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The 10 Most Useful Japanese Questions and Answers

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Have you ever tried to use a newly learned Japanese phrase, only to panic when you couldn’t understand your interlocutor’s reply? 

Whether you’re making new Japanese friends or traveling in Japan, knowing how to give questions and answers in Japanese will allow for smoother communication. Learning how to ask Japanese questions will also help you better understand Japanese, and improve your speaking and listening skills. The keys to mastering these skills early on are to speak a lot and practice!  

In this article, we’ll introduce the ten most useful Japanese question & answer patterns. Even if you’re just getting started, you can start having basic conversations with these phrases! Learn how to speak Japanese here at JapanesePod101.com!

First things first, though: How do you form questions in Japanese?

Japanese questions are easy to recognize because the question particle か (ka) always appears at the end (formal / polite form), and questions are asked with a rising tone.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. What’s your name?
  2. Where are you from?
  3. Do you speak Japanese?
  4. How long have you been studying Japanese?
  5. Have you been to [location]?
  6. How is ___?
  7. Do you like [country’s] food?
  8. What are you doing?
  9. What’s wrong?
  10. How much is this?
  11. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. What’s your name?

Introducing Yourself

Question:

  • Japanese: (あなたの)名前は何ですか。
  • Reading: (Anata no) namae wa nan desu ka.  
  • English: “What is (your) name?”

This is one of the most common phrases that’s used when meeting someone new. The Japanese possessive case あなたの (anata no), meaning “your,” can be omitted when the context makes it clear whose name you’re talking about. Especially in casual conversations, the subject and possessive case (noun + possessive particle の) are often omitted; this sounds more natural.

Answer:

(1) Polite

  • Japanese: 私の名前は___です。
  • Reading: Watashi no namae wa ___ desu. 
  • English: “My name is ___.”

This is the most common way to give someone your name. 

(2) Casually Polite

  • Japanese: (私は)___です。
  • Reading: (Watashi wa) ___ desu. 
  • English: “(I) am ___.”

This is another common phrase for giving someone your name. In a casual conversation, you can omit the subject 私は (Watashi wa), meaning “I.”

(3) Very Polite

  • Japanese: ___と申します。
  • Reading: ___ to mōshimasu. 
  • English: “I am ___.” (honorific language – humble expression) 

Japanese uses honorific language, called 敬語 (Keigo), which has various expressions that connote different levels of politeness and respect. 

This phrase is a humble expression that’s used in official occasions where you should speak very politely, or when you’re talking to someone who is very honorable.

Example:

Q: 名前は何ですか。  
Namae wa nan desu ka.
“What is your name?”

A: 私の名前はかおりです。
Watashi no namae wa Kaori desu.
“My name is Kaori.”

Japanese Colleagues Shaking Hands

Q: あなたの名前は何ですか。(What is your name?) 

A: はじめまして、私はゆりです。(Nice to meet you. I’m Yuri.)

2. Where are you from?

Question:

  • Japanese: (あなたの)出身はどこですか。
  • Reading: (Anata no) shusshin wa doko desu ka.
  • English: “Where are you from?”

This is one of the most popular Japanese questions that foreigners may be asked. あなたの出身はどこですか。literally translates as “Where is your hometown?”

The possessive case あなたの (anata no), meaning “your,” can be omitted in casual situations. In order to ask more politely, use the word どちら (dochira) instead of どこ (doko).

Answer:

(1)

  • Japanese: (私は)___出身です。 
  • Reading: (Watashi wa) ___ shusshin desu. 
  • English: “(I) am from (my origin is) ___.”

This is a typical way to answer the question.

The word 出身 (shusshin) refers to a person’s origin, such as his or her hometown, city, or country. If you’re a foreigner in Japan, you can put your country name in the blank.

The subject 私は (Watashi wa), or “I,” can be omitted in casual situations.

(2)

  • Japanese: (私は)___から来ました。 
  • Reading: (Watashi wa) ___ kara kimashita. 
  • English: “(I) come from ___.”

This is another common way to answer, and once again, the subject can be omitted in casual situations.

Example:

Q: あなたの出身はどこですか。 
Anata no shusshin wa doko desu ka.
“Where are you from?”

A: 私は東京出身です。
Watashi wa Tōkyō shusshin desu.
“I’m from Tokyo.”

First Encounter

3. Do you speak Japanese?

These basic questions and answers in Japanese will be extremely helpful for you while in Japan. 

Question:

(1)

  • Japanese: (あなたは) ___を話しますか。
  • Reading: (Anata wa) ___ o hanashimasu ka.
  • English: “Do you speak ___?”

The subject あなたは (Anata wa), meaning “you,” can be omitted in casual situations.

(2)

  • Japanese: (あなたは) ___を話せますか。
  • Reading: (Anata wa) o hanasemasu ka.
  • English: “Can you speak ___?”

This question sounds similar to the one above, but it indicates “speaking ability” by changing 話ます (hanashimasu) into 話ます (hanasemasu).

The subject can be omitted in casual situations.

Language Vocabulary

In Japanese, the name of a language is expressed with the word 語 (-go), meaning “language,” attached after the name of a language or country.

English JapaneseReading
English 英語Eigo
Japanese日本語Nihon-go
Frenchフランス語Furansu-go
Italianイタリア語Itaria-go
Germanドイツ語Doitsu-go
Spanishスペイン語Supein-go
Russianロシア語Roshia-go
Chinese中国語Chūgoku-go
Korean韓国語Kankoku-go
Thaiタイ語Tai-go
Vietnameseベトナム語Betonamu-go

Answer:

(1)

  • Japanese: 私は___を話します。
  • Reading: Watashi wa ___ o hanashimasu.
  • English: “I speak ___.”

(2)

  • Japanese: 私は___を話せます。 
  • Reading: Watashi wa ___ o hanasemasu. 
  • English: “I can speak ___.”

(3)

  • Japanese: 私は___を話せません。 
  • Reading: Watashi wa ___ o hanasemasen. 
  • English: “I can’t speak ___.”

This is a negative form you can use to say that you can’t speak the language.

Example:

Q: あなたは日本語を話しますか。  
Anata wa Nihon-go o hanashimasu ka.
“Do you speak Japanese?”

A: はい、私は少し日本語を話します。
Hai, watashi wa sukoshi Nihon-go o hanashimasu.
“Yes, I speak Japanese a little.”

Different Language-learning Books

Q: 日本語を話せますか。(Can you speak Japanese?)

A: 私は日本語を話せます。(I can speak Japanese.)

4. How long have you been studying Japanese?

Question:

  • Japanese: どのくらい___を勉強していますか。
  • Reading: Dono kurai ___ o benkyō shite imasu ka.
  • English: “How long have you been studying ___?”

どのくらい (Dono kurai) literally translates as “to what extent,” but in this case, it refers to “how long.”

If you come from abroad and speak a bit of Japanese while in Japan, Japanese people will be very curious and ask you this question.

Answer:

(1)

  • Japanese: ___か月です。 
  • Reading: ___-kagetsu desu. 
  • English: “For ___ month(s).”

If you’ve been learning Japanese for a few months, you can use this phrase to answer. Put the number of months in the blank.

___-kagetsu desu literally means “It’s ___ month(s).”

There’s no difference in expression for singular and plural in Japanese. So whether you’ve been learning for one month or several, the phrase remains the same.

(2)

  • Japanese: ___年です。 
  • Reading: ___-nen desu. 
  • English: “For ___ year(s).”

Use this phrase if you’ve been studying for one or more years.

___-nen desu literally means “It’s ___ year(s).”

Example:

Q: どのくらい日本語を勉強していますか。   
Dono kurai Nihon-go o benkyō shite imasu ka.
“How long have you been studying Japanese?”

A: 1年5か月です。
Ichi-nen go-kagetsu desu.
“For a year and five months.”

5. Have you been to [location]?

Question:

  • Japanese: ___に行ったことがありますか。
  • Reading: ___ ni itta koto ga arimasu ka.
  • English: “Have you been to ___?”

-ことがあります (-koto ga arimasu) is an expression meaning “to have done (something),” and it’s used after the past tense form of a verb. In this case, that would be 行った (itta), meaning “went.” It’s translated as “Have you been to ___?”

You can put the name of any place in the blank.

Answer:

(1)

  • Japanese: はい、行ったことがあります。
  • Reading: Hai, itta koto ga arimasu.
  • English: “Yes, I have been.”

(2)

  • Japanese: いいえ、行ったことがありません。 
  • Reading: Iie, itta koto ga arimasen.
  • English: “No, I have never been.”

This is a negative sentence for answering “no.”

Example:

Q: 皇居に行ったことがありますか。   
Kōkyo ni itta koto ga arimasu ka.
“Have you been to the Imperial Palace?”

A: いいえ、行ったことがありません。
Iie, itta koto ga arimasen.
“No, I have never been.”

Tokyo Imperial Palace

Q: 皇居に行ったことがありますか。  (Have you been to the Imperial Palace?)

A: はい、行ったことがあります。  (Yes, I have been.)

6. How is ___?

Question:

  • Japanese: ___ はどうですか。 
  • Reading: ___ wa dō desu ka.
  • English: “How is ___?”

This is a common phrase to ask about the condition, situation, or status of something.

What Can You Ask About?

    ➢ 調子はどうですか。 (Chōshi wa dō desu ka.) – “How is the condition?”
    調子 means “condition,” and in this case, it means “How are you doing?” or “How is it going?”
    ➢ 勉強はどうですか。 (Benkyō wa dō desu ka.) – “How is studying?”
    ➢ 仕事の進み具合はどうですか。(Shigoto no susumiguai wa dō desu ka.) – “How is the progress of work?”

Answer:

(1)

  • Japanese: 良いです。
  • Reading: Ii desu. 
  • English: “It’s good.”

うまく行っています (umaku itte imasu), meaning “It’s going good,” is another common expression you can use to say that something’s going well.

(2)

  • Japanese: まあまあです。 
  • Reading: Mā-mā desu
  • English: “So-so.”

This phrase is very common, and it’s used to say that something is relatively good.

(3)

  • Japanese: あまり良くないです。 
  • Reading: Amari yokunai desu.
  • English: “It’s not so good.”

You can use this phrase when things aren’t going very well. Japanese people tend to avoid straightforward words like “bad,” even if something is bad; they prefer to use euphemistic expressions.

Example:

Q: 体調はどうですか。 
Taichō wa dō desu ka.
“How is your body condition?” / “How are you feeling?”

A: まあまあです。 
Mā-mā desu.
“So-so.”

A Woman Taking a Test

Q: 勉強はどうですか。 (How is studying?)

A: うまく行っています。(It’s going good.)

7. Do you like [country’s] food?

Question:

  • Japanese: ___ 料理は好きですか。
  • Reading: ___ ryōri wa suki desu ka.
  • English: “Do you like ___ food?”

To express a country’s food, put the name of the country in the blank and add 料理 (ryōri) after it. 料理 (ryōri) means “cuisine” or “cooking.”

Cuisine Vocabulary:

English Japanese Reading
Japanese food日本料理Nihon ryōri
Chinese food中華料理Chūka ryōri
Korean food韓国料理Kankoku ryōri
French foodフランス料理Furansu ryōri
Italian foodイタリア料理Itaria ryōri
Spanish foodスペイン料理Supein ryōri
Indian foodインド料理Indo ryōri
Thai foodタイ料理Tai ryōri

Answer:

(1)

  • Japanese: はい、好きです。
  • Reading: Hai, suki desu. 
  • English: “Yes, I like it.”

(2)

  • Japanese: まあまあ好きです。 
  • Reading: Mā-mā suki desu
  • English: “I somewhat like it.”

This phrase is a very common way to say that you relatively like something. 

(3)

  • Japanese: いいえ、好きではありません。 
  • Reading: Iie, suki de wa arimasen.
  • English: “No, I don’t like it.”

This is a simple phrase to answer that you don’t like something. However, some Japanese people tend to use more euphemistic expressions to avoid saying “no.”

In such cases, you can also say ___料理は苦手です (___ ryōri wa nigate desu), which means “I’m not good with ___.”

Example:

Q: フランス料理は好きですか。 
Furansu ryōri wa suki desu ka.
“Do you like French food?”

A: はい、好きです。 
Hai, suki desu.
“Yes, I like it.”

8. What are you doing?

Question:

  • Japanese: 何をしていますか。
  • Reading: Nani o shite imasu ka.
  • English: “What (are you) doing?”

There’s also a shorter version you can say: 何してますか。(Nani shite masu ka.) It’s still polite, but it sounds more casual.

This Japanese expression doesn’t have a particular subject. Therefore, if you add a subject, such as 彼女は (kanojo wa) meaning “she” or 彼は (kare wa) meaning “he,” to the beginning of the sentence, it becomes “What is she / he doing?”

Answer:

Answers can vary, but here are some general answers to the question.

(1)

  • Japanese: ___ をしています。
  • Reading: ___ o shite imasu. 
  • English: “(I’m) doing ___.”

To answer the question, put a suitable noun in the blank. Some Japanese nouns belong to a group that allows the noun to turn into a verb when attached with the verb する (suru), meaning do. For example:

演技する (engi suru) = 演技 (engi), meaning “acting” + する (suru), meaning “do” —–> “to act”

This phrase works well with this kind of noun.

This Japanese expression doesn’t have a particular subject, so if you add a subject, such as 彼女は (kanojo wa) meaning “she” or 彼は (kare wa) meaning “he,” to the beginning of the sentence, it becomes: “She / he is doing ___.”

How to Use:

    ➢ 仕事をしています。(Shigoto o shite imasu.) – “I’m doing work.” = “I’m working.”
    ➢ 勉強をしています。(Benkyō o shite imasu.) – “I’m doing study.” = “I’m studying.”
    ➢ 食事をしています。(Shokuji o shite imasu.) – “I’m doing meal.” = “I’m having a meal.”

(2)

  • Japanese: ___ています。 
  • Reading: ___-te imasu.  
  • English: “(I’m) ___ing.”

