Yookoso! — Book 1

Yookoso is a popular two-volume textbook that is used in many U. S. Universities’ Japanese language curriculum. Overall, they are solid books for learning the basic grammatical structure of Japanese but they are a bit heavy (literally not figuratively). Thus, I decided to compile the key points covered and make them available here on the Web. These notes correspond to the first volume in the series, Yookoso! An Invitation to Contemporary Japanese.

Caveat: These notes have not been checked for accuracy by any professional Japanese language educator. Since they were transcribed from the textbooks directly they should be more or less accurate, but I make no guarantee.

ようこそ Chapter 1: 文法 (ぶんぽう)

X は Y です – X is Y.
X は Y ではありません/じゃありません – X isn’t Y.
A ですか. B ですか – Is it A or B?
X の Y (です) – X’s Y; Y belongs to X.

ようこそ Chapter 2: 文法 (ぶんぽう)

X (inanimate) が ある (あります) – X exists; there is/are X.
X (inanimate) が ない (ありません) – X doesn’t exist; there is/are not X.
X (animate) が いる (います) – X exists; there is/are X.
X (animate) が いない (いません) – X doesn’t exist; there is/are not X.
  e.g., ここに本があります

N1 に N2 (inanimate) が Quantity ある (あります) – There is/are Quantity of N2 at/in N1.
N1 に N2 (inanimate) は Quantity ない (ありません) – There isn’t/aren’t Quantity of N2 at/in N1.
N1 に N2 (animate) が Quantity いる (います) – There is/are Quantity of N2 at/in N1.
N1 に N2 (animate) は Quantity いない (いません) – There isn’t/aren’t Quantity of N2 at/in N1.
  Used to state whether or not people or things exist at a certain place
  e.g., ここにアメリカ人は何人いますか

N1 (inanimate) は N2 に Quantity ある (あります) – There is/are Quantity of N1 at/in N2.
N1 (inanimate) は N2 に Quantity ない (ありません) – There isn’t/aren’t Quantity of N2 at/in N1.
N1 (animate) は N2 に Quantity いる (います) – There is/are Quantity of N1 at/in N2.
N1 (animate) は N2 に Quantity いない (いません) – There isn’t/aren’t Quantity of N2 at/in N1.
  Used to state where people or things exist
  e.g., 学生はここに三人います

N の Positional Word – location phrases (e.g., 机の上の本です – the book on top of the desk).

When these location phrases are used as the location with existential verbs, they are followed by the particle に.
  e.g., 机の上に本があります – There is a book on the desk

ようこそ Chapter 3: 文法 (ぶんぽう)

Japanese Date System

天皇 (てんのう) – Emperor
年号 (ねんごう) – auspicious name an emperor chooses to be known as after he dies; serves as the basis for the traditional Japanese date system.
  明治 (めいじ) “bright” rule (1868-1912)
  大正 (たいしょう) – “great righteousness” (1912-late 1926)
  昭和 (しょうわ) – “shining peace” (late 1926-early 1989)
  平成 (へいせい) – “peace growing (1989-)

Japanese Verbs

3 types (each type consists of two parts, a root and an ending)

Class 1 – the endings of this class are variable but always end in one of the syllables in the う-column of the hiragana syllabary
Class 2 – this class always ends in る.
Class 3 – two verbs only (くる, する)

General rule (NOT foolproof) – if root ends in い-column or え-column of the hiragana syllabary it is Class2

Note: there are exceptions to the rule: e.g., 切る (きる – to cut), 知る (しる – to know), 帰る (かえる – to go back), 走る (はしる – to run), 入る (はいる – to enter)

The three primary meanings expressed in every Japanese verb form are tense, politeness, and affirmation/negation (in addition, different grammatical elements are added to the end of verb forms to express such meanings as ability, and probability). Japanese verbs do not conjugate in terms of the person and number of the subject. The dictionary form of Japanese verbs is the nonpast, plain, affirmative form.

Nonpast, negative form:

Class 1informalformal (change to ます for affirmative polite)
(e.g., かく ⇒ かかなあい)
(e.g., かく ⇒ かきません)
(e.g., はなす ⇒ はなさない)
(e.g., はなす ⇒ はなしません)
(e.g., まつ ⇒ またない)
(e.g., まつ ⇒ まちません)
(e.g., よむ ⇒ よまない)
(e.g., よむ ⇒ よみません)
(e.g., およぐ ⇒ およがない)
(e.g., およぐ ⇒ およぎません)
(e.g., かう ⇒ かわない)
(e.g., かう ⇒ かいません)

Class 2informalformal
(e.g., 食べる ⇒ 食べない)
(e.g., 食べる ⇒ 食べません)

Class 3informalformal

Past, negative form:

Class 1informalformal, affirmativeformal, negative
(e.g., かく ⇒ かかなかった)
(e.g., かきました)
(e.g., かきませんでした)
(e.g., はなす ⇒ はなさなかった)
(e.g., はなした)
(e.g., はなしませんでした)
(e.g., まつ ⇒ またなかった)
(e.g., まちました)
(e.g., まちませんでした)
(e.g., よむ ⇒ よまなかった)
(e.g., よみました)
(e.g., よみませんでした)
(e.g., およぐ ⇒ およがなかった)
(e.g., およぎました)
(e.g., およぎませんでした)
(e.g., かう ⇒ かわなかった)
(e.g., かいました)
(e.g., かいませんでした)

Class 2informalformal, affirmativeformal, negative
(e.g., 食べる ⇒ 食べなかった)
(e.g., 食べました)
(e.g., 食べませんでした)

Class 3informalformal, affirmativeformal, negative


が / は
は is the topic particle, and is used to introduce a general topic or to refer to a topic already in discussion; が is the subject particle, and is used to shift emphasis to the subject it follows. The difference is very confusing and takes time and exposure to master.

