Language : SyntaxAction verb(上げる)Existence verb(いる)Motion verb(行く)ParticlesVerbsーる verbsーう verbsIrregulars

Intro

This is an edited version on Tad Perry's 1992 Quick and Dirty Guide to Japanese with improved templating for readability, as well as some rephrasing and editing. The romaji phonetics have been replaced with kanji and hiraganas.

Syntax

Action Verb(上げる)

In general, standard word order for Japanese when using an action verb is as shown below. Subjects are shown in grey as they are very often deleted.

I'm going to give a present to my teacher tomorrow at school.

Subject Time Place Indirect Object Action Verb
私は 明日 学校で 先生に プレゼントを 上げます
わたくし は  あした がっこう で  せんせい に  ぷれぜんと を  あげます

Existence Verb(いる)

I'm in the main office right now.

Subject Time Location Existence Verb
私は 本社に いる
わたくし は  いま ほんしゃ にいる

Motion Verb(行く)

I'm going to a party tomorrow.

Subject Time Destination Motion Verb
私は 明日 パーテイーに 行く
わたくし は  あした ぱーていー にいく

Particles

In general, if a new subject is introduced where another had been previously understood, signal the change by placing は after the subject. If a subject is understood, but for some reason not deleted use が or nothing.

An indicator of a specific points in time is usually followed by に, a word like "tomorrow" can only be understood by context and does not need the particle added.

十月にじゅう がつ に In October
三月三日にさん がつ みっか に On March 3rd

Indirect objects are also followed by に, similar to the english expression "to you".

この本をあなたに上げる この ほん を なたな に あげる I'm going to give this book to you.

The place you do something or the thing you use to do something is followed by で.

車で行くくるま で いく Going by car

An object is followed by を or nothing.

本を読んでいる ほん を よんで いる I'm reading a book.

Use も to add extra info on top of what has already been declared, not unlike the english word "too", as in "me too".

ぼくも行く ぼく も いく I'm going too.

Indicate possession by using の following an object, not unlike the english possession particle "'s", as in "Devine's".

これはぼくの本です これ は ぼく の ほん です This is my book

A verb in a question sentence is followed by か.

何時ですか なんじ です か What time is it?

Between choices, each choice is also followed by か.

今日か明日? きょう か あした Today or tomorrow?

A verb in a sentence that shares a sort of agreement with the listener is followed by ね, not unlike the english expression "isn't?".

多能しいですね たのうしい です ね It's fun isn't it?

[TODO]Each object in an enumeration is followed by や.

[TODO]A verb in an exclamative sentence is followed by よ.

Adjectives

Adjectives always end in あい, いい, うい or おい, never in えい that would be a noun. Basically, you replace the ending い to inflect.

優しい やさしい It's nice
優しくない やさしくない It's not nice
優しかった やさしかった It was nice
優しかったら やさしかったら If it's nice

Sometimes when you look in a dictionary or ask for an adjective you, you will find something that doesn't look like an adjective at all. It's a noun! If you come up with a noun for a word when you expected an adjective (like きれい, pretty), just remember that you use adjectival noun + な + noun to make it work. So, きれい(な)お女王さん「きれい(な)おじょおさん」is "pretty girl".

Just note that you don't say: あつかせる for "make something hot" you say あつく + する.

Verbs

ーる Verbs

These verbs are those that end in ーる like たべる and いれる. There is always an い or an え before ーる.

For these verbs, everything is done by dropping or replacing ーる with something else.

食べ Eating
食べます (Polite)
食べ Gerund
食べ I ate it.
食べやすい This is easy to eat.
食べたら If I/someone eats.
食べたり I did things like eating
食べれば If I/someone eats.
食べよう Let's eat.
食べ Eat dammit!
食べない で よ Don't eat that!
食べられる I can eat
食べられるない I can't eat this!
食べさせる Make someone do
食べさせない で よ Don't make me eat this!
食べさせられる Be made to eat

ーう Verbs

These verbs end in う, く, ぐ, ぶ, む, ぬ, す, つ, or ある・いる・うる・える・おる. Typically you drop ーう and add something else. The problem is that there might be a phonetic change, such as when は becomes ぱ, or た becomes だ.

talk はな 話す 話して 話しった 話したら 話せ 話さない 話せる
walk きく きく きいて 聞いた 聞いたら 聞け 聞かない 聞ける
swim およぐ 泳ぐ 泳いでる 泳いだ 泳いだら 泳げ 泳がない 泳げる
call よび 呼ぶ 呼んで 呼んだ 呼んだら 呼べ 呼ばない 呼べる
drink ぬも 飲む 飲んで 飲んだ 飲んだら 飲め 飲まない 飲める
die しぬ 死ぬ 死んで 死んだ 死んだら 死ね 死なない 死ねる
make つくる 作る 作って つ作った 作ったら 作れ 作らない 作れる
wait まて 待つ 待って 待った 待ったら 待たない 待てる
pay はらう 払う 払って 払った 払ったら 払え 払わない 払える

There are some ーう verbs that end in ーる like ある(to be), おる(to break) and うる(to sell) are ーう verbs as they do not have an い or え sound before ーる.

If you see one that ends in ーいる or ーえる, and ーう changes to add ーます, or the "t" doubles to get a gerund (入る「はいる」 > 入って「はいって」), then you're dealing with an ーう verb.

Irregulars

Most books say that there are only two irregular verbs in all of Japanese: する and 来る「くる」. Those you have to memorize separately, but they kind of make sense when you look at them.

来る will come する will do
来て come here して do this
来た someone came した someone did
来たら if someone comes したらif someone does
来たり do things like come したり do things like doing
来れば if someone comes すればif someone does
来よう let's come しようlet's do
来い come here you! しろdo this dammit!
来ない won't come, or doesn't come しないwon't do, or doesn't do
来らせる can come できるcan do
来させる make someone come させるmake someone do
来られる ? されるbe done
来させられる be made to come by someone させられる be made to do by someone

A trick to remember する conjugations is that they often match what you would get if you conjugated a lone す. Like はなした, はなせる, はなさせる.

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