Yookoso! — Book 2

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 second volume in the series, Yookoso! Continuing With 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 Book 2 – Chapter 1

Making Suggestions

Ta-form of verb + らHow about if you (do…).
Why not (do …)?
It would be good if you (do…).

e.g., どうしたらいいでしょうか – What should I do?
e.g., どうしたらいいと思いますか – What do you think I should do?
e.g., 東京駅に行きたいんですが,何で行ったらいいですか
  – I would like to go to Tokyo station. How do I get there?
e.g., 東京に連れていったらどうですか – How about if you take (him/her) to Tokyo?


でも means something / somewhere / someone like that. It is frequently used when making suggestions or offering things to others.With でも, the speaker implies that the hearer can choose from options other than the one specified and thereby avoids giving the impression of being too pushy or insistent.
  e.g., ケ-キでも食べませんか – Would you like some cake (or something)?
  e.g., ブラウンさんにでも電話しましょう – Let’s call Ms. Brown (or someone)

Note: でも replaces the particles は, が, and を but is appended to other particles. In other contexts, でも means even.
  e.g., 私でもわかります – Even I understand.

Deciding to Do Something: …ことにする

Verb (plain, nonpast form) + ことにする – (I) will decide to (do…)
Verb (plain, nonpast form) + ことにした – (I) have decided to (do…)

…ことにしている expresses a habit or routine activity; that is, I have decided to (do something) and I am doing it. It also expresses a decision to do something and implies a strong commitment to that decision.
  e.g., 毎日牛乳(ぎゅうにゅう)を飲むことにしています – I make it a rule to drink milk every day.
  e.g., あの人とは話さないことにしています
  – I am determined not to speak to that person / I’m not speaking with that person.

Noun + …にする means to decide on (something).
  e.g., タクシ-にしますか.バスにしますか – Shall we go by taxi or bus?

Saying Whether Something Occurred Before or After: 前 (まえ) and 後 (あと)

Noun+ の + 前に– before Noun
Verb (dictionary form)+ 前で– before Verb
Noun+ の + 後に– after Noun
Verb (ta-form)+ 後で– after Verb

e.g., そのりょかんを予約(よやく)する前に, ガイドブックで値段(ねだん)をしらべてみましょう
  – Before making a reservation at that inn, let’s check the price in the guidebook.

te-form of verb + から has a meaning similar to the ta-form of a verb + 後(あと)で

前 and 後 are also used with time expressions.
When it directly follows a time expression, 後 can be read ご.

Time expression + 前(に) … ago, …before
Time expression + 後(に) … later, …after, in
  e.g., いつペキンに帰るんですか…さん週間後(ご)にかえっります
  – When will you return to Peking? …I’ll return in 3 weeks

前に and 後で can be used adverbially, meaning before and later.
  e.g., そこには前に行ったことがあります – I have been there before.
  e.g., その問題(もんだい)は後で話しましょう – Let’s talk about that issue later.

と Conditionals

Besides たら, と can be used to mark the end of a conditional clause.

Conditional Clause (C1)
Noun + だ / でない+ と+ Resultant Clause (C2)
i-adjectives (plain, nonpast form)+ と+ Resultant Clause (C2)
Na-adjectives + だ / でない+ と+ Resultant Clause (C2)
Verbs (plain, nonpast form)+ と+ Resultant Clause (C2)

The と conditional can be interpreted in either of two ways, depending on whether the second clause is in the present tense or the past tense.In a present-tense sentence, a と conditional expresses the idea that the second clause is a natural or expected consequence of the first clause.It often translates into English as if or when(ever) and is used in statements about general principles. When used in a past-tense sentence, と is similar to ~たら , translating as the English when. Unlike ~たら, however, と is used when the second clause is an event or situation outside the speaker’s control.For this reason, it is often used to describe unexpected events.
  e.g., こんなに不便(ふべん)だと, 誰(だれ)も来ませんよ – If it’s this inconvenient, no one will come.
  e.g., 冬(ふゆ)になると, 雪(ゆき)がたくさんふります – When winter comes, it snows a lot.

In the last example, ~たら would also be grammatical, but the meaning would change slightly.The version with と can be only a general statement of fact; it cannot describe a specific winter. The version with ~たら, on the other hand, would allow the interpretation that the speaker is talking about a specific winter, most likely this coming winter: When this winter comes, it will snow a lot. Unlike ~たら, however, と cannot be used if the second clause is a command, request, invitation, prohibition, or expression of will. In spite of this restriction, it is possible to make suggestions using a と construction, usually to express some general principle or guideline.
  e.g., このガイドブックを読むといいですよ – It would be good if you read this guidebook.


Adding 目 to the combination of numeral plus counter allows you to express ordinal numbers (e.g., first, second, etc.)
  e.g., 一本目の道(みち) – The first street
  e.g., 五つの角(かど) – Five corners; 五つ目の角(かど) – the fifth corner
  e.g., 五人目 – The fifth person

Commands (to subordinates)

The command form used by parents talking to children, or any authority figure giving orders to subordinates is formed as follows:
Conjunctive verb form + なさい
  e.g., 答(こた)えはここに書きなさい – Write your answer here.

The plain form of this command (the imperative) is formed as follows:

CLASS 1 VerbsCLASS 2 VerbsCLASS 3 Verbs
Root + e-column hiragana
e.g., 買う -> 買え e.g., 書く -> 書け
Root + ろ
食べる -> 食べろ
見る -> 見ろ
する -> しろ
来る -> 来(こ)い

When you quote someone’s command indirectly, you can use the plain command + と言う. It does not matter what form the original command was in. Even though this command form sounds harsh and masculine when used by itself, its use within indirect quotations is completely acceptable.
  e.g., 彼(かれ)は早く起きろと言いました – He said to get up quickly

Admonishment and Prohibition

~てはいけない / …な
Admonition or warning (you must not …) is expressed by the following constructions.

Te-form of verb    + は+ だめだ (だめです)
+ ならない (なりません)
+ いけない (いけません)
+ こまる (こまります)

All forms above have similar meanings, but the sense of prohibition is most strongly expressed by だめだ followed by ならない and いけない in that order. こまる expresses prohibition indirectly.
  e.g., ここに車を止めてはならない – You must not park (stop) your car here.
  e.g., お酒(さけ)を飲みすぎてはだめですよ – You mustn’t drink too much sake.

A negative command is expressed as follows.
Dictionary form of verb + な – Don’t …
  e.g., そんなばかなことはするな – Don’t so such a stupid thing.

The negative command form sounds harsh and strong. It is used only in public signs and by males speaking to family members, close friends, or subordinates.As with the plain command, you may use …な in front of と言う, no matter what the original form of the negative command was, without any unpleasant connotations.
  e.g., 彼(かれ)にあまりテレビを見るなと言いましょうか – Shall I tell him not to watch TV so much?

Sentence-Final の

The sentence-final particle の, used mainly, but not exclusively, by female speakers and children, indicates (1) mild affirmation, (2) asking a question or asking for an explanation (の is spoken with a rising intonation), (3) persuasion, and (4) explanation.It is one of the informal forms of the …んです construction.

Sentence-Final よ

The sentence-final particle よ, which is used to give new information, to impose one’s opinion, or to emphasize information, may follow の.

Adverbial Use of Adjectives

You can make adverbs from adjectives in the following way.

i-adjectivesRoot + く小さい ⇒ 小さく
安(やす)い ⇒ 安く
Na-adjectivesRoot + にきれい ⇒ きれいに
静(しず)か ⇒ 静かに

Expressing Obligation or Duty

An obligation or a duty is expressed by the following construction (One must… One has to…)

negative, nonpast te-form (ない) of verb+ は+ いけない (いけません)
+ ならない (なりません)
+ だめだ (だめです)

e.g., このレンタカ-は6時まで返(かえ)さなくてはいけない – We have to return this rental car by six o’clock..
e.g., もっと勉強しなくちゃだめだよ – You have to study more.

Another construction is…

negative, nonpast root-form of verb+ ければ+ いけない (いけません)
+ ならない (なりません)
+ だめだ (だめです)

e.g., 夜(よる)9時までここにいなければなりません – I have to stay here until 9:00 in the evening.
e.g., 毎日, 歯(は)をみがかなければだめですよ – You must brush your teeth every day.

持(も)っていく versus 持ってくる

In Japanese, to take (things) and to bring (things) are expressed with the te-form of 持つ (to hold, to have) followed by 行く and 来る, respectively.
  e.g., プレセントにネクタイを持って行きました – I took a necktie as a gift.

Note: there is a different pattern for bringing people.


…と言えば means speaking of, and it is used to introduce a new topic of conversation or to change the subject.
  e.g., ところで,山田さんと言えば,もう東京から帰ってきましたか
  – Speaking of Mr. Yamada, has he already come back from Tokyo?

Note: と言えば can’t be used by itself (the topic under discussion must precede it); if you wish to get the same meaning without directly referring to the topic, start the sentence with そう言えば.

道(みち)をたずねる (Asking the Way)

Here are just a few examples…
e.g., すみません, 駅へ行く道を教えてください – Excuse me, but please tell me how to get to the station
e.g., すみません, 駅にはどうやって行ったらいいんでしょうか – Excuse me, how do I get to the station (lit. how should I go?)
e.g., 美術館(びじゅつかん)へ行きたいのですが, どこで降(お)りたらいいでしょうか – I would like to go to the art museum. Where should I get off?

Standard Japanese

Standard Japanese is known as 標準語(ひょうじゅんご)

ようこそ Book 2 – Chapter 2

To Do Things Like Such and Such: ~たり … ~たり

The ~たり … ~たり construction expresses such meanings as do this, do that and do others like them; do these things, among other similar activities. Thus it is used to express only representative actions or states, with the implication that there are additional related actions or states not mentioned explicitly.

Plain past verb+ り+ する or です
Plain past i- or na- adjective+ り+ する or です

e.g., 昨日は日本語を勉強したり,音楽(おんがく)を聞いたりしました
  – Yesterday I studied Japanese and listened to music (among other things)

In most cases, two actions or states are expressed in this construction, but you can express more than two (usually three) or only one. The tense of the actions or states is determined by that of the sentence-final する or です, whether expressed or implicit. Whatever the number of actions or states, they don’t necessarily occur in the order given, unlike the ~て…~て construction.

When you use the affirmative and negative form of a predicate in this construction, it means sometimes yes, sometimes no. When an inconsistent state is described, the copula だ is used in place of する after ~たり, ~たり.
  e.g., 私の作る料理(りょうり)はおいしかったり,おいしくなかったりだ
  – The food I cook is sometimes delicious, sometimes not.

A pair of verbs with contrastive or related meanings is often used in this construction, too, implying that the two actions or states, which are usually opposites, have been altering.
  e.g., 子供(こども)が何度(なんど)も家を出たり, 入ったりしました
  – The children kept going in and out of the house.


Noun + ばかり means only (one thing), nothing (or little else) but (one thing). ばかり is different from だけ which also means only, in a significant way. Compare these sentences.

日本語だけ勉強した – I studied only Japanese
日本語ばかり勉強した – I studied only Japanese and nothing else
The first sentence simply states that the speaker studied only Japanese. The second sentence implies that the speaker studied only Japanese in spite of the fact that he or she should have studied other subjects; it implies that the speaker ignored other subjects. Because of this implication, ばかり is sometimes used to express unfairness, bias, or other negative meanings.

