Learning Japanese

February 23, 2009 § Leave a comment


Japanese Lesson 2

October 23, 2008 § 1 Comment

Hopefully by now you can read all the hiragana and katakana characters.  If not, get cracking because without the ability to read, none of these tutorials will help you!

Useful phrases and words

Good morning: おはようございます (pronunciation:ohayoogozaimas)

*There are a couple quirks in Japanese pronunciation.  When there is a う (u) following a letter that ends in an “o” (in the example above: yo-u), instead of pronouncing the letter as a “u”, it simply serves to elongate the previous “o.”  So instead of o-ha-yo-u-go-za-i-ma-su, it is o-ha-yooooo-go-za-i-ma-su. They also do this with other vowels (elongating previous syllables) but う is definitely the most commonly seen.

*Also, ます(ma-su) is pronounced mas, without the extra u at the end.

*Last but not least,  ございます(gozaimas) is there to make the greeting formal.  If you were greeting a close friend or something younger you would probably drop the gozaimas.

Good afternoon: こにちは (konichiwa)

*Notice that the last syllable of that word is really “ha” and not the character for “wa.” This is very common in Japanese.  In Japanese, anytime は(ha) comes at the end of a word (so if its function is to modify a previous word), it is pronounced “wa.”

Good night: こんばんは (konbanwa)

*Notice like konichiwa, there is also a ha at the end of konbanwa.

*You will commonly see words that have ん (n)s in the word, however, you will never see a word that begins with ん because we have characters already for na, ni, nu, ne, no.

Goodbye: さようなら (sayonara)

Goodbye/Excuse me: しつれいします (shitsurei shimas)

*This literally means “please excuse my rudeness” but it is colloquially used as a polite/formal way to say goodbye.  You would also say this to end a telephone conversation, as opposed to sayonara.

See you later: じゃ、またね (ja, matane)

*ja=well, mata=again.  You would not use this with en elder.

*Notice how ja is spelled じゃ.  First, the two quotation marks transform the shi into a ji, and then the small ya is added to the ji to make “ja.”

See you tomorrow: じゃまたあした (ja, mata ashita)


Thank you very much: どうもありがとうございます (doomo arigato gozaimas)

*Informal would just be ありがとう (arigato)

You’re welcome: どういたしまして (dooitashimashite)

Sorry: すみません (sumimasen)

No/That’s alright: いいえ (iie)

Good night: おやすみなさい (oyasumi nasai)

*Take off なさい (nasai) to make it informal

Did you understand?: わかりましたか (wakarimashitaka)

*か (ka) at the end of a sentence usually indicates a question.  There is no question mark in Japanese so you have to figure out from context/grammar patterns if you are reading a question or not.

Yes, I understood: はい、わかりました (hai, wakarimashita)

*hai=yes.  This answer is in past tense so rather than understand it is more like understood.

No, I did not understand: いいえ、わかりませんでした (iie, wakarimasen deshita)

I don’t understand: わかりません (wakarimasen)

*This is a more general statement.

Hopefully I didn’t spell anything wrong but if you catch anything please let me know.  To be honest, I am basically taking out key concepts and phrases from my Japanese textbook (Elementary Japanese, Volume One by Yoko Hasegawa) and adding my own little comments here and there.


Japanese Lesson 15

October 10, 2008 § 1 Comment

Hello!  Apologies for not being a good teacher and posting regularly.  And further apologies for what I am about to do.  I am actually going to skip a lot of lessons/chapters/words and focus on the material for my test tomorrow.  Hopefully you will learn a lot but if it is too complicated, don’t worry! I will backtrack later and fill in the gaps. I romanized the pronounciation of the words but keep in mind that in Japanese (for the most part) each letter is pronounced separately.  Thus, ai is two syllables: a-i.

In Japanese you conjugate verbs depending on whether you are affirming or negating a phrase and what kind of speech (plain, polite, etc).  However, depending on what type of verb they are, they will have different conjugations.

Here are the conjugations for PLAIN SPEECH NEGATIONS.

First we have ウ(u) verbs.  They are:

あそぶ (osobu) to play
およぐ   (oyogu) to swim
かえす  (kaesu) to return (something)
がんばる (ganbaru) to do one’s best
つかう  (tsukau) to use
はなす  (hanasu) to talk, speak
ひく      (hiku) to play (a stringed instrument)

Then, there are ル(ru) verbs.  They are:

かりる (kariru) to borrow
できる (dekiru) to be able to

With ウ verbs that end in i, you drop the i at the end of the word and change it to a, and then add ない (nai).
For example: いき(iki) changes to いか(ika)ない

With ウ verbs that end in u, you drop the u and change it to the a, and then add ない (nai).
For example: かりる(kariru) changes to かりら(karira)ない

ウ verbs that have only vowels for the last two consonants are treated a little differently.  For these verbs you add wa, rather than just a as the last syllable.  Take  あい(ai-to meet) for example.
あい(ai) changes to あわ(awa)ない

ル(ru) verbs are much simpler.  You just drop the ru ( る  or ル  )  and add  ない (nai).
For example たべる becomes 食べない.


Additional info

-=elongated vowel

バークレー (ba-kure-)=Berkeley

サンフランシスコ (sanfuranshisuko)=San Francisco

アメリカ (amerika)=America

Have a good night!


October 2, 2008 § 2 Comments



Japanese Lesson 1

September 20, 2008 § 1 Comment

Japanese will probably be the easiest for me to teach because I just started learning it as well! I too am struggling to master the basics so don’t feel bad if it is hard!

First things first.  You MUST learn the alphabets.  Japanese has three different types of writing: hiragana, katakana, and kanji.  Kanji is Chinese characters that mean the same as they do in Chinese (and Korean) but have a different pronunciation.  Katakana is a derivative of Kanji and some characters are simply Chinese radicals.  Hiragana is the pure Japanese alphabet that is used for pure Japanese words.  Katakana is only used for foreign words or things like brand names while Kanji is used anywhere.

As you can see in the chart above, the sounds are romanized.  There are the 5 vowels: a, i, u, e, o and then the consonants: k, s, t, n, h, m, y ,r , w.  Your first assignment is to memorize these two alphabets!  I suggest making note cards with the sounds on the back and flipping through during any spare time you have.  Something a lot of language learners do is connect what the character looks like with the sound.

For example: the hiragana ‘ka’ looks like someone karate chopping.   The katakana ‘me’ almost looks like an x mark that you would get on an assignment.  I memorized it by thinking, “People who don’t really care about school (and would be likely to get x marks) would say ‘meh’ to an x.”  Hehehe.  Be creative and relate things to your own life and interests.  This way you will be more likely to remember them.

Ja mata ne = じゃまたね= see you later!

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