These are notes I compiled from my study at Nichibei Kaiwa Gakuin in Tokyo. They are from the school’s second level course, B2 which is the second basic level grammar course (would be considered intermediate at many U.S. based programs).

Parts of Speech

Adjective – 形容詞 (けいようし)
Adverb – 副詞 (ふくし)
Verb – 動詞 (どうし)
Noun – 名詞 (めいし)
Particle – 助詞 (じょし)
Dictionary Form – 辞書形 (じしょけい)
Present Form – 現在形 (げんざいけい)
Negative Form – 否定形 (ひていけい)
Past Form – 過去形 (かこけい)
Past-Negative Form – 過去否定形 (かこひていけい)
Potential Form – 可能形 (かのうけい)
Passive Form – 受身 (うけみ)
Volitional Form – いし形
Intransitive Form – 自動詞 (じどうし)
Transitive Form – 他動詞 (たどうし)
Causative Form – 使役形 (しえきけい)
Conditional (ば) Form – 仮定形 (かていけい)


  • Intransitive verbs (自動詞- じどうし) are those that don’t take a direct object; Transitive verbs (他動詞 – たどうし) are those that do.他動詞 verbs often have direct objects which can only take the particle を (in regular sentences, e.g., not 使役形); 自動詞 verbs rarely include a direct object. (though note that their topic can take many particles including を – e.g., とぶ / わたる / はしる / とおる / あるく / さんぽする)
  • Some textbooks call the is the stem of the –ます form (ます形) the conjunctive form
  • There is no rule for determining if a verb is transitive (他動詞) or intransitive (自動詞) but usually if it has an –あ before the ending syllable it is intransitive and if it has an –え before the ending syllable or ends in す it is transitive.
  • 「-す」 ⇒ 他動詞 (e.g., こわす)
    「-える」 ⇒ 他動詞 (e.g., はじめる)
    「-ある」 ⇒ 自動詞 (e.g., はじまる)

Place N が V ている – use for state of being verbs (people or things)
  e.g., そらほしがひかっている

X N を V-ます (X can be place, noun, question word, etc.)
  e.g., どこ名前を書きますか。このかみ書いてください

Place N が V ている – use for action verbs or events if using うけみ
  e.g., 公園子供があそんでいます e.g., ソウルオリンピックがひらかれている

Place N が ある – use for location/presence of something
  e.g., あのみせおいしいさかながあります Place N が ある – use for events
  e.g., スペインオリンピックがあります
Stringing together multiple adjectives or descriptive nouns
い-adjective: root + くて + adjective
  e.g., ふるくてやすい本

な-adjective: root + + adjective
  e.g., はでできれいなシャッツ

N1 + + N2 + です
  e.g., 青木さんは日本人で先生です

Note: You cannot use this form to string together attributes which are totally unrelated or opposite in nature!
どこへも NOT どこ 「どこかへ行きますか。いいえ、どこへもいきません。」
こちら vs. ここ
ここ/そこ/あそこ/どこ are generally used to talk about place(s) while こちら(こっち)/そちら(そっち)/あちら(あっち)/どちら(どっち) are used to talk about direction.However, こちら/そちら/あちら/どちら can be used to talk about place(s) also when the speaker wants the expression to be more polite.
P1 のどのへんにありますか
This expression is used when the speaker already knows that the general location of a thing is P1 but wishes to learn the exact location of the thing within P1.
Statement1. それから, Statement2.
This expression can generally used:

  1. to add information (statement 2) after statement 1
  2. e.g., 私はテニスが好きです。それから、サッカーも好きです

  3. to discuss order of actions (statement 2 happens after statement 1)
  4. e.g., テープを聞いてください。それから、しつもんにこたえてください

  5. when something left unmentioned also needs to be stated.

Statement1. それで, Statement2.
This expression is used to indicate that because of statement1, result statement2 is produced or action statement2 is taken.

だけ vs. しか
Besides the obvious grammatical structure difference (だけ is used with affirmative verb and しか is used with a negative verb ending), there are two other importance distinctions.

