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How-to Use Commas in Japanese (Intro to)

The comma punctuation (読点/とうてん) has been used in the Japanese language for decades (since the 1940s); but relative to the history of the entire Japanese language, a couple of decades actually isn’t quite that long at all.

As you might have been able to guess, the comma (and the period) were imported into the Japanese language from Western languages; and as such, the general function of it is pretty much the same as the English comma. However, wherein the English language has strict grammatical guidelines for where a comma must or must not appear (e.g. before a conjunction that connects two non-simple clauses, between entities in a list, etc.), the Japanese comma is used much, much, much more liberally, to the point where it is essentially up to the author of the sentence whether or not they want to include a comma at all.

With this information so far, we native English speakers have a somewhat decent idea of where to expect commas in Japanese sentences. If there would be a comma in that position in the English version of the Japanese sentence, then you can expect a comma there. Or not. It depends on if the author wants it there or not.

If you’ve read/watched enough of our other lessons, we’ve covered a decent amount of grammar patterns that would qualify as conjunctions of sorts-words or phrases that connect both halves of a sentence basically, and you might have noticed in said lessons that the example sentences would occasionally have commas positioned right before said words or phrases.

Here are a couple of examples pulled from various lessons:

皆の決定に従って、プロジェクトをやり直した。
Minna no kettei ni shitagatte, project o yarinaoshita.
(“Following the decision we made together, we redid the entire project.”)
*from Xに従って(従い) as “following X, in accordance with X”

ジョージワシントンはもう大人なのに、昨日、車の代わりに自転車を買った。
George Washington wa mou otona na no ni, kinou, kuruma no kawari ni jitensha o katta.
(Even though he’s already an adult now, George Washington went and bought a bicycle instead of a car yesterday.)
*from NOUNの代わりに as “in the place of NOUN, instead of NOUN, in lieu of NOUN”

私は一般的に肉が好きですが、今日、代わりにサラダにします。
Watashi wa ippanteki ni niku ga suki desuga, kyou, kawari ni salad ni shimasu.
(Although I’m usually fond of meat, today, I’ll go with salad.)
*from NOUNの代わりに as “in the place of NOUN, instead of NOUN, in lieu of NOUN”

 

With all that, we’ve basically covered half of what we need to know about Japanese commas.

The next half revolves around the concept that Japanese commas can pretty much appear in any position where the speaker would take a quick pause if the sentence was actually being spoken aloud. The general explanation for this is that the comma is used to separate elements within a sentence, in which case, said elements can pretty much be anything. At times, commas can also be placed between large conglomerates of kanji to avoid confusion. Both of these possibilities enable for much more radical and liberal placement for commas in Japanese sentences that may catch us off-guard.

Example(s):

今日、仕事がありますか?
Kyou, shigoto ga arimasuka?
“Do you have work today?”

こちらこそ、どうぞよろしくお願いします。
Kochirakoso, douzoyoroshikuonegaishimasu.
“It is I, who is looking forward to being under your care.”

日本では、まだ女のひとの生活に自動車を運転するということが普通になっていない。
Nihon de wa, mada onna no hito to no seikatsu ni jidousha o unten suru toiu koto ga futsuu ni natte inai.
“In Japan, women driving cars as a part of their daily lives has yet to become the norm.”

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Difference Between Male and Female Japanese Speech (“How-to avoid sounding too girly or boyish in Japanese?”)

Difference Between Male and Female Japanese Speech (“How-to avoid sounding too girly or boyish in Japanese?”)

Preface: “How do I avoid sounding too girly/boyish when speaking Japanese?” is one of the most common questions we get; and to be completely honest, it is usually asked by learners of the Japanese language who are at a fairly beginner level. Our guess is that most people asking this question have started learning Japanese by somewhat unconventional means (e.g. befriending a native Japanese speaker and starting to learn from them as opposed to beginning from a textbook). In these cases, probably the best general response to this concern is:

Inadvertently sounding too masculine or feminine in Japanese isn’t a big deal at all, so there’s no need to fret over it.

One, because native Japanese speakers-and even non-native Japanese speakers will surely understand if you don’t have a mastery of gender-based speech when just starting out. You can stick to gender-neutral speech instead of having to worry about mastering female and male speech too when you already have so much vocabulary, grammar, kanji, etc. on your plate to learn.

Two, because a fully fleshed out answer to the question “How do I avoid sounding too girly/boyish when speaking Japanese?” involves referring to a lot of Japanese language topics, including some that are relatively intermediate level and thereby some that you might have trouble following if you’re still fairly new to the language.

