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