Note: only が can be used to answer a direct question that uses it
 e.g., だれがアメリカ人ですか. 私がアメリカ人です.

  1. follows a direct object (something or someone directly affected by the action of a verb).
    e.g., 私は朝ごはんをたべます – I will eat breakfast.
  2. indicates a place or object from which something or someone leaves. In this usage, it carries the sense of from or out of.
    e.g., 午前8侍に家を出ます– I leave home at 8 a. m.
  3. indicates a place that something moves over, along or through
    e.g., はしをわたりました – I crossed the bridge; みちをあるいてください – walk down the street

  1. oint in time (at, on, in) – (e.g., 1975年に生まれました – I was born in 1975)
    Note: only time words with a specific name or number (6:00, Tuesday, etc. ) take に. Words indicating relative time (today, next year, etc. ) and those indicating duration (thirty minutes, five days, etc. ) do not take に.
  2. Location or existence (e.g., そこに銀行があります; 山田さんはどこにいますか)
  3. urpose (for, in order to) when the verb is 行く or 来る – (e.g., 昨日デパ-トへ買いものに行ました)
  4. Direction of an action (e.g., 電車にのります; お風呂 (ふろ)に入ります)

marks the direction toward which an action movies. While に marks movement toward a specific place, へ indicates motion in a general direction. However, the difference is unimportant in many cases, and the two particles are often interchangeable. (e.g., 明日東京へ行きます)

  1. marks the location where an action takes place
    e.g., 図書館で勉強します – I will study at the library
  2. marks the instrument used to carry out an action
    e.g., ナイフでりんごを切りました – I cut the apple with a knife
  3. marks the reason or cause of an action
    e.g., 今, ビジネスでロサンゼルスにいます – I am in Los Angeles now for business

expresses starting point in space or time (from)
  e.g., 東京から京都まで新幹線でいきます – I will go from Tokyo to Kyoto via the Shinkansen

means too/both/as well as or as much (many) as; when placed after a regular noun or pronoun, it usually means too. When this particle is used in the subject or direct object position, it replaces は, が, or を. But it follows other particles, resulting in such combinations as にも, からも, までも, でも, and へも.
  e.g., アメリカからも学生がきました – students came from the U. . too
  e.g., 先週のパ-テ-には300人も来ました – As many as 300 people came to last week’s party

means together with; is used with nouns or pronouns, not adjectives, adverbs, verbs or sentences.
  e.g., ブラウンさんと映画へいきました – I went to the movies with Mrs. Brown

Word Order Free nature of Japanese language

Japanese is sometimes called a “word order free” language because its word order is not so strictly fixed as in English. asically, even if you move a word or a phrase around as long as it is followed by a particle you can tell its grammatical function. Nevertheless, a natural word order does exist in Japanese:
  N は/が (time) (place) (indirect object) (direct object) V.

Making Suggesions ~ましょう

The polite, volitional form of a verb (ましょう) is used to suggest, propose or invite, offer to do something for someone, or express one’s own volition; make this form by replacing ます with ましょう.
Note: because this form expresses the speaker’s volition, without consideration to the hearer’s preferences, it tends to sound somewhat pushy and forceful. It is more polite to use the nonpast, polite, negative form of a verb + か when inviting someone to do something together or when making a suggestion. Also, when the first person subject is expressed explicitly (私は) in a volitional context (e.g., I will call Mr. Tanaka), it implies that “I but not anyone else” will do something.

と vs. や

と (and) is used to enumerate all objects that exist in a certain place or all objects that belong to a certain category, while や (and things like that) is used to list only representative objects. Thus, と is exhaustive and や is not.

ようこそ Chapter 4: 文法 (ぶんぽう)

Conjugating Adjectives

i-adjectives (dictionary form = root + い)

Past/NonpastAff. /Neg.PlainPolite
nonpastaffirmativeroot + い (e.g., さむい)plain + です (さむいです)
nonpastnegativeroot + く+ ない
plain + です
– OR –
く + ありません (さむくないです | さむくありません)
pastaffirmativeroot + かった
plain past + です (さむかったです)
pastnegativeroot + く + なかった
plain past (neg. ) + です
– OR –
root + く+ありませんでした

Note: ないです expresses a stronger level of negation than ありません

na-adjectives (dictionary form = root = adjective without the na)

Past/NonpastAff. /Neg.PlainPolite
nonpastaffirmativeroot + だ
(e.g., しずかだ)
root + です
(e.g., しずかです)
nonpastnegativeroot + ではない
(e.g., しずかではない)
– OR –
root + じゃない
(e.g., しずかじゃない)
root + ではありません
(e.g., しずかではありません)
– OR –
root + じゃありません
(e.g., しずかじゃありません)
pastaffirmativeroot + だった
(e.g., しずかだった)
root + でした
(e.g., しずかでした)
pastnegativeroot + ではなかった
(e.g., しずかではなかった)
– OR –
root + じゃなかった
(e.g., しずかじゃなかった)
root + ではありませんでした
(e.g., しずかではありませんでした)
– OR –
root + じゃありませんでした
(e.g., しずかじゃありませんでした)