  1. しか implies that the number (amount, quantity) of the topic is small or insufficient whereas だけ does not have this implication.
  2. When a noun precedes しか the form may be used to indicate that a particular action is carried out only with respect to that noun e.g., パンしか食べませんでした - I ate only bread [and nothing else])
Normally Place へ(Nを)Vに行く/来る/帰る
BUT for N + する verbs you can use:
BUT note you must use なにNOT なに
This expression is used to turn down an invitation or request without revealing a reason.ince it implies that one has a conflicting obligation at the suggested time, it generally cannot be used as the reply to an invitation or request in which the time is not specified.

Note: there are exceptions to this rule, especially related to place
  e.g., しぶやならつごうがわるい
A1-く + する
  e.g., 早くしてください
A2 (root) + に する
  e.g., しずかにしてください
V-て + Verb
  e.g., 会社へ歩いて行きます
乗る / おりる | 入る / 出る
In general, when the direction of an action is from the outside to the inside, に is used; when from the inside to the outside, を is used. (Note that actions such as getting off a horse uses からおりる instead of をおりる).
P1 から P2 へ 持って 行く/来る/帰る
P1 から P2 へ Person/Animal つれて 行く/来る/帰る
P1 で V- 行く/来る/帰る
where the V is an action other than 持つ/行く/来る/帰る

Note: Keep in mind that the top two forms imply two actions which must occur together whereas the last form implies two actions which occur in sequence.
N V-ています
  e.g., 今雨がふっています | ほしがひかっています
N V-ています
  e.g., 今勉強をしています

Note: use が for a natural phenomenon or a state of affairs that is continuing (intransitive verb); use を for an action in progress.
N やめる
  e.g., 会社をやめるつもりです
V (辞書形) の を やめる
  e.g., 雨がふっているのでピクニックへ行くのをやめました

Note: use の to indicate that you are quitting an action but also note that you need the context of the sentence to determine if the action that one is quitting is temporary or permanent (e.g., タバコをすうのをやめました could mean that a meeting was about to start so you quit smoking or it could mean you quit smoking for good)
A1 (plain form) + からです
A2 (root) + だから
N + だから
N N1 、 N2
This form is used to unite two sentences with regard to topic N, the contents of which are in agreement. With regard to the … which are placed before and after し, it is possible to form three patterns:

BeforeAfterSituation to Use
Plain formです/ます formCommon form
Plain formPlain formSlightly formal, written language
です/ます formです/ます formPolite, spoken language

e.g., 林さん英語上手だ、ワープロひじょうにはやいんです

N N1、 N2… This form is used to unite two sentences with regard to topic N, the contents of which are in opposition. With regard to the … which are placed before and after が, it is possible to form three patterns (note they differ from above!):

BeforeAfterSituation to Use
です/ます formです/ます formCommon form
Plain formPlain formSlightly formal, written language
Plain formです/ます formSlightly rough, spoken language

e.g., 私の会社給料(きゅうりょう)いいです、仕事ものすごく忙しいです

なかなか…(negative phrase)
なかなか can be used to indicate that, although one makes efforts, a certain movement or purpose is not easily accomplished (note that it can also be used with positive phrases to mean quite, fairly).
  e.g., 私は漢字がなかなかおぼえられないんです – I can’t seem to remember/memorize Kanji
  e.g., このふたはなかなかとれません
V-たばかりです vs. V-てばかりいます

  • V-たばかりです is used to indicate that only a little time has passed since an act was completed (reference たところです)
  • V-てばかりいる is used to state in a slightly exaggerated manner that something which the speaker does not think recommendable is frequently done (does something very often, with the implication that it is too often).

Note: ばかり functions as a noun

Note: you can’t use this form if the activity described is the ONLY thing ever done.
  e.g., (since Pandas only eat bamboo you can’t use this form to say that Pandas only eat bamboo)

の中で vs. で
N1 の中で N2 が一番… is used to indicate that among three or more things (N1), N2 is the most…

Note: when N1 is a nation or an organization that cannot be divided, の中で is replaced with で.
  e.g., 日本の山の中で富士山が一番高いです vs. 日本で富士山が一番高いです
まえ BUT あと
A1-て/N+で/V-て vs. V-てから vs. V-たら vs. V-たあと vs. V(ます form)-おわった