Nonetheless, we are still indeed going to go into said fully fleshed out answer in this lesson below; and having said that, now is perhaps the best time to provide a list of prerequisite lessons before we begin.

Prerequisite(s):

Prerequisite(s):
*specifically for the examples incidentally provided below, not necessarily required to understand the key concepts of this lesson

 

In many languages across the world, there is a clear distinction between masculinity and femininity.

For example, the Spanish language assigns a “grammatical” gender to every single noun word, even nouns words that represent inanimate objects with no physical gender.

The Japanese language employs a difference based upon gender in a much lighter sense, in that male speakers and female speakers tend to speak in a slightly different way in certain points in their speech; but even if a male speaker chooses (inadvertently or not) to sound like-or come off as, a female speaker with more feminine speech (or vice-versa) their language will still be one-hundred percent grammatically correct.

In this sense, gender-based Japanese speech is quite stylistic, which is to say it only appears in casual Japanese speech. Due to this, beginner-level learners of the Japanese language are likely not to come across this topic if their curriculum is textbook-heavy, as textbooks use formal and written language, which is both considered the more standardized Japanese and essentially gender-neutral.

All in all, the differences between male and female speech in the Japanese language are not prominently observable until first, what is being observed is an actual conversation and not just textbook content; and two, the participants of said conversation have transitioned from polite speech to casual speech and have become comfortable enough with their addressees to convey their personality more by speaking in a more masculine or feminine manner.

We separate the differences between male and female Japanese speech into three categories, in order of most distinguishing of gender:

  1. Usage of Pronouns (First and Second Person)
  2. Sentence Enders (Particles)
  3. Select Vocabulary and Phrases

We also make a general distinction between male and female Japanese speech that these categories will follow:

  • Female-to-male speech can also be interpreted (perhaps more reliably so, in terms of a mnemonic device) as polite-to-rough speech. As unfair as it may seem, female speech in Japan is often associated with being more polite, reserved, and respectful, while male speech is considered more forward, rough, and crude.

 

#01. Usage of Pronouns (First and Second Person)

Female:

あたし (atashi) – First-person pronoun derived from the gender neutral 私 (watashi), considered more cute

*The use of one’s own name to address oneself (i.e. referring to oneself in the third person) is also considered more habitually done by female speakers, as it can come off as cute.

Male: 

僕 (boku) – The most commonly used first person for male speakers

俺 (ore) – Considered even more masculine than 僕 (boku) and more present in especially casual conversations amongst male friends as opposed to formal situations

*Female speakers may be heard using both male pronouns above for whatever reason.

Second Person Pronouns:

While first person pronouns are more indicative of one’s self identity, second person pronouns are more dependent on the addressee of the speaker and what relationship the speaker has with them. As such, second person pronouns can vary heavily even when focusing on the topic of gender. Refer to Second-Person Pronouns, or, Ways to Say “You” in Japanese (Post | Video) for more information.

 

#02. Sentence Enders (Particles)

Female:

Using わ (wa) in place of よ (yo) – Naturally has a softer sound. わよ (wayo) is also a possibility.

*One of the female points of speech representative of an older female generation and may become rare when transitioning from fictional Japanese media (anime, movies, drama, etc.) to real life conversation

*This should also not to be confused with the common Kansai dialect usage of わ (wa), which is not female-specific

Sentence-ending particle の (no) used for statements – While the sentence-ending particle の (no) is commonly used by both genders when asking questions, it is more habitually used by female speakers when making statements. のよ (noyo) is also a possibility.

Using かしら (kashira) in place of かな (kana) – Expresses more wonderment, more feminine

*One of the female points of speech representative of an older female generation and may become rare when transitioning from fictional Japanese media (anime, movies, drama, etc.) to real life conversation

Example(s):

これが本当かしら
Kore ga hontou kashira
“Could this be true?”

Male:

だ (da) – The copula with loads of grammatical context. When viewed specifically through the lens of female-male speech, だ (da) is considered to add masculinity to speech because it is emphatic and declarative. So, while in a lot of cases the presence of だ (da) is grammatically required, it can be construed as masculine when it is used in a case wherein it is optional (e.g. after a NOUN or な-Adjective word). Since だ (da) has such an integral grammatical function that transcends gender-based speech and thereby female speakers are naturally bound to use this effect as well, there are select cases wherein male speakers will use an emphatic and declarative だ (da) to avoid sounding too feminine (e.g. before the sentence-ending particles ね, な and よ).