Expressing a Purpose: …ため(に)

Noun + の + ため(に) – for the sake of (someone, something)
Verb (plain, nonpast) + ため(に) – in order to (do something)
  e.g., 会議(かいぎ)にでるために京都へいきました – He went to Kyoto in order to attend a meeting
  e.g., 林さんのために,ケ-キを作(つく)った – I made a cake for Mr. Hayashi.

Noun + の + ため + の – intended, made especially for (someone or something)
Verb (plain, nonpast) + ため + の – for (the purpose of doing something)
  e.g., これは子供のためのゲ-ムです – This is a game for children
  e.g., これはお茶を飲むための茶わんです – This is a cup for drinking Japanese tea.

ため is a noun meaning purpose, benefit, reason, cause. When ため(に) is used to mean because, it may be preceded by plain, past, or nonpast forms of verbs and adjectives, or by the pronoun forms of the copula.
  e.g., 期末(きまつ)試験(しけん)があったために,コンサ-トへ行けませんでした
  – Because there was a term test, I couldn’t go to the concert
  e.g., あまりにも高(たか)かったため,だれもその絵(え)を買いませんでした
  – Because it was too expensive, nobody bought that painting
  e.g., 英語が下手なため,かれの言っていることがわからない
  – Because he is poor at speaking English, I cannot understand what he is saying.
  e.g., あまりにも静(しず)かだった(or しずかな)ため,人がいるとは思わなかった
  – Because it was so quiet, I didn’t think that anyone was there.

When ため is used to express reason or cause, it can be replaced with から or ので in most cases, with little change in meaning other than that ため sounds somewhat more formal.


ずつ preceded by a number plus counter or by a word expressing quantity means each, of each, at a time.
  e.g., 女子(じょし)学生と男子(だんし)学生,8人ずついます
  – There are eight female and eight male students (lit. there are 8 each of female and male).
  e.g., みんなにノ-トを一冊(さつ)ずつあげよう – I will give everyone one notebook each
  e.g., 少しずつわかってきました – I have come to understand gradually (lit. a little at a time)

Giving and Receiving

In Japanese, there are five verbs corresponding to to give and two verbs corresponding to to receive. The choice of verbs depends on the social relationship between the giver and the receiver. The constraints on the social relationship can be summarized as follows:

  1. G が R に X をあげる (G gives X to R)
    The giver can be anyone (typically, speaker or in-group person).
    The recipient cannot include the speaker. The giver and the recipient are socially equal.
    e.g., かれは彼女(かのじょ)に本をあげました – He gave her a book
  2. G が R に X をくれる (G gives X to R)
    The recipient is the speaker or an in-group person, someone closer to the speaker than the giver.
    The giver is socially equal or inferior to the recipient.
    e.g., かれもあなたに本をくれましたね – He too (along with others) gave you a book, huh?
  3. R が G に (から) X をもらう (R receives X from G)
    The recipient can be anyone. The giver is socially equal or inferior to the recipient.
    e.g., かれは彼女(かのじょ)に(から)本をもらいました – He received a book from her.

In pattern 1, when the recipient is an in-group superior or an out-group person, さしあげる is used instead of あげる. In patterns 2 and 3, when the giver is an in-group superior person or an out-group person, くださる and いただく are used instead of くれる and もらう, respectively.
  e.g., 私は先生に本をさしあげました – I gave a book to my professor
  e.g., 先生は[私に]本をくださいました – My professor gave me a book
  e.g., 私は先生から本をいただきました – I was given a book by my professor

In pattern 1 when the recipient is notably inferior to the giver, やる is used. [Note: many Japanese consider やる to be vulgar and use あげる even with inferiors]
  e.g., 私は犬にドッグフ-ドをやりました – I gave some dog food to my dog.

Doing something for the sake or the benefit of someone else is considered in Japanese to be the same as giving and receiving a benefit and uses the following form:
Te-form of verb + あげる, さしあげる, やる
Te-form of verb + くれる, くださる
Te-form of verb + もらう, いただく
The choice of verbs follows the same rules as presented earlier.
  e.g., 山本さんの車を洗(あら)ってあげました – I washed Ms. Yamamoto’s car for her.
  e.g., 先生のかばんを持ってさしあげました – I carried my professor’s bag for him.
  e.g., 三村さんは日本語をおしえてくれました – Mr. Mimura taught me Japanese.
  e.g., 私は林さんにアイロンをかけてもらいました – I had Ms. Hayashi do my ironing.

When you ask for permission (may I do …), use the following constructions (in order of increasing politeness)
Te-form of verb + も + いい?
Te-form of verb + も + いいですか
Te-form of verb + も + かまいませんか
Te-form of verb + も + よろしいでしょうか

  the も may be dropped
  the te-form + も means even if… Thus, this construction literally means, is it o.k. even if…?

To respond to a request:
ええ,どうぞ – Yes, please
ええ,けっこうですよ – Yes, it’s all right
ええ,ご自由(じゆう)に – Yes, as you like it
ええ,どうぞお使(つか)い下さい – Yes, please use it

When this construction appears before から and is followed by a wish, command, or request, the speaker is stating that he or she is accepting a possibly unfavorable limitation.
  e.g., 高くてもいいから,そのえがほしい – It’s OK even if it is expensive; I want that picture.
  e.g., 一度でもいいからあそこへ行ってみたい – I want to try going there, even if it’s just once.

Interrogatives (such as 何, だれ, いつ, どこ, どう, and いくら) plus the te-form of the verb + てもいい mean it is all right no matter what/who/where/when/how/how much
  e.g., 何を食べてもいいですよ – You may eat anything
  e.g., ここはだれが来てもいいです – Anyone can come here (lit. It is alright whoever comes here)

The negative te-form of a verb followed by (も)いい means you need not (do something) or you don’t have to (do something). [literally it is all right if (you don’t do something)]   e.g., ここはお金を払(はら)わなくてもいいです – You don’t have to pay here.
  e.g., この仕事(しごと)をしなくてもいいですか – Is it all right even if I don’t do this work?

Negative Request: ~ないでください

The following construction is used to express a negative request (in decreasing order of politeness).
Negative te-form of a verb + くださいませんか
Negative te-form of a verb + ください
Negative te-form of a verb + くれ


  • It is sometimes easy to confuse the negative te-form of the verb, ~ないで, with the te-form of the ~ない form of the verb, which is ~なくて. The ~ないで form is used mostly in negative commands and for the meaning of without doing. The ~なくて form is used in other constructions, such as ~なくてはいけない
  • くれ is only used by male speakers giving orders to close friends, family members, or subordinates.
    e.g., そこに座(すわ)らないでください – Please don’t sit there.

In informal speech, ください is often omitted.
  e.g., そんなこと言わないでよ – Don’t say such a thing.


中 attached to a noun makes a word meaning in the middle of (something), or in progress.
  e.g., 工事(こうじ)中 – under construction
  e.g., 準備(じゅんび)中 – in preparation (a.k.a. closed for business at a store)
  e.g., 営業(えいぎょう)中 – open for business
  e.g., 話(はな)し中 – (telephone) is busy
  e.g., 使用(しよう)中 – in use (使用 – use)
  e.g., 外出(がいしゅつ)中 – out (of the office, etc.)


Japanese people typically refuse when they are first offered food, gifts and favors. The person who is offering these things then says, どうぞ遠慮しないでください (please don’t hold back, or please don’t hesitate)
  e.g., 何もありませんが, どうぞめしあがってください
  – We don’t have anything (special), but please go ahead and eat.
  e.g., いいえ, どうぞおかまいなく – No, please don’t trouble yourself
    Note: phrase used for polite refusals, not sincere refusals.
  e.g., どうぞ遠慮(えんりょ)しないでください – Please help yourself.
  e.g., そうですか. では,いただきます – Really? Then I will have some.

Offering Advice: … ほうがいい

The following construction is used to offer advice or make a strong suggestion.
ta-form of verb + ほうがいい(です)
Nonpast, negative form of verb + ほうがいい(です)

  e.g., 電車が来ますよ. いそいだほうがいいです – The train is coming. You’d better hurry up.
  e.g., あの窓(まど)にカ-テンをつけたほうがいいです – It would be better to put a curtain on that window.
  e.g., あまりお酒(さけ)は飲まないほうがいいじゃありませんか – It’s better for you not to drink too much sake.

Expressing Different States of Action: …ところ

The noun ところ (place), used with different forms of verb, expresses different states of actions.
Dictionary form of verb (nonpast, plain, affirmative) + ところだ – to be about to (do something)
te-form of verb + いる + ところだ – to be in the process of (doing something)

  e.g., 私は車を洗(あら)うところです – I am about to wash my car.
  e.g., ブラウンさんはその時(とき), 出かけるところでした – Ms. Brown was about to go out then
  e.g., 私は部屋(へや)をそうじしているところです – I am in the midst of cleaning the room

The ~ているところ construction is similar to the ~ている construction, but it focuses more on the exact point in time. The ~ている form can denote long-term, ongoing processes, as in 英語を勉強している (I am studying English), which allows for the possibility that the speaker is referring merely to being enrolled in a course. On the other hand, 英語を勉強しているところです can mean only I am studying English at this moment.

しか…ない vs. だけ

There is a subtle difference between the two ways of saying only. The だけ construction implies that the subject has only a certain amount of something, or did only a certain thing, but that it is sufficient. For example, ギブソンさんだけに会いました implies that you met only Ms. Gibson, but she was the only person you were supposed to meet anyway. The しか…ない construction on the other hand, implies that whatever the subject did or has is insufficient. ギブソンさんにしか会いませんでした implies that you expected (or were expected) to meet someone else but for some reason did not. If you find the negative construction confusing, you may want to think of it as meaning except, as in I didn’t meet anyone except Ms. Gibson.

Describing a Prepatory Action: ~ておく

The following construction means to (do something) in advance, or in preparation for future use
te-form of verb + おく (おく means to put, to place)
  e.g., クラスの前に教科書(きょうかしょ)を読んでおいた – I read the textbook before class.

~ておく is often contracted to ~とく or ~どく in colloquial speech.
  e.g., これ食べときなさい – Eat this ahead of time
  e.g., これ読んどいた – I read this in advance.

ようこそ Book 2 – Chapter 3

How to Do Something: ~方(かた)

The conjunctive form of a verb (stem of ます form) followed by ~方 makes a phrase meaning how to (do something) or the way of (doing something)
  e.g., あの人の話し方はちょっと変(か)っている – That person’s way of speaking is a bit unusual.

方 is a noun meaning method or way in this context, so when you add it to a verb, that verb becomes a noun. For this reason, を is replaced by の.