  • V1-て…V2 vs. V1-てから…V2 both indicate that one moves on to action V2 after carrying out V1 but the sense of order is stronger in V-てから
  • S1…[A1-て/A2+で/V-て]…S2 differs from S1…から/ので…S2 sentences in that the expression implies that the causal relationship between S1 and S2 is natural and that the outcome is what one might expect. As a result, you can’t have S2 be an expression indicating orders, wishes, requests, invitations, etc. (but note that emotional states of being that arise from S1 naturally are perfectly acceptable).
この is used when the speaker refers to a topic with which he believes the listener is unfamiliar
その is used when the listener is unfamiliar with the topic referred to by the speaker
あの is used when either the speaker or the listener refers to a topic which he believes both parties are familiar with
A1 – くてもいいですか
A1 – くなくてもいいですか
A2/N – でもいいですか
A2/N – でなくてもいいですか
まで vs. までに
Time までに V is used to indicate that action V is completed before a time limit T lapses BUT if the verb is one that indicates an action which continues over a period of time (e.g., いる, まつ), まで is used instead
  e.g., 五時までに来ます – I will come by 5:00
  e.g., 五時まで待ちます – I will wait until 5:00
なるべく vs. かならず
かならず – by all means, at all costs (stronger)
なるべく – to the extent possible (weaker but still strong)
V (dictionary or ない form) ように + V (also reference ―ようになる)
This form is used to indicate that one intends to do action V from now on
  e.g., なるべく日本語で話すようにしましょう – Let’s speak Japanese as much as possible
  e.g., 私も英語を話さないように気をつけます – I’ll also try not to speak English It’s also used in commands.
  e.g., 子供のとき私は母にやさいを食べるようにいわれました
  – When I was a child, my mother told me to eat vegetables
Use もし when it is difficult to know whether a condition will materialize or when you want to emphasize that the topic under discussion is strictly hypothetical.
N1 を/は N2/V+の 使う (N2/V+の N1 を使う)
This expression indicates the purpose for which a thing is used
  e.g., 今度のボーナスを海外(かいがい)旅行に使うんです
  – I’m going to use this next bonus for a trip abroad
  e.g., 今度のボーナスは車を買うのに使うんです
  – I’m going to use this next bonus to buy a new car


  1. The の after the verb is like that for V+の をやめる; don’t confuse it with のに that means even though…
  2. に 使う is different from ために because it implies not only purpose but that the purpose and the thing being used to achieve that purpose occur simultaneously (ために could in theory be used as well but it is more natural to use に使う)
This form is used to express a hypothesis explaining some phenomenon when the speaker feels the hypothesis is equally likely to be true or false.
  e.g., 山田さんはさかなを食べませんね. どうしてでしょう. きらいなのかもしれません.
  – Yamada-san doesn’t eat fish. I wonder why? Maybe he hates fish.

Note: don’t use たぶん with かもしれません
N する – use this form when N is something that stimulates one of the five senses.
  e.g., へんなにおいがします・あかちゃんのないているこえがします
This expression indicates that someone has moved on to a subsequent action (thus, not same as ながら) without performing some prior action that should have been carried out as a matter of course.
  e.g., ぼうしをかぶったまま映画を見てはいけません

Note: You don’t use a negative verb with this expression

BUTくつをぬがなかったままうちに入ったNOT O.K.
INSTEAD USEないで: くつをぬがないでうちに入ったO.K.
つもり vs. 予定(よてい)
Can use つもり only for plans about yourself
Can use よてい for yourself or others
Stated another way, つもり is used for a plan formed in one’s mind while よてい is used in the case of a plan of an objective nature.

e.g., 明日はテストがある予定ですが、仕事が忙しいので私は休むつもりです

Note: also see Volitional Verb + と思う
から vs. ので
Levels of Politeness

  1. -ます form + ので
  2. -ます form + から OR plain form + ので
  3. Plain form + から

Note: while it is possible to say からです, there is no such expression as のでです.

N をしている
This form describes the shape, form, or appearance of a person or thing (N is a noun denoting appearance, such as face, eyes, color, body, etc.)

Question: (name) はどんなかっこうしていますか
– How is (name) dressed / What does (name) look like?