Example(s):

素敵だね
Suteki da ne
“Isn’t It Wonderful?”
[masculine]

素敵ね
Suteki ne
“Isn’t It Wonderful?”
[feminine]

*Of course, let’s take note here that the Final Fantasy X video game ballad entitled 素敵だね does in fact exist and is quite probably written from the prospective of a female character to remind us this isn’t a one-hundred percent reliable indicator of gender. 

素晴らしいね
Subarashii ne
“Wonderful, huh?”
[gender neutral]
*Considered gender-neutral because it is grammatically incorrect to include the copula だ (da) after an い-Adjective at all, so there’s no way to deem this sentence as either more feminine or masculine. 

Changing the あい sounds into えぇ – Most commonly done for the Negative-ない Form of words and い-Adjectives, e.g. のまない (nomanai) into のまねぇ (nomanee) and たかい (takai) into たけぇ (takee) into “do not drink” and “tall” respectively (notice how the definition does not change whatsoever).

*May branch out to other adjective words with slightly different sound endings as well, e.g. すごい (sugoi) into すげぇ (sugee).

Adding い to the end of certain sentence-ending particles – Most apparently done with the sentence-ending particle for marking questions, か (ka), and the copula だ (da), to form かい and だい respectively. Meaning does not change. 

Example(s):

いいかい!
Ii kai!
“Listen, you!”

そうかい!
Sou kai!
“Is that so!”

一緒に行くかい?
Issho ni ikukai?
“Shall we go together?”

調子はどうだい?
Choushi wa doudai?
“How are you?”

Sentence-ending particles ぞ and ぜ – Considered very masculine, commonly used in imperative statements. While heavily used in fictional Japanese media (anime, movies, drama, etc.) to emphasize boyish and masculine characters, also considerably present in real life conversations.

*ぜ is considered to be used more by children as opposed to adults-and further, is said to have greatly dwindled in usage in real life conversation.

Example(s):

やっぱ あんた すげぇぜ。
Yappa anta sugee ze.
“You really are amazing.”

修業の成果だぜ!
Shuugyou no seika da ze!
“This is the fruits of my training!”

わくわくしてきたぞー!
Waku waku shite kita zo-!
“I’m getting more and more fired up!”

一緒に帰るぞー!
Issho ni kaeru zo-!
“Let’s head back together!”

Changing the sentence-ending particle ね to な – The affirmation seeking sentence-ending particle ね is changed to な, invoking a rougher sound. The multi-faceted ね here, while commonly considered to express seeking affirmation to your statement, changes more into affirming your own statement or desire as な. The same tone of kind of throwing a thought out into the air is still present.

Example(s):

いいな
Ii na
“That sure sounds nice (I’m envious)!”

旅行したいな
Ryokou shitai na
“I sure would love to go on a trip.”

 

#03. Select Vocabulary and Phrases

  • Beautifiers
  • Phrases
  • Words

Beautifiers:

Female speakers are considered to much more habitually use what are called word beautifiers (美化語), which entails adding the character お (o) or ご (go) before certain noun words in order to express a politeness.

Example(s):

  • お買い物 (‘okaimono/shopping’)
  • お花 (‘ohana/flower’)
  • お部屋 (‘oheya/room’)
  • お友達 (‘otomodachi/friends’)
  • お料理 (‘oryouri/cooking’)

*Note that you cannot simply do this for any given noun word, there are select ones in which this can apply. Also, you can not freely choose between using お (o) or ご (go); depending on the noun word being “beautified,” you must use the appropriate character.

*Also note again that this method is not completely restricted to female speakers. Male speakers may apply this method when in formal situations, it is just that female speakers are more inclined to even in everyday conversations.

 

Phrases:

Some phrases that exist purely in the realm of spoken Japanese (utterances similar to in the English language) are also considered gender-indicative.

Example(s):

あら – “Oh my” [feminine]

 

Words:

Perhaps as it is with any other language, some words in the Japanese language have multiple versions-or rather, synonyms that are considered either more polite or impolite. In line with the aforementioned construct of Japanese female speech being focused upon politeness, female speakers are much more inclined to use the polite synonyms of words.

*This may apply even when said female speakers are speaking amongst close friends and family.