かしら / かな (かなあ)

かしら is an informal sentence final phrase that female speakers use when wondering about something. This phrase is attached to the informal ending of predicates, nouns or pronouns.
  e.g., チンさんは病気(びょうき)かしら – I wonder if Ms. Chin is sick

In the same context, male speakers use かな or かなあ
  e.g., チンさんはもうデパ-トへ行ったかな – I wonder if Ms. Chin already went to the department store

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Verbs that semantically require a direct object marked by the particle を are called transitive verbs (たどうし). They represent a situation in which the subject’s (doer’s) action affects the direct object or the subject acts on the direct object. Verbs that require a subject but no direct object are called intransitive verbs (じどうし). They express a situation in which the subject undergoes or performs an action on its own. In English all but three verb pairs (rise/raise, lie/lay, fall/fell) function as either transitive or intransitive. In Japanese, there are dozens of transitive/intransitive verb pairs. Some of the most common are listed below:

Transitive VerbsDefinitionIntransitive VerbsDefinition
上(あ)げるto raise上(あ)がるto rise; go up
開(あ)けるto open (something)開(あ)くto open (by itself)
あつめるto gather (things,people) together; to collectあつまるto gather together; to congregate
出(だ)すto put out; to take out出(で)るto come/go out; to appear
始(はじ)めるto begin (something)始まるto begin
入(い)れるto put in; to insert; to include入(はい)るto enter, to be included, to fit inside
返(かえ)す/帰(かえ)すto return; to give back返(かえ)る/帰(かえ)るto return (home)
間違える(まちがえる)to make a mistake about a thing間違うう(まちがう)to be in error
見(み)つけるto find見つかるto be found
直(なお)すto fix直(なお)るto get better
残(のこ)すto leave behind残(のこ)るto be left; to remain
落(お)とすto drop (something)落(お)ちるto fall (from a height)
終(おわ)る/終えるto end (something)終(おわ)るto (come to an) end
下(さ)げるto lower (something)下(さ)がるto go down; to dangle
閉(し)めるto close (something)閉(し)まるto close
起(お)こすto wake (someone) up起(お)きるto wake up
かけるto hang (something on); to lay (something) on (something else)かかるto hang (on a vertical surface); to lean; to take (time, money, etc.)
付(つ)ける/つけるto attach; to turn (something) on付(つ)く/つくto stick; to become attached; to go on
消(け)すto extinguish; to put out消(き)えるto be extinguished; to go off; to disappear
並(なら)べるto line (things) up並(なら)ぶto get in line
止(と)めるto stop (something)止(と)まるto come to a stop
動(うご)かすto set in motion; to move (a thing)動(うご)くto move; to be in motion
乗(の)せるto put on a vehicle; to give a ride to乗(の)るto board a vehicle; to ride
寝(ね)かすto put to bed寝(ね)るto go to bed; to sleep
なくすto loseなくなるto get lost; to disappear
こわすto break (something)こわれるto become broken
立(た)てる /建(た)てるto erect; to build立(た)つ / 建(た)つto stand; to be built
通(とお)すto send thru; to allow to pass thru通(とお)るto pass through; to go along (a road)
回(まわ)すto turn (something); to send around回(まわ)るto turn around; to go around
切(き)るto cut切(き)れるto be cut
切(き)らすto run out of; to use up切(き)れる to be used up
かえるto change (something) かわるto (undergo) change

e.g., ブラウンさんは部屋(へや)の電気(でんき)を消(け)しました – Ms. Brown turned off the light in the room.
e.g., 急(きゅう)に電気(でんき)を消(き)えました – Suddenly the lights went off.

The noun or pronoun that is the object of Japanese transitive verb is not always expressed explicitly, so the lack of an expressed direct object does not necessarily mean that the verb in question is intransitive.
  e.g., このへんに止(と)めますか – Shall we stop (the car) around here?

In some cases, the verbs are intransitive, although the particle を is used.
  e.g., あの道(みち)を通(とお)って, 公園(こうえん)へ行った – Going along that street, we went to the park

Note: there is no rule per se, but often verbs ending in える or す are transitive and those ending in ある are intransitive

Expressing Results and States of Being: ~てある and ~ている

The te-form of a transitive verb indicates that something is in a state of having already been done with some purpose or for some reason. It can indicate that something is (or is not) ready. The agent of the action is commonly omitted, because he or she is unknown, unimportant, or obvious from the context. In this construction, the direct object can be marked by either が or を.

te-form of transitive verb + ある – something has been done; someone has done something
  e.g., ガレ-ジの前に車が止(と)めてあるので,私の車が出せません
  – A car has been parked in front of the garage, so I cannot move my car out.

For most of the transitive-intransitive pairs, the te-form of the intransitive verb plus いる means that something is in a state brought about by an unidentified individual or be a natural force.
te-form of intransitive verb + いる – something occurred, and the resulting state remains
  e.g., 山口さんの車が止まっています – Mr. Yamaguchi’s car has stopped

The te-form of the verb + いる can express an action in progress. How do you know which interpretation is correct? The answer lies in the nature of the verb. Most transitive verbs denote actions that can be continued indefinitely. Most intransitive verbs that have transitive partners are so-called punctual verbs, which describe either or situations (from a Japanese point of view, a door that is not completely closed is open, etc. Thus, there is no short, simple way to describe the transition from one such state to another in Japanese. So, 閉(し)まっている always means is closed and cannot mean is closing.)

Expressing an Attempt

The following construction means to attempt to; to try to; to be about to…
Plain, volitional form of the verb + とする / とします
  e.g., 窓(まど)を開(あ)けようとしたが, 開かなかった – I tried to open the window, but it wouldn’t open.

Difference between te-form + みる and volitional + とする

The te-form + みる construction really means to do something to see what will happen or what it is like. In contrast, the volitional + とする construction often implies that although the desire was present or some effort was made, the action was ultimately impossible or futile, especially when the construction is used in the past tense. In the present progressive tense, its only connotation is that the subject is attempting to do something.
  e.g., 納豆(なっとう)を食べてみました
  – I tried eating nattoo (to see what it was like)
  e.g., 納豆を食べようとしたけれど, まずくて食べられなかった
  – I tried to eat nattoo, but it tasted bad and I couldn’t eat it.
  e.g., しようとしているんだけど, なかなかうまくいかないのよ
  – I’ve been trying (to do something), but it’s not going well.

The volitional + とする construction has an additional use, which is to describe interrupted actions, particularly when the construction appears in its ~たら form or before 時 or ところ. These are similar to the English just as I was about to…
  e.g., 家を出ようとしたら, ブラウンさんが来た
  – Just as I was about to leave the house, Ms. Brown came.
  e.g., お風呂(ふろ)に入(はい)ろうとしたところ, 電話がなりました
  – Just as I was about to get into the bath, the telephone rang.

Expressing a Just-Completed Action: The ta-form of the verb + ばかり / ところだ

The following expression is used when only a little time has passed since something happened.
ta-form of verb + ばかり(です)
ta-form of verb + ところ(です)

ばかり is a particle meaning only or nothing but what is stated, whereas ところ is a noun meaning place, and by extension, point in time.
  e.g., このワ-プロは買ったばかりで, まだ使(つか)い方がよくわかりません
  – I just bought this word processor, so I don’t know how to use it yet.

The ta-form with ところ and the ta-form with ばかり differ slightly in nuance. The former implies that the action occurred a very short time ago, perhaps even only a few minutes ago, but almost certainly within the same day. The latter implies that the action occurred a relatively short time ago, but the definition of a "relatively short time" varies according to the context. For example, if you were talking about current conditions in New York and you had come back from a trip there ten days before, you could introduce your remarks by saying:
十日前にニュ-ヨ-クから帰ってきたばかりなんですが – I just returned from New York ten days ago, and…
The same sentence with ところ would be ungrammatical, because ten days is too long to be considered a point in time.

Without Doing: ~ないで

The negative form (the ない form) of verbs + で, the negative te-form of the verb is used to make an adverbial clause meaning without doing…
  e.g., 靴(くつ)を脱(ぬ)がないで, 家の中に入ったですか
  – You went into a house without taking off your shoes?

The ~ないで form can be replaced with the negative te-form, ~なくて when the subsequent clause expresses emotions, judgements, or reasons. In fact, the alternative with ~なくて is probably more common in these cases.
  e.g., 人があまり来なくて, さびしいパ-ティ-だった – With not many people coming, it was a sad party.

We already know that the te-form of verbs + おく means to do something as a preparation for the future. The negative of this construction, ~ないで + おく means to leave something undone for the time being or for a specific reason.
  e.g., お父(とう)さんのためにそのステ-キを食べないでおきました
  – I left that steak uneaten for my father (so that he could eat it).
  e.g., 来月(らいげつ)旅行(りょこう)にお金を使(つか)うので,今月はあまり使わないでおいた
  – Because I’m going to spend money on a trip next month, I didn’t spend so much this month.

Sentence-final particle わ

The sentence-final particle わ indicates mild emphasis and is used mostly by female speakers in the Tokyo-Yokohama area.

Note: Although the distinctions between masculine and feminine speech are less strict than they used to be, it is still more acceptable for a female to use slightly masculine speech than for a male to use feminine speech.

The conjunctive form of a verb as a coordinating structure

The conjunctive form of a verb (ます stem) can be used to connect two clauses.
  e.g., 一蕃目の角(かど)を左(ひだり)に曲(ま)がり, まっすぐ行きます
  – Turn left at the first corner, and go straight.

Like the te-form of the verb, the conjunctive form is used to express sequential and contrasted actions.
  e.g., 私は京都へ行き, 村山さんは大阪へ行きました
  – I went to Kyoto while Ms. Murayama went to Osaka.

The conjunctive form sounds more formal than the te-form, and it is more common in writing and formal or scripted speech than in everyday conversation.

Asking for and Giving Instructions

どのように… – How do I …
どうやって… – How do I …
次(つぎ)にどうしますか – What do I do next?

Asking What Something is For

これは何|のため|に使(つか)いますか – What are we going to use this for?
これは何のためにあるんですか – What is this for?

Giving Instructions

こういうふうにします – Do it like this

Encouraging Words

元気(げんき)を出(だ)して(ください) – Keep your spirits up
気を落(お)とさないで(ください) – Don’t be discouraged
しっかりやってください – Do a good job!
しっかりして(ください) – Pull yourself together.
なかなか上手(じょうず)ですね – You’re rather good.
だんだんじょうずになってきましたね – You’ve gotten better each time (gradually)
その調子(ちょうし), その調子(ちょうし) – That’s the way to go.

ようこそ Book 2 – Chapter 4

Analogy and Exemplification

よう(な) is a na-type adjective used in the following constructions expressing likeness or exemplification.

N1 は N2 のようです(だ)N1 looks like N2; N1 is similar to N2; N1 is like N2
N1 のような N2N2 that looks like N1; N2 that is like N2
N1 は N2 のように V, AN1 does something (V) like N2; N1 is (adjective) like N2
V1 ように V2…do something (V2) like V1
V ような NAn N that seems to be V-ing/V-ed

e.g., 今日はまるで夏(なつ)のように暑い(あつい)ですね – Today is just as hot as summer

Note: まるで is an adverb meaning just or completely and is used to emphasize similarity
  e.g., 町田さんがいうように, その本は面白(おもしろ)かった
  – As Ms. Machida says, that book was interesting.

The na-adjective みたい (always written in hiragana) can also be used in these contexts in colloquial speech with the same meaning. Thus, …みたい, like …よう, can express appearance and conjecture as well as likeness. The pattern is similar to that of よう, with みたい substituting for (の)よう.
  e.g., 本がたくさんあって, この家は図書館(としょかん)みたいだ
  – This house looks like a library because there are so many books.

When you would like to describe the appearance of people and things by comparing them to something else, you can use the following constructions.

Adjective顔(かお)をしている (しています)
がする (します)

  • X has an [adjective] face, style, shape, color, appearance…
  • X has a face, style, shape, color, appearance,…like…
  • X has a face, style, shape, color, appearance that looks as if it

e.g., その赤(あか)ちゃんの唇(くちびる)はいちごのような形(かたち)をしていて,かわいいですね
  – That baby’s lips are shaped like a strawberry, and they are cute.
e.g., サンタクロ-スみたいなかっこうをして, どうしたんですか
  – What’s going on? You’re dressed like Santa Claus.
e.g., 外(そと)でへんな音(おと)がしていますよ. 見てきてください
  – I’m hearing a strange sound coming from outside. Can you go check?
e.g., ここに立(た)つと, 先生になったような気がする
  – When I stand here, I feel as if I have become the teacher.