N を V-ている は ___ です
N を V-ている は ___ です
N を V-ている は ___ ですN を V-た は ___ です
N を V-た は ___ ですN を V-ている です
N を V-ている です


  1. た doesn’t specifically imply a past condition
  2. の can only be used in one form of the reply
  3. Generally speaking, if the person is the subject/topic and you are using a -ている form of verb you can replace a noun denoting a person or persons with the particle の; otherwise you cannot.
V-た こと あります
V-た こと ありません


  1. that you cannot use this form with words indicating some particular point in the past, such as 昨日 or去年
  2. Generally, (not always but often) the negative answer to a question adds the particle は.
    e.g., Pなにかありますか。 ⇒ いいえ、Pなにもありません
    e.g., Pにだれかいますか。 ⇒ いいえ、Pだれにもいません
    e.g., 私はピアノがひけますが,ピアニストのようにひけません
    e.g., 土曜日に学校へ来ようと思っていません
    e.g., 二時にこられます ⇒ 二時にこられません
  3. Likewise, が in positive statements often changes to は in negative ones
    e.g., 日本語ができる ⇒ 日本語はできません
    e.g., すしが好きです ⇒ すしは好きではありません
    e.g., Nがほしいです ⇒ Nはほしくないです
    e.g., NがV-たいです ⇒ NはV-たくないです
を vs. が in たい/ほし sentences
The particle を which follows the object of a transitive verb is changed to が in an affirmative sentence and, generally, to は in a negative sentence.However, when を refers to something other than the object of a transitive verb (e.g., when an intransitive verb is used) it does not change when the sentence is affirmative:
  e.g., うちを出る ⇒ うちをでたいです

Note: although particles other than を don’t change in an affirmative sentence, if the sentence is negative, は follows the relevant particle. Also note that を doesn’t change to が in affirmative sentences referring to third person’s desires.
  e.g., Nをほしがっています ⇒ Nはほしがっていません
  e.g., NをV-たがっています ⇒ NはV-たがっていません

It also doesn’t change when the を involved is used to indicate passage along, across or through P
  e.g., そらをとぶ ⇒ そらをとびたい / そらをとべる
P へ行く / 来る / 帰る とき… vs. へ行った / 来た / 帰った とき…
The key difference here is whether whatever happens in the … occurs before (or on the way) or after arriving at place P. If before or during transit, use the plain form (regardless of the tense in the … statement). If the action occurs after arriving, use the た form (again, regardless of the tense in the … statement).
  e.g., また日本へ来たとき私の会社によってください
  – When you come to Japan again (lit. after you have arrived), please drop by my office
を + Verb (dictionary form)が + V-ている (intransitive verbs)
が + て + ありますが/は + V-てある (transitive verbs)

e.g., 母は部屋(へや)にテーブルをおきました – My mother put a table in the room
e.g., 部屋に花がかざってあります – Flowers have been put in the room for decoration


  1. How to treat a permanent part of the room:
    e.g., 部屋のでんきがけしてあります – The light in the room is off
  2. If you can see it, use が; if not, use は
    e.g., 明日の旅行(りょこう)のためのきっぷはかってあります
て-おく and て-ある
If the focus is on a person & his/her actions, use て + おく
  e.g., Did YOU order the food for the party?

If the focus is on a thing (even if directly related to a person’s action), use て + ある
  e.g., Is the food for the party ready?

Note: you can’t use おきません for a negative answer!
Q: ___ は N を V-て おきましたか
A: はい, N を V-て おきました
A: いいえ, N は V-て ありません
Use ために with affirmative dictionary form of verb
Use ように with negative dictionary form of verbUse ための before a noun

e.g., これはこい人のためのうたです

Use ために before a verb

e.g., これはこい人のために作ったうたです

Note: Using ために before a verb applies even if the verb is part of a phrase that begins with a noun
  e.g., 勉強するため学校へ行きます
Gift Giving Pattern
X の [e.g., おいわい | おれい | おみやげ | ひきでもの | たんじょうび] [N を] V [e.g., あげる|もらう|くれる]
Giving and Receiving
Person / 私Person N V-て + [もらう・いただく]
Person / 私Person N V-て + [さしあげる・あげる・やる]
Person / あなた / みうち N V-て + [くださる・くれる]  


Person/私Person N V-て + [さしあげる・あげる・やる]
Person / あなた / みうち N V-て + [くださる・くれる]  

