Japanese is Possible!
Wait a minute
- Basic espressions
- Two more particles: yo and ne
- Some more useful words
- How are you doing so far?
All of this time, you've been going along
learning Japanese vocabulary and grammar, but there's a chance that
you don't even know simple Japanese greetings yet (through no fault
of your own). So here they are, learn them well:
ohayou (gozaimasu) - good
konnichi wa - hello
wa - good evening (said when meeting
oyasumi (nasai) - good night (said when
hajimemashite - I'm pleased to meet
you, how do you do?
sayounara - good
dewa mata - good bye, later (more
informal than sayounara)
jaa mata - see you
later (more informal than dewa mata)
(gozaimasu) - thank you (add the words in () to increase
dou itashimashite - you're welcome,
don't mention it
(o)genki( desu ka)? - how are
you? (lit. are you well?)
Not the shortest list in the world, but an
important one. Learn those expressions well as soon as you can.
Another important topic you should know before we go any further
is the way to express nationality. In English, we use suffixes
like -ish, -ese, -an and sometimes it's completely irregular
(Holland<->Dutch?) In Japanese, you simply add the
suffix -jin to the name of a country:
Amerika + jin = Amerikajin
Nihon + jin =
these words are always nouns (in English they're sometimes used as
adjectives), and they only apply to people(not cars, etc.)
Supeinjin desu ka. (Are you Spanish?)
Itariajin desu. (No, I'm Italian.)
Of course you'll need to know some country names before you
can talk about nationality. Here's a list of countries you're more likely
to hear about (or talk about). It'd be a good idea to learn as many of
these as possible. If I've omitted any important ones, please let me know on the
JIP bulletin board or e-mail me at
JIPGuy@excite.co.jp. All of these
country names can convert into nationality by adding the suffix -jin.
amerika - America
chuugoku - China
doitsu - Germany
furansu - France
itaria - Italy
igirisu - England/Great Britain
kankoku - Korea
nihon - Japan
suisu - Switzerland
supein - Spain
roshia - Russia
More on Particles
The particle NE
The particle ne is a sentence particle, that means that it's used at the
end of a sentence in the manner that ka is. It means "eh?"
or "right?" As a way of looking for agreement, sometimes
Ano tatemono wa takai desu ne.
[That building as for tall is huh?]
That building is tall, isn't it?
Nihongo no hon o yonda ne.
[Japanese language attribute book oj read right?]
You read the Japanese book, didn't you?
The particle YO
The particle yo is also a sentence particle, and it is
used to assert (usually strongly) some information that the
speaker believes that the listener does not already know, perhaps to
explain something that the listener is questioning. It is
similar to the English expression "you know."
Biifu o tsuku ka. Kyou sakana o katta yo.
oj make? Today fish oj bought you
You're going to make beef? I bought fish today, you
Kara is a very important particle that literally means
"from," but in Japanese it can idiomatically mean "because."
To use it this way, just put it after a verb or adjective expressing
the reason, and express the consequence afterward.
Kara is called a clause particle because it follows a chunk
of words that would otherwise be a complete sentence. Note
that the subject of the clause must be followed with ga,
Kono heya ga hiroi kara, ii desu ne.
sj wide from, good is right?]
Since this room
is large, it's nice, isn't it?
Koko e hashitta kara, tsukareta.
ran from, tired.]
I'm tired because I ran here.
More Useful Words
These words should be added to everyone's list if you don't know them.
They are the most popular words in Anime and video games - they are well
kisama - you (used only to address a bitter enemy)
temee - you (one step above kisama - still extremely rude!)
bakemono - monster
obake - ghost
sakana - fish
chi - blood
ningen - human
amai - sweet, naive
atarashii - new
furui - old
hidoi - terrible, awful
hontou - true
muzukashii - hard
yasashii - easy
hashiru - to run (godan
mitsukeru - to find (use it with the
nomu - to drink
sagasu - to search
tsukareru - to become
tsukiau - to hang around, to date
tsuzuku - to continue
kyou - today
How are you doing so far?
At the very beginning of this column (Part 1), I told you that learning
Japanese isn't hard, but it is different from other languages you may
have encountered. I will clarify what I said, so you won't get the wrong
I would compare Japanese to a musical instrument. They are not "hard" per se. Calculus - that can
be hard. Some people just can't seem to grasp its concepts, while some don't
find it all that difficult. With that definition of hard in mind, I
can truly say that Japanese isn't hard. You have to slowly beat
it into your head over a period of years, just like when you
learn an instrument. At first, you can't do much - but you know that you can
eventually be a virtuoso. As long as you stick to it, you'll slowly and surely get better.
It's the same way with Japanese (or any language). Practice makes perfect. If you don't
see instant results, that's perfectly natural and is not bad news at all.
I believe that some people out there consider Japanese to be "hard" the way
that calculus is hard - and they think, "I can't learn it!". In fact, I
personally know many people who believe that!
The learning curve is pretty steep at first - you learn tons of stuff
every day and every week. However, there are also periods where you feel
like you're not learning anything. Don't worry - you'll get through those
dry periods if you stick with it.
When you're learning words, don't worry about the thousands of words
you don't know - instead concentrate on the 10's or 100's that you do
know. Think of each word you learn as ONE LESS WORD you'll need to look
up when you're reading something. Just learn 5 or 10 words at a time.
My experience tells me that is the best way.
Each time you learn a new word or piece of grammar, there
are infinitely more sentences you can make (or understand!). Your Japanese skills can
increase every day, and become more powerful by the week and by the month. As
long as you keep trying, you will become very proficient in several months'
time. You will be surprised what you can do if you only BELIEVE
that you can. Whenever you're learning something, the most important
thing is your mindset. If you believe you can do it, you can.
If you believe you can't, you probably won't.
Tune in next time, when you'll see:
- More particles
- Common phrases
- More popular words (surprised?)
- Intro to Japanese writing
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