Quick Japanese: Let's talk about the weather!
Would you like to know how to talk about the weather in Japanese? Well you are in luck ... it's quite easy.
天気はどうですか? Tenki wa dou desu ka? (How's the weather?)
Let's break down this sentence really quick. 天気 (tenki) means "weather". は is the topic marking particle which indicates that we are discussing "tenki". どう means "how" or "how about" or "in what way". ですか is the copula (desu) followed by the question marking particle か, which clearly identifies this sentence as a question - "is?" or "is it?".
Putting it all together, "As for weather, how is it?" Or simply "How's the weather?"
Now that we know how to ask about the weather, let's learn how to describe it. Fortunately, this is even easier ... you just need to know a few weather-related words.
晴れです。 hare desu (It’s sunny.)
曇りです。 kumori desu (It’s cloudy.)
雨です。 ame desu (It’s rainy.)
暑いです。 atsui desu (It’s hot.)
寒いです。 samui desu (It’s cold.)
暖かいです。 atatakai desu (It’s warm.)
Simply take a descriptive weather term like "sunny" or "rainy" or "hot" or "cold" and add the copula です. Done! You have described the weather.
But what if you want to spice it up a bit. Maybe it's not just hot, it is VERY hot.
とても暑いです。 totemo atsui desu. (It’s very hot.)
Or maybe it is not hot. In fact, it is getting a little chilly.
少し寒いです。 sukoshi samui desu. (It’s a little cold.)
The adverbs とても (totemo) and 少し (sukoshi) are quite handy. They can be used to express the extent of many adjectives and verbs, including weather-related terms, like hot and cold. You should get to know these words well. Not only are they useful sentence enhancers, but you'll probably come across them quite often while reading.
Discussing the weather is an excellent way to make small talk in Japanese, since the weather is such a safe topic. It's quite common to hear the following phrase:
今日はいい天気ですね。kyou wa ii tenki desu ne.
Do you know what this means? Let's break it down.
今日は is the word for "today" followed by the topic marking particle は, so we are discussing something related to "today." いい comes from the verb 良い (yoi) which means "good; excellent; fine; nice; pleasant; agreeable". 天気 should be familiar - this is the kanji for "weather" again. Lastly, we have ですね, the copula (desu) followed by the sentence-ending particle ね. Japanese has various sentence-ending particles that add inflections or meaning onto the sentence. The question marker particle か is one example of a sentence ending particle - it always appears at the end of the sentence and is frequently used in formal speech to indicate questions. The particle ね is used to add some emphasis and to ask for agreement from the listener. It acts very similar to a "tag question" in English, like adding "isn't that right?" or "don't you think so?" onto the end of a statement.
Taken all together, our example sentence means "As for today, the weather is good, don't you think?" or "The weather is nice today, isn’t it." A common response to this kind of question would be:
そうですね。 sou desu ne. (That is so, isn't it.)
You will see this phrase translated in quite few different ways, depending on what English phrase would sound the best in a given context, but it is basically an affirmative response that confirms agreement while also asking for it a little bit, like saying "Yes, I think so". If you drop the ね it becomes a stronger "That is so." which has a more emphatic feeling of "I agree" or "Yes, that's right". Once you start listening for そうです and そうですね, you will hear them quite a bit when listening to conversational Japanese, usually as a response from the listener when they agree with something that was just said by a speaker.
Using some of the words we just covered, we can also ask an important variation on our very first question:
今日の天気はどうですか。kyou no tenki wa dou desu ka
Okay .. what does this say? Do you recognize some of the kanji from previous sentences? I bet you can figure this out without any hints.