This is another common phrase for telling someone what you’re doing. You can put any Japanese verb in the blank. The verb must be conjugated in a form that -ている(-te iru) can follow.

How to Use:

    ➢ 見ています。(Mite imasu.) – “I’m watching/looking.”
    ➢ 歩いています。(Aruite imasu.) – “I’m walking.”
    ➢ 食べています。(Tabete imasu.) – “I’m eating.”

Example:

Q: 何をしていますか。  
Nani o shite imasu ka.
“What are you doing?”

A: 映画を見ています。 
Eiga o mite imasu.
“I’m watching a movie.”

Children Enjoying Good Books

Q:何をしていますか。 (What are you doing?)

A: 本を読んでいます。 (I’m reading a book.)

9. What’s wrong?

Question:

  • Japanese: どうしましたか。 
  • Reading: Dō shimashita ka.
  • English: “What’s wrong?” / “What’s the matter?”

A similar phrase is どうかしましたか。(Dō ka shimashita ka.) which means the same thing.

Answer:

Answers can vary, but here are some examples.

(1)

  • Japanese: 何でもないです。
  • Reading: Nan demo nai desu.
  • English: “It’s nothing.” / “There’s nothing wrong.”

何でもない (Nan demo nai) means “nothing.”

(2)

  • Japanese: 疲れています。 
  • Reading: Tsukarete imasu
  • English: “I’m tired.”

(3)

  • Japanese: 気分が悪いです。 
  • Reading: Kibun ga warui desu.
  • English: “I don’t feel good.”

This literally translates as “feeling is bad,” but in this case, it means “I don’t feel good/well.”

Example:

Q: どうしましたか。 顔色が悪いですよ。 
Dō shimashita ka. Kaoiro ga warui desu yo.
“What’s wrong? You look pale.”

A: 少し疲れています。 
Sukoshi tsukarete imasu.
“I’m a bit tired.”

10. How much is this?

Question:

  • Japanese: これはいくらですか。
  • Reading: Kore wa ikura desu ka.
  • English: “How much is this?”

This is a must-know phrase if you plan on shopping during your trip to Japan.

Answer:

  • Japanese: これは___円です。
  • Reading: Kore wa ___-en desu. 
  • English: “It’s ¥___.”

The Japanese currency is 円, which is actually pronounced as えん (en). The currency symbol is ¥.

Example:

Q: この本はいくらですか。  
Kono hon wa ikura desu ka.
Kono hon wa ikura desu ka.

A: この本は1000円です。 
Kono hon wa sen-en desu.
“This book is ¥1000.”

For more useful shopping phrases with audio, please check out this lesson on 15 Shopping Phrases: Exchanges, Refunds, and Complaints!

11. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced the ten most useful Japanese question & answer patterns. After learning these, you’ll have strong survival Japanese communication skills! 

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language, you’ll find even more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons that will help you improve your Japanese language skills. 

Here are some more lessons with audio about the basics of Japanese:

For beginners, our lesson on the Top 25 Must-Know Phrases is a must-read! 

And there’s so much more! Learn faster and enjoy studying Japanese at JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if there are any Japanese questions and answers you still want to know! We’d be glad to help, and look forward to hearing from you!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese

The 10 Most Useful Japanese Sentence Patterns

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Learning a new language is fun, but it requires a lot of effort—studying the complicated grammar rules and memorizing thousands of words. But we have a tip for you! The fastest and easiest way to learn Japanese is to just focus on the most useful and common Japanese sentence patterns and start speaking them!

The most frequently used Japanese sentence patterns are useful for survival communication and day-to-day interactions. When you know the essential sentence patterns in Japanese, you can arrange and create more sentences to express yourself and have conversations. 

In this article, we’ll introduce the ten most useful Japanese sentence patterns, which cover the most basic statements and questions. Boost your Japanese conversation skills here at JapanesePod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. A is B – AはBです
  2. Asking Simple Questions: Is A B? AはBですか。
  3. I Want (to)…  …が欲しいです/…たいです 
  4. I Need (to)…  …が必要です/…(する)必要があります 
  5. I like …  …が好きです
  6. Please (do) … ….(して)ください
  7. May I / Can I (Do) …? ….(しても)いいですか。/a>
  8. What is …? ….は何ですか? 
  9. When is …? ….はいつですか? 
  10. Where is …? ….はどこですか? 
  11. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101.com Can Help You Learn More Japanese
A Woman Deep in Thought in Front of a Blackboard

With the top 10 Japanese sentence patterns, you can easily have simple conversations!

1. A is B – AはBです

A is B = A (wa) B (desu) or  A は B です

This is the simplest Japanese sentence construction for describing something. A is usually a noun and B can be a noun or an adjective.

です (desu) is the basic predicate that represents politeness; it’s placed at the end of a Japanese sentence. 

The Japanese sentence structure is SOV (Subject + Object + Verb), while English has an SVO structure (Subject + Verb + Object).

Examples:

  • 私は学生です。(Watashi wa gakusei desu.) — “I am a student.”
  • 彼は私の友達です。(Kare wa watashi no tomodachi desu.) — “He is my friend.”
  • このご飯は美味しいです。(Kono gohan wa oishii desu.) — “This meal is delicious.”
  • あのレストランは海鮮料理で有名です。(Ano resutoran wa kaisen ryōri de yūmei desu.) — “That restaurant is famous for seafood.”
  • 今年の夏は去年より暑いです。 (Kotoshi no natsu wa kyonen yori atsui desu.) — “This summer is hotter than the one last year.”

For more about Japanese nouns and adjectives, please check out our pages on the 50 Most Common Nouns and 50 Most Common Adjectives.

Sentence Patterns

2. Asking Simple Questions:  Is A B? AはBですか。

Is A B ? = A (wa) B (desu ka) or  A は B ですか。

Here’s the most common question sentence pattern in Japanese. 

To make a Japanese interrogative sentence, simply add the question marker か (ka) to the end of an affirmative sentence and pronounce it with a rising intonation. 

Examples:

  • あなたは学生ですか。(Anata wa gakusei desu ka.) — “Are you a student?”
  • 彼らはあなたの友達ですか。(Kare-ra wa anata no tomodachi desu ka.) — “Are they your friends?”
  • その本は難しいですか。(Sono hon wa muzukashii desu ka.) — “Is that book difficult?”
  • 今日の天気は雨のち曇りですか。(Kyō no tenki wa ame nochi kumori desu ka.) — “Is the weather today cloudy after rain?”
  • 駅の隣のビルは銀行ですか。(Eki no tonari no biru wa ginkō desu ka.) — “Is the building next to the station a bank?”
Mt. Fuji in Japan

Ashita wa hare desu ka. = “Is tomorrow sunny?”

3. I Want (to)…  …が欲しいです/…たいです 

I want  … = [noun] …が欲しい です  (ga hoshii desu)

I want to … =  [verb] …たい です  (-tai desu)

These are the simplest Japanese sentence patterns for expressing “want.”

These Japanese phrases differ depending on whether you want something [noun] or want to do something [verb], as indicated above.

Keep in mind that the subject can be omitted from a Japanese sentence when it’s clear from the context who the subject is.

Japanese verb conjugation is NOT affected by the person (I, you, he, she, we, they), number (singular/plural), or gender (female/male) of the subject.

Examples using a noun:

  • (私は)水が欲しいです。([Watashi wa] mizu ga hoshii desu.) — “I want water.”
  • (私は)新しい車が欲しいです。([Watashi wa] atarashii kuruma ga hoshii desu.)  “I want a new car.”
  • 誕生日にダイヤの指輪が欲しいです。(Tanjōbi ni daiya no yubiwa ga hoshii desu.) — “I want a diamond ring for (my) birthday.”

Examples using a verb:

  • (私は)今日は和食が食べたいです。([Watashi wa] kyō wa washoku ga tabetai desu.) — “I want to eat Japanese food today.”
  • 来年は沖縄に行きたいです。(Rainen wa Okinawa ni ikitai desu.) — “I want to go to Okinawa next year.”
  • 太ったので運動をしたいです。(Futotta node undō o shitai desu.) — “I want to do exercises because I got fat.”

For more information about Japanese verbs, please check out our Japanese Verbs and 50 Most Common Verbs pages.

4. I Need (to)…  …が必要です/…(する)必要があります 

I need … = [noun] …が必要です (ga hitsuyō desu)

I need to … = [verb] …(する)必要があります (hitsuyō ga arimasu)

These are the simplest Japanese sentence patterns for expressing “need.”

As you can see above, the Japanese sentence structure changes depending on whether you need something [noun] or need to do something [verb].

Examples using a noun:

  • (私は)あなたが必要です。([Watashi wa] anata ga hitsuyō desu.) — “I need you.”
  • その車は電気の充電が必要です。(Sono kuruma wa denki no jūden ga hitsuyō desu.) — “That car needs to charge with electricity.”
  • この店での支払いはクレジットカードが必要です。(Kono mise de no shiharai wa kurejitto kādo ga hitsuyō desu.) — “You need a credit card to pay at this store.”

Examples using a verb:

  •  週末に働く必要があります。(Shūmatsu ni hataraku hitsuyō ga arimasu.) — “I need to work on the weekend.”
  • あなたは病院に行く必要があります。(Anata wa byōin ni iku hitsuyō ga arimasu.) — “You need to go to a hospital.”
  • 学生は卒業試験に合格する必要があります。(Gakusei wa sotsugyō shiken ni gōkaku suru hitsuyō ga arimasu.) — “The students need to pass the graduation exam.”
Students Taking a Test in a Classroom

Watashi wa shiken ni gōkaku suru hitsuyō ga arimasu. = “I need to pass the exam.”

5. I like …  …が好きです 

I like … = [noun] …が好きです (ga suki desu)

This is one of the easiest and most useful sentences in Japanese. You can use it the same way you would in English when you’re fond of something or someone.

Examples:

  • 私は動物が好きです。(Watashi wa dōbutsu ga suki desu.) — “I like animals.”
  • 彼は食べることが好きです。(Kare wa taberu koto ga suki desu.) — “He likes eating.”
  • 私の猫は昼寝が好きです。(Watashi no neko wa hirune ga suki desu.) — “My cat likes taking a nap.”
  • かおりは背が高い男性が好きです。(Kaori wa se ga takai dansei ga suki desu.) — “Kaori likes tall guys.”
  • 私は山より海が好きです。(Watashi wa yama yori umi ga suki desu.) — “I like the sea more than the mountains.”
Sentence Components

6. Please (do) …   ….(して)ください 

“Please (do) …” = … [verb]  …ください (kudasai)

This is a simple sentence pattern in Japanese for asking someone to do something; here, the word ください(Kusadai) is used with a verb. 

Also note that when a noun and the postpositional particle を (o) come before kudasai, it becomes a polite way of saying “Please give (me) [noun].”  For example: りんごを一つください (ringo o hitotsu kudasai), meaning “Please give me one apple.”

Examples:

  •  静かにしてください。(Shizuka ni shite kudasai.) — “Please be quiet.”
  • お座りください。(O-suwari kudasai.) — “Please be seated/sit down.”
  • そのペンを取ってください。(Sono pen o totte kudasai.) — “Please take the pen.”
  • 食事の前に手を洗ってください。(Shokuji no mae ni te o aratte kudasai.) — “Please wash your hands before the meal.”
  • 次の電車が来るまでしばらくお待ちください。(Tsugi no densha ga kuru made shibaraku o-machi kudasai.) — “Please wait some time until the next train comes.”

7. May I / Can I (Do) …?   ….(しても)いいですか。

“May I / Can I (do) …?”  = … [verb] …(しても)いいですか。(mo ii desu ka.)  

This is a very common Japanese language sentence structure to ask for permission in a polite way. It literally means: “(Is it/Am I) good to (do)…?”

Examples:

  • 今から行ってもいいですか。(Ima kara itte mo ii desu ka.) — “Can I go now?”
  • 水を飲んでもいいですか。(Mizu o nonde mo ii desu ka.) — “Can I drink water?”
  • 明日提出してもいいですか。(Ashita teishutsu shite mo ii desu ka.) — “May I submit it tomorrow?”
  • ここで楽器を演奏してもいいですか。(Koko de gakki o ensō shite mo ii desu ka.) — “Can I play instruments here?”
  • この切符でこの電車に乗ってもいいですか。(Kono kippu de kono densha ni notte mo ii desu ka.) — “Can I take this train with this ticket?”
The

Kono kippu de kono densha ni notte mo ii desu ka. = “Can I take this train with this ticket?”

8. What is …?   ….は何ですか? 

“What is …?” = … [noun] ….は何ですか?(wa nan desu ka?) 

This is a very simple phrase to ask for information in a polite way.  

Examples:

  • これは何ですか。(Kore wa nan desu ka.) — “What is this?”
  • あなたの名前は何ですか。(Anata no namae wa nan desu ka.) — “What is your name?”
  • 今年の和暦は何ですか。(Kotoshi no wareki wa nan desu ka.) — “What is the year of the Japanese era this year?”
  • この下着の素材は何ですか。(Kono shitagi no sozai wa nan desu ka.) — “What is the material of this underwear?”
  • あなたの一番好きな映画は何ですか。(Anata no ichi-ban suki na eiga wa nan desu ka.) — “What is your favorite movie?”
A Man Watching Soccer on TV

Anata no ichi-ban suki na eiga wa nan desu ka. = “What is your favorite movie?”

9. When is …?   ….はいつですか? 

“When is …?” = … [noun] ….はいつですか。(wa itsu desu ka.)

This is a common Japanese sentence pattern to ask about time in a polite way.  