Contractions in Colloquial Speech

Just as many English speakers say gonna instead of going to, Japanese speakers often use shortened or contracted forms. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • じゃ for では – 学生じゃない for 学生ではない
  • Verb ちゃ for verb ては – 食べちゃいけない for 食べてはいけない
  • Verb ちゃう / ちゃった for verb てしまう / てしまった
  • oun にゃ for noun には
  • ~なきゃ for ~なければ

You may be tempted to use these contractions in your own speech, but they will sound strange unless you are a fairly fluent speaker.

Describing Attributes: The …は…が Construction

The following construction is used to describe an essential, permanent (or quasi-permanent) attribute of people and things. This attribute must be something that distinguishes that person or thing from others of its type.

N1 は N2 が Adjective – N1’s N2 is/are (adjective); As for N1, its/his/her N2 is (adjective)
  e.g., 村山さんは顔(かお)が細長(ほそなが)い – Ms. Murayama’s face is long and narrow.

Verbs expressing abilities that are used in this construction are わかる, 見える, 聞こえる. Another group of verbs that take this construction are those expressing need and necessity, 要(い)る and 必要(ひつよう)だ.

Similarly, おなかがすく (to get hungry), はき気(け)がする (to feel nauseated), 目(め)まいがする (to feel dizzy) and other health-related constructions follow this pattern.

This …は…が construction is also used with adjectives expressing emotions such as 怖(こわ)い (fearful; frightening), うらやましい(envious), 恥(は)ずかしい(embarrassed; ashamed), and so on.
  e.g., 私は三村さんがうらやましいですね – I am envious of Mr. Mimura.

When talking about a third person’s emotions, you should use forms such as 怖(こわ)がる, うらやましがる, 恥ずかしがる, and so on. The idea is that you can’t know another person’s thoughts or emotions directly, so making direct statements about someone else’s feelings is inappropriate. These ~がる forms have the meaning of acts…

Finally, the …は…が construction is also used in sentences that single out an individual member of a set of similar items.
  e.g., 山は, 富士(ふじ)山が一番有名(ゆうめい)だ
  – As far as mountains are concerned, Mt. Fuji is the most famous.


The te-form of predicates plus the particle も is equivalent to even if… or even though
  e.g., 野口(のぐち)さんに話しても, わかってくれませんよ
  – Even if you talk to Mr. Noguchi, he won’t understand (your situation).
  e.g., あの人はハンサムでも, デ-トしたくありません
  – Even if he is handsome, I don’t want to date him.
  e.g., 三村さんが友だちでも, 許(ゆる)せません
  – Even though Mr. Mimura is my friend, I can’t forgive him.

Talking about Appearance: …よう, ~そう, …らしい, and …みたい

In addition to similarity and likeness, the na-type adjectives …よう and みたい are used to express appearance and likelihood.

Na-adjective Root
+ の / だった
+ な / だった
Plain form +
Plain form +
ようだ / ようです
みたい / みたいです

It seems that; it looks like; it appears that

This construction is usually used to express statements based on the speaker’s firsthand, reliable information (mostly visual info) or his or her reasonable knowledge.
  e.g., 昨日の試験(しけん)はやさしかったようです. みんな30分で終(お)わりましたから.
  – Yesterday’s exam seems to have been easy. Everyone completed it in 30 minutes.

This construction is also used to state something indirectly or without committing oneself.
  e.g., 昨日言ったことが正(ただ)しかったようですね – It appears that what I said was right.

~そう, which conjugates like a na-adjective, expresses how someone or something appears to the speaker. In this case, the statement is limited to directly observable things or actions. However, it is not used with adjectives that are always visual, like colors or shapes. It also expresses the speaker’s guess or conjecture and, when attached to verbs, it carries the connotation of looks as if it is about to… Note that nouns and pronouns cannot be used in front of ~そう.

Na-adjectiveRootそうだ / そうです
I-adjectiveRootそうだ / そうです
VerbConjunctive formそうだ / そうです

It seems; it looks; it looks like; it appears; it feels like

e.g., このあたりは便利(べんり)そうです – This neighborhood looks convenient.

The negative of this construction is formed in the following way.

Noun / Na-adjective Root + ~ そうではない 
Root + では + なさそうです
I-adjective Root + ~ そうではない
Root of the negative form + では + なさそうです
VerbRoot + ~そうにない / そうもない

Note that the adjective いい + そう results in よさそう, looks good. The ~そう form of ない is なさそう, it looks as if there / it isn’t. なさそうだ is the combination of the negative ない + そうだ. The negative of いい + そうだ results in よくなさそうだ.
  e.g., 三村さんはまったく恥(は)ずかしそうではない – Mr. Mimura doesn’t look embarrassed at all.
  e.g., 三村さんはまったく恥(は)ずかしくなさそうです – Mr. Mimura looks completely unembarrassed.
  e.g., あのお客(きゃく)さんは帰りそうに[も]ない – That guest doesn’t look as if he’s about to leave.

The adverbial form of this construction, ~そうに, means in a manner that looks as if
  e.g., 患者(かんじゃ)は苦(くる)しそうに歩(ある)いている – The patient is walking as if in great pain.

…らしい, which conjugates like an i-adjective, is used in the following construction to express what appears true to the speaker based on information that he or she obtained indirectly, for instance, by reading or hearing it.

Nounnoun + だった+ らしい (です)
Na-adjectiveRoot + だった+ らしい (です)
I-adjectivePlain form+ らしい (です)
VerbPlain form+ らしい (です)

I hear that; the word is that; I understand that; it says that

  e.g., 三村さんは先週病気(びょうき)だったらしいです – I understand that Mr. Mimura was sick last week.
  e.g., 台風(たいふう)が来るらしいですよ – It says that a typhoon is coming.

A negative conjecture is expressed by ~ ない / なかった + らしい
  e.g., その話(はなし)は本当じゃないらしい – My understanding is that that story is not true.

…らしい, preceded by a noun, can express the idea that the subject possesses those qualities considered essential and natural for his or her role or status. For example, if you say 町田さんは女らしいです, the sentence could mean either, My understanding is that Ms. Machida is a woman, or Ms. Machida is womanly; that is, she has those qualities that Japanese culture considers essential for women. Both 女らしい and 男らしい are common expressions in Japanese, because the culture has traditionally had very definite ideas about how men and women should act.

Note: These ambiguous meanings are distinguished in the corresponding negative sentences.
  e.g., 町田さんは女らしくない人だ – Ms. Machida is not womanly
  e.g., 町田さんは女ではないらしい – It seems that Ms. Machida is not a woman
  e.g., 山口さんはすごく日本人らしい日本人です
  – Mr. Yamaguchi is an extremely Japanese Japanese person
  e.g., それはあなたらしくない – That’s not like you

The following sentences illustrate the differences between でしょう, らしい, ~そう and よう.
  e.g., 三村さんは忙(いそが)しいでしょう – Mr. Mimura is probably busy.
  e.g., 三村さんは忙(いそが)しいらしいです – I heard that Mr. Mimura is busy.
  e.g., 三村さんは忙(いそが)しそうです – Mr. Mimura looks busy.
  e.g., 三村さんは忙(いそが)しいよう(or みたい)です
  – It seems that Mr. Mimura is busy (because I heard he has many things to do).


The following sentences are called causative sentences because they refer to making or allowing another person to do something (i.e. I made him go to school, His father let him eat ice cream for dinner). In Japanese, sentences like these are built around the following causative verb forms.

Class 1 VerbsRoot + a-column hiragana corresponding to the dictionary + せる書く ⇒ 書かせる
買う ⇒ 買わせる
Class 2 VerbsRoot + させる食べる -> 食べさせる
Class 3 VerbsIrregular来る ⇒ 来(こ)させる

Note: all causative forms conjugate like Class 2 verbs.

The causative construction takes different particles depending on whether the verb is an intransitive or a transitive verb.

N1 が (は)N2 に / を Causative form of intransitive verbsN1 lets/makes N2 do
N1 が (は)N2 にN3 をCausative form of transitive verbsN1 lets/makes N2 do N3

e.g., 山口さんはさとみさんを外(そと)へ行かせた – Ms. Yamaguchi made Satomi go out.
e.g., 山口さんはさとみさんに外(そと)へ行かせた – Ms. Yamaguchi let/allowed Satomi to go out.

In the first sentence, where the particle を is used, Ms. Yamaguchi forced Satomi to go out against her will. This is usually called the coercive causative. The second sentence (1b), where に is used, means that Satomi wanted to go out, and Ms. Yamaguchi permitted her to do so. Thus, when the verb is intransitive, the meaning of the sentence differs, depending on whether you use を or に. On the other hand, only one type of causative sentence can be made from a sentence with a verb that is transitive.

e.g., 山口さんはさとみさんにシチュ-を作(つく)らせた – Ms. Yamaguchi made/let Satomi to make stew.

This sentence is ambiguous. You must figure out from the context whether or not Satomi wanted to cook.

In causative sentences, N1 must usually be higher in status or age than N2, but not always. When talking about having an equal or superior do something, the te-form of the verb plus もらう or いただく is more appropriate.
  e.g., 横井(よこい)先生に読(よ)んでいただきましょう – Let’s have Professor Yokoi read it.

自分 (じぶん) (self, own)

自分 is a reflexive pronoun – that is, it refers back to another noun – corresponding to the English myself, yourself, themselves, and so on. It usually refers to the subject, almost always a human, and allows you to avoid repeating the same noun in the sentence.
  e.g., チンさんは自分のしたことを恥(は)ずかしく思っている – Ms. Chin is embarrassed about what she did.

The te-form of causative verb forms + ください is used to ask a superior for his or her permission to do something or to offer to do something for such a person.
  e.g., 先生,私に黒板(こくばん)を消(け)させてください – Professor, please let me clean the blackboard.

When you would like to ask someone not to make you do something, use the negative te-form of causative verbs + ください.
  e.g., 太(ふと)りますから, あまりたくさん食べさせないでください
  – I’ll get fat, so please don’t make me eat so much.

Asking for and granting permission also can be expressed by using verbs of giving and receiving.
  e.g., 山口さんは僕(ぼく)に掃除(そうじ)きを使(つか)わせてくれました
  – Ms. Yamaguchi let me use the vacuum cleaner.

Constructions Using Interrogatives

When you would like to ask for specific information or clarification about someone or something that has been mentioned, the following construction is commonly used. This pattern is particularly useful for asking for definitions of words that you don’t understand.

XというのはInterrogatives / Interrogative expressions([の]こと)ですか
XっていうのはInterrogatives / Interrogative expressions([の]こと)ですか
XとはInterrogatives / Interrogative expressions([の]こと)ですか
XってInterrogatives / Interrogative expressions([の]こと)ですか

e.g., 「キリキリ痛(いた)む」とはどういうことですか – What does キリキリ痛(いた)む mean?
e.g., 大野(おおの)っていうのは誰(だれ) – Who is Oono? (Who is this Oono person?)

An embedded question is a question placed inside another question or a statement. In Japanese, this type of sentence typically takes the following construction.

Embedded QuestionMain Clause
Plain form of predicates + かPlain or polite form

e.g., 昨日ここに来たのは誰(だれ)(だった)か覚(おぼ)えていますか
– Do you remember who the person who came here yesterday was?
e.g., 山本さんは何時に来るかわかりますか
– Do you know what time Ms. Yamamoto will come?