Comparatives and Superlatives

X は Y より + adjective or (adverb + verb)
  – X is more. . . adjective. . . than Y | X does/verb more. . . adverb. . . than Y
  e.g., 今年の冬は去年の冬より雨がたくさんふりました – It rained more this winter than last winter

X と Y と どちら (のほう) が + adj. or (adverb + verb)
  – Which is more. . . adjective. . . X orY? | Which does/verb more. . . adverb. . . X orY?
  e.g., 山田先生と高田先生とどちらのほうがきびしいですか – Who is stricter – Prof. Yamada or Prof. Takada?

X (のほう) が + adjective or (adverb + verb)
  – X is more. . . adjective | X does/verb. . . adverb. . . more
  e.g., 山田先生のほうがきびしいです – Professor Yamada is stricter

X と Y と Z の(中/うち)で X が 一播 + adjective
  – X is the most. . . adj. . . . among X, Y, and Z

X と Y と Z の(中/うち)で X が 一播 + (adverb + verb)
  – X does/verb the most. . . adverb. . . among X, Y and Z
  e.g., ビ-ルとジュ-スとコ-ラの中でコ-ラを一番よく飲みます – Among beer, juice & cola, I drink cola most often

X は Y と同(おな)じぐらい + adjective or (adverb + verb)
  – X is about the same as Y with regard to. . .
  e.g., 町田さんは林さんと同じぐらいよくここに来ます – Ms. Machida comes here about as often as Mr. Hayashi)

X は Y ほど+ negative adjective or (adverb + negative verb)
  – X is/does not. . . adjective/adverb. . . as Y
  e.g., あの人はチンさんほどはやく話しません – That person doesn’t talk as fast as Ms. Chin

Past, plain form of verbs

Class 1depends on the ending of the dictionary form:
く ⇒ いた (かく(to write) ⇒ かいた)
ぐ ⇒ いだ (およぐ(to swim) ⇒ およいだ)
う / つ / る ⇒ った (かう ⇒ かった; まつ ⇒ まった; のる ⇒ のった)
む / ぬ / ぶ ⇒ んだ (よむ ⇒ よんだ; しぬ ⇒ しんだ; よぶ ⇒ よんだ)
す ⇒ した (話す ⇒ 話した)
Note: one major exception is 行く ⇒ いった
Class 2root + た – (e.g., 食べた)
Class 3する ⇒ した; くる ⇒ きた

Explaining a Reason. . . のだ

Sentences ending in のだ (polite form のです) explain the reason for some event or information known to both speaker and hearer. In colloquial speech んだ (polite form んです) commonly replaces のだ (のです).

In the first sentence, the speaker has no idea whether or not the listener feels cold. Therefore it is simply a straightforward question. In the second, the speaker assumes the listener is cold (for example, he is shivering). The second sentence, then, asks for an explanation. imilarly, if you see a friend getting ready to do something, it would be more natural to ask 何をするんですか than なにをしますか because his/her preparations are shared between you.

Verbs, adjectives and nouns may precede this construction. In the case of verbs and i-adjectives, the plain form is used. In the case of nouns or nonpast, affirmative na-adjectives, な precedes のです(んです)
  e.g., なぜかおがあかいんですか – Why is your face red?
  e.g., 林さんは学生ではないんですか – Isn’t Mr. Hayashi a student?
  e.g., 山田さんはどうしてゆうめいなんですか – Why is Mr. Yamada famous?

て-Form of adjectives

The te-form of adjectives is used to link together adjectives or whole clauses in a sentence, as and is used in English. This form can only be used when adjectives are in a nonfinal postion in a sentence.
i-adjectives: create the te-form by adding to くて to the root – e.g., あかくて – red.
na-adjectives: create the te-form by で to the root (dictionary form) – e.g., しずかで

Note: When you conjoin two or more adjectives this way, they must be all favorable or unfavorable in meaning.

To conjoin nouns, use the te-form of the copula (です) which is で.
  e.g., 町田さんは日本人で, 東京のしゅっしんです – Mr. Machida is Japanese and is from Tokyo
The te-form of the copula can also be used to explain a reason or cause for what follows
  e.g., びょうきで, クラスを休みました – I was sick so I missed class

て-Form of verbs

The te-form of verbs is easy – just change the た in the plain, past tense to て.
You can use this form for many purposes. One of them is to conjoin sequential actions. Do this by using the te-form + から.
  e.g., ブランさんに会ってから, 話しましょう – Let’s talk about it after we meet Ms. Brown
Like the te-form of the copula, the te-form of a verb can be used to express a cause and effect relationship where the first clause explains a reason for the second. You will have to determine from context whether such a causal connection is intended.
  e.g., ねぼうして, 学校におくれた – I overslept and so I was late for school

Expressing Probability and Conjecture – でしょう / かもしれません

There are many ways to express conjecture or uncertainty in Japanese. Two of the most common are でしょう (plain form だろう) and かもしれません (plain form かもしれなあい). The major difference is that かもしれません expresses a greater degree of uncertainty.
  ジョンソンさんは日本語がわかるでしょう – Mr. Johnson probably understands Japanese
  ジョンソンさんは日本語がわかるかもしれません – Mr. Johnson may understand Japanese
Note: if making a conjecture about yourself, always use かもしれません.