Notice how the order or people involved (giver and receiver) changes the particle needed






Person / 私Person V-て + [さしあげる・あげる・やる]
Person V-て + [くれる・くださる] 

Note: the absence of a noun before the verb changes the particle needed (this pattern is used when doing something for someone not when giving SOMETHING to someone)
Person 「。。。」ということ [e.g., きく・よむ・みる・しる] Noun は/が 「。。。」ということ [e.g., きく・よむ・みる・しる]  


  1. If the object of something you hear (learned, read, etc.) is a person you must use the particle が
  2. This pattern holds also for the かどうか grammar form
    Person 「…かどうか」わかりません [e.g., 山田さんが来るかどうかわからない]
    Noun 「…かどうか」わかりません [e.g., ラーメンはおいしいかどうかわからない]
X Nという
This expression indicates what the thing or person described in X is called.
  e.g., 外国から勉強に来た学生をりゅうがくせいと言います
Q.W._か_ vs. _かどうか_
If a question word (Q.W.) is present you use only か, otherwise use かどうか.

Note: a plain form precedes か and if it is a noun or A2 adjective だ is omitted.
Type 1 Verbs: –ない root + れる
Type 2 Verbs: –ない stem +られる
Type 3 Verbs: される/こられる)

Note: While it is logical to use the passive voice in the same way as in English, it can also be used to indicate a feeling of annoyance or inconvenience about damage done to one’s possession or damage caused by another person’s action (or a thing’s reaction):
  e.g., 部長はひしょに休まれてこまります
  e.g., 犬にしなれてかなしいです
  e.g., 昨日友達に来られて勉強できなかった
  e.g., 雨に降られてしまった
そう / のよう

A1root + そうおいしそう
A1root + くなさそうおいしくなさそう
A2root + そうきれいそう
A2root + ではなさそうきれいではなさそう
N+ のよう先生のよう
N+ ではなさそう先生ではなさそう
V(ます form minus the ます) + そう
V(ます form minus the ます) + そうもありません
V-たいたそう / たそうもありません / たくなさそう
-たい acts like A1 adjective
Special Case: いい ⇒ よさそう / よくなさそう

Note: そう & のよう act as な-adj. Thus, そうだから or そうなので or そうなN or そうに…

X たまらない
Where X is:

A1root + くて
A2root + で
V-て form
N+ で

Note: verbs are not generally used with たまりません (with some exceptions for feeling verbs like のどがかわいて・おなかがすいて・つかれて)

_と_ vs. _-たら_
You can think of と as a subset of たら. Thus, wherever you would use と you could in theory also use たら (but might not sound natural). Basically, use と when a foregoing circumstance automatically results in the following consequence (thus you cannot use this form with an order, wish, request, invitation, command, etc.). と usually indicates a habitual or repeated situation and a plain form is used before と while the ending result statement is in the present tense. [Note: this last sentence is true for basic grammar but exceptions apply for more advanced grammar]  

Note: _ても_ is basically the opposite of _と_ (see below for のに vs. ても)
  e.g., つかれていてもお風呂(ふろ)に入ってよくねる元気になります
  – Even though I am tired, if I take a bath and have a good sleep, I feel better.
のに vs. でも (くても)
のに is basically でも + something strange, unexpected (contrary to what would normally happen), or unsatisfactory. You can use this form even if you provide the reason that explains why the result was strange or unexpected.
In this case あまり is like ―すぎる
  e.g., あまり飲むと病(びょう)気になります – If I drink too much I get sick
N で作る vs. N から作る
Use で to indicate what something is made from/with.Use から to imply that the ingredients or materials undergo a change of form (though note that in actual use, many Japanese prefer to use で to から even if the ingredients or materials undergo a change).
  e.g., この酒はこめから作ります / この人形はたけで作ります (たけ = bamboo)
N1 は (まるで) N2 のようです
まるで, which is used to stress the similarity of N1 and N2, can only be used in an affirmative form using ようです (i.e., can’t use with のようではありません)

Note: statement about using with affirmative form only applies to basic level grammar…
N1 は N2 とちがって_
This expression indicates that N1 and N2 are different.If the difference is one of quantity instead, use より/ほど.
V (dictionary form or plain past form) + ことにする vs. Vことになる
Use にする to indicate a decision made at one’s own will
Use になる to indicate a decision or change of circumstances that is generated in the course of one’s dealings with others.
V (present ―ます form)-なおす
This form indicates that one checks the results of one’s actions or corrects what has turned out to be imperfect. It is also used when one challenges again something which has proven difficult to understand.