Expressing Expectation: …はず

The following construction is used to express the speaker’s expectation that something was, is, or will be true. Note that the speaker expresses his or her expectation based on reliable information or strong evidence.

Nounnoun + の / だった+ はずだ / はずです
Na-adjectiveRoot + な / だった+ はずだ / はずです
I-adjectivePlain form+ はずだ / はずです
VerbPlain form+ はずだ / はずです

I expect that; it is expected that; I am sure that; ought to; no wonder; is supposed to; I assume that

Note: this construction cannot be used to express what the speaker expects to do or intends to do, although it can be used to express what someone else is expected to do. It can also express someone else’s expectation of what the speaker was expected to do. To express one’s own intentions or expectations about one’s own actions, つもり is used.
  e.g., 佐野(さの)さんはサラリ-マンだったはずだ
  – Mr. Sano is supposed to have been a salaried worker.
  e.g., その近辺(きんぺん)は住宅地(じゅうたくち)だから, 静(しず)かなはずだ
  – That neighborhood is a residential area, so it ought to be quiet.
  e.g., その薬(くすり)はドイツせいだから, 高いはずだ
  – Because that medicine is made in Germany, it’s natural that it’s expensive.

Note that this construction can be used when the speaker has found the reason for something.
  e.g., しゅじゅつは成功(せいこう)したから,また目が見えるはずだ
  – The surgery was successful, so he must be able to see again.

はず, which is a noun, can be modified by such demonstrative pronouns as その, あんな and the like can be used to modify another noun (in this case, connected by の), but it cannot be used independently.
  e.g., え,そのはずです – Yes, I expect so.
  e.g., 今夜(こんや)食べるはずのおさしみはどこですか
  – Where is the sashimi that we are supposed to eat tonight?

There are two ways to make this construction negative.
Plain negative sentence + はずだ / はずです
Plain sentence + はずがない / はずはない

Of the two, the second alternative is the stronger, carrying the connotation of, There’s no reason to suppose that… or, It’s out of the question that
  e.g., 高田さんは入院(にゅういん)しないはずだ
  – We can expect that Mr. Takada won’t be hospitalized.
  e.g., 高田さんが入院(にゅういん)するはずはない
  – There’s no reason to suppose that Mr. Takada will be hospitalized.

To express time (before and after the hour)

To express minutes before the hour, you say X時 X分前
To express minutes after the hour, you say X時 X分過(す)ぎ

ようこそ Book 2 – Chapter 5

Greetings on Special Occasions

御(ご)入学(にゅうがく) | 御出産(しゅっさん) | 御卒業(そつぎょう) | 御結婚(けっこん) | お誕生日(たんじょうび) おめでとうございます
– Congratulation on … entering school | childbirth | graduation | getting a job | your marriage | your birthday

お喜(よろこ)び申(もう)し上(あ)げます – I am very happy for you
ご愁傷(しゅうしょう)さまです – My sympathy (at your bereavement)

Describing a Change in State: …ようになる

The verb counterpart to the construction of an adjective + なる is as follows:
The dictionary form of a verb + ようになる(なります)
The negative form of a verb + ようになる(なります)
get to be; get so that; become able to; reach the state of

This construction is often translated into English as start to. However, the verb + ようになる does not denote a situation in which someone starts doing something on a single occasion. Instead it refers to the beginning of a new ability or habit or to a natural development. Here is an example of the "habit formation" use:
  e.g., 毎日ウエ-トトレ-ニングをするようになりました – I started doing weight training every day

The "ability" use requires either a potential verb or a verb such as わかる or できる that contains the notion of being able to do something.
  e.g., 料理(りょうり)ができるようになりました – I became able to cook
  e.g., ニュ-ス放送(ほうそう)がわかるようになって, よかった.
  – It’s good that I have become able to understand the news broadcasts.

わかる and 知(し)る

While わかる means to figure out the content of something or to be clear or to be understandable, 知る means to find out something or to become acquainted with something or someone. 知る, with its basic meaning of to find out or to become acquainted, is translated as know when it appears in its -ている form. You use 知っている for knowing people and being familiar with places and ideas.
  e.g., いいえ, 知りません. でも,調(しら)べれば, わかりますよ
  – No (I don’t know). But I’ll know (lit. it will be clear) if I check it.

Both わかりません and 知りません can be used for I don’t know, but the nuance is quite different. 知りません can imply I don’t know and have no reason to, so it can sound a bit rude if the question is one that you could be expected to know the answer to. That is why, when you ask a store clerk a question about the merchandise, he or she answers with わかりませんね instead of 知りません (The ね makes it clear that the meaning is I don’t know, not I don’t understand you). In fact, saying 知らない directly to another person’s face is a way of saying I disapprove of what you are doing and want nothing to do with you. Furthermore, since 知る refers to finding out something that you didn’t have any reason to know, it sounds odd to use 知りません in reference to something concerning yourself, such as your own future plans or your own wants. However, 知りません is a perfectly acceptable response when you don’t know a person, are unfamiliar with a place or idea, or have no expertise in a certain subject area.

Adjective + する

Adjective + する refers to causing something to become large, expensive, beautiful, or whatever. As with the adjective + なる construction, i-adjectives go into their -く form, and na-adjectives and nouns go into their に form:

長(なが)くする – to make long
便利(べんり)にする – to make convenient

These constructions are sometimes ambiguous, and only the context can clear up the meaning.
  e.g., きれいにしましょう – Let’s make it beautiful OR Let’s do it beautifully
  e.g., はやくしましょう – Let’s make it so that it’s fast OR Let’s do it quickly

However, not every adjective + なる construction has a corresponding adjective + する construction. For example, you often hear things like 食べたくなる (get to want to eat), but 食べたくする is not used.

Describing an Effort: … ようにする

The dictionary or negative form of a verb + ようにする is used to express the idea of making an effort or carrying out actions to make sure that something will happen. Often the most appropriate English equivalent is be sure to, especially in commands or requests. Unlike a verb + ようになる, a verb + ようにする may be used in talking about one-time events.
  e.g., 寝(ね)る前にスト-ブなどを消(け)すようにしてください
  – Before you go to bed, be sure to turn off the space heater and so on.
  e.g., 大切(たいせつ)な会議(かいぎ)ですから,遅(おく)れないようにしてください
  – Because it’s an important meeting, make an effort not to be late.
  e.g., どうりょうたちと仲良(なかよ)く仕事(しごと)をするようにしています
  – I’m making sure that I work with my colleagues in a congenial manner.

敬語 (けいご)

The system of 敬語 has many facets. First, we need to make a distinction between politeness and honorifics. The term polite form is the usual English translation of 丁寧語(ていねいご) or 丁重語(ていちょうご), and it refers to the use of the -ます forms of verbs and the copula です as opposed to plain verbs and the copula だ. Because the decision whether or not to use -ます/です forms depends on your relationship to the listener, it is possible to speak honorifically in plain form. For example, you could talk to a close friend or family member in the plain form about your instructor, using honorifics. On the other hand, you could talk to a stranger in the polite form about some impersonal topic, with no honorifics necessary.

Expressing Respect (1): Honorific Forms

When you talk about actions or events related to someone superior to you, those actions or events are usually expressed by an honorific form of the verb. There are three ways to make a verb honorific. The most common and regular is お + conjunctive form of the verb + になる(なります).

Class 1 書く ⇒ お書きになる
Class 2 考(かんが)える ⇒ お考えになる

Caution: Some commonly used verbs, including 見る, 着る, いる, ある, 来る and する do not allow you to form their honorifics in this way.
  e.g., 今日の午後,社長(しゃちょう)が皆(みな)さんにお話しになります
  – This afternoon, the (company) president will speak to you all

There are a number of irregular honorific forms of verbs:

Dictionary FormHonorific
行く/いる / 来るいらっしゃる
食べる / 飲む召(め)し上(あ)がる

e.g., 社長(しゃちょう), この書類(しょるい)はご覧(らん)になりましたか
  – President, did you take a look at this document?
e.g., 社長は今日はまだ何も召し上がってない
  – The (company) president has not eaten anything yet today.
e.g., 横井先生,もうご存(ぞん)じでしょうが, 明日チンさんが中国に帰ります
  – Prof. Yokoi, you probably know this already, but Ms. Chin is going back to China tomorrow

いらっしゃる, くださる, なさる, and おっしゃる conjugate just like class 1 verbs except that they are irregular in the conjugation of the so-called ます form and the imperative form.

Dictionary FormPolite, Nonpast AffirmativeImperative

With certain verbs, お + conjunctive form of a verb + だ(です) also expresses an action in progress.
  e.g., 社長, 田中さんがおうせつ室(しつ)でお待(ま)ちです
  – President, Mr. Tanaka is waiting for you at the reception room.

The honorific forms of adjectives are formed by adding the polite prefix お.
  e.g., 部長(ぶちょう)はゴルフがお上手(じょうず)でいらっしゃいますね
  – Manager, you’re good at golf, aren’t you?

The polite prefix お, when attached to nouns, expresses politeness, respect, or humbleness, or simply gives the sentence a refined and elegant feel, depending on the context.
  e.g., 先生がお手紙(てがみ)をくださいます – My professor wrote a letter to me (respectful)
  e.g., お昼(ひる)御飯(ごはん)にしましょう – Let’s have lunch (polite, elegant)

Japanese-origin words usually take this お prefix, whereas Chinese-origin words take another polite prefix, 御(ご). This rule applies to na-adjectives as well. But, some of the most common Chinese-origin nouns and na-adjectives take お instead of 御. Some words are always used with the polite prefix お or 御. In these words, the prefix is considered a part of the original words, and they are not used without the prefix. These include the following:

御飯(ごはん) (rice meal), おなか (belly), おかず (side dish), お守(まも)り (good luck charm), おみくじ (fortune), おてんぼ (tomboy)

Note: Some na-adjectives do not take the polite prefix お, such as those of foreign origin or those with negative meanings.

You already know that the copula です is a polite form of だ. An even more polite form is でございます. When used in reference to a person it is humble. (The corresponding honorific form for human subjects is でいらっしゃいます). Compare:
私は林でございます – I am Hayashi
かとう先生でいらっしゃいますか – Is it you, Professor Katoo?

When used in reference to something nonhuman, でございます simply gives the whole sentence an extra feeling of politeness and formality. (でいらっしゃいます is not used in reference to nonhuman subjects at all).

Even the title さん has a more polite form, 様 (さま).

Expressing Respect (2): Humble Forms

Humble expressions, or けんしょうご, express the lower status of the speaker or his or her in-group member and express respect toward a superior or out-group person. This regular form is お + conjunctive form of a verb + する(します) / いたす(いたします). [Note: いたす is more polite than する]

In these formations, the subject’s action generally must affect a superior in some way, usually, but not always, implying that the subject does something for the superior person’s sake.
  e.g., 社長(しゃちょう), 高田さんをお呼(よ)びいたします – President, I will summon Mr. Takada for you.

Some important and commonly used verbs have irregular humble forms, as follows:

行く / 来る参(まい)る
言(い)う申(もう)す / 申(もう)し上げる
飲む / 食べる / もらういただく
聞く / たずねる (to inquire)伺(うかが)う
たずねる (to visit)伺(うかが)う / おじゃまする

e.g., どこかで一度お目にかかったことがあると存(ぞん)じます – I think that I have met you once somewhere.
e.g., ちょっと申し上げたいことがあるのですが – There’s something I want to say…
e.g., はい,存(ぞん)じております – Yes, I know.