To form the construction:

Preceding WordPast/NonpastAff. /Neg.Construction
NounnonpastaffirmativeNoun +  でしょう (だろう) / かもしれません (かもしれない)
NounnonpastnegativeNoun + ではない + でしょう / かもしれません
NounpastaffirmativeNoun + だった + でしょう / かもしれません
NounpastnegativeNoun + ではなかった + でしょう / かもしれません
i-adjectivenonpastaffirmativedictionary form + でしょう / かもしれません
i-adjectivenonpastnegativenonpast, plain form + でしょう / かもしれません
i-adjectivepastaffirmativepast, plain + でしょう / かもしれません
i-adjectivepastnegativepast, plan, negative + でしょう / かもしれません
na-adjectivenonpastaffirmativedictionary form + でしょう / かもしれません
na-adjectivenonpastnegativedictionary form + ではない + でしょう / かもしれません
na-adjectivepastaffirmativepast, plain + でしょう / かもしれません
na-adjectivepastnegativepast, plain, negative + でしょう / かもしれません
verbnonpastaffirmativedictionary form + でしょう / かもしれません
verbnonpastnegativenonpast, plain, negative form + でしょう / かもしれません
verbpastaffirmativepast, plain + でしょう / かもしれません
verbpastnegativepast, plain, negative + でしょう / かもしれません

でしょう/かもしれません phrases are often accompanied by adverbs expressing degrees of certainty. ome examples include:
  多分 (たぶん) – probably
  おそらく – possibly, in all likelihood
  きっと – certainly, surely

Because of the strong probability expressed by きっと, it cannot be used with かもしれません.
  e.g., かれはおそらく本田さんに電話をかけるでしょう – Most likely, he will call Mr. Honda

ようこそ Chapter 5: 文法 (ぶんぽう)

By appending the particles か, も or でも to an interrogative (question word), you can express a whole range of meanings:

  1. An interrogative followed by か yields a word meaning some. . .
  2. An interrogative followed by も means every. . . in affirmative sentences; it means no. . . in negative sentences
  3. An interrogative followed by でも means any, what/who/which. . . ever.
Interrogative+か+も (Affirmative sentences)+も (Neg. sentences)+でも
みんな, みな, 全て (すべて), 全部(ぜんぶ)
anything (and everything), whatever
だれ / どなただれか/どなたか
みんな, みな, みなさん
だれも / どなたも
no one
だれでも / どなたでも
anyone, whoever
anytime, whenever
anywhere, wherever
one of them
every one, everything
none of them
any of them, whichever one
either of two
both of them
neither of them
either of them, whichever of the two

When the particles に, へ, から and まで are part of a sentence containing the interrogative + か/も/でも construction, they fall between the interrogative and も or でも.
  e.g., どこかへ行ましたか. – いいえ, どこへも行きませんでした.
  – Did you go somewhere? No, I didn’t go anywhere.

The を particle is dropped whenever this construction is used.
  e.g., 何を見ますか. – 何でも見ます.
  – What will you see? I’m going to see everything.

When expessing skills, ability/potential, likes/dislikes, understanding, use the particle が instead of を.
  e.g., 日本語が上手です – I am good at Japanese

Generally, only nouns, pronouns, noun phrases and noun-like elements can be used in the subject and object positions of a sentence. When you would like to use verbs and adjectives in those positions, you must change them into noun phrases. To do so, use こと and/or の (these are called nominalizers). Add one to the plain form of a verb or adjective to form a noun phrase.

Formation: Plain form of verb, i-adjective, or na-adjective (i. e. include the na) + こと or の
  e.g., その町がきれいなのは有名 (ゆうめい) です – It’s well known that that town is pretty.

The difference between こと and の is that の is used in sentences that express something subjective and こと is used when talking about something more generally or objectively.
  e.g., 日本語を話すのはやさしいです – Speaking Japanese is easy
  e.g., 日本語を話すことはやさしいです – Speaking Japanese is easy

The first sentence implies that the speaker is basing the observation on personal experience whereas the second simply makes a generally known observation that Japanese is easy to write (compared, say, to writing it). For this reason, こと sometimes sounds a bit formal or bookish. In many contexts, you can use either こと or の with little difference in meaning other than that just mentioned. In some contexts, however, only こと or の can be used.

In the following sentence, の must be used, because the statement involves the speaker’s direct perception.
  e.g., 私は父がお酒を飲むのを見ていた – I was watching my father drink sake.

Whereas this next sentence expresses a general fact, so only こと can be used.
  e.g., 見ることは信 (しん)じることです – Seeing is believing.

A も B も means both A and B or A as well as B in affirmative sentence and (n)either A (n)or B in negative sentences.
  e.g., ここは春も夏も秋も雨がたくさんふる – It rains a lot here in spring, summer, and fall as well.