Note: when using this form to indicate repeating an action you can only use it to repeat the same process (e.g., if you get a bad meal, you can’t say 持って来なおしてください). Also, note that if coffee is cold, you don’t say あたためなおしてください but rather コーヒーを入れなおしてください.
(Num) も
This expression indicates that the speaker feels that a number is large (see also しか).
Volitional Verb + と思う/思っています | Volitional Verb + とは思わない/思っていません
This form expresses what the speaker wishes, decides or plans to do.It is not quite as certain or strong as つもりです. Use思っています when the intention has been maintained over a period of time, 思う otherwise.

Note: 思っています can be used to give more strength to your expression and in such a case the above statement is not necessarily true. Also note that this explanation only applies to the form of 思う used for discussing plans, not the form used for discussing an opinion.
N1 のかわりに N2 | V1 かわりに V2
This expression indicates that one thing or action (N1/V1) is substituted for another (N2/V2).
  e.g., コーヒーがなかったのでコーヒーのかわりにこう茶を飲んだ
  e.g., 早く話したかったので、てがみを書くかわりに電話をした

Note: かわり acts as a noun (thus かわりの人 etc. is possible)
V (dictionary form) には (Q.W. –たらいいですか)
This is used to ask how to do something
  e.g., 安い辞書を買うにはどこで買ったらいいでしょうか


  • には is used instead of ために(は)
  • this form is not usually used when talking about yourself directly, but rather about general things or others (e.g., don’t say 私はPへ行くには…)
  • usually only use どうしたらいい when you have no idea what to do; in other words, if you can use a more specific question word, do so.
V (dictionary form or negative plain form) ようになりました
This form indicates a change in ability or situation.
  e.g., 日本語がよく話せるようになりました
  e.g., さいきん、家の前を車がたくさんはしるようになりました

Note: also remember:
A1 (root) –くなる
A2 (root) + になる
N + になる
N1 は N2 V-せる/-させる
This is the causative form indicating that a person (N2) is caused or allowed to do something by someone (N1). It is also used to indicate that someone is caused to have such feelings as joy, anger and sorrow.

Note: only intransitive verbs are used in this form (including those of feelings such as: よろこぶ / かなしむ / びっくりする / こまる, etc.).

N1 は N2 N3 を V-せる/-させる
This is the causative form indicating that a person (N2) is caused or allowed to do something in relation to an object (N3) by someone (N1).

Note: only transitive verbs are used in this form

V-せて/-させて ください
This form is used to suggest in a positive manner that one wants to do something.

Note: Regardless of the verb type (intransitive/transitive), に is used!
N について N
N について Verb/Adjective
N について

e.g., 日本についてまだよくしらない
e.g., かぞくについてのさくぶんはもうかきましたか
V (dictionary form) + ことがある vs.V (dictionary form) + ことはない vs.V (-ない form) +ことがある
V ことがある is used for things done occasionally or that occur in daily life

V ことはない is used when there is no (or almost no) possibility that a certain action will be undertaken, or that a particular thing will occur in daily life.

V-ないことがある is used to state that something sometimes or occasionally is not done or does not occur (as opposed to the fact that it normally does).
ていねい語 / 敬(けい)語
There is no rule per se BUT very often 訓(くん)読み words use the prefix お while 音(おん)読み words use the prefix ご. Also, you almost never use お or ご with 外来語 (カタカナ words) or proper nouns.

お + V (conjunctive form) になる [そんけい語]
This is the general form of a verb indicating respect for others. But note that some verbs have special polite forms and thus don’t adhere to this rule.

V-れる/られる [そんけい語]
This form (same as the passive form) may be used to express respect, though it is not as polite as the special and general forms of verbs indicating respect.This form is used with particular frequency in business-related conversations.
―ばー / ―ならー
This form is used to state something on the assumption that a certain act (placed before -ば/-なら) is performed or a certain condition is created.