Example(s):

  • “rice, food” – 飯 (‘meshi’) [masculine] | ご飯 (‘gohan’) [feminine]
  • “to eat” – 食う (‘kuu’) [masculine] | 食べる (‘taberu’) [feminine]
  • “stomach, belly” – 腹 (‘hara’) [masculine] | お腹 (‘onaka’) [feminine]
    *common in the expressions はらへった [masculine] and おなかすいた [common, feminine] to express “I’m hungry”
  • “butt, ass, hips” – けつ (‘ketsu’) [masculine] | お尻 (‘oshiri’) [feminine]

 

Example Sentence(s):

“I don’t want to eat sushi.”

僕寿司食たくねぇよ
Boku sushi kuitakuneeyo.
“I don’t want to eat sushi.”
[masculine]

あたしお寿司食べたくないわ
Atashi osushi tabetakunaiwa.
“I don’t want to eat sushi.”
[feminine]

 

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How-to use ~らしい to mean “heard that~, seems like~, looks like~, etc.”

How-to use ~らしい to mean “heard that~, seems like~, looks like~, etc.”

Construction:
Plain-Form VERB + らしい
NOUN + (Conjugation) + らしい
い-ADJECTIVE + (Conjugation) + らしい
な-ADJECTIVE + (Conjugation) + らしい

Using the らしい grammar pattern is one of the many ways to express that you have heard something. Other such similar grammar patterns include ~みたい, ~よう, ~そう; and while there are times when usage of these grammar patterns are interchangeable, it is important to know the different nuances they have for the times when they are not.

The らしい grammar pattern is used when you are making a statement about something you have learned about from another source and not through first-person experience. This could be by means of hearing about, reading about, etc. This contrasts to the ~みたい and ~よう grammar patterns because they in fact can be used to make statements based off your own inferences and assumptions. As such, らしい is essentially never used to talk about oneself, as everything the speaker knows about themselves is from first-hand experience and not indirect sources.

Finally, the difference between らしい and ~そう (Plain Form Version) is that the latter expresses stronger degree of accuracy for the statement made.

(らしい also has a second, more adjectival function of expressing that something has a very characteristic quality of something else, but this will covered in a separate lesson.)

Example(s):
彼女は夫と離婚するらしい。
Kanojo wa otto to rikon suru rashii.
“I hear she’s going to divorce her husband.”
*Note how the usage of らしい here as opposed to みたい or よう implies that the speaker heard talk of the divorce happening as opposed to some first-hand experience such as the speaker witnessing the couple’s strained relationship and inferring that a divorce would occur.

彼は入学試験に失敗したらしい。
Kare wa nyuugakushiken ni shippai shita rashii.
“It appears he failed his entrance exam.”

明日は台風が来るらしい。
Ashita wa taifuu ga kuru rashii.
“It seems that a typhoon is suppose to come tomorrow.”

明日は、いい天気らしい。
Ashita wa, ii tenki rashii.
“It seems like tomorrow’s weather will be good.”

ここは世界的に有名なお店らしいです。
Koko wa sekaiteki ni yuumei na omise rashii desu.
“I heard that this place is a famous all across the world.”

Similar Grammar Patterns:
~みたい
~よう
Plain-Form CLAUSE + (そうだ) as “heard that ___”
Pre-ます Form VERB + そう
~らしい as “~-like”

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How-to use っぽい to say something-ish, -like

「Learn Japanese」 How-to use っぽい (to say something-ish, -like, -looking, -ly)

The grammar pattern Xっぽい is used to express that something is very “X-ish,” “X-like,” “X-looking,” or “X-ly.”

As one might have been able to guess from the somewhat cute-sy nature of  っぽい’s pronunciation, this word is predominantly used in conversational Japanese and is seldom seen at all in written language (most likely only when what is written is a transcript of a conversation).

Not only is っぽい more conversational and casual than most Japanese grammar patterns, but it is also very modern and actually even continually changing. So while there are in fact some words that just don’t sound right with the っぽい suffixed attached to them for various reasons (grammatically incorrect, unnatural sounding, more suited for other similar grammar patterns); when it comes to language, once something is used over and over and enters the majority (especially in mass media)-even if it is incorrect, it eventually becomes the norm.

Additionally due to this, っぽい is quite the nuance grammar pattern, so take some precaution in automatically translating to “-ish” or another definition every time you come across it. We have provided multiple English definitions/translations because none are universally compliant with っぽい, something that should become more apparent with the example sentences below.

Construction:
NOUN + っぽい
Pre-ます-VERB + っぽい
い-ADJECTIVE Stem + っぽい
な-ADJECTIVE + っぽい

Regardless of the initial word type (noun, verb, adjective), when っぽい is added as a suffix, the resulting compound word is an い-ADJECTIVE. As such, it henceforth follows the grammatical guidelines of an い-ADJECTIVE, e.g. its ADVERB form would be Xっぽく and its Negative Form-ない would be Xっelない.