Numeral + counter + も means as much as or as many as the stated quantity; in other words, the number is higher than the speaker expected or more than usual. When this form is used in negative sentences, the implication is the opposite: the number is smaller than expected, not even the stated quantity.
  e.g., 先週のパ-ティ-には300人も来た – As many as 300 people came to last week’s party

In Japanese, there are two ways to express ability or potential. Both correspond to the English auxilliary verb can.

  1. Dictionary form of very + ことができる
  2. Conjugated form of the verb.
    For Class 1 verbs, take the root + the e-column hiragana corresponding to the dictionary ending + る
    For Class 2 verbs, take the root + られる
    Class 3 – くる ⇒ 来られる / する ⇒ できる
    Once formed, conjugate just like a Class 2 verb

In sentences using the potential form of verbs, the direct object can be marked with either が or を. Thus
are both grammatically correct. In general, Japanese speakers tend to prefer が in most contexts.

The particle か, used between two nouns, means or.
  e.g., ジュ-スかコ-ラ-を飲みませんか – would you like some juice or cola?

て-form + auxiliary verb います(いる) can be used to express these two meanings:

  1. A continuing action at a certain point in time
  2. A state or condition that was created by a previous action or event and that is still maintained at a certain point in time.


  • If the verb indicates an action that can continue once started, such as 食べる, it has the first meaning.
  • When the verb indicates an action that is noncontinuous, such as 知る (to come to know) or 晴れる (to clear up), it has the second meaning.
  • When movement verbs such as 行く, 来る, 帰る, 入る, and 出る are used in this construction, the second meaning is expressed.
  • Sometimes either meaning is possible. Examples include: 着る(きる), 取る(とる), おぼえる
    e.g., その大学生は日本語のたんごをおぼえています
    – Those students are memorizing Japanese words (now)
    – Those students know (have memorized / remember) Japanese words
  • Sometimes this construction is used to express a habitual action, one that takes place repeatedly
    e.g., 私は毎日ジョキングをします (simply states fact that I jog every day)
    e.g., 私は毎日ジョキングをしています (emphasizes that jogging is part of my daily activities)
    The difference between these sentences and regular, nonpast sentences is that these emphasize the habitual nature of the action(s).

When you are asked whether you have finished doing something and you have not done so, you will answer using the て-いる form. If you have already done so, answer using the regular past tense form.
  e.g., 昼ごはんをもう食べましたか. -いいえ, まだ食べていません

When a whole clause modifies a noun, the clause usually takes the form of a relative clause. In English, the relative clause follows the noun it modifies (e.g., the person who came here yesterday). Japanese relative clauses, like their English counterparts, modify nouns. However, there are some differences:

  1. Relative clauses in Japanese precede nouns that they modify.
  2. There are no relative pronouns or adverbs required in Japanese. Relative clauses directly precede the nouns they modify.

e.g., 私が昨日食べたピザはおいしかったです – The pizza I ate yesterday was delicious.


  • Always use plain form of verbs in clauses
  • The possesive marker の is often substituted for the subject particle が in relative clauses and other noun-modifying clauses
  • The topic particle は is not used within relative clauses

To describe a change in state, use the verb なります (なる)

nounなります (なる)
na-adjective rootなります (なる)
i-adjective rootなります (なる)

ので – because. . .

noun ⇒nounなので
na-adjective ⇒rootなので
i-adjective ⇒i-adjectiveので
Verb ⇒informal form of verbので

ようこそ Chapter 6: 文法 (ぶんぽう)

た-form + ことがある (ことがあります)

This form is used to express past experiences, with a meaning of to have (done something) before, to have (done something) once or literally, to have the experience of having (done something).

Notice the difference between this construction and the simple past:
  e.g., 三年前ダイエットしました
  e.g., 三年前ダイエットしたことがあります

The first sentence describes the speaker’s diet simply as a past event – I was on a diet 3 years ago.
The second sentence describes the diet as an experience the speaker had at some time in his life (3 years ago).

Express a lack of experience by using the negative forms of ある
Note: you cannot use this construction with words indicating the recent past

Some speakers may use the sentence-final particle な (あ) to express the speaker’s emotion directly, to try to convince others, to confirm another’s opinion, to express a wish, and so forth.

~ほしい / ~ほしがる

In Japanese, there is no single verb meaning to want (as in I want a new car). Instead you must choose betwewen two constructions, depending on who is doing the wanting.
  (a) X は + Y が + ほしい – X wants Y
  (b) X は + Y を + ほしがる – X wants Y

Construction (a) is used when expressing one’s own desire or when directly asking another person about his or her desire. ほしい is an i-adjective and conjugates as such (e.g., 今, コ-ヒ-はほしくありません – I don’t want any coffee now).

Construction (b) is used when discussing a third person’s desire. ほしがる is a class 1 verb. The te-form of ほしがる + いる (ほしがっている) is used when expressing a current desire, whereas the nonpast form (ほしがる) expresses a longer term desire.
  e.g., 林さんはもっと本をほしがっています – Mr. Hayashi wants more books
  e.g., 妹はあまりお金をほしがらない – My younger sister doesn’t want money very much

Note: the object of desire is marked with が in sentences using the predicate ほしい and with を in those using ほしがる (e.g., 私は新しい車がほしい).


In general, to describe someone else’s emotional state (since you can’t know it for sure) you can attach ~がる to the root of an adjective to mean has the appearance of or appears to (be). Thus, when you are lonely, you say さびしいです, but when someone else is lonely you say さびしがっています.