Examples:

  • 次の会議はいつですか。(Tsugi no kaigi wa itsu desu ka.) — “When is the next meeting?”
  • あなたの誕生日はいつですか。(Anata no tanjōbi wa itsu desu ka.) — “When is your birthday?”
  • 桜の満開時期はいつですか。(Sakura no mankai jiki wa itsu desu ka.) — “When is the best season of full-bloom cherry blossoms?”
  • 初めて海外旅行したのはいつですか。(Hajimete kaigai ryokō shita no wa itsu desu ka.) — “When was the first time you traveled overseas?”
  • 大学の卒業式はいつですか。(Daigaku no sotsugyōshiki wa itsu desu ka.) — “When is the graduation ceremony of the university?”
A Diploma, Graduation Cap, and Stack of Books

Sotsugyōshiki wa itsu desu ka. = “When is the graduation ceremony?”

10. Where is …?   ….はどこですか? 

“Where is …?” = … [noun] ….はどこですか。(wa doko desu ka.)

This is a common Japanese sentence pattern for asking about location in a polite way.  

Examples:

  • 明日の会議はどこですか。(Ashita no kaigi wa doko desu ka.) — “Where is the meeting tomorrow?”
  •  あなたの地元はどこですか。(Anata no jimoto wa doko desu ka.) — “Where is your hometown?”
  • 渋谷駅はどこですか。(Shibuya Eki wa doko desu ka.) — “Where is Shibuya Station?”
  • ここから一番近いトイレはどこですか。(Koko kara ichi-ban chikai toire wa doko desu ka.) — “Where is the nearest toilet from here?”
  • 東海道新幹線の乗り場はどこですか。(Tōkaidō Shinkansen no noriba wa doko desu ka.) — “Where is the platform of Tōkaidō Shinkansen?”

For more information (with audio) about the most useful Japanese sentence patterns, please check out the Top 10 Sentence Patterns for Beginners lesson on our website.

11. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101.com Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced the ten most useful sentence patterns in Japanese. Once you learn these Japanese sentence patterns, you can create many more variations for better communication! The good thing about Japanese is that verbs don’t conjugate in terms of the number (singular/plural), person (I, you, he, she, we, they, it), or gender of the subject/object! So don’t hesitate to practice speaking today!

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language, you’ll find much more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons to help you improve your Japanese language skills. Here’s some more information about Japanese basics, with audio to enrich your conversations:

And there’s so much more! Learn faster and enjoy studying Japanese at JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if there are any Japanese sentence patterns you still want to know! We’d be glad to help, and look forward to hearing from you!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese

Top 100 Common Japanese Adverbs

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It’s impossible to explain something in detail without using adverbs. These are words which can efficiently express time, frequency, place, manner, degree, and more. When you want to boost your language skills, learning adverbs is important and inevitable.

Just like those in other languages, there are a variety of Japanese adverbs and they’re frequently used in sentences. Japanese adverbs are quite similar to English adverbs, though there are some differences to keep in mind. For example, Japanese adverbs are classified in categories according to their characteristics, and they’re placed in different positions in a sentence depending on how they’re used. But don’t worry! The rules are quite simple, and you’ll get the hang of them over time! 

In this article, JapanesePod101.com will provide you with:

  • A Japanese adverbs list containing 100 useful Japanese adverbs
  • Explanations of how to use Japanese adverbs
  • Examples of Japanese adverbs in sentences

Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. The Adverb in Japanese: An Introduction
  2. Japanese Adverbs List
  3. How Do You Use Adverbs in Japanese Sentences?
  4. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese
Easter Eggs and Springtime Flowers

When you learn Japanese adverbs, your conversation will be colorful and rich in expression.

1. The Adverb in Japanese: An Introduction

1 – What is the Function of Japanese Adverbs?

An adverb, or 副詞 (fukushi), is not an independent class of word, as it’s always used with other words. Adverbs are similar to adjectives in that they both modify words. However, adverbs modify verbs, or 動詞 (dōshi), adjectives, or 形容詞 (keiyōshi), and other adverbs, while adjectives only modify nouns, called 名詞 (meishi).

Japanese adverbs, unlike those in English, can appear anywhere in a sentence when they’re used before verbs. 

2 – The Classifications and Types of Japanese Adverbs 

1. Derived from Adjectives

Most adverbs are linked to adjectives that share similar meanings. By changing a part of an adjective, we can turn it into an adverb. You can also see this rule applied in English. For example: “first” / “kind” / “happy” (Adjectives)  >>> “firstly” / “kindly” / “happily” (Adverbs).

In most cases, it’s easy to change Japanese adjectives to adverbs. There are two types of conjugations here.

  • Modification of Japanese い (i) Adjectives

An い (i) adjective always ends with い (i).

By changing the final い (i) to く (ku), an adjective will turn into an adverb.

Example:

い (i) Adjective

[ Stem + い (i) ]
Adverb

[ Stem + く(ku) ]
悲し
kanashii  
“sad”
悲し
kanashiku  
“sadly”

takai  
“high”

takaku  
“highly”

marui 
“round”

maruku 
“roundly”
  • Modification of Japanese な (na) Adjectives

A な (na) adjective always ends with な (na) when it comes before a noun.

Changing な (na) to に (ni) will convert a な (na) adjective into an adverb.

Example:

Adjective

[ Stem + な (na) ]
Adverb

[ Stem + に (ni) ]
親切
shinsetsu na 
“kind”
親切
shinsetsu ni   
“kindly”
静か
shizuka na  
“quiet”
静か
shizuka ni  
“quietly”
簡単
kantan na   
“easy”
簡単
kantan ni  
“easily”

For more information about Japanese adjectives, please visit 50 Most Common Adjectives.

  • Other Non-Adjectival Adverbs

There are also Japanese adverbs which are not related to adjectives. Such adverbs do not have a particular pattern to identify them with, so you have to remember each vocabulary term. The good thing is that they’re used in the same way as other adverbs.

Non-adjectival adverbs are often seen among adverbs of frequency, time, and place, which we’ll explain in the following sections.

2. Classification of Japanese Adverbs

Japanese adverbs are classified into different categories, including Time, Frequency, Place, Manner, and Degree. Although it’s not so important to know which adverbs belong to what category, it is useful if you know them for more accurate usage.

Now let’s see various Japanese adverbs from each category! 

Chirashizushi Dish for the Japanese Doll’s Festival, Hinamatsuri

Chirashizushi wa kantan ni tsukuremasu. = “You can make Chirashizushi easily.”

簡単に (Kantan ni) is an adverb.

2. Japanese Adverbs List

1 – Japanese Adverbs of Time

Japanese time adverbs indicate when something happens, has happened, or will happen.

MeaningReadingKanjiHiragana
1“today”kyō今日きょう
2“yesterday”kinō昨日きのう
3“tomorrow”ashita明日あした
4“this morning”kesa今朝けさ
5“tonight”kon’ya今夜こんや
6“now”imaいま
7“later”ato de後であとで
8“soon”sugu niすぐに
9“right now”ima sugu ni今すぐにいますぐに
10“previously”mae ni前にまえに
11“recently”saikin最近さいきん
12“someday”itsukaいつか
13“yet”madaまだ

2 – Japanese Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency are used when describing how often an action takes place.

MeaningReadingKanjiHiragana
14“always”itsumoいつも
15“sometimes”tokidoki時々ときどき
16“often”yokuよく
17“rarely”tama niたまに
18“seldom”metta niめったに
*used only with negative forms
19“probably”tabun多分たぶん
20“likely”osorakuおそらく
21“normally”tsūjō通常つうじょう
22“(not) at all”zenzen (-nai) *全然 (ーない) *ぜんぜん(ーない) *
23“never”kesshite  (-nai) *決して (ーない) *けっして(ーない) *
24“definitely,” “inevitably”kanarazu必ずかならず
25“daily,” “every day”mainichi毎日まいにち
26“weekly,” “every week”maishū毎週まいしゅう
27“monthly,” “every month”maitsuki毎月まいつき
28“annually,” “every year”maitoshi毎年まいとし
29“every time”maikai毎回まいかい

* 全然 (ーない) [zenzen (-nai)]  and 決して (ーない) [kesshite (-nai)] are the negative forms which are usually used together with -ない (-nai).

For example:

  • 私は全然気にしない
    Watashi wa zenzen ki ni shinai.  
    “I don’t care at all.”
  • 彼女は決して肉を食べない
    Kanojo wa kesshite niku o tabenai
    “She never eats meat.”
Woman Refusing a Piece of Meat at a Barbecue

Kanojo wa kesshite niku o tabenai. = “She never eats meat.”

決して (kesshite), meaning “never,” is an adverb.

3 – Japanese Adverbs of Place

Adverbs of place indicate where an action takes place.

MeaningReadingKanjiHiragana
30“here”kokoここ
31“there”sokoそこ
32“there,” “over there”asokoあそこ
33“over here,” “this way”kotchiこっち
34“over there,” “that way”atchiあっち
35“somewhere”doko kaどこか
36“anywhere”doko demoどこでも
37“inside”naka de中でなかで
38“outside”soto de外でそとで
39“away”hanarete離れてはなれて
40“near,” “close by”chikaku ni近くにちかくに
41“(at) home”ie de家でいえで
The Tokyo Tower

Watashi no kaisha chikaku ni Tōkyō Tawā ga arimasu. 

= “There is Tokyo Tower close to my company.”   

近くに (chikaku ni), meaning “close,” is an adverb.

4 – Japanese Adverbs of Manner

Adverbs of manner describe the condition of a thing or how an action is performed. Adverbs which are related to adjectives mostly fall in this category. Keep in mind that some Japanese adverbs don’t have direct translations in English.

 MeaningReadingKanjiHiragana
42“slowly”yukkuriはやく
43“fast”hayaku早く/速くすばやく
44“quickly”subayaku素早くおそく
45“late,” “tardily”osoku遅く
46“quietly”shizuka ni静かにしずかに
47“enjoyably,” “merrily”tanoshiku楽しくたのしく
48“interestingly,” “amusingly”omoshiroku面白くおもしろく
49“noisily,” “loudly”urusakuうるさく
50“simultaneously,” “at the same time”ichi-do ni一度にいちどに
51“easily”kantan ni簡単にかんたんに
52“well”yoku良くよく
53“badly”waruku悪くわるく
54“together”issho ni一緒にいっしょに
55“alone”hitori de一人でひとりで
56“by chance,” “accidentally”gūzen ni偶然にぐうぜんに
57“suddenly”kyū ni急にきゅうに
58“largely,” “greatly”ōkiku大きくおおきく
59“small”chiisaku小さくちいさく
60“newly”atarashiku新しくあたらしく
61“old”furuku古くふるく
62“beautifully,” “neatly,” “cleanly”kirei ni綺麗にきれいに
63“dirtily”kitanaku汚くきたなく
64“kindly”shinsetsu ni親切にしんせつに
65“cheerily,” “lively”genki ni元気にげんきに
66“conveniently”benri ni便利にべんりに
67“hotly”astuku暑くあつく
68“coldly”samuku寒くさむく
69“difficultly”muzukashiku難しくむずかしく
70“gently”yasashiku優しくやさしく
71“highly,” “high,” “expensive”takaku高くたかく
72“low”hikuku低くひくく
73“cheaply,” “inexpensively”yasuku安くやすく
74“getting along well with”nakayoku仲良くなかよく
75“boring”tsumaranakuつまらなく
76“brightly”akaruku明るくあかるく
77“dark,” “darkly”kuraku暗くくらく
78“hard,” “fastly,” “firmly”kataku硬く・固くかたく
79“softly”yawarakaku柔らかくやわらかく
80“red”*akaku*赤くあかく
81“white”*shiroku*白くしろく
82“blue”*aoku*青くあおく
83“yellow”*kiiroku*黄色くきいろく
84“brown”*chairoku*茶色くちゃいろく
85“black”*kuroku*黒くくろく

*There are adverbs for colors in Japanese, but there are no equivalent words in English for adverbs of color.

In Japanese, these color adverbs are transformed from い (i) adjectives.

  •  (akai)  >> 赤 (akaku)
  • (shiroi) >> 白 (shiroku)
  • (kuroi)  >> 黒 (kuroku)

Here’s an example:

私は髪を黒く染めた。
Watasih wa kami o kuroku someta. 
“I dyed my hair black.”

Close-up of Someone Playing a Guitar at a Concert

Hitori de konsāto e itta. = “I went to the concert alone.”

一人で (hitori de), “meaning alone,” is an adverb.

5 – Japanese Adverbs of Degree

More Essential Verbs

Adverbs of degree indicate the degree or extent of a thing, situation, or action.

MeaningReadingKanjiHiragana
86“very”totemoとても
87“quite”kanariかなり
88“pretty,” “way”sōtō ni相当にそうとうに
89“terribly”hidoku酷くひどく
90“plenty,” “much,” “many”takusan沢山たくさん
91“slightly,” “barely,” “only”wazukani僅かにわずかに
92“largely,” “nearly,” “mostly”hotondoほとんど
93“about,” “roughly,” “more or less”hoboほぼ
94“a little,” “a bit,” “a few”sukoshi少しすこし
95“truly,” “really”hontō ni本当にほんとうに
96“strongly”tsuyoku強くつよく
97“weakly”yowaku弱くよわく
98“much,” “greatly,” “highly”daibu大分だいぶ
99“mostly”daitai大体だいたい
100“just,” “right,” “precisely,” “exactly”chōdo丁度ちょうど
A Japanese Family Taking a Family Photo on a Bridge

Watashi wa kazoku ga totemo daisuki desu. = “I like my family very much.” 

とても (totemo), meaning “very,” is an adverb.

3. How Do You Use Adverbs in Japanese Sentences?

Top Verbs

In terms of Japanese adverb placement, most of them can appear anywhere in a sentence, but they should come before the verb.

Let’s take a look at some examples of Japanese adverbs in sentences.

  • 私は後で宿題をする。
    Watashi wa ato de shukudai o suru.  
    “I will do my homework later.”

後で (ato de), meaning “later,” is an adverb. In Japanese, this can also be placed at the front of the sentence or in front of the verb する (suru), meaning “to do.” 

  •  時々彼は参拝に行きます。
    Tokidoki kare wa sanpai ni ikimasu.  
    “He sometimes goes to visit a shrine.”