Example(s):

彼は忘れっぽいから、ちょっと心配だ。
Kare wa wasureppoi kara, chotto shinpai da.
“He is kind of forgetful, so I’m a bit worried.”
*Notice the minor alterations we have to make to the word 忘れっぽい to naturalize it into English, as “forget-ish” would have simply been grammatically incorrect.

その赤っぽい車の隣に有名な店がある。
Sono akappoi kuruma no tonari ni yuumei na mise ga aru.
“Next to that reddish car right there is a famous shop.”

最近自分が男っぽいと悩む女性は多いようだ。
Saikin jibun ga otokoppoi to nayami josei wa ooi you da.
“It seems that nowadays there are a lot of woman who are insecure about how manly they come off as.”

日本にアニメグッズを買いに行くのはジョージっぽい。
Nihon ni anime goods o kai ni iku no wa George-ppoi.
“Going to Japan to buy anime goods is such a George-like thing to do.”
*Notice how you don’t always have to be instigating a comparison/contrast when calling something Xっぽい, as the X can even be someone’s own name, thus calling them very much like themselves.  

子供っぽい行動
kodomoppoi koudou
childish behavior

色っぽい話
iroppoi hanashi
an erotic tale

熱っぽい
netsuppoi
fever-ish

怒りっぽい
okorippoi
hot-tempered

Similar Grammar Pattern(s):

〜気味 as “slightly〜”
~らしい
~みたい

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How-to say “I get the feeling that ___” (___ような気がする)

How-to say “I get the feeling that ___” (___ような気がする)

The grammar pattern ~ような気がする as “I get the feeling that~/I get the feeling like~” is used when a speaker wants to express that they think-or more adequately, feel that something is true. It is a softer version of the grammar pattern that is ~気がする, which conveys a stronger confidence in what you are feeling. It is also somewhat similar to the grammar pattern ~ようだ, which also has a more affirmative tone. Finally, the “like” in “I get the feeling like~” is similar to the translation of the よう from the grammar pattern ~ような/ように to “like” as well.

Construction:
Verb-casual + (ような) 気がする
Noun + (のような) 気がする
いadj + (ような) 気がする
なadj + (な/のような) 気がする

Example(s):

雨が降るような気がする。
Ame ga furu you na ki ga suru.
“I have a feeling that it’ll rain.”

日本語は、勉強すればするほど難しくなるような気がする。
Nihongo wa, benkyou sureba suru hodo muzukashiku naru you na ki ga suru.
“With Japanese, I get the feeling that the more you study, the more difficult it becomes.”

前にあの人を見たことがあるような気がする。
Mae ni ano hito o mita koto ga aru you na ki ga suru.
I get the feeling as if I’ve seen that person before.

彼女は約束を守る気がする。
Kanojo wa yakusoku o mamoru ki ga suru.
“I have a feeling that she’ll keep her promise.”

皆が私達の秘密を知っているような気がする。
Mina ga watashitachi no himitsu o shitte iru you na ki ga suru.
I get the feeling that everyone knows our secret.

Similar Grammar Patterns:

NOUN + のよう(な/に) ____ as “like NOUN”
気がする
〜よう(だ/です)

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Basic Japanese Sentence Structure (How-to Form a Simple Sentence in Japanese)

Basic Japanese Sentence Structure (How-to Form a Simple Sentence in Japanese)

Let’s learn how-to form a simple sentence in Japanese! This lesson is 100% friendly to complete beginners to the Japanese language.

Here’s a list of vocabulary terms we will be using for this lesson:

私 (watashi) – “I”
ジュース (jyuusu) – “juice”
飲む (nomu) – “to drink”
テレビ (terebi) – “television, T.V.”
子供 (kodomo) – “children, kids”
見る (miru) – “to see, to watch”
彼女 (kanojo) – “girl, she”
家 (uchi) – “home”
帰る (kaeru) – “to return”
幽霊 (yuurei) – “ghost, apparition, spirit”
壁 (kabe) – “wall”
壊る (kowareru) – “to break”
コンピューター (konpyuutaa) – “computer”
買う (kau) – “to buy”

In order to make faster sense of how a Japanese sentence is constructed, we will be comparing the general Japanese sentence structure to that of the English language’s sentence structure.

English:
S-V-O
SUBJECT – VERB – OBJECT
“I drink juice.”