In the case of nominal verbs, the humble form is formed with お or 御 + noun plus する(します)/いたす(いたします).
  e.g., 社長, 会議(かいぎ)のけっかは私がごほうこくいたします
  – President, I will inform everyone of the results of the conference.
  e.g., 出口(でぐち)まで御案内(ごあんない)いたします
  – I’ll guide you to the exit.

You can also express humbleness with expressions related to giving and receiving, particularly in cases when a superior or an out-group member clearly received a favor from you, or when you have clearly received a favor from a superior or out-group person, in which case you use + いただく.
  e.g., 私がお嬢(じょう)さんからのお手紙(てがみ)を読んで差(さ)し上(あ)げましょう
  – I will read the letter from your daughter for you.
  e.g., 先生にその言葉(ことば)を漢字(かんじ)で書いていただきました
  – I had my instructor write that word in kanji for me.

Note: one of the most important rules of Japanese honorifics is that you should not use 尊敬語(そんけいご) (honorific language) to talk about your in-group person while talking to an out-group person, even when the in-group person is your superior.


The passive is formed as shown below. It conjugates like a class 2 verb.

Root + the a-column hiragana corresponding
to the dictionary ending + れる
Root + られるIrregular
書く -> 書かれる食べる -> 食べられるする -> される
買う -> 買われる見る -> 見られる来る -> 来(こ)られる

Many verbs that have passive forms in English do not have passive forms in Japanese. For example, there is no passive form for わかる or いる.

The normal sentence pattern is:
N1 は/が N2 に / から Passive verb form – N1 was V-ed by N2

Here N2 is the agent of causer of an action, while N1 is the patient or recipient of the action.
  e.g., 林さんはその男になぐられました – Mr. Hayashi was beaten by that man.

When the agent is clear from the context or when the agent’s identity is unknown or of no particular interest, it does not have to be expressed.
  e.g., この家は17世紀(せいき)に建(た)てられました – This house was built in the 17th century

Japanese uses the passive less than English, particularly if the agent is being mentioned directly. An example of the active used where English would have the passive is:
  e.g., その事故(じこ)で二人が死亡(しぼう)しました
  – Two people were killed in the accident (lit. by means of that accident, 2 people perished)

A type of passive that is common in Japanese is the adversative passive or indirect passive. The implication of this type of sentence is that something happened and the subject was adversely affected by it or was upset about it. Note that the subject doesn’t have any control over the action.
  e.g., 私はどろぼうにステレオをとられました – I had my stereo taken by a thief

Remember to use this construction only when you want to express your displeasure at what has happened. When you are pleased with another person’s action or have benefited from it, you need to use a favor construction

ようこそ Book 2 – Chapter 6

ば Conditionals

You have already learned two constructions, ~たら and …と, that can correspond to the English if. The third and last one is ~ば, which can attach to either verbs or adjectives. Its uses overlap somewhat with those of both ~たら and …と, but in some ways it is more restricted than either of the other forms .
  e.g., 大学にもう少し近(ちか)ければ, もっといいんだけど
  – It would be better if it were a little closer to the university.

The ば conditional is formed as shown below:

Type of WordFormationExample(s)
CLASS 1 Verbs:root + e-column of hiragana + ~ば洗(あら)えば, 読(よ)めば, わかれば, 待てば
CLASS 2 Verbs:root+ ~れば見れば, 食べれば, 起(お)きれば
CLASS 3 Verbs:change ~る to ~ればすれば, 来(く)れば
Copula and na-adjectives:change だ or です to なら(ば) or であればきれいなら, きれいであれば, 学生なら, 学生であれば
i-adjectives and negative endings:root + the e-column of hiragana + ~ば安(やす)ければ, むずかしければ, 高くなければ

The ~ば conditional states a hypothetical condition that is necessary for the resultant clause to come about. The condition has to be something that has not yet occurred and perhaps may not occur but is still necessary for a certain result. 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?

You have already seen the negative form, ~なければ. However, ~なければ used by itself carries the connotation of the English word unless, as in the following sample sentences:
  e.g., あの本を読まなければわかりません
  – If you don’t read (unless you read) that book, you won’t understand.
  e.g., ちゃんとれんしゅうしなければ危(あぶ)ないですよ
  – If you don’t practice (unless you practice) properly, it’s dangerous.

Normally, the resultant clause cannot be a command, request, invitation, wish or expression of intention. If you want to say something like, If I go to Kyoto, I think I want to stay in a traditional inn, you need to use the ~たら form. The exception is when the conditional clause is built around an adjective or a nonaction verb.
  e.g., 安(やす)ければ買いましょう – If it is cheap, let’s buy it.
  e.g., 時間があればシ-ツなども洗(あら)ってください – If you have time, please wash the sheets, etc. also

The construction ~ばいいです can be used to give advice about some future situation. The meaning is something like, All you have to do is… This is similar to the ~たらいいです construction, but it is usually not used to give advice about a current situation.
  e.g., てんいんに聞けばいいです – All you have to do is ask a store employee
  e.g., さとうを入れればいいです – All you have to do is add sugar

You can also express wishes and hopes using the construction ~ばいいです/けど/のに. You are literally saying that it would be good if only a certain thing would happen, but the が, けど, or のに at the end indicates that this desired thing has, in fact, not happened.
  e.g., 車があればいいのに – I wish I had a car!
  e.g., 満点(まんてん)が取(と)れればいいんでが – I wish I could get a perfect score

An idiomatic use of the ~ば form is in a construction comparable to the English the more..the… For example:
  e.g., 古(ふる)ければ古いほどおもしろいです – The older it is, the more interesting it is
  e.g., これは使(つか)えば使うほど気(き)に入(い)ります – The more you use, it the more you will like it.

The irregular ~ば form of the copula, なら, is used in a variant of the conditional construction. The pattern is verb/adjective/noun + なら. In this construction, you are taking the current situation or something that another person has said as the basis for your conjecture. It is comparable to the English, If, as you say, … or, If it is true that
  e.g., 鈴木(すずき)さんが来ないなら, 私は帰ります
  – If (as you say) Ms. Suzuki isn’t coming, I’ll go home
  e.g., コンピュ-タがこしょうしているなら, タイプライタ-を使いましょう
  – If (it is true that) the computer is broken, let’s use the typewriter.

This construction is similar in meaning to …のだったら.

Contrary-to-fact wishes, in which you wish that something had happened, even though it in fact did not happen, are expressed with either the ~ば or the ~たら form followed by よかった. The addition of …のですが or のに at the end implies that the speaker is scolding or criticizing another person for having failed to do so.
  e.g., 予約(よやく)すればよかった – I wish I had made a reservation
  e.g., もっとれんしゅうしたらよかったのに – I wish you had practiced more!
  e.g., 何か言ったらよかったのに – I wish you had said something!

In the case of the contrary-to-fact conditionals, that is, sentences in which you say that if X had happened then Y would have happened or would happen, but in fact, neither X nor Y happened, the first clause goes into the ~たら or ~ば form, and the second clause goes into the past tense + のですが construction. Like the contrary-to-fact wishes, this construction makes little sense when translated literally into English, so just learn it as a pattern and don’t try to analyze it.
  e.g., 前もってこういうことを知っていれば, 彼(かれ)とはけっこんしなかったんですが
  – If I had known these things beforehand, I wouldn’t have married him
  e.g., もしけいさつが早(はや)く来ていたら, 皆(みな)助(たす)かったのですが
  – If the police had come quickly, everyone would have been rescued

Wanting to Have Something Done: ~てほしい

The following construction can be used when stating that you would like to have someone do something for you.

(A は) (B に) Te-form of the verbほしい / ほしいです
もらいたい / もらいたいです
いただきたい / いただきたいです

A wants to have something done (by B)

Note: A and B are unnecessary when they are obvious from the context

e.g., 林さんに話してほしいんですか – Do you want me to talk with Mr. Hayashi?
e.g., 郵便局(ゆうびんきょく)へ行ってきてもらいたいんですが – I would like you to go to the post office

The combination of the te-form of the verb and ほしい or もらいたい is used when A’s social status is equal or superior to B’s. When B’s social status is superior to A’s, いただきたい must be used.

When A is the third person, the te-form of the verb + もらいたがっている or いただきたがっている is usually used. Alternatively, you may be able to use もらいたいそうだ or いただきたいそうだ.
  e.g., カ-ティスさんは林さんにこのはがきを読んでもらいたがっています
  – Mr. Curtis would like Mr. Hayashi to read this postcard.
  e.g., 学生たちは横井先生にもテレビに出(で)ていただきたいそうです
  – The students would like Prof. Yokoi to appear on TV

When asking someone not to do something, you can use either ~ないでほしい(です) or ~てほしくない(です).
  e.g., 仕事(しごと)中(ちゅう)は私用(しよう)電話(でんわ)をしないでほしいですね
  – I want you not to make private calls during working hours


…だけで[は]なく – the は is optional – means not only…(but also). Nouns, pronouns, and the plain form of adjectives and verbs may be used before it. The clause following it often contains も also.
  e.g., カワムラさんはハンサムなだけでなく, とても親切(しんせつ)だ
  – Mr. Kawamura is not only handsome, he’s very kind
  e.g., 見ているだけでなく, 食べてみてください
  – Don’t just look at it; try eating it

In ordinary colloquial speech, じゃなくて is often used instead of で[は]なく.
  e.g., アメリカだけじゃなくてカナダも行きたいです – I would like to go not just to America but also to Canada


Using the nonpast, plain form of predicates gives you a construction meaning that you do the action occasionally.
  e.g., ファ-スト-フ-ドを食べることがある – I occasionally eat fast food

If you substitute も for が, you are admitting that you do the action but implying that this happens only rarely. This construction is usually followed by an explanation or contradiction.
  e.g., ファ-スト-フ-を食べることもありますけれども, たいていは自分で料理します
  – There are occasions when I eat fast food, but usually I do my own cooking

In place of こと, you may use とき (time) or 場合(ばあい) (case). The use of 場合(ばあい) makes the resulting sentence sound formal.
  e.g., 部長(ぶちょう)が会議(かいぎ)に出席(しゅっせき)する場合(ばあい)もある
  – There are occasions when the department head attends meetings

When the negative form appears before こと, forms such as these are used
  e.g., 週末(しゅうまつ)はぜんぜん勉強(べんきょう)しないことがある
  – I occasionally don’t study at all on weekends.
  e.g., あの先生の試験(しけん)はむずかしくないことがない
  – There’s never a time when that professor’s tests aren’t difficult

The question form of this construction means, Does it ever happen that…?
  e.g., カワムラさんから電話が来ることがある? – Do you ever get phone calls from Mr. Kawamura?

Expressing Respect (3): Honorifics

The passive form of the verb can also be used as an honorific.
  e.g., 先生は黒板(こくばん)にご自分(じぶん)のお名前(なまえ)を書かれた
  – The professor wrote his/her own name on the board.
  e.g., 社長はもうこのレポ-トを読まれましたか
  – President, did you already read this report?

The degree of politeness expressed by this form is not as high as in the お + verb + になる form or the special honorific forms introduced in Chapter 5. The ~られる form of a Class 2 verb is ambiguous in that it can express an honorific meaning, a passive meaning, or a potential meaning.
  e.g., 横井先生はてんぷらを食べられました
  – Professor Yokoi ate tempura (honorific)
  – Professor Yokoi had her tempura eaten (by someone else) (indirect/adversative passive)
  – Professor Yokoi could eat tempura (potential)


The passive form of the causative form, generally called the causative-passive form, is used to express the meaning to be made to do something (by someone).