時々 (tokidoki) is an adverb, and it can also appear in front of 参拝に (sanpai ni), meaning “to visit a shrine,” or in front of 行きます (ikimasu), meaning “goes.”

  • 近くに本屋はありますか。
    Chikaku ni hon’ya wa arimasu ka.  
    “Is there a bookstore nearby?” 

近くに (chikaku ni), meaning “nearby,” is an adverb. It can be placed in front of ありますか (arimasu ka), meaning “is there.”

  • 台風は素早く過ぎ去った。
    Taifū wa subayaku sugisatta. 
    “The typhoon passed by quickly.”

素早く (subayaku), meaning “quickly,” is an adverb, and it can also appear at the front of the sentence.

  • 本当に彼を信じますか。
    Hontō ni kare o shinjimasu ka.  
    “Do you really believe him?”

本当に (hontō ni), meaning “really,” is an adverb. It can also be put in front of 信じます (shinjimasu), meaning “believe.”

4. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced you to Japanese adverbs. There are many adverbs in the Japanese language, and they’re just as rich in expression as adjectives. However, if you already know a lot of Japanese adjectives, then don’t worry! You can easily learn many adjective-transformed adverbs! Or vice-versa; once you learn Japanese adverbs, you can also learn the adjectives much easier. 

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and other useful Japanese phrases for any situation, you’ll find much more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons for you to improve your Japanese language skills. For example, you may find these lessons with audio recordings useful: 50 Most Common Nouns, 50 Most Common Verbs, and Most Common Adjectives.

 To learn more about Japanese adverbs and adjectives, check out Must-Know Adverbs and Phrases for Connecting Thoughts and Spring Adjectives/Adverbs. How to Improve Your Speaking Skills and Top 10 Conversational Phrases are also useful pages you can visit to brush up on your Japanese conversational skills.

And there’s so much more. Learn Japanese faster and enjoy studying the language at JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if there are any Japanese adverbs you still want to know! We’d be glad to help, and look forward to hearing from you!

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Japanese Keyboard: How to Install and Type in Japanese

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You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in Japanese! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a Japanese keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free Japanese Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Japanese
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Japanese
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to Japanese on Your Computer
  5. Activating the Japanese Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. Japanese Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing Japanese

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Japanese

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and Japanese language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find Japanese websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your Japanese teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Japanese

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in Japanese. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to Japanese, so all text will appear in Japanese. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Online Keyboards

If you don’t want to activate your computer’s onscreen keyboard, you also have the option to use online keyboards. Here are some good options:

4- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to Japanese on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the Japanese language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

1. Go to Settings > Change PC Settings > Time & Language > Region & Language.

2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “Japanese.” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as 日本語 with the note “language pack available.”

3. Click on 日本語 > “Options” > “Download.” It will take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.

4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “Japanese – 日本語.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts.

2- Windows 7

1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region.

2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”

3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “Japanese.”

4. Expand the option of “Japanese” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “Japanese.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Click the Input Sources tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.

3. Click on the plus button, select “Japanese,” and add the “Japanese” keyboard.

Adding a system language

5. Activating the Japanese Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in Japanese will greatly help you master the language! Adding a Japanese keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”

3. Select “Japanese” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- Android

1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > On-screen Keyboard (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > Samsung Keyboard.

2. Tap “Language and Types” or “ + Select Input Languages” depending on the device and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.

3. Select 日本語 from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, these are a few good apps to consider:

6. Japanese Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in Japanese can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your Japanese keyboard.

A man typing on a computer

1- Computer

1. To toggle your IME on/off, you just need to hit “Alt + Tilde (~).” 

2. You can just type in Japanese words on your keyboard, if you know how they’re spelled in Romanization. (Like “a” = あ, “ko” = こ, and “re” = れ)But there are some points to be noticed:

 – To type ん, you need to type “nn” (double “n”). When you hit just “n,” you may have the chance to hit vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and it will make な, に, ぬ, ね, の. So you need that extra “n” to type ん.

 – To type small-sized vowel characters, as in ねぇ or あぁ, you need to hit “l” or “x + vowel.” For example, to type ぁ, you hit “la” or “xa.”

 – To get っ, the small “tsu.” However, you don’t have to type “ltsu” or “xtsu.” You just type it using a double consonant. For example, to type きっと, you hit “kitto.”

3. If you want to use Katakana instead of Hiragana, in most cases all you need to do is hit “spacebar” after you’ve typed the word in Hiragana. Then, your IME will most likely recommend that word in Katakana. But if this isn’t the case for you, or if you instead want a Katakana input mode, just hit “Ctrl + Caps Lock” to find it.

4. To convert to Kanji, you need to use the “spacebar” just like you do with Katakana words. Your IME will suggest a candidate Kanji list for the word. So hit the “spacebar” until you find the one you’re looking for, and then hit the “Enter” to determine the conversion candidate.

2- Mobile Phones

1. You can type Japanese words on a Kana-style keyboard as well as a Romanization-style keyboard. As for the Romanization-style typing, it’s almost the same as it is on the PC.

2. You’ll have only ten Hiragana letter keys, plus a punctuation key and a text face key to input with a Kana-style keyboard. The letter keys are arranged by consonant and each of them has three or more letters inside it. To select a letter, quickly tap the key to go through the different letters. Alternatively, you can simply hold down the key, which will bring up the options visually, and then slide your finger to the intended letter. 

3. The 改行 key is the equivalent to the Enter key, and the 空白 key is the equivalent to the space key.

7. How to Practice Typing Japanese

As you probably know by now, learning Japanese is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your Japanese typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer.
If you’re a JapanesePod101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your Japanese keyboard to do this!

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Ultimate Japanese Verb Conjugation Guide

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How many verbs do you think you use everyday? Verbs are the second-most frequently used part of speech in Japanese (after nouns), making it crucial to know and understand Japanese verb conjugation.

Compared to English, Japanese verb conjugation has distinct rules which might be difficult to understand at first. However, the good news is that Japanese verbs do not conjugate according to the speaker. Instead, the Japanese verb conjugation rules are the same for every grammatical person, or 人称 (ninshō), and any number of subjects (singular or plural). Therefore, you won’t be easily confused on how to conjugate Japanese verbs in this respect. In addition, there are very few irregular verb conjugations!

In this article, we’ll introduce the basics of Japanese verbs and Japanese verb conjugation, including verb groups and conjugation patterns. We’ll also provide examples for you.
Once you learn the conjugation patterns, you only have to apply the rules to any new verbs you learn! Let’s get started here at JapanesePod101.com!

Table of Contents
  1. What is Conjugation?
  2. Japanese Verb Conjugation Groups
  3. Conjugation Patterns
  4. Conjugation Patterns for Irregular Verbs
  5. Let’s Practice!
  6. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Japanese

1. What is Conjugation?

Top Verbs

1 – What Does Conjugation Mean?

Conjugation in Japanese is described as the variation of the form of a certain part of speech—such as verbs—which is influenced by certain elements. These include: voice, mood, tense, and politeness level.

In Japanese, there are four parts of speech which have conjugation: 

In this article, we’ll just be focusing on Japanese verb conjugations so we can explain in better detail. 

2 – What Affects Conjugation? 

As we mentioned above, the voice, mood, tense, and politeness level are identified by the form of Japanese verb conjugation used.

  • Voice

There are two types of voice: 能動態 (nōdōtai), or “active voice,” and 受動態 (judōtai), or “passive voice.”

  • The basic form of a verb is usually the active voice, where the subject performs the action.

    私は日記を書く
    Watashi wa nikki o kaku.
    “I write a journal.”
  • In Japanese, the passive voice is mainly used when the action is performed on the subject, or 受け身 (ukemi). However, it’s also used for other cases, such as:

    可能 (kanō) — to denote ability
    自発 (jihatsu) — spontaneous
    使役 (shieki) — causative
    尊敬 (sonkei) — respectful language

The Japanese passive voice is expressed in either れる (reru) or られる (rareru), which are auxiliary verbs used together with other verbs.

-Passive action: 
先生によく叱-られる
Sensei ni yoku shika-rareru.
“I’m often scolded by the teacher.”

-Ability:              
たくさん食べ-られる
Takusan tabe-rareru.
“I can eat a lot.”

-Spontaneous:  
毎年あの災害が思い出さ-れる
Maitoshi ano saigai ga omoidasa-reru.
“That disaster is remembered every year.”

-Respectful:      
講師が話さ-れる
Kōshi ga hanasa-reru.
“A lecturer is talking.” [In a respectful manner]

Someone Writing in a Journal

Active: Watashi wa nikki o kaku. (“I write a journal.”)

Passive: Nikki wa watashi ni yori kakareru. (“The journal is written by me.”)

  • Mood 

There are different types of moods that are identified in the conjugation forms. Grammatical mood  refers to the attitude of the speaker toward the action of the verb. For example, it indicates whether  that person is giving an order, making an assumption, giving a suggestion, etc.

Example:

Dictionary form : 食べる (taberu) “to eat”

Verb stem: 食べ- (tabe-)  

Mood / UsageConjugationKanji
Negative Formtabenai食べない
Attributive Form taberu(toki)食べ(とき)
Conditional Formtabereba食べれば
Imperative Formtabero食べ
Volitional Form ( “Let’s-“)tabe食べよう
  • Tense  

Japanese verb conjugation by tense is actually very simple when compared to English and romance languages such as French, Spanish, and Italian.

There are just two main tenses for the Japanese verb forms: present and past tense. The form of the present tense is used for future and habitual action, and therefore there is no particular future tense. 

The past tense always ends with た。 (ta).  

  • Japanese verb conjugation (Present Tense):

    私は今出かける
    Watashi wa ima dekakeru.
    “I go out now.”

    私は来週出かける
    Watashi wa raishū dekakeru.
    Literal translation: “I go out next week,” or “I will go out next week.”
  • Japanese verb conjugation (Past Tense):

    私は出かけた
    Watashi wa dekaketa.
    “I went out.”
  • Level of Politeness   

In Japanese conjugation, politeness level is another factor to consider. Verbs in the dictionary form are casual and informal, while verbs in the formal form end with ます (-masu), as do verbs in the ordinary polite form 丁寧語 (Teineigo).

In addition to verb conjugation, the Japanese language (especially verbs) has three types of 敬語 (keigo), or “honorific language,” which affect the Japanese conjugation forms. They also show different levels of respect: 

丁寧語 (teineigo) — polite

尊敬語 (sonkeigo) — respectful

謙譲語 (kenjōgo) — humble / modest

They’re used to express social distance and intimacy, as well as disparity or similarity in rank. For more details on Japanese 敬語 (keigo), please visit Japanese Honorifics.

It’s necessary for adults to be able to use 敬語 (keigo) properly in formal situations in Japan. However, you can use at least the formal/polite form without being rude.

Here’s a Japanese conjugation table for 言う (iu), or “to say,” by politeness level.

FormReadingKanji
Dictionary / Informali-u言-う
Formal / Teineigo / Politeii-masu言い-ます
Sonkeigo / Respectfulossharuおっしゃる
Kenjōgo / Humblemōsu申す
Two Japanese Businessmen Bowing to each Other

Appropriate use of 敬語 (keigo) is a must in the Japanese business world.

2. Japanese Verb Conjugation Groups

Japanese verbs always end with u or ru, and verbs are categorized into three groups: 

Class 1: U-verb

Class 2 : Ru-verb

Class 3: Irregular verb

Japanese verbs consist of two parts: a verb base (“stem”) and a suffix.  

A stem doesn’t change and a suffix conjugates according to the voice, mood, tense, and forms (casual vs. polite, and plain vs. negative).

1 – Class 1: U-verbs

More Essential Verbs

U-verbs always end with –u. However, please note that this refers to the last vowel being u when it’s written in reading form. Therefore, U-verbs can end with Hiragana う(u), く (ku), す(su), つ(tsu), ぬ (nu), む (mu), and sometimes る (ru). 

Examples of U-verbs

EnglishReadingKanjiHiragana
“listen” / “hear”kiku聞くきく
“wait”matsu待つまつ
“write”kaku書くかく
“go”iku行くいく

2 – Class 2: Ru-Verbs

Ru-verbs always end with –ru which is Hiragana る. Some verbs that end with る (ru) are categorized as U-verbs, such as 取る (toru), meaning “take,” but they’re just a few exceptions that you’ll easily start to recognize.

Examples of Ru-verbs

EnglishReadingKanjiHiragana
“eat”taberu食べる食べる
“wake up” /
“get up”
okiru起きるおきる
“sleep”neru寝るねる
“teach”oshieru教えるおしえる

3 – Class 3: Irregular Verbs

Surprise! There are only two irregular Japanese verbs, which are 来る (kuru), meaning “come,” and する (suru), meaning “do.”

Unlike U-verbs and Ru-verbs, the stem of the irregular verbs change according to the conjugation forms. 

The Japanese verb する (suru), meaning “do,” is one of the most frequently used verbs. It’s also very handy because it can often turn a noun into a verb when it’s added after a noun. Here’s how Japanese irregular verb conjugation works for this word:

  • 回転 (kaiten)  + する (suru)  = “to rotate” / “to spin around”
    [“rotation” / “spin”]             [“do”]  
  • 出席 (shusseki)  + する (suru)  = “to attend”
    [“attendance”]                    [“do”]
  •  謝罪 (shazai) +  する (suru)  = “to apologize”
                [“apology”]                         [“do”]

For more Japanese verb vocabulary, please visit our article on The 100+ Most Common Japanese Verbs.

Two People jogging on the Road Together

運動 (undō) “exercise” +  する (suru) “to do” = Undō-suru (“to exercise”)

3. Conjugation Patterns

In the Japanese verb conjugation system, a suffix (which is often an auxiliary verb) plays an important role in conjugation, together with the main verb.

1 – Class 1: U-verb Conjugation

U-verbs conjugate as in this example:

  • Dictionary form: はなす・話す (hanasu) “to talk” / “to speak”
  • Verb stem: はな- (hana-)  

The verb 話す (hanasu), which means “to talk” or “to speak,” has the stem はな (hana) and the suffix す (su). 