Japanese:
S-O-V  
SUBJECT – OBJECT – VERB
“I juice drink.”
私はジュースを飲む。
(”Watashi wa juice o nomu.”)

*If we included an indirect object as well as a direct object, it would appear before the direct object, just like it generally does in English!

Similarly to the English language however, this structure can get mixed up when we enter realms where creative license can take effect, e.g. characters in books, movies, television shows. However, Japanese has a sort of upper edge to English for when something like this happens because alongside those words, it has something called particles.

Introduction to Particles

The English language doesn’t have as many particles as the Japanese language in terms of simple sentences, but it does have some. We much more commonly refer to them as prepositions, because they denote something about the word they are right before and that something they denote is a relation to another part of the sentence. For example, when we hear the English particle “from,” we automatically have an idea of what the word right after it is going to be. Maybe a place, a time, or a noun. We also know that it definitely isn’t going to be a verb, because that would be grammatically incorrect.

Particles in the Japanese language work in the same way, except they’re indicative of the word right before it instead of right after it. So technically, they’re postpositions instead of prepositions. Also, like I said earlier, they have a wider range of word types they apply to. For example, the word could be a subject, an indirect object, a direct object, a location, etc.

(*Side-note: This is also one of the main reasons why spaces between words are considered unnecessary in the Japanese language, because particles-which are always in kana while the more meaningful words are usually in kanji, already serve that function of making it easy to tell when a word ends and a new one begins.)

Additionally, we have multiple options for particles to choose from for certain word types. For example:

は (wa) – the topic marker (can also be used to mark the subject)
が (ga) – the subject marker
を (o) – the direct object marker
に (ni) and へ (e) – the destination/location (either can be used but not both at the same time)

The word type that most apparently doesn’t have a particle-or particles, associated with it are the verb actions of the sentence; this is probably because the verb action almost always appears at the end of the sentence or clause so there’s not as much a need to distinguish it with a particle.

Introduction to the Concept of a Topic of a Sentence

So, sentences having a topic as well as a subject is something that is 100% unique to the Japanese language, at least if we’re just comparing Japanese to the English language. And what it is is pretty much just that, the topic of the sentence. If we were to literally translate it, it would be something like “Speaking of X,” or “As for X,” and then whatever the rest of the sentence is would come right after that.

The important thing for us to know now is that the topic doesn’t necessarily replace the subject of the sentence. There can be a sentence with a topic, a subject, and an object.

But in some cases it can replace the subject.
Our very first example was an example of this.

“I juice drink.”
TOPIC/SUBJECT – OBJECT – VERB
私はジュースを飲む。
(”Watashi wa juice o nomu.”)
*The topic marker は is used to mark “I,” which makes it not only the subject but also the topic.

The topic can even replace the object of the sentence.

テレビは子供が見る。
(”Terebi wa kodomo ga miru.”)
“Speaking of television, children watch (it).”
TOPIC/OBJECT – SUBJECT – VERB

*The concept of the topic marker は is actually something that we could talk about for hours, but this is where we’ll stop. It will definitely show up again with its complicated nature as you continue your Japanese studies.

Great, so now with what we’ve learned, we are now capable of forming pretty much any simple Japanese sentence with the help of a dictionary for some vocabulary.

彼女は家に帰りました。
Kanojo wa uchi ni kaerimashita.
“She went home.”
[SUBJECT-LOCATION-VERB]

幽霊を見た。
Yuurei o mita.
“(I) saw a ghost.”
[(SUBJECT)-OBJECT-VERB]

壁が壊れた。
Kabe g kowareta.
“The wall broke./The wall gave in.”
[SUBJECT-VERB]

コンピューターを買う。
Computer o kau.
“(I) will buy a computer”
[(SUBJECT)-OBJECT-VERB]

So, you might have noticed that in a decent amount of those examples, we omitted the subject from the entire sentence for some reason, despite that this whole lesson was about where the word types of the sentence should appear! The truth is doing that makes our speech sound a lot more natural and not like it came straight out of a textbook. How Japanese speakers frequently drop not only the subject of their sentences but also other parts such as the objects is a topic we’ll have to save for another lesson!

Awesome! So now that we’ve learned how to form the simplest kind of sentence in Japanese, we’re ready to move onto snazzier kinds of sentences that involve things like adjectives and verbs that just aren’t in the positive form. The following links below are recommendations on which subjects to learn about next to do just this, or, if you’re feeling adventurous you can find an index of every single one of our video lessons on our official website that makes it easy to find whatever thing you’re trying to learn next!