~たい / ~たがる

Similar to the ほしい / ほしがる pair is the pair of patterns used to express to want to (do something)
  (a) X は + Y が/を + conjunctive form of verb + たい
  (b) X は + Y を + conjunctive form of verb + たがる
Note: the direct object of the verb is marked with が or を in sentences using たい and only with を in those using たがる.

The ~たい form is often used to ask permission. For instance:
  このコンピュ-タを使(つか)いたいのですが – I want to use this computer, but. . . (is it OK?)
  中に入りたいですが,よろしいですか – I would like to go inside, but is that all right?

The difference between ~たがる and ~たがっている is the same as for ~ほしがる / ~ほしがっている

Note: In Japanese, it is often considered rude to ask someone what he or she desires directly (especially when addressing superiors). Thus, instead of asking すきやきが食べたいですか you would probably say すきやきはいかがですか or すきやきを食べませんか.

Expressing an opinion. . . と思う (おもう)

An opinion can be expressed with the following construction, which means to think (that). 思う is a class 1 verb.

Plain form of verb, adjective, or copula + と思う(思います)

To ask for someone’s opinion, say … ()どう思いますか (What do you think about…?) [note the particle!]


To add the meaning too much or excessively to a verb or adjective, add the verb すぎる to the appropriate form. すぎる is a class 2 verb meaning to exceed.

Conjunctive Form + すぎるRoot + すぎるRoot (Dictionary Form) + すぎる
飲む ⇒ 飲みむずかしい ⇒ むずかししずか(な) ⇒ しずか
食べる ⇒ 食べ大きい ⇒ 大きはで(な) ⇒ はで
する ⇒ し  
来る ⇒ 来(き)  

Quoting Speech

The verb 言う (いう) is used in the following construction to say what something or someone is called or named.
(A は) + X を + Y と + いう(いいます) – A calls X Y

Note: In this usage, the verb is not written in kanji.

Use the same verb to make a noun phrase meaning X called (or named) Y ⇒ Y + という + X
  e.g., 東京大学というだいがく – A/The university called Tokyo University

Note: In colloquial speech, という very often changes to . . . っていう

Quote Marker と

The particle と is called a quote market and is used to mark the end of a quotation. In addition, it indicates the content of thinking (… と思う), writing (… と書く), and hearing (… と聞く).

There are two ways to quote someone’s words – direct quotation and indirect quotation. Direct quotations take the following structure:
「」, と言う (or some other communication verb)
Note: 「」 (called かぎかっこ) are equivalent to quotation marks
  e.g.,「早く起きて下さい」と山口さんはいいました. – Mr. Yamaguchi said, “Please get up early.”

Indirect quotations take the following structure:
Clause ending in a plain form of verb, adjective or copula + と言う (or other verb of communication)

No quotation marks are used, and only the plain form of a verb, adjective, or the copula can be used in front of と in this case.
  e.g., 三村さんは明日来ると言いました – Mr. Mimura said he will come tomorrow

Note: When the subject of the clause preceding と言う is in the third person, and the tense of 言う is nonpast, it is better to use 言っている

Some communication verbs often used in these constructions are 言う (to say, to tell), 伝(つた)える (to convey), 述(の)べる (to state), 聞く (to hear, to ask), and 話す (to speak).

Expressing Intention: つもり and the Volitional Form of Verbs

Dictionary form of verb + つもり だ/です – to intend to… or to plan to…
Dictionary form of verb + つもり だった/でした – intended to… or planned to…
Dictionary form of verb + つもりはない (ありません) – to have no intention of (doing)…
nai form of verb + つもり だ/です – to intend not to (do)…

  you can only use つもり when talking about your own plans (others’ plans use よてい)
  you should use おつもり when talking to superiors

Plain, volitional form of verb + と思う(思います) – to think one will (do)… or to think of (doing)…
Note: with the volitional construction the intention is weaker and more tentative

The plain, volitional form of verbs is formed in the following way:

Class 1 VerbsClass 2 VerbsClass 3 Verbs
Root + the o-column hiragana corresponding to the
dictionary ending + う
Root + ようIrregular
買う ⇒ 買おう
書く ⇒ 書こう
話す ⇒ 話そう
立つ ⇒ 立とう
死ぬ ⇒ 死のう
読む ⇒ 読もう
乗る ⇒ 乗ろう
泳ぐ ⇒ 泳ごう
食べる ⇒ 食べよう
見る ⇒ 見よう
する ⇒ しよう
来る ⇒ 来よう

The polite, volitional form of verbs is what you know as the ~ましょう form of verbs

Note: When you have had an intention for some time, use the volitional form of a verb + と思っている rather than と思います.