In Japanese conjugation, suffixes conjugate and change like in the example below, according to the forms.

FormInformalFormal
Presentはな-す 
hana-su 
はな-します
hana-shimasu
Negative-presentはな-さない
hana-sanai
はな-しません
hana-shimasen
Pastはな-した
hana-shita
はな-しました
hana-shimashita
Negative-pastはな-さなかった
hana-sanakatta
はな-しませんでした
hana-shimasen deshita
Volitionalはな-そう
hana-sō
はな-しましょう
hana-shimashō
Passiveはな-される
hana-sareru
はな-されます
hana-saremasu
Causativeはな-させる
haha-saseru
はな-させます
haha-sasemasu
Conditionalはな-せば
hana-seba
Imperativeはな-せ
hana-se
はな-しなさい
haha-shinasai

Example Sentences

  • 私は彼と話しませんでした。
    Watashi wa kare to hana-shimasen deshita
    “I didn’t talk with him.” [past / formal / polite]
  • 彼らと一緒に話そう。
    Kare-ra to issho ni hana-sō.   
    “Let’s talk with them.” [volitional / informal]
  • 本当のことを話せ!
    Hontō no koto o hana-se!  
    “Tell the truth!” [imperative / informal]
Negative verbs

2 – Class 2: Ru-verb Conjugation

Ru-verb conjugation is similar to U-verb conjugation, but slightly different. Please pay attention to the suffix after the stem. 

  • Dictionary form:  たべる・食べる (taberu) “to eat”
  • Verb stem: たべ- (tabe-)  

The verb 食べる (taberu), meaning “to eat,” has the stem たべ (tabe) and the suffix る (ru). 

The suffix conjugates and changes as follows:

FormInformalFormal
Presentたべ-る
tabe-ru
たべ-ます
tabe-masu
Negative-presentたべ-ない
tabe-nai
たべ-ません
tabe-masen
Pastたべ-た
tabe-ta
たべ-ました
tabe-mashita
Negative-pastたべ-なかった
tabe-nakatta
たべ-ませんでした
tabe-masen deshita
Volitionalたべ-よう
tabe-yō
たべ-ましょう
tabe-mashō
Passiveたべ-られる
tabe-rareru
たべ-られます
tabe-raremasu
Causativeたべ-させる
tabe-saseru
たべ-させます
tabe-sasemasu
Conditionalたべ-れば
tabe-reba
Imperativeたべ-ろ
tabe-ro
たべ-なさい
tabe-nasai

Example Sentences

  • 彼女は肉を食べません。
    Kanojo wa niku o tabe-masen.  
    “She does not eat meat.” [present / formal / polite]
  • 私は子供達に野菜を食べさせます。
    Watashi wa kodomo-tachi ni yasai o tabe-sasemasu.   
    “I make my children eat vegetables.” [causative / formal]
  • これを食べれば良くなるよ!
    Kore o tabe-reba yoku naru yo!  
    “If you eat this, you’ll get better!” [conditional]
Woman signaling that She doesn’t want Meat on Her Plate

Watashi wa niku o tabe-masen. = “I don’t eat meat.”

4. Conjugation Patterns for Irregular Verbs 

Contrary to U-verbs and Ru-verbs, the two irregular verbs 来る (kuru), meaning “come,” and する (suru), meaning “do,” conjugate even the stems. These two irregular verbs are frequently used, so let’s simply memorize them!

1. 来る

  • Dictionary form: くる・来る (kuru) “to come”
  • Verb stem: く (ku-) /  こ (ko-) / き (ki-
FormInformalFormal
Presentく-る
ku-ru
き-ます
ki-masu
Negative-presentこ-ない
ko-nai
き-ません
ki-masen
Pastき-た
ki-ta
き-ました
ki-mashita
Negative-pastこ-なかった
ko-nakatta
き-ませんでした
ki-masen deshita
Volitionalこ-よう
ko-yō
き-ましょう
ki-mashō
Passiveこ-られる
ko-rareru
こ-られます
ko-raremasu
Causativeこ-させる
ko-saseru
こ-させます
ko-sasemasu
Conditionalく-れば
ku-reba
Imperativeこ-い
ko-i
き-なさい
ki-nasai

Example Sentences

  • 彼女は昨日学校に来なかった。
    Kanojo wa kinō gakkō ni ko-nakatta.
    “She did not come to school yesterday.” [past / informal]
  • こちらへ来れば安全です。
    Kochira e ku-reba anzen desu. 
    “You will be safe if you come here.” [conditional]
  • 今すぐここへ来なさい!
    Ima sugu koko e ki-nasai!  
    “Come here right now!” [imperative / formal / polite]

2. する

  • Dictionary form: する (suru) “to do”
  • Verb stem: す (su-)  / し (shi-) / さ (sa-)
FormInformalFormal
Presentす-る
su-ru
し-ます
shi-masu
Negative-presentし-ない
shi-nai
し-ません
shi-masen
Pastし-た
shi-ta
し-ました
shi-mashita
Negative-pastし-なかった
shi-nakatta
し-ませんでした
shi-masen deshita
Volitionalし-よう
shi-yō
し-ましょう
shi-mashō
Passiveさ-れる
sa-reru
さ-れます
sa-remasu
Causativeさ-せる
sa-seru
さ-せます
sa-semasu
Conditionalす-れば
su-reba
Imperativeし-ろ
shi-ro
し-なさい
shi-nasai

Example Sentences

  • 彼はそんなことしません。
    Kare wa sonna koto shi-masen.
    “He does not do such things.” [present / formal / polite]
  • 一緒に勉強しよう。
    Issho ni benkyō shi-yō.    
    “Let’s study together.” [volitional / informal]
      * benkyō + suru (studying + do = to study)
  • 早くしなさい!
    Hayaku shi-nasai!  
    “Do it quickly!” [imperative / formal / polite]

5. Let’s Practice! 

Now it’s time for a Japanese conjugation quiz to practice! 

Try to conjugate each verb in the ( ), following the instructions, and write your answer in the blank. Even if you don’t know, try to guess and check the answers below!

  1. Write the verb in the past tense and informal form:

    Watashi wa kinō ringo o (taberu) ______ .
    (“I ate an apple yesterday.”)

  1. Write the verb in the volitional and formal form:

    Watashi-tachi to issho ni  (hanasu) ______ .
    (“Let’s talk with us.”)

  1. Write the verb in the negative-present and formal form:

    Kyō wa shiken no hi desu ga, dare mo (kuru) ______ .
    (“Although today is the exam day, nobody comes.”)

  1. Write the verb in the imperative and formal form:

    Kanojo ni (shazai suru) ______!
    (“Apologize to her!”)

  1. Write the verb in the volitional and formal/polite form: 

    Issho ni (iku) ______.
    (“Let’s go together.”)
Large Serving Tray of Sushi

Sushi o tabeyō! = “Let’s eat Sushi!”

Let’s check the answers!

  1. The past tense and informal form of taberu is tabemashita.
    It’s the conjugation pattern of Class 2: Ru-verbs.

    Watashi wa kinō ringo o tabemashita.
    (“I ate an apple yesterday.”)

  1. The volitional and formal form of hanasu is hanashimashō.
    It’s the conjugation pattern of Class 1: U-verbs.

    Watashi-tachi to issho ni hanashimashō.
    (“Let’s talk with us.”)

  1. The negative-present and formal form of kuru is kimasen.
    It’s the conjugation pattern of the Class 3 irregular verb 来る (kuru), meaning “to come.”

    Kyō wa shiken no hi desu ga, dare mo kimasen.
    (“Although today is the exam day, nobody comes.”)

  1. The imperative and formal form of shazai suru is shazai shinasai.
    It’s the conjugation pattern of the Class 3 irregular verb する (suru), meaning “to do.”
    * shazai (“apology”) + suru (“to do”) = “to apologize”

    Kanojo ni shazai shinasai!
    (“Apologize to her!”)

  1. The volitional and formal/polite form of iku is ikimashō.
    It’s the conjugation pattern of Class 1: U-verbs.

    Issho ni ikimashō.
    (“Let’s go together.”)

6. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced you to Japanese verbs conjugation. Japanese verb conjugation has unique rules, but it’s simpler than you think. For example, you don’t have to worry about conjugating for person or number.

Once you master the conjugation patterns, you’ll be able to increase your verb vocabulary much easier!

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and other useful Japanese phrases by situation, you’ll find a lot more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons for you to help improve your Japanese language skills. To start, here’s some more information about the basics of Japanese with audio: 

To learn more about Japanese verbs and other grammar-related topics, check out Basic Kanji for Verbs and The 50 Most Common Japanese Verbs You’ll Find in Textbooks. How to Improve Your Speaking Skills and Must-Know Adverbs and Phrases for Connecting Thoughts are also useful if you want to brush up on your Japanese conversation skills.

And there’s so much more! Be a faster learner and enjoy studying Japanese at JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if there are any Japanese verbs you still want to know! We’d be glad to help, and look forward to hearing from you! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Japanese

The 100+ Most Common Japanese Verbs

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How many Japanese verbs do you know? When you know the 100 most common Japanese verbs and understand basic Japanese verb conjugation, you can express and understand Japanese much better!

Verbs are one of the most important parts of speech, and it’s said that verbs are the second most frequently used words (26%, next to nouns at 42%) among all other categories of words in daily Japanese conversations. 

It’s always a bit tiring to learn grammatical rules, such as the conjugation patterns of verbs. However, it’s easier than you think! Once you have the rules down and become used to using them, all you have to do is apply those rules to new Japanese verbs you learn.

Japanese verb conjugation has unique rules from those in English. But don’t worry! Some features are simpler—there’s no verb conjugation based on the speaker, such as singular vs. plural, gender, or the category of that person grammatically, called 人称 (ninshō). This means that in English, verbs change based on who’s speaking:

  • I am
  • She is
  • You are
  • I go
  • He goes

However, Japanese verbs remain the same regardless of who the speaker is.
In this article, we’ll introduce the top 100 Japanese verbs for beginners, which are most frequently used. We’ll also give you some tips about Japanese verb conjugation, though we’ll have a more in-depth article on this topic later on. Let’s master Japanese verbs here at JapanesePod101!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. Verb Groups: Different Types of Japanese Verbs
  2. Action Verbs: Physical
  3. Action Verbs: Mental
  4. Other Verbs
  5. Japanese Auxiliary Verbs: 助動詞 (Jodōshi)
  6. Verb Usage: How Japanese Verbs Work
  7. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. Verb Groups: Different Types of Japanese Verbs

Top Verbs

Japanese verbs always end with u or ru, and verbs are categorized into three groups: 

  • Class 1: U-verb
  • Class 2: Ru-verb
  • Class 3: Irregular verb

As the conjugation system itself is very simple, memorizing the patterns and rules will help you learn how to use Japanese verbs properly.

Japanese verbs consist of two parts: a verb base (“stem”) and a suffix. A stem doesn’t change, and a suffix conjugates according to the forms. These forms include casual vs. polite and plain vs. negative.

Class 1: U-Verbs

書く (kaku):writeCasualPolite
Stemkak
Basic Form書-く
kak-u
書-きます
kak-imasu
Negative Form書-かない
kak-anai
書-きません
kak-imasen

The verb 書く (kaku), meaning “write,” has the stem kak and the suffix u. As you can see from the Japanese verbs chart above, the suffix conjugates and changes according to the forms. 

However, you have to keep in mind that if a verb ends with u, it means that the last vowel is u. Therefore,  u-verbs can end with Hiragana:

  • う(u)
  • く (ku)
  • す(su)
  • つ (tsu)
  • ぬ (nu)
  • む (mu)
  • る (ru
Woman Writing Something in a Journal

U-verb Examples

EnglishReadingKanjiHiragana
meetau会うあう
learnmanabu学ぶまなぶ
pushosu押すおす
pullhiku引くひく

Class 2: Ru-Verbs

出る (deru) :come outCasualPolite
Stemde
Basic Form出-る
de-ru
出-ます
de-masu
Negative Form出-ない
de-nai
出-ません
de-masen

The verb 出る (deru), meaning “come out,” has the stem de and the suffix ru. The suffix conjugates and changes as it did above. It’s similar to u-verbs, but slightly different.

Ru-verb Examples

EnglishReadingKanjiHiragana
teachoshieru教えるおしえる
exist
(living things)
iruいるいる
sleepneru寝るねる
answerkotaeru答えるこたえる

Class 3: Irregular Verbs

Don’t worry too much! There are only two Japanese irregular verbs.

The stems of the verbs change according to the conjugating forms. There are only two verbs, so let’s memorize them!

  • 来る (kuru):come
来る (kuru) :comeCasualPolite
Stemku / ko / ki
Basic Form来-る
く-る
ku-ru
来-ます
き-ます
ki-masu
Negative Form来-ない
こ-ない
ko-nai
来-ません
き-ません
ki-masen
  • する (suru):do
する (suru) :doCasualPolite
Stemsu / shi
Basic Formす-る
su-ru
し-ます
shi-masu
Negative Formし-ない
shi-nai
し-ません
shi-masen

The Japanese verb する (suru), meaning “do,” is a very handy word which can often turn a noun into a verb when it’s added next to the noun. 

For example:

  • 勉強 (benkyō)   + する (suru)  = to study

studying                (do)  

  • 参加 (sanka)  + する (suru)  = to participate

participation           (do)  

  • 感謝 (kansha)   + する (suru)  = to thank/appreciate

  appreciation/gratitude      (do)  

Now that you have a better idea of how to conjugate different types of verbs, let’s move on to our Japanese verbs list! 

Pencil and Notebook Pages that have been Written In

2. Action Verbs: Physical 

To start, here are the most common Japanese verbs of motion.

