Friday, February 18, 2011

Lesson 4

Here comes Lesson 4! As I promised, no kana in this one. Today we start with the grammar - compared to the writing systems, the basics of grammar might seem easy to you. Hopefully they will.

The structure of a basic Japanese senteces is:

X wa Y desu.

X is the subject - a noun.

wa in Japanese is called a topic marker  it is always put after the topic (subject) of the sentece to identify it. I've no idea what the Japanese were thinking when they decided this, but even though it is pronounced "wa", and written that way in Romaji, in kana it is awlays written as "ha" instead.

Y is either another noun, or an adjective.

desu is the Japanese verb for "to be". Unlike in English, though, it doesn't have different forms corresponding to "am", "are" or "is", it is always the same - desu. (Finally something in Japanese that is easier than in English, right?) The verb is read "des" - without the final "u". The "u" in the end is only pronounced by either women trying to sound cute, or little girls - either way unless you want to talk like a little girl, refrain from pronouncing it.

Examples of a sentence using the following pattern are:

Sumisu-san wa bengoshi desu.
Mr. Smith is an attorney.

Watashi wa Burandon desu.
I am Brandon.

Now you know how to introduce yourselves in Japanese - just put your name instead of Brandon, of course. Watashi is just one of the words in Japanese language meaning "I" - relatively neutral, so it is widely used. As a rule, however, Japanese people often omit words such as I, you, etc., so in an everyday conversation this sentence will more likely be just: Burandon desu. Which is just a name and the verb "to be", and if somebody asked you about someone else it would mean: "HE is Brandon" - so the meaning of things in Japanese pretty much depends on the context.

As this is the first Lesson in grammar, I think I will stop here and let things sink in.

Vocabulary in today's lesson:
desu - to be 
watashi - I
bengoshi - attorney


  1. desu sounds way too cute lol. I think they can use des- instead? haha

  2. This is very useful to japanese learners.

  3. I really appreciate this, I always wondered what desu actually meant. When I went to Japan I was afraid to use it in case it was too formal or something.

  4. Keep it up and thank you for all the good info!

  5. what happen when people say both of them like "desu wa", ive heard it somewhere

  6. tks a lot!

    this is just great.

  7. Interesting stuff. It's like armchair japanese lessons.

  8. Awesome, Im actually started to get a grasp with all of this, one day at a time, looking forwards to tomorrow contribution.

  9. this man is teaching you the truth

  10. i learned a bit japanes thru your blog men :D:D

  11. @ Tony Storm:

    "Desu wa" is the same thing as "desu". You've probably heard that in anime being used by a female character. "Wa" is this case is just a feminine exclamation. Many characters in anime add some useless word after desu at the end of the sentence, which is supposed to add personality and makes a character more memorable, but it doesn't really mean anything. You will hear many characters use "desu wa" , "de gozaru" or "de"arimasu" instead of desu.