The て form + Verbs みる, しまう, いく, くる

  • て + みる ⇒ to do (something) in order to see what happens or what it’s like; to try (something), to give (something) a try, to sample (something)
  • て + しまう ⇒ to finish doing (something); focused on the completed state of an action or event; this construction sometimes implies that something happened that should not have happened or someone did something that should not have been done. In these cases, this construction implies the speaker’s or the agent’s regret.
  • て + いく
    1. to do something and then leave that place;
    2. to do something in a direction moving away from the speaker’s or subject’s current location (or location before the action began)
    3. ome currently ongoing action or state will keep changing into the future
      e.g., この映画はこれから面白く(おもしろく)なっていきます
      – this movie will get interesting from this point on
  • て + くる
    1. to do something and then come toward the speaker;
    2. to do something in a direction moving toward the speaker’s current location
    3. some action or event begins or is in progress
      e.g.,私は少し日本語がわかってきました – I have started understanding Japanese a little

Note: Both て + いく and て + くる express ongoing actions or events; くる is more subjective and personal whereas いく is more objective and impersonal (in other words, くる indicates more physical or psychological involvement on the part of the speaker)

もう and まだ

もうalready, yet(not) anymore, any longer
まだstillnot yet

Expressing Simultaneous Actions: ~ながら

Clause 1 + conjunctive form of a verb + ながら + Clause 2

Note: the agent of the two actions must be identical. Thus, although you can use this construction to say ‘While studying, I ate’, you cannot use it to say ‘While my wife was talking on the phone, I was cooking dinner. ‘

Also note that in English, the clause beginning with while (the subordinate action) usually comes last.
  e.g., 外(そと)のけしきを見ながら, 食べられます – We can eat while looking at the scenery outside

ようこそ Chapter 7: 文法 (ぶんぽう)

Temporal clauses ending in 時 (とき)

Part of Speech時 Clause FormationExample
NounsNoun + の + 時子供(こども)の時,アメリカに行ったことがあります
– When I was a child, I went to America
i-adjectivesDictionary form + 時今度(こんど)肉が安い(やすい)時, すきやきを作(つく)りましょう
– Let’s make sukiyaki some other (lit. next) time when meat is inexpensive
na-adjectivesAdjective + な + 時暇(ひま)な時, また来ます
– When I am free, I will come here again
verbsDictionary form
(nonpast, plain) + 時

Ta-form (past, plain) + 時

テニスをする時は, 教(おし)えて 下さい
– Please let me know when you are going to play tennis

京都(きょうと)へ行った時, この絵(え)を買いました
– I bought this picture when I went to Kyoto

Note: 時 is often written in the hiragana とき whenever it means when, in the case that.

The nonpast form is used when the action or event of the main clause has not been completed. It also may mean whenever.
  e.g., 東京へ行く時, 新幹線(しんかんせん)にのりました – On the way to Tokyo, I rode the bullet train
  e.g., 買い物(もの)をする時, クレジットカ-ドを使います – Whenever I shop, I use a credit card

On the other hand, the past form is used for an action or event that has been completed when the action or event in the main clause takes place.
  e.g., 東京へ行った時, ブラウンさんに会うつもりです
  – When I am in Tokyo (lit. When I have gone to [and am still in]), I plan to see Ms. Brown

The reason that the past form is used here is that the action of going to Tokyo must be completed before the speaker is able to see Ms. Brown. The choice between past and nonpast is determined by the temporal relationship between the action in the first clause and the action in the second clause. The use of a past verb does not necessarily mean the action has already occurred.

Note: when the 時 clause indicates a specific time, the particle に is used

Since 時 is a noun, it can be modified by such demonstrative adjectives as この, そんな, どんな etc.

いつ is used to elicit the specific time when something happens or occurs. The phrases どんな時 and どのような時 (lit. what kind of time) are used to ask when less specifically.

Indefinite Pronoun の

The indefinite pronoun の, which must be used after adjectives or relative clauses, means one or ones. In other words, it replaces a noun or refers to a person, thing, concept, etc. , that is clear from the context.

i-adjectivesplain form+ の
na-adjectivesdictionary form + な/だった+ の
verbsplain form+ の
copula(だ) な or だった+ の

e.g., どれでも好きなのを取(と)って下さい – Please take anything you like (lit. whichever ones you like)
e.g., クラスの中で, アメリカ人なのは私だけです – I am the only American in my class

Possessive vs. Indefinite Pronoun vs. Nominalizer

  • Possesive – ブラウンさんのネックレスはきれいですね ⇒ ブラウンさんのはきれいですね – Her (Ms. Brown’s) necklace is pretty, isn’t it?
  • Indefinite Pronoun – くろいくつがほしいです ⇒ くろいのがほしです – I want black ones (shoes)
  • Nominalizer – ギブソンさんがくるまを買ったのを知っていますか – Did you know Ms. Gibson bought a car?

Making If-Then Statements: The たら Conditional

Affirmativethe past, plain form (verbs, i-adj, na-adj, copula) + ら + resultant clause
Negativethe past, plain negative form (verbs, i-adj, na-adj, copula) + ら + resultant clause

The conditional clause if often preceded by もしも or, more commonly, もし (if, supposing), both of which emphasize the suppositional nature of the clause.
  e.g., もし暑(あつ)かったら, 窓(まど)を開(あ)けて下さい – If you are hot, please open the window

This conditional is typically used when the resultant clause expresses a request, suggestion, permission, volition, or prohibition. It may be used to express a hypothetical situation.
  e.g., 買い物から帰(かえ)ったら, 勉強しましょう – Let’s study after we return from shopping
  e.g., お金があったら, いいコンピュ-タ-をかいたい – If I had money, I would like to buy a good computer

This conditional may be used to indicate actual (i. e. not hypothetical) sequences of actions or events. The resultant clause is commonly in the past tense. When used in this sense, ~たら is similar to when.
  e.g., 林さんのアパ-トへ行ったら, ギブソンさんがいた
  – When I went to Mr. Hayashi’s apartment, Ms. Gibson was there.