EnglishJapanese ReadingKanjiHiragana
see / look / watchmiru見るみる
hear / listenkiku聞くきく
sayiu言ういう
walkaruku歩くあるく
runhashiru走るはしる
eattaberu食べるたべる
drinknomu飲むのむ
taketoru取るとる
usetsukau使うつかう
moveugoku動くうごく
hold / grabtsukamu掴むつかむ
standsuwaru座るすわる
standtatsu立つたつ
wearkiru着るきる
take off (clothes/shoes)nugu脱ぐぬぐ
workhataraku働くはたらく
wake upokiru起きるおきる
goiku行くいく
comekuru来るくる
bendmageru曲げるまげる
searchsagasu探すさがす
readyomu読むよむ
playasobu遊ぶあそぶ
get on (vehicle)noru乗るのる
get off (vehicle)oriru降りるおりる
starthajimeru始めるはじめる
finishoeru終えるおえる
openakeru開けるあける
closeshimeru閉めるしめる
stoptomeru止めるとめる
putoku置くおく
waitmatsu待つまつ
restyasumu休むやすむ
learnmanabu学ぶまなぶ
giveataeru与えるあたえる
visitotozureru訪れるおとずれる
leavesaru去るさる
departshuppatsu suru出発するしゅっぱつする
arrivetōchaku suru到着するとうちゃくする
selluru売るうる
buykau買うかう
liveikiru生きるいきる
dieshinu死ぬしぬ
Group of People Running on a Field

3. Action Verbs: Mental 

These everyday Japanese verbs are essential for expressing actions that aren’t physical or immediately tangible. Take a look!

knowJapanese ReadingKanjiHiragana
knowshiru知るしる
thinkkangaeru考えるかんがえる
imaginesōzō suru想像するそうぞうする
feelkanjiru感じるかんじる
likekonomu好むこのむ
dislikekirau嫌うきらう
loveaisuru愛するあいする
hatenikumu憎むにくむ
believeshinjiru信じるしんじる
expectkitai suru期待するきたいする
understandrikai suru理解するりかいする
rememberomoidasu思い出すおもいだす
agreedōi suru同意するどういする
laughwarau笑うわらう
crynaku泣くなく
get angryokoru怒るおこる
feel sadkanashimu悲しむかなしむ
wish / hopenegau願うねがう
get surprisedodoroku驚くおどろく
forgetwasureru忘れるわすれる
satisfymanzoku suru満足するまんぞくする
doubtutagau疑ううたがう
decidekimeru決めるきめる
noticekizuku気づくきづく

To check your pronunciation of Japanese verbs with audio, see our page about the 25 Most Commonly Used Verbs.

4. Other Verbs 

More Essential Verbs

You’re almost done! There are just a few more Japanese language verbs you should know.

EnglishJapanese ReadingKanjiHiragana
appeararawareru現れるあらわれる
remainkieru消えるきえる
remainnokoru残るのこる
returnkaeru帰るかえる
checkkakunin suru確認するかくにんする
increasefueru増えるふえる
decreaseheru減るへる
carryhakobu運ぶはこぶ
get drykawaku乾くかわく
get wetnureru濡れるぬれる
washarau洗うあらう
get dirtyyogoreru汚れるよごれる
indicateshimesu示すしめす
enjoytanoshimu楽しむたのしむ
fallochiru落ちるおちる
winkatsu勝つかつ
losemakeru負けるまける
breakkowasu壊すこわす
fixnaosu直すなおす
crosswataru渡るわたる
changekawaru変わるかわる
sendokuru送るおくる
receiveuketoru受け取るうけとる
Someone Washing Hands with Soap and Water

5. Japanese Auxiliary Verbs: 助動詞 (Jodōshi)

The Japanese 助動詞 (Jodōshi), which translates as “auxiliary verb,” is a functional type of word with some variations. By adding an auxiliary verb, the meaning of the preceding word will be modified. 

For example:

  • 感じる (kanjiru) : “feel”   +   させる (saseru) [causative verb]

           = 感じさせる (kanjisaseru) : “make (you) feel”

  • 食べる (taberu) : “eat”   +   られる (rareru) [ability]

           = 食べられる (taberareru) : edible

Here are some of the Japanese auxiliary verbs:

Japanese ReadingHiraganaUsage / Meaning / Example
(sa)seru(ら)れるCausation

食べさせる 
tabesaseru
to make (one) eat
(ra) reru(ら)れるPassive / Ability, etc.

食べられる
taberareru  
edible / being eaten
nai / nu / n(よ)うNegation

食べない
tabenai  
(I do) not eat
(よ)うVolition

食べよう
tabe  
I will eat / Let’s eat
tai / tagaruたい / たがるDesire

食べたい
tabetai 
I want to eat
yō daようだSimilarity

食べるようだ
taberu yō da  
it looks like (she/he) eats
sō daそうだHearsay

食べるそうだ
taberu sō da 
they say that (she/he) eats
rashiiらしいHearsay / Behavior

食べるらしい
taberu rashii
they say that (she/he) may eat
da / desu・masuだ / です・ますPredication / Politeness (copula)

食べます
tabemasu 
(I) eat
One Woman Whispering in Another Woman’s Ear

6. Verb Usage: How Japanese Verbs Work

Japanese language verb conjugation patterns differ for u-verbs, ru-verbs, and irregular verbs. 

Because many frequently used Japanese words are in this category, let’s take a look at an example for u-verbs.

The conjugation pattern for the verb 書く (kaku), meaning “write,” is as follows:

ConjugationKanjiUsage / Meaning
kakAnai書かないNegative Form
kakImasu書きますPolite Form
kaIta書いたTa- Form
kakU書くDictionary Form
kakU toki書くときAttributive Form 
kakEba書けばConditional Form
kakE書けImperative Form
kakO書こうSuggestion Form (“Let’s-“)

For more detail on the grammar of Japanese verbs and other conjugation patterns, please visit Verb Conjugation.

We also have other articles you may like to check out: Top 100 Japanese Adjectives, Top 100 Japanese Nouns, and Japanese Pronouns.

7. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

Negative Verbs

In this article, we introduced the most common Japanese verbs and explained the basics of Japanese verb conjugation. Once you know the conjugation patterns, you’ll be able to more quickly expand your Japanese verbs vocabulary and take better command of the language.

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and other useful Japanese phrases for a variety of situations, you’ll find a lot of helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide an array of free lessons for you to improve your Japanese language skills. To get you started, here’s some more information on Japanese basics with audio: 

To learn how to converse with others in Japanese, check out Top 15 Questions You Should Know for Conversations and Top 10 Conversational Phrases. If you want to learn Japanese kanji, you’ll also enjoy Basic Kanji for Verbs and Basic Kanji for Adjectives.

And there’s so much more! Learn faster and enjoy studying Japanese at JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if there are any Japanese verbs you still want to know! We’d be glad to help, and look forward to hearing from you!

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Your Ultimate Guide to Japanese Pronouns

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Pronouns are used to substitute nouns, such as people or things, in a sentence. Using pronouns allows you to avoid repetitive usage of a particular word in a sentence, which would sound awkward. Japanese pronouns are very different from those in English because Japanese pronouns can be omitted from a sentence when they’re implied through the context.

Unlike in English, there are many different variations of Japanese personal pronouns that translate as “I/me” and “you,” although only a few are commonly used. This expression of Japanese pronouns comes from Japanese culture, which puts importance on respect, seniority, and social order. 

Each Japanese pronoun variation denotes the different characteristics of the speaker. These include gender, age, social status, level of respect, and their relationship with the person they’re speaking to.
Ready to learn Japanese pronouns? In this Japanese pronoun guide, we introduce Japanese pronouns that will boost your language skills, and teach you how to use them. JapanesePod101 makes it simple and easy to understand!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. Japanese Personal Pronouns
  2. Japanese Demonstrative Pronouns
  3. Japanese Interrogative Pronouns
  4. Japanese Indefinite Pronouns
  5. Examples
  6. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. Japanese Personal Pronouns

Introduce Yourself

Personal pronouns in Japanese are rich in expression, and there are dozens of first- and second-person pronouns. However, most of them aren’t commonly used so we’ll introduce frequently used Japanese personal pronouns here.

1. 1st, 2nd, 3rd Person Singular

1. How to Say “I”

ReadingKanjiHiraganaLevel of FormalityGenderCharacteristics
watakushiわたくしvery formalbothVery formal and polite personal pronoun often used in very official occasions.
watashiわたしformal / informalbothUsed by both genders in formal occasions, such as at the workplace. This is the most commonly used word for “I,” but it’s often omitted in a sentence. In informal situations, this is typically used by women.
atashiあたしinformalfemaleThis is the casual version of watashi and it’s used by younger females in conversations. However, it can sound a bit childish and unsophisticated.
bokuぼくinformalmaleUsed by males of all ages, but very often by kids and younger men. It gives an impression of  humbleness. This can also be used as a second-person pronoun toward little boys (English equivalent: “kid”).
oreおれvery informalmaleFrequently used by men in informal settings, such as among family and friends. It sounds very masculine. This can be very rude when it’s used in formal occasions or in front of respectable/senior people.

2. How to Say “You”

ReadingKanjiHiraganaLevel of FormalityGenderCharacteristics
anata貴方あなたformal / informalbothThis is almost equivalent to the English word “you.” However, it’s not often used as the subject in a sentence, and it’s often omitted. It’s more common to use a person’s name with a Japanese honorific, such as 様 (sama) or さん (san), to express “you” in formal contexts. In addition, wives often call their husbands by this Japanese pronoun. When used this way, it’s comparable to the English words “dear” or “darling.” Kanji is rarely used.
kimiきみinformalbothOften used to call subordinates and peers in informal settings. It can also be affectionate and polite when used by a boyfriend/husband to call his girlfriend/wife. It’s impolite and inappropriate when used with respectable/senior people or strangers. The Kanji 君 can also be read as kun when it’s added next to a male’s name as a casual and affectionate honorific word.
omaeお前おまえvery informalboth / maleOften used by men. It expresses that the speaker has a superior status or age, and it’s very rude to use this toward senior people and in formal settings. It’s also used among close friends to call peers. In addition, husbands frequently call their wives by this pronoun, which is comparable to the female use of anata.
antaあんたvery informalbothIt’s a short version of anata, but it sounds very impolite and implies a sense of contempt. It can also be used between people in a very close relationship. It’s very rude and inappropriate to use toward  senior people and in formal settings.
kisama貴様きさまvery rude and hostilebothThe historical origin of this word was very formal, but it’s used today as a very rude way to call another person. It has a sense of extreme hostility from the speaker. You’ll often hear this in  時代劇 (jidaigeki) (samurai warrior) drama shows.
Two Women Having a Casual Chat.

3. How to Say “He” and “She”

Does Japanese have gendered pronouns? Sort of. Here’s what we mean:

ReadingKanjiHiraganaLevel of Formality
kareかれformal / informal
kanojo彼女かのじょformal / informal

The Japanese pronouns for the third person are above. However, they’re not used like they are in English.

Native Japanese people prefer to use the person’s name, or to describe them as あの人 (ano hito), meaning “that person,” which makes it unnecessary to indicate gender.

In informal settings, 彼 (kare) means “boyfriend” and 彼女 (kanojo) means “girlfriend.”

2. 1st, 2nd, 3rd Person Plural

In order to make Japanese personal pronouns plural, a suffix is added to them.
The suffix can be ~達 (-tachi ), ~方 (-gata), or ~ら (-ra), depending on which word comes in front.

MeaningSuffixReadingLevel of Formality
We-tachiwatashi-tachineutral / formal
You [plural]-tachianata-tachineutral / formal
You [plural]-gataanata-gataformal
They [he, plural]-rakare-raneutral / formal
They [she, plural]-rakanojo-raneutral / formal

The suffix 達 (-tachi) can be added to most of the nouns that refer to people and animals. For example, 動物達(dōbutsu-tachi) means “animals.”

Old Japanese Couple Drinking Tea Together.

3. Possessive Forms

To make Japanese possessive pronouns, add the suffix の (〜no) to the pronouns.

MeaningReading
minewatashi no
yoursanata no
hiskare no
herskanojo no
ourswatashi-tachi no
theirskare-ra no

4. Reflective or Intensive Forms

To make Japanese reflexive pronouns or intensive forms, add the suffix 自身 (〜jishin) to the pronouns.

MeaningReading
myselfwatashi jishin
yourselfanata jishin
himselfkare jishin
herselfkanojo jishin
ourselveswatashi-tachi jishin
themselveskare-ra jishin

To hear how to pronounce Japanese pronouns, visit Most Useful Pronouns.

2. Japanese Demonstrative Pronouns

Basic Questions

Demonstrative pronouns in Japanese are typically written in Hiragana. Further, Japanese demonstrative pronouns are easy to remember as they’re categorized in groups depending on their degree of distance from the speaker or listener.

Words that:

  • begin with こ (ko-) indicate something close to the speaker. 
  • begin with そ (so-) indicate some distance from the speaker or something close to the listener.
  • begin with あ (a-) indicate far distance.
MeaningReadingHiraganaNotes
thiskoreこれnear speaker
itsoreそれnear listener
thatareあれdistant from both speaker and listener
thesekore-raこれらnear speaker
thosesore-ra /
are-ra
それら/
あれら
near listener /
distant from both speaker and listener
herekokoここnear speaker
theresokoそこnear listener
over thereasokoあそこdistant from both speaker and listener

3. Japanese Interrogative Pronouns

Similar to demonstrative pronouns, most of the Japanese interrogative pronouns begin with ど (do-) or だ (da-).

MeaningReadingKanjiHiragana
whatnaniなに
whichdono / doreどの/どれ
whodareだれ
whomdare ni誰に誰に
whosedare no誰のだれの
whenitsuいつ
whynazeなぜ

Keep in mind that “whose” is a possessive form of “who,” and the rules of the Japanese possessive forms also apply:

誰 (dare) meaning “who” + の (〜no) = 誰の (dare no) meaning “whose.”

Woman with Question Marks above Head

4. Japanese Indefinite Pronouns

In the Japanese language, “everyone/everybody” and “anyone/anybody” are both translated as 誰でも (dare demo) in some contexts.