Alright, let's break it down .... First we have 今日の天気. This is the word for "today" followed by the possessive particle の and the word for "weather". The possessive particle is used to link together words and it acts very similar to adding an apostrophe S onto the end of a word in English (today becomes today's). So 今日の天気 translated to "Today's weather". You can also flip around the word order and make this "weather of today" (weather that belongs in the category of "today" stuff) or squish the words together into a compound word "today weather", depending on what makes the most sense in English. In this case, "today's weather" works just fine, so we'll stick with that. Next we have the topic marking particle は, so we are discussing the weather again. But this time we are specifically taking about TODAY'S weather. The rest of the sentence should be familiar from earlier - どう (how) ですか (is?)。
So a literal translation of this sentence would be "As for today's weather, how is (it)?" or in more natural English "How is the weather today?"
But what if you want to be even more specific? You don't want to just ask about the weather right now or earlier in the day. You need to know what the weather will be like for the rest of the day. You want to know the weather forecast.
今日の天気予報は何ですか。kyō no tenkiyohō wa nan desu ka.
In this sentence we have a bunch of familiar words and a few new ones. We start off with good old 今日 (kyou), followed by the possessive particle の - "Today's". 天気予報 is a new compound word but it contains familiar kanji - 天 = heaven 気 = energy/spirit; together 天気 = weather. 予 = beforehand/previous 報 = report; together 予報 = forecast or prediction. All together, 天気予報 = weather forecast or weather report. So we have "Today's weather forecast" as the topic of our sentence. 何 means "what" or "how many". And ですか is still the copula followed by the question marking particle (is?).
So this sentence means "As for today's weather forecast, what is (it)?" or with a more natural English word order "What’s the weather forecast for today?" Not that hard right? Time to think bigger!
今週の天気予報は何ですか Konshū no tenkiyohō wa nan desu ka?
This sentence is a lot like the previous one. In fact, we've only changed one thing. 今日 (kyou) has changed to 今週 (konshuu). 今週 means "this week". So that means that we are now asking "What’s the weather forecast for this week?" Important information if you are planning to do something outdoors later in the week, like 花見 (cherry blossom viewing).
Of course, if you spend all your time learning Japanese and rarely leave the house, you might just want to ask this question:
外はどうですか Soto wa dō desu ka? (What’s it like outside?)
For more weather related words, check out this list: http://www.punipunijapan.com/japanese-weather-tenki/
And let me know how the weather is where you live!
カラチ、パキスタンの今日の天気はとても暑いです. Is this sentence correct? I am still figuring out sentence structures :D .
Hmmmm, unfortunately, I'm not sure how this sentence should be structured either. I'm actively building my own grammar knowledge at the moment and still have a long (looooong) way to go. You want to say that today's weather is very hot in the city of Karachi in Pakistan, right?
I think that I would probably phrase this as:
I changed カラチ、パキスタン to パキスタンのカラチ in order to reflect the relationship between the country of Pakistan and the city of Karachi. Karachi is a city in Pakistan, so it is Pakistan's Karachi or Karachi of Pakistan.
However, if we try to connect "Pakistan's Karachi" and "today's weather" with a の, I'm fairly sure we would exceed some kind of a safety limit on consecutive のs. I don't think I'm prepared for that much 日本語, so let's try something else.
The first sentence has "Karachi of Pakistan" as the topic of conversation and marks "today's weather" with the subject-marking particle が. So the sentence would be something like, "As for Karachi of Pakistan, today's weather is very hot." I'm pretty sure this sentence is grammatically correct, but I can't say for sure if it is the most natural way to phrase it.
The second sentence keeps "today's weather" as the topic and moves "karachi of pakistan" into the main sentence, marked with で. This particle is used to indicate the location of a verb's action. I'm a little shaky on the proper use of で, but I think this sentence might be better than the first one. It would mean something like, "As for today's weather, in Karachi of Pakistan, it is very hot."
If there are any native speakers or skilled learners around, please let me know what you think.
On an unrelated note, I came across this neat practice lesson that uses a weather forecast to teach simple sentences:
It's written in romaji so it is easy to understand and, best of all, it has full audio for all the sentences. Be sure to check the "basic terms" link on the same page to get all the vocabulary before reading the practice sentences. Under the lesson, there's a nice little breakdown of each sentence so you can confirm that you understood them correctly.