Conjugating this verb form is easy because all three types of verbs are the same – just change the last syllable (verb ending) to its え form and add ば (e.g., あそべば / ふれば / たべれば / すれば / くれば).
For A1 adjectives, drop the い and add ければ.
For A2 adjectives, use the root (i.e. no な or だ) and add なら.Difference between –ば / –なら and –たら


  1. ば is used when the assumption relates to something that is not certain to happen in the future
  2. たら is also generally used if the latter half of a sentence contains an element relating to one’s will, such as a request, order, grant of permission, prohibition, etc.
This expression is used to indicate that a judgment or the performance of an action is not influenced by a particular factor.The condition is placed after いくら and the action or judgment is placed after ても.
  e.g., いくらやすくてもかいません – No matter how cheap it is, I wouldn’t buy it.
  e.g., いくらきれいな人でもこころのやさしい人でなければけっこんしません
  – No matter how pretty a girl is, if she doesn’t have a good heart I wouldn’t marry her

Note: this form doesn’t have to be used with a measurable quantity (note second example)
こんな + N
こんな + Adj./V

Same form for あんな / そんな as well

This form is often used when some amount of surprise (amazement, wonder, etc.) is involved; also used when good or bad experiences are involved, even if they are not a surprise.

Starting and continuing
Conjunctive form of the Verb (-ます form) + はじめる
Conjunctive form of the Verb (-ます form) + つづける


  1. NEVER use はじまる (can only use with はじめる)
  2. Note: if you use both 時間 and まで, then use まで first.
    e.g., しけんのために8:00まで10時間ずっと日本語を勉強しつづけたので
まだ… -て + いません vs. まだ… -ません/ました
If asked a question about whether you have completed an action, if you haven’t yet (but still could!) use -て + いません; but if the question is not about an action but a state of being (or it’s no longer possible to be accomplished), you just use the present or past form
  e.g., 食べましたか。いいえ、まだ食べていません
  e.g., (ダイエットのばあい)やせましたか。いいえ、まだやせません
でしょう vs. そう vs. よう vs. らしい vs. みたい vs. かなあ etc.

  1. かなあ – I guess; Don’t you think?
  2. かもしれません – This form (a plain form of a verb, A1 and A2 adjective, or noun comes first with だ omitted from the present tense of A1 and A2 adjectives and nouns) is used to express a hypothesis explaining some phenomenon when the speaker feels the hypothesis is equally likely to be true or false.
  3. でしょう – This form (a plain form of a verb, A1 and A2 adjective, or noun comes first with だ omitted from the present tense of A1 and A2 adjectives and nouns) is used to express a guess about other people or about what will happen in the future. It is also used when the speaker seeks confirmation from the listener of what the speaker thinks is natural or obvious.
  4. と思う ‐ This form (a plain form of a verb, A1 and A2 adjective, or noun comes first) is used when the speaker conjectures that something will occur or happens habitually.
  5. だろうと思います – This form (a plain form of a verb, A1 and A2 adjective, or noun comes first with だ omitted from the present tense of A1 and A2 adjectives and nouns) expresses the speaker’s guess. The degree of certainty is lower than that of ―思います and the degree of subjectivity is greater than that of らしい.
  6. そう/なさそう/のよう – use this form when you can see or hear the situation (can judge from appearances); should be based on feelings not active thought (e.g., you don’t really have to think to know that something looks delicious or sounds good).
  7. のよう – The main difference between this よう and the preceding よう is that this one draws a comparison that CANNOT possibly be true or exist whereas the preceding よう could actually be the case.
    e.g., この写真(しゃしん)はスイスのようです – This picture looks like it is Switzerland (could actually be)
    e.g., あそこのたまごのような形(かたち)をした建物(たてもの)です – That building over there shaped like an egg (no way a building is an egg…)
  8. Source / (person の話) によると + Statement + そうです is used to convey information that has been obtained from another person or source (e.g., newspaper, television, weather forecast). It is roughly equivalent to _ということをききました. The key here is that you aren’t adding your own ideas to this information (when you do you must then use らしい).
  9. らしい – this form is used when you have to think about a situation and draw a conclusion, based on a hint or some information obtained from another person/source (see above). In no case can you actually know whether what you surmise is true or not.
  10. みたい – this form is like よう except is more colloquial (everyday speech).
~たら vs. ~と vs. ~ば
Compare the following examples, all of which can be translated as If it snows, we can go skiing.