CLASS 1Root + the a-column of hiragana + せられる書く ⇒ 書かせられる
CLASS 2Root + させられる食べる ⇒ 食べさせられる
CLASS 3Irregularする ⇒ させられる;
来る ⇒ 来(こ)させられる

In this construction, the person who makes someone do something is marked by に, while the person who is made to do something by someone else is marked with は or が.

X は/が Y に (Z を) Causative-passive plain verb form – X is caused (forced, made) by Y to do Z
  e.g., 部長(ぶちょう)の手伝(てつだ)いをさせられていて, 遅(おそ)くなってしまったんだ
  – I had to (was made to) help my department head, so I ended up being late
  e.g., 子供(こども)の時は, にんじんを食べさせられるのが嫌(いや)だったけど, 今はにんじんが大好きです
  – When I was a child, I hated being forced to eat carrots, but now I like them.


まま is a noun expressing that a certain condition or state remains unchanged.
  e.g., 靴(くつ)のまま, 家に入らないでください – Please don’t enter the house with your shoes on
  e.g., 寒(さむ)かったので, コ-トを着(き)たままでいました – I kept wearing my coat because it was cold.
  e.g., 座(すわ)ったまま, 私の話を聞いてください – Please listen to me while (still) seated.

Note: でいる in the second example above is a variant of だ/です used only in reference to animate subjects and emphasizing their being in a continuous position or state.

まま also means exactly as it is.
  e.g., 見たままを書きなさい – Write down exactly what you saw.
  e.g., このままでいいですよ – It’s fine just like this.

Expressing Concession

The ~ても and でも constructions are used to express dependent clauses meaning even if or even though.
  e.g., 忙(いそが)しくても, 新聞(しんぶん)は毎日読む – Even if I am busy, I read the newspaper every day.

When you would like to emphasize the meaning of concession, you can add たとえ (even granting that…), かりに (just supposing), or 万(まん)が一(いち) (even in the unlikely event that…). Another way to emphasize this meaning is to use a plain predicate + としても.
  e.g., 万が一我々(われわれ)の計画(けいかく)がうまくいかなくても, 誰(だれ)にもいうな
  – In the remote event that our plan doesn’t go well, don’t tell anyone.
  e.g., かりにそれが冗談(じょうだん)だとしても, そんなことを言ってはいけない
  – Even if it is a joke, don’t say such a thing.

Interrogatives can be used in this clause to express ideas such as no matter (what, who, when, where, how, and so on).
  e.g., 誰と話しても, みんながカワムラさんのことをほめる
  – No matter whom I talk with, everyone praises Mr. Kawamura.
  e.g., 何を聞いても, 林さんはわからないと言うだけだった
  – Whatever we asked him, Mr. Hayashi just said he didn’t know.
  e.g., どう考(かんが)えても, その話はおかしい
  – No matter how we think about it, that story is strange.
  e.g., いくら練習(れんしゅう)しても, 上達(じょうたつ)しません
  – No matter how much I practice, I don’t improve.

The ても form of some adjectives expressing quantity or time mean at the very
  e.g., 早くても3時まではかかります
  – It will take until 3:00 at the earliest.
  e.g., 遅(おそ)くても朝9時までに家を出なければ間(ま)に合わない
  – We won’t make it unless we leave home by 9:00 a.m. at the latest
  e.g., 多くても100人くらいしかパ-ティ-に来ないだろう
  – At most only one hundred people will come to the party

Note that けれども and が cannot be used with interrogatives. The ても construction can express a hypothetical situation, whereas a sentence containing が or けれども expresses only actions that have already happened or that are relativity certain to happen in the future. Compare:
  e.g., 手紙(てがみ)を出しても, 返事(へんじ)をくれないでしょう
  – Even if I send him a letter, he probably won’t reply.
  e.g., 手紙(てがみ)を出してみるけれども, 返事(へんじ)をくれないでしょう
  – I’ll try sending him a letter, but he probably won’t reply.

Expressing Certain Conviction: …にちがいない (にちがい-ない not にち-が-いない)

The …にちがいない construction is used to express a conjecture of which the speaker is nearly certain.
  e.g., カワムラさんはもう今ごろ九州(きゅうしゅう)に着(つ)いているにちがいない
  – There is no doubt that Mr. Kawamura has already arrived in Kyushu
  e.g., アラスカはとても寒(さむ)かったにちがいありません
  – It must have been very cold in Alaska

The adverb きっと (undoubtedly; certainly) is often used with にちがいない.
  e.g., 明日はきっと雨が降(ふ)るにちがいない – It will rain tomorrow for sure

The degree of probability expressed by …にちがいない is stronger than that of だろう and かもしれない.

Talking on the Phone

One way to give a message is to state briefly what you want to tell the person, end with …から or ので, and follow up with そのようにおっしゃってください or そのように伝(つた)えてください.

明日の会議(かいぎ)のことなんですが, かってながら10時に変更(へんこう)いたしましたので, そうおしゃってください
– It’s about tomorrow’s meeting, and even though it’s inconsiderate of us, we’ve changed it to ten o’clock, so please tell (him/her) that.

And remember that on the phone or off, it is polite to conclude a request with よろしくお願(ねが)いいたします.


A superior asking a subordinate to take care of something would not use どうぞよろしくお願いします but よろしく頼(たの)むよ (male speaker) or よろしく頼むわね (female speaker).

If the two parties are somehow taking care of or doing favors for each other, as when entering into a business relationship, then the second party replies to どうぞよろしくお願いいたします with こちらこそ, an expression that indicates that the polite phrase applies equally to the first party.

When asking someone to give your regards to a third person, use the expression X-さんによろしくお伝(つた)えください. When speaking in informal style, you may leave off the お伝(つた)えください.

ようこそ Book 2 – Chapter 7

Decisions Made by Others: …ことになる

The …ことになる construction is used to express the idea that something has been decided on or happens because of circumstances beyond the speaker’s control.
  e.g., このアパ-トは家賃(やちん)が高いので, 間もなく引っ越(ひっこ)すことになるでしょう
  – Because the rent for this apartment is high, we will probably have to move out soon.

When a decision was made at some time in the past and that decision is still in effect, になっている is used instead of になる.
  e.g., 明日のクラスでは, カワムラさんが平安(へいあん)時代(じだい)の建築(けんちく)についてはっぴょうすることになっています
  – Mr. Kawamura has to report on the architecture of the Heian era in tomorrow’s class.

Because of its time implications, ことになっている is sometimes used to express a custom, regularly scheduled event, rule, or expectation.
  e.g., 上級(じょうきゅう)フランス語のクラスではフランス語しか使(つか)わないことになっています
  – As a rule, we use only French in our advanced French class

The ことになる construction is used when you don’t have to specify who made a decision or you would rather not mention the decision maker specifically. In contrast, the superficially similar construction of ことにする requires that you state specifically who made the decision. The distinction is similar to the distinction between We decided to leave and It was decided that we should leave in English.

If you use the plain, nonpast form of the verb + ことになる even when you are the decision maker, you sound humbler than when you use ことにする.
  e.g., 来週から隣(となり)に引っ越(ひっこ)してくることになりましたので, どうぞよろしくお願いいたします
  – It has been decided that we will be moving in next door starting next week, so please be kind to us.

Note: the use of a ます/です form before ので is a feature of super polite speech.

Expressing a Speaker’s Emotional Involvement: …ものだ

The following construction is used to express a speaker’s strong emotional involvement with an event. Depending on the exact circumstances, it can have any one of a number of English translations.

Plain form
Plain form (dictionary form / ta-form)
Dictionary form + だ or だった
Noun + な / だった
ものだ (ものです)

should; used to; because

The original meaning of もの is tangible or visible thing. When used as a sentence ending, もの expresses an event or a situation as if it were a tangible thing or a vivid experience. Depending on context, it expresses different types of emotions, including desire, reminiscence, excuse, admonition, command, conviction, or exclamation.

The plain past form of the verb + ものだ is used when the speaker is reminiscing about the way things used to be.
  e.g., 学生の時, 毎日のようにパチンコをやったものです
  – When I was a student, I used to play pachinko almost every day.

At other times, もの seems to add nothing more than emotional intensity to the statement.
  e.g., 私もそのやまに登(のぼ)ってみたいものだ – I also want to try climbing that mountain!

This construction is also used in making generalizations, particularly when the speaker is expressing a strong impression or conviction.
  e.g., 友達(ともだち)はいいものだ – A friend is a good thing (to have)

ものだ is also used to express what one must do or should do. The negative form, ものではない, expresses what one should not do.
  e.g., 大人(おとな)だったら, そんなことを言うものではない
  – If you are an adult, you shouldn’t say such things.

In more formal speech or writing, もの can be replaced with べき. The formal negative of べきだ is べからず, which is sometimes seen on signs.
  e.g., 教育(きょういく)制度(せいど)をかいかくするべきだ – We ought to reform the educational system
  e.g., 飲むべからず – Do not drink (sign on outdoor water faucet in park)

At times, ものだ functions like から (because). The difference is that ものだ is used when the speaker is making an excuse or trying to justify an action or an opinion. ものだ and から are sometimes used together.
  e.g., すみませんが, 今日は早く帰らせていただけませんか. 子供が病気なもので
  – I’m sorry, but could you let me leave early today? My child is sick.

The construction ものか is a protest against undesirable conditions or against what the speaker feels to be unreasonable expectations. It is not a very polite way to express one’s displeasure, so it should be used with caution. It can carry the meaning of the English expression, Do you expect me to…?
  e.g., そんなばかなことがあってたまるものか – Do you expect me to put up with that kind of nonsense?

In colloquial speech, もの is often contracted to もん.
  e.g., 昔(むかし)は10円でいるんなものが買えたもんだ
  – In the old days, you used to be able to buy a lot of things with ten yen.

こと and もの

こと as a noun means phenomenon, concept, act, matter, incident – in other words, it is often translated as the English word thing, but it always refers to something intangible and abstract, particularly if it is general or unspecified. In contrast, もの refers to a concrete thing or person, not an idea or action. The following sentences illustrate the difference.

Both sentences can be translated into English as, That’s an interesting thing, but the first one refers to an event, a situation, a piece of news, a subject of discussion, or something else intangible. The second sentence refers to a piece of artwork, a book, a new gadget, an exotic plant, or anything else that a person can see and touch.

Both… and

English speakers sometimes have trouble with the concepts of also or both… and in Japanese. English grammar allows the speaker to place these elements freely in the sentence, but Japanese handles the concept of is also or is both… and by splitting だ/です into its original components of で and ある/あります and putting a も in between. Adjectives go into their く form followed by もある/あります.
  e.g., 「朝日」はビ-ルの名前(なまえ)ですか. – Is Asahi the name of a beer?
  e.g., ええ, それに新聞の名前でもありますよ – Yes, it’s also the name of a newspaper (grammatical).
  e.g., ええ, 新聞の名前もです – Yes, it’s also the name of a newspaper (ungrammatical).

