a red apple.

 

4)です・ます


です is simply a formal sentence ender, something that you put at the end of a sentence to make your speech polite. If you are speaking with friends, you could drop it entirely or replace it with だ, all of which we will discuss in a later lesson on casual Japanese.


です only follows verbs and adjectives, not verbs in the present form. For verbs, we use ます form to indicate polite speech. You will notice that the dictionary form of the verbs in this lesson is different, that is because you must conjugate verbs into ます form in order to use them in polite speech. We will be going over this soon.


For now, since we are just starting out, we want to focus on learning polite, standard speech. So please memorize the usages of です、as well as verbs in their ます form.


 

That's it for today! Did you learn something new? Give me some of your own sentences in the comments below. Also check out our resource page for more fun ways to learn Japanese!


As always, がんばってね!



Lauren





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