The expression ~たらいい can be used to express a wish, regret, suggestion, etc.
  e.g., 明日は晴(は)れたらいいですね – I hope the weather will be good tomorrow

Clothing Note:

Japanese use different verbs meaning to put on or wear, depending on which part of the body the clothing is worn:

Part of BodyTo Put On or WearTo Take Off
Torso着る (きる)脱ぐ (ぬぐ)
Legs or feetはく脱ぐ (ぬぐ)
Headかぶる脱ぐ (ぬぐ), 取る (とる)
Accessoriesする取る (とる), はずす
Hands or fingersはめる取る (とる), はずす

Using the Particle に to Express Purpose

In the following construction the particle に expresses purpose, corresponding to to or in order to in English
Conjunctive form of a verb (i. e. stem of masu form) + the particle に + motion verb (e.g., 行く, 来る, もどる, 出る)
  e.g., ブラウンさんは何をしに来たのですか – Why did Mr. Brown come here?
  e.g., 服(ふく)を着替(きが)えに, アパ-トに帰えりました – I returned to my apartment to change clothes

Reporting Hearsay: … そうだ

Here is one way to report hearsay, that is, information you have heard secondhand

i-adjectivesplain forms+ そうだ(です)
na-adjectivesdictionary form + だ/だった+ そうだ(です)
verbsplain forms+ そうだ(です)
copulaplain forms+ そうだ(です)

I hear(d) that, they say that, it is said that…
  e.g., 東京の地下鉄(ちかてつ)は便利(べんり)だそうです – It is said that subways in Tokyo are convenient
  e.g., 林さんはレコ-ド屋(や)でチンさんに会ったそうです – I heard that Mr. Hayashi met Ms. Chin in a record store

To clarify the source, preface your statement with (source) によると or (person’s name) の話(はな)しでは , both of which mean According to
  e.g., 新聞(しんぶん)によると, 今やさいがとても高いそうです
  – According to the newspaper, vegetables are very expensive now
  e.g., ギブソンさんの話しでは, その人は眼(め)がねをかけているそうです
  – According to Ms. Gibson, that person wears glasses

In informal speech, hearsay is often reported in the following manner:
… (ん)ですって (female speakers only) [… (ん)だって informal]
… って (Someone) said that… [って here is a variant of the quote marker と]
  e.g., 林さんの話によると, 明日しけんがないって
  – I heard from Mr. Hayashi that there won’t be an exam tomorrow
  e.g., 林さんが新しいステレオをかったんだって – I heard Mr. Hayashi bought a new stereo

Saying Whether or Not Something is True: … かどうか

X かどうか means whether or not X. X may be a noun, adjective or predicate

Nounnoun or noun + だった+ かどうか
i-adjectiveplain form+ かどうか
na-adjectiveroot or root + だった+ かどうか
verbplain form+ かどうか

e.g., もう出たかどうか, 電話(でんわ)してみます – I’ll call and see whether or not they already left
e.g., おいしかどうかわかりませんが, 食べてみて下さい – I don’t know if it tastes good or not, but please try it

Sentence-Final Particle な (あ)

な (あ) is a sentence-final particle expressing exclamation, desire, or wish and can be used by both male and female speakers. These sentence-final particles are more often used in colloquial speech than in formal speech.

Giving Reasons with … し, … し

し, coming after adjectives, verbs and the copula, is used to enumerate mutually compatible facts or conditions in an emphatic way. Often the enumerated factors lead up to a conclusion or result that may be stated or understood from context.

Copulaplain form+ し
i-adjectiveplain form+ し
na-adjectivedictionary form + だ/だった+ し
verbplain form+ し

e.g., あのレストランは安(やす)いし, おいしいです vs. あのレストランは安くて, おいしいです
– That restaurant is cheap and the food is delicious (the former sentence is more emphatic than the latter)
e.g., お昼ごはんも食べたし, 出かけようか
– We’ve eaten lunch (and gotten ready in other ways) so shall we leave?
e.g., 寒(さむ)かったし, 雨が降(ふ)っていたから, 外(そと)に出たくなかった
– It was cold and it was raining (among other similar reasons) so I didn’t want to go out

Note: this construction can be used to avoid saying no. By ending the sentence after し, the listener has to fill in the unstated negative conclusion
  e.g., もう少しいかがですか. -ええ, でも, もうたくさん食べたし…
  – How about a little more? -Well (yes), but I already ate a lot (so no, thank you)

~やすい and ~にくい

~やすい and ~にくい are i-adjectives meaning easy and hard, respectively. They are formed as follows:
Conjunctive form of verb (stem of masu form) + やすい (easy to… ) or にくい (difficult to… )
  e.g., 林さんは話しにくい – Mr. Hayashi is difficult to talk to
  e.g., これは使(つか)いやすいアイロンですね – This is an easy-to-use iron.

Same or Different?

A は B と同(おな)じです – A is the same as B
A は B と C が同(おな)じです – A is the same as B with regard to C
A は B と違(ちが)います – A is different from B
A は B と C が違(ちが)います – A is different from B with regard to C
A と B は同じですか, 違いますか – Are A and B the same or different?