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Sentences in Japanese

As I saw in every Japanese negative sentence (ません) and in affirmative ones (です) like :

一時です。(affirmative) 一時ではありません。(negative)

According to them in the negative one (はあり) is extra, why?and what's its function?

Can we say (一時でません。)?

And does Japanese sentences have subjects?

I do not see in theses examples :

かいしやに行きません。(かいしや:office), (行き:to go), (にandません: negative makers(I think)). So where are the subjects? like: (I, you, she...) How can we identify the speaker?

If I want to mention the doer how should I say it?

I write some sentences with subject (I):

Check if these are true? :(わたしはかいしやに行きません。or わたしはかいしやを行きます。)

Thanks a lot and good luck in learning :)

June 13, 2017



In Japanese, you often omit the subject, if it is clear, especially the personal pronouns. In German (my native language) subjects and personal pronouns are needed, but for many other languages, this is not the case - also in Japanese.

So you do not need to say 私は・・・ unless you want to emphasize, that you mean especially YOU in contradiction to another one.

The problem is here, that there is no connected situation in Duolingo, from where you can take the absend information. If you already know some Japanese, it´s easy, but if not, it may be a bit confusing.

As for the negation, there are different ways to express negation in Japanese, same as in other languages.

です is not 'affirmative', it´s just one of the japanese particles. In common or colloquial speech, です is often omitted. Using this particle sounds more formal, more polite.

  • これ は かわいい です。 (This is cute.) This is formally and grammatically correct and polite. But in colloquial speech, you would rather hear
  • これ は かわいい。 (without です) or just
  • かわいい!! by having in mind, that all know, what about you speak

To take your examples:

  • かいしゃに行きません。 is formal
  • かいしゃに行かないです。is less formal, but still polite
  • かいしゃに行かない。 is colloquial

The first sentence may address you, but also others, as he, she and so on. If you use the less formal expression, you may address yourself. But for natives, there are more subtle meanings or connections, that I still do not know.

The subject here can be all what is possible: I, you, he, she and so on. Because you need in English a personal pronoun here, the correct answers should be accordingly.

But if you really want to mention, that he, she, you, I or whatever don´t go to the company or to work, than you could say

  • わたし は かいしゃ に 行きません。
  • かれ は かいしゃ に 行きません。
  • and so on

So your examples are correct :-) But again: In Japanese it is not common to use personal pronouns.

I´ve never given such information in English...I hope, you can understand most of my writings well :-)


That's perfect my friend ;D

Thank you so much, here are 5 lingots :)


You are welcome :-)

A little hint may be, that you simply think, that these sentences adress yourself, as long there is not a personal pronoun. I am not sure, but it may work. And try not to translate from English (or another language) into Japanese. Learn the sentences as they are, try to think Japanese directly.

I myself don´t think about personal pronouns in Japanese anymore, I don´t ask myself, who is adressed in the sentence anymore, when the personal pronoun is omitted. I´ve learned also Spanish and now Polish and in both languages, they usually don´t use the personal pronouns. My knowledge in Japanese helps me, because I am already used to this :-)

Examples for "I have a book."

  • German: Ich habe ein Buch. (like in English)
  • Spanish: Tengo un libro.
  • Polish: Mam książkę.
  • Japanese: 本をもっています。

The difference between Polish, Spanish and Japanese is, that the personal pronoun is in the verb conjugation. You could say in Spanish "Yo tengo un libro." and in Polish "Ja mam książkę." but this information is redundant, because "tengo" and "mam" already mean "I have". The difference in Japanese is, that in Japanese there is no conjugation for pronouns, gender or plural, so one can´t guess from もっています who is addressed here. It is taken from the situation and the relations between the talkers.

Same for the plural.

The sentence 本をもっています。can also mean, that you have some books, not only one. But it may be not so important to transport this information in this particular moment, so this information is also omitted. If Japanese people want to emphasize, that they have 2 or more books, they will express it clearly.

If you learn Japanese, you have to understand, that they conjugate verbs not for personal pronouns or gender, but rather for something, you could call 'level of politeness'. This concept was very strange to assimilate for me and I think, that foreigners will not fully assimilate this concept, even if they would live in Japan. Here is an article about this subject, that may interest you:


But after a while, you´ll get used to this and it will at least sound naturally for you.


Wow! It seems that you've experienced learning languages for a long time, how many languages can you speak?

Thanks for your information and the link :) I found them very useful.


Again, you are welcome and thanks :-) No no, I am just some decades on this earth and you snap something here and there over the time ;-)


です is commonly accepted as the Japanese copula, the "to be" verb. However, it is an irregular verb, and most of its conjugated forms reflect its other form である or であります. I've read that です is a contraction of ありま, but I've also read that it's root is in the old verb す so で+す. で is a particle, ある/あります is a verb.

Either way, when we switch to the negative form, we basically conjugate である/であります。 We also add the particle は in. This isn't the only unexpected place we'll find particle は. So we get ではない/ではありません.

Something similar happens with the adjective for good. いい becomes よくない and いいです becomes よくないです or よくありません。 いい and よい are technically two different words, but いい is used for non-past affirmative and conjugations of よい are used for everything else.

As for subjects, in my Japanese class, we used a lot of sentences with 私は。 Particle は does not indicate the subject of the sentence though, it indicates the topic (as for me). It's unusual to emphasize the subject in Japanese, so unless you're doing it on purpose, it's avoided. Subjects are indicated with particle が, so 私が。 Even the subject is omitted if it's clear in context, which, I think, is why you don't see it in Duolingo a lot.

Finally, for your last examples; を indicates the object of the verb, に indicates (among other things) the destination. Particles are tricky, so do your best.


Thanks for your help :)


if you wanna learn japanese, dont go with duolingo because they made the course so poorly. i recommend buying the book "Elementary Japanese" volume one and two written by Yoko Hasegawa.

the books actually teach you


Thanks for your suggestion :)

Yeah, Duolingo Japanese courses are too hard for a new beginner like me. Suddenly it wants you to translate a sentence like : (I am going to the office and ...) whatever that is tough for me who has never learned even a verb like : (going) to be able to answer this just some words :(

That's why I always confuse.


Additionally, I would suggest again the podcast japanesepod101.com. There are tons of well structured podcast audio lessons, daily dialogues, stories, blogs and so on, spoken by native Japanese people in real life Japanese (not textbook Japanese) in the different politeness levels, there are quizes, grammar databases, different learning tools and so on. For me, it was fun and impressive, to hear and experience this wonderful language. It´s a very mature podcast (over 10-15 years now) and it´s worth to give it a try.



Thanks in advance InuzukaShino! You helped me a lot :)


the sentences you said above are actually pretty simple sentences in Japanese, the course just doesn't explain how they work at all. Do buy the book, it is pretty much the only reason why I am fluent in Japanese today, at a cost of about 12 months time.

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