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Japanese Lesson: Basic sentence structure

In Japanese, the words are put together slightly different than in many western languages and a few other Asian languages. In languages such as English and Mandarin Chinese, we put together sentences using the format "Subject verb object". An example of this would be "I eat an apple". However, in Japanese the order is different. In Japanese the word order for simple sentences is "Subject object verb". So to say "I eat an apple" in Japanese, it would be more like"I apple eat", with particles in between each word.

In the "subject object verb" sentences, there are two main particles that are used. The particles は and を, and on some occasions が. I've made a past lesson with these, which can be found in the list below. To say "I eat an apple" in Japanese, you would say "私はリンゴを食べます" watashi wa ringo o tabemasu. The word for 'I' or 'me' being 私 watashi, the particle は marks the subject of the sentence, the word for apple is リンゴ ringo, the particle を marks the direct object of the verb, and the verb is 食べます tabemasu, meaning 'to eat'.

You can make many simple sentences using this format. Another very easy sentence structure example is "Subject+は+noun+です+, which would mean "_ is ____". Ex. I am Rei= 私はレイです watashi wa rei desu. The most simple way to explain です is to say that it is a way of saying 'am, is' or 'are'. This isn't the case, however, it is hard to translate to English.

Though this lesson focused on more grammar than it did on vocabulary, I hope it's helpful in any way. Native speakers, please correct my mistakes.

List of other lessons: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/18842185


November 30, 2016



Thank you so much for making this, there aren't too many out there that actually update a lot and it helps to know that you actually engage with other people and help them out! XD And there is the fact that you're so good at it, I just wish that I could find a teacher like you


Thank you so much. And I know a lot of people want to learn the language, and I'm just helping out in any way I can. That includes answering any questions. But I'm not an expert in any way.


Dōitashimashite :)


Is there any reason you use the polite form? I personally think the neutral form is quite better for learning purposes, since it is the "base" for all conjugations.


I just use the polite form because of what I'm used to using, to be honest. Typically in a class you learn the polite form first, so that is what I'm using.


Well, if it's really just out of habit, please consider the upsides of teaching with the neutral form.


If a foreigner just learning the language does encounter a Japanese person, it's most likely to be a stranger. Better to be on the safe side and be a bit over-polite (to someone who may suggest you use a more informal style) than insult a stranger. Wouldn't it sound like a badly-brought up child assuming every adult he meets expects to be treated like a playmate? I really don't know - I'm just following Assimil's use, where the neutral forms are introduced slowly.


I don't think anyone would consider such nuances when dealing with someone who quite obviously knows very little about the language (I mean, you can't even make a sentence with a subordinate clause with only the polite form). It's probably not a good idea to harm the learning for that reason; and by the time you can speak well enough for that to become a real issue, you'll have learnt both forms (and more) anyway.

The neutral form is the "natural" one that is used to conjugate, and incidentally, it's the one which the Japanese learn first.

You can easily introduce the polite form as a quick separate lesson specifically on politeness; but grammar lesson themselves should be in neutral form mainly.


When I was studying Japanese (at both high school and University), we started with learning the -masu form, then after we had learnt that we started with dictionary form.

I believe they thought that when your conversational abilities are still so basic that you don't even need to worry about subordinate clauses that it is wiser to at least be able to be polite.


Point taken as far as grammar lessons go, but Japanese children also learn a lot of vocabulary that most adult learners will encounter only after they're fairly far along and into literature.

As far as nuances go, we should ask some Japanese. Maybe they're steeled against what sounds like rudeness from foreigners.


I needed this so muchhh

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