Various Uses of よう

In the following construction, …ように is used to report the content of a request, a suggestion, or advice

Clause ending in the plain, nonpast form of a verbようにVerbs expressing a command, request, suggestion, advice, etc.

to tell / ask / suggest that someone do

  e.g., 三村さんに図書館の前で待(ま)つように言われた
  – I was told by Mr. Mimura to wait in front of the library.
  e.g., 部屋(へや)の中でタバコを吸わないように, あの人たちに頼(たの)みましょう
  – Let’s ask those people not to smoke in the room

As seen in these examples, the person to whom a command or request is given is marked by the indirect object marker に (note that the に following 三村さん in the first example is the marker of an agent in a passive sentence). This construction is called an indirect command, and it is a paraphrase of a direct quotation of a command. For example, instead of saying,
カワムラさんに, すぐ横井先生にお話しするように言ってください
  – Please tell Mr. Kawamura to talk with Prof. Yokoi soon

you could tell the person the exact words to say:
  – Please say to Mr. Kawamura, "Talk to Prof. Yokoi soon."

Unless you really care about the exact words the person uses to convey your message, the indirect command is more natural.

In the following construction, …ように is used to express a purpose or the manner in which something is to be done.
The plain, nonpast potential form of a verb ように Clause
The plain, nonpast form of a potential verb ように Clause
The plain, nonpast, negative form of a verb ように Clause
so that; in such a way that

  e.g., 日本語が上達(じょうたつ)するように, 毎日練習(れんしゅう)している
  – I’m practicing so that I can improve my Japanese.
  e.g., みんなに聞こえるように, マイクを使って話した
  – I spoke using a microphone so that everyone could hear.

Note that a purpose is also expressed by …ために. The difference between …ように and …ために is that the latter expresses a far stronger sense of purpose than the former. Using …ために indicates that the speaker believes that the action or situation described in the first clause will take place for sure.

e.g., 会議(かいぎ)に出るために, 大阪へ行った – I went to Osaka to attend the meeting
e.g., 会議(かいぎ)に出るように, 大阪へ行った – (ungrammatical)

In this example, the principal objective of going to Osaka was to attend the conference, so only …ために is grammatical.

e.g., かぜを引(ひ)かないように, コ-トをきた
e.g., かぜを引(ひ)かないために, コ-トをきた – (ungrammatical)

By wearing a coat, the speaker might somehow avoid catching a cold, but that is by no means a foolproof method of preventing illness, and the speaker might catch a cold anyway. In this case, then, …ように is more appropriate.

It’s All Right Not to…: ~なくてもいい

The concept of it is all right not do or one does not have to do can be expressed with the following construction.

VerbNegative stem +なくて(も)いい
i-adjectiveRoot + くなくて(も)いい
Na-adjective / NounDictionary form / noun + で(は)なくて(も)いい

e.g., おなかがいっぱいなら, 無理(むり)して食べなくてもいいです
  – If you’re full, you don’t have to force yourself to eat.
e.g., それほどハンサムでなくてもいいから, 優(やさ)しい男の人と結婚(けっこん)したい
  – I want to marry a kind man, even if he’s not particularly handsome.

A meaning similar to that of ~なくてもいい can be expressed by the following constructions.

Verb, i-adjectiveThe nonpast, plain form必要(ひつよう)はない
Na-adjective, nounRoot/noun + である必要(ひつよう)はありません

It is not necessary to; there is no need to

e.g., どんなにうるさくても眠(ねむ)れますから, 周(まわ)りが静(しず)かである必要(ひつよう)はありません
– I can fall asleep no matter how noisy it is, so it’s not necessary for my surroundings to be quiet.

This construction sounds more formal than …なくてもいい.
Note that …必要(ひつよう)がある means it is necessary to…
  e.g., 我々(われわれ)はじょうエネに協力(きょうりょく)する必要(ひつよう)がある
  – It is necessary for us to cooperate in saving energy

Another construction that expresses lack of necessity is the nonpast, plain form of the verb + ことはない (ことはありません).
  e.g., あんな小さい犬なんて怖(こわ)がることはないよ – There’s no need to be afraid of a little dog like that.

Note: the literal meaning of both なんか and なんて is and so on or and things like that, but they can sometimes be used to express a vague contempt.

Coming to a Conclusion: …わけだ

The noun わけ means reason, circumstance, or meaning.
  e.g., なせ怒(おこ)っているんですか. わけを聞かせてください
  – Why are you angry? Please tell me the reason.
  e.g., わけの分(わ)からないことを言うのはやめてください
  – Stop saying things that don’t make any sense

Note: わけが分からない is an expression meaning nonsensical

The following construction is used to express the speaker’s judgment that a certain circumstance took place as a natural consequence of something. The fact or information that the speaker used to make that judgment is explicitly expressed (S1). The information that allows the speaker to make the conclusion can be either auditory or visual. Sometimes the exact nuance is impossible to translate into English and corresponds to the tone of voice that English speakers use when they have just realized something.

S1S2 – Plain form of verb and i-adjectivesわけだ/です
S1S2 – Root of na-adjective + な / だったわけだ/です
S1S2 – Noun + とい芋/ だったわけだ/です

It’s that; the fact is that; you could say that; so that’s why

e.g., 試験(しけん)があったんですか. それで, 徹夜(てつや)したわけですか.
– You had a test? Is that why you pulled an all-nighter?
e.g., 家計(かけい)は母が全(すべ)てやりくりしています. 母は我(わ)が家(や)の大蔵(おおくら)大臣(だいじん)というわけです
– As far as household accounts are concerned, my mother manages everything. (You could say that Mother is our finance minister.)

わけで, the te-form of わけだ, is used in conjunction with demonstrative pronouns to form introductory phrases similar in meaning to the English for this reason or for that reason.
  e.g., 途中(とちゅう)で交通(こうつう)事故(じこ)がありまして, そんなわけで遅(おく)れました
  – On the way there was a traffic accident, and for that reason I was late.

Ending a sentence with the plain form of the predicate + というわけだ is another way of stating a consequence or explaining a situation. It is very similar to the …のだ construction.
  e.g., ひみつにしてくれと言われたので, 誰(だれ)にも言わなかったというわけです
  – Because I was told to keep it a secret, I didn’t tell anyone

わけではない is used in negative sentences to focus the negation, particularly when it is necessary to negate someone else’s partially correct supposition.
  e.g., 嫌(きら)いだからやめたわけではありません &
  ndash; It isn’t the case that I quit because I hate it
  e.g., 三村さんの責任(せきにん)だと言っているわけではありません
  – I’m not saying that it’s Mr. Mimura’s responsibility.
  e.g., 言いわけをするわけではありませんが, お金が足(た)りなかったのです
  – It’s not that I’m making excuses, but I didn’t have enough money.

The nonpast, plain form of verb + わけに(は)いかない means it won’t do to…, one ought not to…, or it wouldn’t be right to
  e.g., 町田さんに全部(ぜんぶ)払(はら)わすわけにいかなかった
  – It wasn’t right to make Ms. Machida pay for the whole thing.

Even Though: …のに

のに expresses meanings such as in spite of the fact that, contrary to the fact that, even though, and although. The form is constructed as follows.

S1 – VerbsPlain formのにS2
S1 – i-adjectivesPlain formのにS2
S1 – Na-adjectivesDictionary form + な
Dictionary form + だった
S1 – NounsNoun + な
Noun + だった

Even though S1; in spite of the fact that S1; although S1; contrary to the expectation that S1

In this construction, the speaker is expressing disbelief, regret, sorrow, surprise, protest, reproach, sarcasm, or frustration that the situation is not turning out or has not turned out as expected.
  e.g., まもなくお客(きゃく)さんがいらっしゃるのに, まだそんな格好(かっこう)をしているんですか
  – Even though the guests are coming any minute, you’re still dressed like that?
  e.g., 彼(かれ)にプレセントをあげたのに, お礼(れい)の手紙(てがみ)も電話もない
  – In spite of the fact that I gave him a present, he neither (sends) me a thank you letter nor phones me
  e.g., あんなにむずかしい試験(しけん)だったのに, 全員(ぜんいん)が満点(まんてん)を取(と)った
  – Even though it was such a difficult test, everyone got a perfect score

In conversations, S2 is not often expressed when it is understandable from the context.
A: カワムラさん, うちにいなかったよ – Mr. Kawamura wasn’t at home
B: せっかく行ったのに – Even though you went to all the trouble of going there?

Also, のに can be added to a sentence to express resentment or disappointment when a promise is broken or one’s expectations are otherwise unmet. In these cases, the English equivalent does not necessarily express the idea of even though. In fact, the English equivalent is most often an exclamation beginning with but.
  e.g., あれほど遊園(ゆうえん)地(ち)に連(つ)れて行ってくれるって言っていたのに
  – But he kept saying that he would take us to the amusement park!

Because of the nature of the speaker’s involvement discussed here, S2 cannot be a wish, command, request, offer, statement of permission, or statement of intention. In such cases, けれど(も) is used instead of のに.
  e.g., つまらないものだけれど, 持(も)っていってください – It’s an insignificant thing, but please take it

のに is used in contrary-to-fact conditionals to express the speaker’s regret about some desirable situation that will most likely not happen or that the speaker wishes would have happened.

Conditional (…と, ~たら, ~ば) いい / よかった + のに
It would be good if; I wish it would happen that; It would have been good if; I wish it would have happened that

Note: this construction is used with the actions of people other than the speaker
  e.g., 1日が30時間(あれば, あったら)いいのに
  – I wish there were thirty hours in a day
  e.g., もう少しお金を貯(た)めて(おいたら, おけば)よかったのに
  – You should have saved up a little more money.

When things that the speaker did are expressed, のに is dropped or is replaced with …んですが (んだが) or …んですけど(…だけど)
  e.g., 夏の間(あいだ)にもっと海(うみ)に(行っておけば, 行っておいたら)よかったんですが
  – I should have gone to the coast more during the summer

The conditional with …いいのに is often used to give suggestions, but it should be used with caution, because it sounds a bit as if the speaker is scolding the person for doing or having done something contrary to the suggestion.
  e.g., もっと御飯(ごはん)を食べたらいいのに
  – You ought to eat more rice (implies the person is eating or has eaten something else)

There is also a のに construction that is used to express the process required to accomplish some goal. In some cases, it is easily confused with the のに construction meaning even though.

S1 – Nonpast, plain verb (= dictionary form) のに S2 – In order to do; for the purpose of doing
  e.g., 天ぷらを揚(あ)げるのに, 油(あぶら)が必要(ひつよう)です
  – In order to deep-fry tempura, you need oil
  e.g., 昔(むかし)はアメリカに行くのに, 船(ふね)で3ヵ月かかりました
  – In the old days it took three months by ship to go to America

Having a Discussion – Useful Expressions

  • について – about
  • まず… – First, …
  • 次(つぎ)に… – Next, …
  • 簡単(かんたん)に言えば – to put it simply
  • というのは – that is to say
  • それに比(くら)べて – compared with
  • 例(たと)えば – for example
  • …によると – according to
  • さらに – moreover
  • さて – well then,
  • まとめると – If we bring everything together
  • 最後(さいご)に – Finally,
  • どうお考(かんが)えですか – What do you think?
  • 御意見(ごいけん)をお聞かせください – Tell me your opinion (let me hear)
  • はい, 私もそう思(おも)います – Yes, I think so, too
  • はい賛成(さんせい)[どうかん]です – Yes, I agree
  • その意見(いけん)に賛成(さんせい)ですか – Do you agree with this opinion?
  • では, 賛成(さんせい)と考(かんが)えていいわけですね – So, it’s all right to think of ourselves as being in agreement, right?
  • もう少し考(かんが)えさせてください – Let me think about it a little more