In a negative sentence using indefinite pronouns such as “no one/nobody,” “nowhere,” and “nothing,” a negative form is typically: も…ない (...mo…nai …).

MeaningReadingKanjiHiragana
everyone /
everybody
minna / dare demo皆/誰でもみんな/だれでも
everywheredoko demo /
doko ni mo
どこでも/どこにも
everythingsubete / zenbu全て/全部すべて/ぜんぶ
someone /
somebody
dare ka誰かだれか
somewheredoko kaどこか
somethingnani ka何かなにか
no one /
nobody
dare mo…nai誰も…ないだれも…ない
nowheredoko ni mo…naiどこにも…ない
nothingnani mo…nai何も…ないなにも…ない
anyone /
anybody
dare demo誰でもだれでも
anywheredoko demo /
doko ni mo
どこでも/どこにも
anythingnan demo何でもなんでも
Looking for Something on TV

5. Examples

Now that we’ve come to the end of this Japanese pronouns list, here are some example sentences using Japanese pronouns.

1. Personal Pronouns

  • あなたと私は東京出身で、彼と彼女は大阪出身です。

Anata to watashi wa Tōkyō shusshin de, kare to kanojo wa Ōsaka shusshin desu. 

You and I are from Tokyo, and he and she are from Osaka.

  • 年上の人に向かって「お前」や「貴様」と呼ぶことはとても失礼です。

Toshiue no hito ni mukatte “omae” ya “kisama” to yobu koto wa totemo shitsurei desu.

It is very rude to call an elder person omae and kisama.

  • 私達は明日、君の誕生日会へ行きます。

Watashi-tachi wa ashita, kimi no tanjōbi kai e ikimasu.

We will go to your birthday party tomorrow.

2. Demonstrative Pronouns

  • それをここに持ってきてください。

Sore o koko ni motte kite kudasai. 

Please bring it here.

  • これらの本はあそこの棚へ戻してください。

Kore-ra no hon wa asoko no tana e modoshite kudasai. 

Please put these books back on the shelf over there.

  • 彼らはここからあなたの家へ出発しました。

Kare-ra wa koko kara anata no ie e shuppatsu shimashita.

They departed to your home from here.

3. Interrogative Pronouns

  • 私はなぜあそこに行かなければならないか分かりません。

Watashi wa naze aoko ni ikanakereba naranai ka wakarimasen. 

I don’t understand why I have to go there.

  • 誰に向かって話しているのですか。

Dare ni mukatte hanashite iru no desu ka.

To whom are you talking?

  • あそこのあの靴は誰のですか。

Asoko no ano kutsu wa dare no desu ka.

Whose shoes are those there?

4. Indefinite Pronouns

  • 彼女はどこかに全てを置いてきました。

Kanojo wa doko ka ni subete o oite kimashita. 

She left everything somewhere.

  • 誰もあのような変な服を持っていないでしょう。

Dare mo ano yō na hen na fuku o motte inai deshō.

No one would have strange clothes like that.

  • 誰かが彼にここで何でも食べていいと伝えました。

Dare ka ga kare ni koko de nan demo tabete ii to tsutaemashita.

Somebody told him that he could eat anything here.

 To learn more useful Japanese vocabulary, check out our 100 Adjectives and 100 Nouns articles.

6. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

Improve Listening

In this article, we introduced you to a variety of common pronouns in Japanese. By now, you should have an enhanced vocabulary and have a better idea of how to use Japanese pronouns. This is something that will definitely improve your overall Japanese language skills! 

Did you learn something new from this article? Do you want to know more about Japanese grammar? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and other useful Japanese phrases for any situation, you’ll find more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons to help you improve your Japanese language skills. 

To get you started, here’s some more information about the basics of Japanese, with audio:

To learn how to converse in Japanese, check out Top 15 Questions You Should Know for Conversations and Top 10 Conversational Phrases. Basic Kanji for Verbs and Basic Kanji for Adjectives are also useful if you want to learn Japanese kanji.

And there’s so much more! Learn faster and enjoy studying Japanese at JapanesePod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese

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Pronunciation is an essential ingredient in language-learning. Proper pronunciation prompts clear understanding during conversations with native speakers.

Prior to learning full Korean sentences, my online Korean language tutor assigned the “Hana Hana Hangul” pathway to me. It demonstrated the writing and pronunciation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Throughout this pathway, I submitted recordings of my Hangul character pronunciations to my language teacher for review.

I was given a similar task on JapanesePod101.com with the “Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide” pathway. My Japanese language teacher tested my pronunciation of the Japanese characters kana. My completion of the two pathways boosted my confidence in speaking.

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eodieseo salgo isseumnikka

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“I live in Tokyo.”

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There’s also the 2000 Core Word List, which includes the most commonly used words in your target language. Starting from the 100 Core Word List, you’ll gradually build up your knowledge of useful vocabulary. These lists can be studied with SRS flashcards, too.

With the SRS flashcards, you can change the settings to your liking. The settings range from different card types to number of new cards per deck. Personally, I give myself vocabulary tests by changing the settings.

After studying a number of flashcards, I change the card types to listening comprehension and/or production. Then I test myself by writing the translation of the word or the spoken word or phrase.

The change in settings allow me to remember vocabulary and learn how to identify the words. This is especially helpful with Japanese kanji!

Complete Homework Assignments!

A woman studying at home

Homework assignments are advantageous to my language studies. There are homework assignments auto-generated weekly. They range from multiple-choice quizzes to writing assignments.

Language tutors are readily available for homework help. Some writing assignments, for instance, require use of unfamiliar vocabulary. In such cases, my language teachers assist me by forwarding related lessons or vocabulary lists.

In addition to these auto-generated homework tasks, language tutors customize daily assignments. My daily homework assignments include submitting three written sentences that apply the target grammar point of that lesson, and then blindly audio-recording those sentences. My personal language tutor follows up with feedback and corrections, if needed.

Your language tutors also provide assignments upon requests. When I wanted to review grammar, my Korean teacher sent related quizzes and assignments. Thus, you are not only limited to the auto-generated assignments.

Every weekend, I review by re-reading those written sentences. It helps me remember sentence structures, grammar points, and vocabulary to apply in real-world contexts.

Furthermore, I can track my progress with language portfolios every trimester. It’s like a midterm exam that tests my listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

Get Your Own Personal Language Teacher!

A woman teaching pronunciation in a classroom

My language teachers cater to my goals with personalized and achievable learning programs. The tangible support of my online language teachers makes it evident that we share common goals.

Once I share a short-term or long-term goal with my teacher, we establish a plan or pathway that will ultimately result in success. I coordinate with my teachers regularly to ensure the personalized learning programs are prosperous. For example, during my JLPT studies, my Japanese language tutor assigned me practice tests.

Your language tutor is available for outside help as well. When I bought drama CDs in Japan, I had difficulty transliterating the dialogue. My Japanese teacher forwarded me the script to read along as I listened.

Additionally, I often practice Korean and Japanese with music. I memorize one line of the lyrics daily. Every time, I learn a new grammar point and new vocabulary. I add the vocabulary to my SRS flashcards, locate the grammar in the Grammar Bank, and study the associated lessons online.

I send my teachers the name of the songs, making them aware of my new goal. One time, my song for Korean was “If You Do” by GOT7. My Korean teacher revealed that she was a huge fan of GOT7 like me! For Japanese, it was “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA,” also known as the Dragonball Z theme song. My Japanese teacher excitedly told me that she sang the song a lot as a kid!

A remarkable thing happened to me in South Korea. I was stressed about opening a bank account with limited Korean. I sought help from my Korean teacher. She forwarded me a script of a bank conversation.

After two days, I visited the local bank. It all started with my opening sentence:

은행 계좌를 만들고 싶어요

eunhaeng gyejwaleul mandeulgo sip-eoyo.

I want to open a bank account.

Everything went smoothly, and I exited the bank with a new account!

The MyTeacher Messenger allows me to share visuals with my teachers for regular interaction, including videos to critique my pronunciation mechanisms. I improve my listening and speaking skills by exchanging audio with my teachers. In addition to my written homework assignments, I exchange messages with my language teachers in my target language. This connection with my teachers enables me to experience the culture as well as the language.

Why You Should Subscribe to Premium PLUS

It’s impossible for me to imagine my continuous progress with Japanese and Korean without Premium PLUS. Everything—from the SRS flashcards to my language teachers—makes learning languages enjoyable and clear-cut.

You’re assured to undergo the same experience with Premium PLUS. You’ll gain access to the aforementioned features as well as all of the Premium features.

Complete lessons and assignments to advance in your target language. Increase your vocabulary with the “2000 Core Word List” for that language and SRS flashcards. Learn on-the-go with the Innovative Language app and/or Podcasts app for iOS users.

Learning a new language takes dedication and commitment. The Premium PLUS features make learning irresistibly exciting. You’ll look forward to learning daily with your language tutor.

As of right now, your challenge is to subscribe to Premium PLUS! Complete your assessment, and meet your new Japanese teacher.

Have fun learning your target language in the fastest and easiest way!

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Japanese Sentence Structure & Word Order

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When learning a new language, the grammatical part is inevitable. Even if you have a large vocabulary and can communicate well enough with native speakers of that language (which is a great way to practice at first!), you need to know the correct word order and sentence structure to continue improving. 

Japanese grammar is totally different from English grammar. However, once you get used to the Japanese sentence structure, it will be much easier for you to make sentences. This is because the Japanese language word order is more flexible than that of English.
In this article, we’ll introduce the basics of Japanese word order, which will help you better understand Japanese sentence structure as a whole. Brush up on your Japanese here at JapanesePod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. Overview of Word Order in Japanese
  2. The Basic Word Order of Japanese
  3. Word Order with Postpositional Phrases
  4. Word Order with Modifiers
  5. Asking Questions
  6. Let’s Practice Making a Sentence in Japanese!
  7. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. Overview of Word Order in Japanese

Improve Listening

1. Japanese is SOV

Japanese is an SOV language, which means that the basic word order in a sentence is S (subject)O (object)V (verb). English, on the other hand, is an SVO language with the order of  S (subject)V (verb)O (object).

     (S)    (O)      (V)

Japanese: 私は本を読みます。(Watashi wa hon o yomimasu.)

               (S) (V)     (O)

English: “I read the book.”

2. Variable/Flexible Sentence Structure

The Japanese sentence structure is flexible:

[1] The subject can be omitted when it’s clear from the context/situation. 

[2] The subject and object(s) can be placed in a variable order.

[1]

 (S)    (O)        (V)

(私は)本を読みます[(Watashi wa) hon o yomimasu.] = “I read the book.”

The subject 私は (watashi wa) can be omitted.

[2] 

                   (S) (V)     (O)

English:I read the book.”

In English, the subject can’t be omitted and the verb comes before the object.

SVO in Japanese

          (S)      (O)       (V)

Japanese: (私は) 本を読みます。 [(Watashi wa) hon o  yomimasu.]

In Japanese, the subject can be omitted and the verb is always at the end of a sentence. The basic word order in Japanese is variable in that the subject can also appear after the object, and the order of the objects (if there are multiple) is flexible.

Grammar Table
Japanese Postpositional Particles in Colored Circles

The postpositional particles are used in a Japanese sentence to modify words.

3. The Distinguishable Features of Word Order in Japanese Sentences

Compared to English, one of the distinguishable features of word order in Japanese is that Japanese has a 述語 (Jyutsugo), grammatically translated as “predicate.”

The predicate is one of the two main parts of a sentence stating something about the subject. While an English predicate can appear in the middle of a sentence, a Japanese 述語 (Jyutsugo) is always placed at the end of a sentence. This applies to both the casual form and the polite form.

Japanese: 私は本を読みます。(Watashi wa hon o yomimasu.) >> 読みます(yomimasu) is the predicate.

English: “I read the book.” >> “read the book” is the predicate.

2. The Basic Word Order of Japanese

Improve Pronunciation

1. SOV in Japanese

As we saw in the previous section, the basic sentence structure of Japanese is S (subject) – O (object) – V (verb).

Japanese parts of speech are usually followed by 助詞 (Joshi), or “particles,” that modify the word in front.

The subject is the person or thing that’s being discussed or described in a sentence, and the Japanese subject is usually followed by は (wa) or が (ga), which are 格助詞 (Kaku-Joshi) meaning “case markers” or 係助詞 (Kakari-Joshi) meaning “binding particles.”

The object is usually a noun or pronoun that is acted upon by the subject. A Japanese object is followed by a particle, such as を (o) or に (ni), which are 格助詞 (Kaku-Joshi).
The verb conveys an action (eat, write, move, etc.), an occurrence (happen, change), or a state of being (be, seem, exist). Japanese verbs either end the sentence, or are followed by 丁寧体 (Teinei-tai) such as です (desu) or ます (masu) in the polite form.

Word OrderSVO :  English
(subject)-(verb)-(object)
Example“I read the book.”
“I am a musician.”
“The book is about music.”
SOV : Japanese
(subject)-(object)-(verb)
Literal translation following the word order
私は本を読みます。
Watashi wa hon o yomimasu.
I / the book / read.
私は音楽家です。
Watashi wa ongakuka desu.
I / a musician / am.
その本は音楽についてです。
Sono hon wa ongaku ni tsuite desu.
The book  / the music / about / is.

2. Flexible Word Order

As we mentioned earlier, in Japanese grammar, word order is pretty flexible. Look at the diagram of the Japanese sentence structure in 1. 2. [2] above; the word order of the subject and object(s) is flexible. Even though the subject usually appears at the beginning of a sentence, the subject can also be placed in the middle or even be omitted.

Let’s take a look at the example. 

S (subject) O (object) V (verb)

  • (私は)明日図書館で友達と本を読みます。

(Watashi wa) ashita   toshokan de   tomodachi to   hon o   yomimasu.      

(I)       (tomorrow) (at the library) (with a friend) (the book) (read).

“I will read the book with a friend at the library tomorrow.”