Related Topic(s):

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How-to turn NOUNS into ADJECTIVES (and ADVERBS) with 的 (てき)

How-to turn NOUNS into ADJECTIVES (and ADVERBS) with 的 (てき)

In the English language, words are relentlessly interchanging between word types. For example, the word “force” can be used as a noun (“a force”), a verb (“to force”), and an adjective (“forceful”).
When we talk about the specific case of turning noun words into adjectives, things can really messy in terms of what suffix we’re suppose to attach to them. Some words require the suffix “-ful” (forceful, wonderful, beautiful), some words require the suffix “-al” (mechanical, internal, musical, logical), some words require the suffix “-ous” (dangerous, fabulous, courageous). The list goes on and on.
(This isn’t even mentioning the numerous letter changes you have to do for each individual word before even adding the suffix on, e.g. “beauty” changing to “beauti” before adding on the “-ful” suffix)

Fortunately, the same process in the Japanese language is far simpler, as we only need to remember one suffix, 的 (てき). Adding the character 的 after a Japanese NOUN word will effectively turn that NOUN word into an ADJECTIVE word that means “[whatever the definition of the NOUN word is]-ish.”

Example(s):
効果 (“effect”) + 的 (“-ish”) = 効果的 (“effective”)
美術 (“art, fine arts”) + 的 (“-ish”) = 美術的 (“artistic”)
仮説 (“hypothesis”) + 的 (“-ish”) = 仮説的 (“hypothetical”)

When a NOUN word is turned into an ADJECTIVE word in this manner, the resulting ADJECTIVE word is always a な-Adjective and not an い-Adjective. And since all ADJECTIVE words used in this way are な-Adjectives, we can go even further and effectively use this same idea to turn NOUN words into ADVERB phrases due to the fact that all you need to turn a な-Adjective into an ADVERB phrase is the particle に appearing right after it. As such, we can have our previous three example words undergo an additional word-type transformation:

効果的 (“effective”) + に (“-ly”) = 効果的 (“effectively”)
美術的 (“artistic”) + に (“-ly”) = 美術的 (“artistically”)
仮説的 (“hypothetical”) + に (“-ly”) = 仮説的 (“hypothetically”)

Example Sentence(s):
もっと効率的に日本語が勉強したいです。
Motto kouritsuteki ni nihongo ga benkyou shitai desu.
“I want to be more efficient with my Japanese studies.”

具体的な日取りは決まっていない。
Gutaiteki na hidori wa kimatte inai.
“The exact date hasn’t been decided.”

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Causative-Passive Form (Verb Conjugation) (させられる)

Causative-Passive Form (Verb Conjugation) (させられる)

Construction:
As the name implies, the Causative-Passive Form of verb words is constructed simply by taking the Causative Form of the respective form and in turn conjugating that into the Passive Form, i.e. replacing the final る to られる.

(As we should know, there are two guidelines on conjugating verb words into their Passive Form depending on whether the word is a る-Verb type or an う-Verb type; however since all verb words conjugated into their Causative Form are automatically る-Verb types, we need not worry about choosing between the two guidelines in this case.)

*A review on how to conjugate verbs into their Causative Form is included at the end of this post.

Example(s):
たべ = たべさせられる
= みさせられる
= いわせられる
= かわせられる
= よませられる

The Causative-Form for the two irregular verbs くる and する are こさせられる and させられる respectively.

While the Causative-Passive Form of verbs isn’t used extremely often, it definitely still has grammatical significance; it is used to express that something is made to do something by something else. That second something will be indicated with the particle に.

Example(s):
感動させられた
Kandou saserareta.
“I was moved/I was forced to be moved.”

僕は事件の身代わりにさせられた
Boku wa jiken no migawari ni saserareta.
“I was made to be the scapegoat for the incident.”

母に勉強させられる
Haha ni benkyou saserareru.
“I am forced to study by my mom.”

いつも彼女に買い物に行かせられる
Itsumo kanojo ni kaimono ni ikaserareru.
“I am always forced to go shopping by my girlfriend.”

学生は先生にたくさん漢字を書かせられている
Gakusei wa sensei ni takusan kanji o kakaserarete iru.
“The students are forced to write a lot of kanji by the teacher.”

嫌いなものをムリヤリ食べさせられたことで、ますます大嫌いになることもある。
Kirai na mono o muriyari tabesaserareta koto de, masumasu daikirai ni naru koto mo aru.
“It is possible that when they are forced to eat things they don’t like against their will, people end up disliking it even more.”