  1. 雪が降(ふ)ったらスキ-に行けます
  2. 雪が降(ふ)るとスキ-に行けます
  3. 雪が降(ふ)ればスキ-に行けます

Example 1 means something like, If or when it snows, we can go skiing.
Example 2 carries the connotation of, When(ever) it snows, we can go skiing.
However, Example 3 means something like, If and only if it snows, we can go skiing. It answers the underlying question, Under what condition will we be able to go skiing?

Person N を Verb
Person N を Verb (うけみ)

Note: This isn’t to say you need の if it is not an うけみ verb but rather that you CANNOT use it if it is.
Person 会う vs. Person 会う
Basically, you can usually use either に or と but there is a nuance difference.に implies that you go somewhere to meet the person whereas と implies you both go somewhere to meet (or the person comes to meet you).
ではなー vs. てなー

N/A2 だったらN/A2 でなかったら
N/A2 ならN/A2 でなければ
N/A2 とN/A2 でないと
Nuances of Word Usage and Similar Words

  1. ずっと is often used when making comparisons between things that differ largely
  2. -すぎる always has a (at least slightly) negative connotation.
  3. We don’t usually use ざんねん with a lack of action (not grammatically wrong, but just don’t use it much)
    e.g., 旅行(りょこう)ができないのでざんねんでたまりません (sounds unnatural)
  4. もどる vs. かえる – かえる implies a return to your home (or a place you feel you belong) whereas もどる is more general and mean to return to any place.
  5. しばらく vs. ひさしぶり – the former is less polite than the latter.
  6. すてき(な) vs. すばらしい – すてき is used when you see something and don’t have to really think about it to realize it is great whereas すばらしい usually implies some thought was required before drawing the conclusion.
    e.g., このにわはすてきです
    e.g., 山田さんの作文(さくぶん)はすばらしいです
  7. 見える vs. 見られる
  8. しゃべる vs. 話す
  9. たのむ vs. きく
  10. やる vs. する
  11. クラスに – 行く/出る/うける/入る
Useful/Interesting Expressions and Grammar Patterns

  1. Person/Thing はPerson/Group of People にんきがある
    e.g., Brad Pitt は 女の人 ににんきがある – Brad Pitt is popular with women
Miscellaneous Tidbits

  • ならう vs. 勉強する – ならう implies the use of a teacher or material but 勉強 can be done by yourself.
  • -たい and -ほしい act as A2 adjectives
  • use V-てしまう to express regret BUT don’t use V-てしまいません
  • Nすぎ acts as a noun BUT V-すぎる acts as a Type 2 verb
  • Profession しています – use this form to say what you do.
  • Place N が V – use for action verbs BUT
    X N を V-ます (X can be place, noun, question word, etc.)
    e.g., どこに名前を書きますか。このかみに書いてください
Examples of Tricky 助詞 (Particle) Usage

  1. きもののベルト「おび」といいます – A Kimono’s belt is called an “Obi”
  2. 山田さん日本に来るということをききました – I heard that Mr. Yamada is coming to Japan
  3. X 持っています
  4. often use が for quantity sentences. e.g., N1 は N2 Num います/あります.
  5. 出ます BUT 外出ます
  6. 会社働く BUT 会社つとめる
  7. ヘ vs. に – when you focus on a place as the goal/destination, use に, if the focus is on the direction of the action, use ヘ.
  8. しつもんこたえる
  9. 時間をかける
  10. お金をかける
  11. X うであがる where X is a sport, skill, etc. (note that the skills/sports where you can use this verb for is not always clear)
  12. erson は N/Person 入る(いる)
  13. あれには乗らないでください.C駅には止まりませんから
Other things to add, research, etc.

  1. times when you use ではなー vs. the times when you use でなー
  2. ずつ (page 115)
  3. ついでに (page 142)
  4. Place では vs. Place には
  5. Add そして and それに to それから and それで section above
  6. Add ばかり (after a noun) to しか vs. だけ section
  7. Add info on use of comma with について with and without a topic particle は
  8. Add よう from Yokoso book to section comparing with みたい etc.