A review on how to conjugate verbs into their Causative-Form:

To conjugate る-Verbs into their Causative Form, drop the final る character and replace it with させる.

Example(s):
見る (みる) = 見させる (みさせる)
食べる (たべる) = 食べさせる (たべさせる)
寝る (ねる) =  寝させる (ねさせる)

To conjugate う-Verbs that end in the vowel character う into their Causative Form, drop the final う and replace it with わせる.

Example(s):
買う (かう) = 買わせる (かわせる)
言う (いう) = 言わせる (いわせる)

To conjugate う-Verbs that end in any character other than the vowel character う into their Causative Form, drop the “u” inside the final character to isolate the respective consonant that should now be at the end of the verb and replace it with an “a” to form a new Japanese character. Then, add after it all せる.

Example(s):
死ぬ (しぬ) = 死なせる (しなせる)
行く (いく) = 行かせる (いかせる)
読む (よむ) = 読ませる (よませる)

There are two irregular verbs for the Causative Form and they are the same two for the Passive Form:

来る = 来させる
する = させる

Similar Grammar Pattern(s):

Passive Form (Verb Conjugation) (Post | Video)
Causative Form (Verb Conjugation) (Post | Video)

Passive Form (Simple) (Post | Video)
Passive Form (Adversity with Transitive Verbs) (Post | Video)
Passive Form (Adversity with Intransitive Verbs) (Post | Video)
Causative Form (Post | Video)

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Negative-ず-Form (Verb Conjugation) – How-to say “to do VERB2 without doing VERB1” ( Negative-ず-Form VERB1 + に + VERB2)

Negative-ず-Form (Verb Conjugation) – How-to say “to do VERB2 without doing VERB1” ( Negative-ず-Form VERB1 + に + VERB2)

In addition to having the standard Negative-ない-Form, the Japanese language also has the Negative-ず-Form.

Construction:
The conjugation of verbs into their ず-Form is fairly simple, even more so if you are already familiar with the Negative-ない-Form as you simply replace the final ない with a ず.
たべる -> たべない -> たべず
のむ -> のまない -> のまず
いく -> いかない -> いかず
はなす -> はなさない -> はなさず
きく -> きかない -> きかず

*The two verbs する and くる express irregularity with this conjugation (as they do with numerous other conjugations) and become せず and こず respectively.

Historically, the Negative-ず-Form was just as generally used for negative forms as the Negative-ない-Form, however in modern Japanese it retains usage with only one grammar pattern: Negative-ず-Form VERB1 + に + VERB2 to mean “to do VERB2 without doing VERB1.”

This grammar pattern is essentially identical to the grammar pattern Negative ない-Form VERB1 + で + VERB2 as “to VERB2 without doing VERB1.“ It only differs in that is is considered more formal due to the ず-Form’s rather archaic status and is more commonly seen in written Japanese. However, there are certainly occasions in which it may appear in spoken language (e.g. depending on the actual statement, one might opt for ず-Form VERB + に over ない-Form VERB + で to avoid confusion with ない-Form VERB + で also serving as the grammar pattern that means “don’t do VERB.”)

When used in sentences, this grammar pattern is commonly paired with the particle に. While not doing so would not make the sentence grammatically incorrect, the presence of the particle is almost always the way this grammar pattern is used in modern Japanese and more accurately expresses the action not performed as an adverbial phrase to the action that is performed.

Example(s):

彼女は何も食べずに帰りました。
Kanojo wa nanimo tabezu ni kaerimashita.
“She returned home without eating anything.”

ドアに鍵をかけずに旅行した。
Doa ni kagi o kakezu ni ryokou shita.
“I left for a trip without locking my door.”

あの子はいつも歯を磨かずに寝る。
Ano ko wa itsumo ha o migakazu ni neru.
“That child is always going to sleep without brushing their teeth first.”

何となく、勉強せずに試験に合格した。
Nantonaku, benkyou sezu ni shiken ni goukaku shita.
“Somehow, I passed the test without studying.”

私のことは気にせずに先に行って下さい。
Watashi no koto wa ki ni sezu ni saki ni itte kudasai.
“Please go on ahead without worrying about me.”

ぐずぐずせずに早くしろ!
Guzuguzu sezu ni hayaku shiro!
“Hurry up and get going without dilly-dallying!”

Similar Grammar Pattern(s):
How-to say “to VERB2 without doing VERB1” (Negative ない-Form VERB1 + で + VERB2)