The subject and object(s) can be placed in a variable order.

For example, the sentence above can also be in the following orders:

(私は)図書館で明日友達と本を読みます。

(Watashi wa) toshokan de  ashita   tomodachi to   hon o  yomimasu

(私は)友達と図書館で明日本を読みます。

(Watashi wa) tomodachi to  toshokan de  ashita   hon o yomimasu. 

明日図書館で(私は)友達と本を読みます。

Ashita  toshokan de (watashi wa)  tomodachi to  hon o  yomimasu. 

3. Word Order with Postpositional Phrases

While English uses prepositions (such as “at,” “on,” and “for”) to express a relationship to another word, Japanese uses postpositional particles, or 助詞 (Joshi). These particles come after the modified noun, verb, adjective, or at the end of a sentence. 

There are several types of particles, categorized by function. However, we’ll only introduce the most essential particle: 格助詞 (Kaku-Joshi) or “case maker.”  

When there are multiple objects, their order is flexible and variable as mentioned in the previous section.

Meaning/FunctionReadingHiraganaExample
Nominative case-gaーが彼女一番です。
Kanojo ga ichi-ban desu. 
“She is number one.”
Location-deーでここ食べます。
Koko de tabemasu.  
“(I) eat here.”
Destination -eーへ彼は図書館いきます。
Kare wa toshokan e ikimasu. 
“He goes to the library.”
Dative case /
Time
 -niーにDative:
彼は子供本をあげました。
Kare wa kodomo ni hon o agemashita. 
“He gave the kid a book.”

Time:
私は5時出発します。
Watashi wa go-ji ni shuppatsu shimasu. 
“I depart at five o’clock.”
Origin-karaーから 駅は家から徒歩5分です。
Eki wa ie kara toho go-fun desu.
“The station is a five-minute walk from home.”
Co-participant -toーと彼女は彼歌います。
Kanojo wa kare to utaimasu. 
“She sings with him.”
Objective case -oーを私は本読みます。
Watashi wa hon o yomimasu. 
“I read the book.”
Possessive case -noーのこれは私カバンです。
Kore wa watashi no kaban desu. 
“This is my bag.”
End point -madeーまで彼は駅まで歩きました。
Kare wa eki made arukimashita. 
“He walked to the station.”
Starting point / Comparative -yoriーよりStarting point:
会議は9時より行われます。
Kaigi wa ku-ji yori okonawaremasu. 
“The meeting will be held at nine o’clock.”

Comparative:
これはあれより安いです。
Kore wa are yori yasui desu. 
“This is cheaper than that.”
Traffic in a Big City at Night

彼は駅まで歩きました。(Kare wa eki made arukimashita.), “He walked to the station.”

4. Word Order with Modifiers

With the basic Japanese word order rules in mind, let’s see how it works with modifiers to make more complex sentences.

A modifier is a word—such as an adjective, pronoun, or adverb—that expresses something about the word that follows it. Adjectives and pronouns modify nouns; adverbs modify verbs. 

Here’s the Japanese word order with modifiers by function.

1. With Adjectives

In Japanese word order, adjectives come in front of nouns to describe them.

  • 赤いりんご (akai ringo), “red apple”
  • 分厚い本 (buatsui  hon), “thick book”

In a sentence with a subject and verb, the format is: S (subject) O (object) V (verb).

  • 彼は赤いりんごを食べました。(Kare wa akai ringo o tabemashita.), “He ate a red apple.”
  • 私は分厚い本を読みます。(Watashi wa buatsui  hon o yomimasu.), “I read the thick book.”

To learn more about Japanese adjectives, please visit our page on the Most Common Adjectives.

2. With Possessive Pronouns

Japanese possessive pronouns—such as 私の (watashi no) meaning “my” and 彼の (kare no) meaning “his”—come in front of nouns. The Japanese possessive case is の (-no) which is the postpositional particle marked after a person or thing.

  • 私の車 (Watashi no kuruma), “my car”
  • 彼女の家 (Kanojo no ie), “her house”

In a sentence with a subject and verb:

  • 彼は私の車を使いました。(Kare wa watashi no kuruma o tsukaimashita.), “He used my car.”
  • 私は彼女の家へ行きました。(Watashi wa kanojo no ie e ikimashita.), “I went to her house.”

3. With Adverbs

Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Japanese adverbs come in front of the words they modify.

  • 静かに話します (shizuka ni hanashimasu), “speak quietly”
  • ひどく疲れました (hidoku tsukaremashita), “terribly tired”

In a sentence with a subject and verb: 

  • 彼女は静かに話します。(Kanojo wa shizuka ni  hanashimasu.), “She speaks quietly.”
  • 彼女はとても静かに話します。(Kanojo wa totemo shizuka ni  hanashimasu.), “She speaks very quietly.”
  • 私はひどく疲れました。(Watashi wa hidoku  tsukaremashita.), “I got terribly tired.”

For more about Japanese adverbs, please check out our page on Must-Know Adverbs and Phrases for Connecting Thoughts.

4. With Numerals

When numerals modify a noun, they come before that noun. When numerals are used as an object, they come before verbs. 

  •  一冊の本 (Issatsu no hon), “one book”
  • 二つのりんご (Futatsu no ringo), “two apples”
  • 5匹います (Go-hiki  imasu), “there are five (kinds of animals)”

In a sentence with a subject and verb: 

  • 私は1冊の本を読みます。(Watashi wa issatsu no hon o yomimasu.), “I read one book.”
  • 木から落ちたのは二つのりんごです。(Ki kara ochita no wa futatsu no ringo desu.), “What fell from a tree are two apples.”
  • 動物園にパンダが5頭います。(Dōbutsuen ni panda ga go-tō imasu.), “There are five pandas in the zoo.”

There’s a great variety of Japanese counter words which are used when talking about things, actions, or events. 

For more about the basics of Japanese numbers, please visit Numbers and Kanji for Numbers and Counters.

Two Panda Bears Playing with Each Other

Dōbutsuen ni panda ga go- imasu. (“There are five pandas in the zoo.”)

5. Asking Questions

Making an interrogative sentence in Japanese is surprisingly easy! It doesn’t involve changing the word order or adding an auxiliary verb to form a question, like in English (e.g. You swim. >> Do you swim?).

In Japanese, you only have to add か (ka), a question marker, to the end of a sentence and pronounce it with a rising intonation. 

Polite / Basic Sentence

  • 私は本を読みます。(Watashi wa hon o yomimasu.), “I read the book.”

   Question: 私は本を読みますか。 (Watashi wa hon o yomimasu ka.), “Do I read the book?”

  • これは100円です。(Kore wa hyaku-en desu.), “This is 100 yen.”

          Question: これは100円ですか。 (Kore wa hyaku-en desu ka.), “Is this 100 yen?”

  • 彼女は肉を食べません。(Kanojo wa niku o tabemasen.), “She doesn’t eat meat.”

          Question: 彼女は肉を食べませんか。(Kanojo wa niku o tabemasen ka.), “Doesn’t she eat meat?”

Casual Sentence

In casual and colloquial speech, just change the pronunciation to have a rising intonation at the end of a sentence, without adding か (ka). 

  • 今日は寒い。(Kyō wa samui.), “Today is cold.”

   Question: 今日は寒い? (Kyō wa samui?), “Is today cold?”

  • 私に小包が届いた。(Watashi ni kozutsumi ga todoita.), “The parcel was delivered to me.”

          Question: 私に小包が届いた (Watashi ni kozutsumi ga todoita?), “Was the parcel delivered to me?”

  • (あなたは)犬が好き。[(Anata wa) inu ga suki.], “You like dogs.”

          Question:(あなたは)犬が好き [(Anata wa) inu ga suki?], “Do you like dogs?”

6. Let’s Practice Making a Sentence in Japanese! 

Learning by doing is the best way to master! Now, let’s practice making a Japanese sentence, step by step, with the Japanese word order rules you’ve learned today. If you don’t remember anything, feel free to review the sections above! 

Try to translate the following sentences in Japanese.

1. “You went to the library.”  : _________________

2. “You went to the library in the morning.”  : _________________

3. “You went to the library in the morning at eight o’clock.” : _________________

4. “Did you go to the library in the morning?” : _________________

5. “She ate sushi today.”  : _________________

6. “She ate sushi with Mariko today.”  : _________________

7. “She ate sushi with Mariko for lunch today.”  : _________________

8. “Did she eat sushi with Mariko for lunch today?” :_________________

If you don’t know certain vocabulary words, please check out our lists for the 50 Most Common Verbs and our School Vocabulary.

Little Girl Picking a Book at the Library

“Library” in Japanese is 図書館 (toshokan).

[Answers]

1. “You went to the library.” 

  あなたは図書館へ行きました。(Anata wa toshokan e ikimashita.)

2. “You went to the library in the morning.” 

 あなたは朝図書館へ行きました。(Anata wa asa toshokan e ikimashita.)

3. “You went to the library in the morning at eight o’clock.” 

   あなたは朝8時に図書館へ行きました。(Anata wa asa hachi-ji ni toshokan e ikimashita.)

4. “Did you go to the library in the morning?” 

 あなたは朝図書館へ行きましたか。(Anata wa asa toshokan e ikimashita ka.) 

5. “She ate sushi today.”  

     彼女は今日寿司を食べました。(Kanojo wa kyō sushi o tabemashita.)

6. “She ate sushi with Mariko today.” 

     彼女は今日まりこと寿司を食べました。(Kanojo wa kyō Mariko to sushi o tabemashita.)

7. “She ate sushi with Mariko for lunch today.” 

     彼女は今日お昼ご飯にまりこと寿司を食べました。(Kanojo wa kyō o-hirugohan ni Mariko to sushi o tabemashita.)

8. “Did she eat sushi with Mariko for lunch today?” :

    彼女は今日まりこと寿司を食べましたか。(Kanojo wa kyō Mariko to sushi o tabemashita ka.)

*The word order of objects can vary when there are many in a sentence.

7. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced you to Japanese word order. Now you understand how the Japanese sentence structure works. At first, you might feel confused about the flexibility of Japanese word order, but you’ll find it’s actually a lot easier to make complex sentences once you get used to it!   

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and practice other useful Japanese phrases for any situation, you’ll find a lot more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons to help you improve your Japanese language skills. Here’s some more information about the basics of Japanese with audio: Top 10 Sentence Patterns for Beginners and Most Useful Pronouns.

And there’s so much more we can offer you! Learn faster and enjoy studying Japanese at JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you still have questions about Japanese word order. We’d be glad to help.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese

How to Tell Time in Japanese

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Telling time is one of the most essential aspects of everyday life. Learning how to tell time in Japanese will help you improve your basic Japanese language skills. Whether you’re checking the time for transportation or making an appointment, knowing how to say time in Japanese will help you when visiting Japan.

Telling time in Japanese is quite simple and easy to understand. Unlike in English, when expressing time in Japanese, the words which indicate the hour and minute are always added next to the numbers (e.g. 3:12 or three twelve = 時 (3ji) 分 (12fun). Thus, even without context or a sentence, you’ll easily understand that these phrases indicate time in Japanese.

In this article, we introduce the basic vocabulary and phrases for telling time in Japanese. Let’s get started! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. How to Ask for the Time
  2. Telling Time in Japanese: Hours
  3. Telling Time in Japanese: Minutes
  4. The Hours Divided into Minutes
  5. General Time Reference of the Day
  6. Adverbs of Time in Japanese
  7. Time Proverbs and Sayings
  8. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. How to Ask for the Time

Time

Here’s a list of the most typical phrases for asking about time in Japanese.

1- What time is it now? 

Japanese: 今何時ですか。

Reading: Ima nan-ji desu ka. 

  • すみません、今何時ですか。

Sumimasen, ima nan-ji desu ka. 

Excuse me, what time is it now?

2- Do you know the time now? 

Japanese: 今何時かわかりますか。

Reading: Ima nan-ji ka wakarimasu ka. 

  • ちょっといいですか、今何時かわかりますか。

Chotto ii desu ka, ima nan-ji ka wakarimasu ka.

Can I talk to you a bit? Do you know the time now?

3- What time is the [e.g. meeting]? 

Japanese: [会議] は何時ですか。

Reading: [Kaigi] wa nan-ji desu ka.

  • 田中さん、到着は何時ですか。

Tanaka-san, tōchaku wa nan-ji desu ka.

Mr. (Ms.) Tanaka, what time is the arrival?

4- What time do we meet up? 

Japanese: 何時に集合ですか。

Reading: Nan-ji ni shūgō desu ka.

  • すみません、7月10日は何時に集合ですか。

Sumimasen, shichi-gatsu tōka wa nan-ji ni shūgō desu ka.

Excuse me, what time do we meet up on July 10?

To learn dates in Japanese, please visit our Reading Dates in Japanese article.

Man Rushing

Japanese people are famous for being on time.

2. Telling Time in Japanese: Hours

When speaking, the twelve-hour clock is more commonly used; when written, either the twelve-hour clock or the twenty-four-hour clock is used for telling time in Japanese.

When using the twelve-hour clock, add 午前 (gozen) meaning “a.m.” or 午後 (gogo) meaning “p.m.” to clarify.

1- The Twelve-Hour Clock in Japanese

Add 時 (ji), meaning “hour” or “o’clock,” after the Japanese numbers. Keep in mind that Arabic numbers are commonly used.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaReading
0 o’clock零時れいじrei-ji
1 o’clock一時いちじichi-ji
2 o’clock二時にじni-ji
3 o’clock三時さんじsan-ji
4 o’clock四時よじyo-ji
5 o’clock五時ごじgo-ji
6 o’clock六時ろくじroku-ji
7 o’clock七時しちじshichi-ji
8 o’clock八時はちじhachi-ji
9 o’clock九時くじku-ji
10 o’clock十時じゅうじjū-ji
11 o’clock十一時じゅういちじjū ichi-ji
12 o’clock十二時じゅうにじjū ni-ji

Please visit our Japanese Numbers article and Numbers page on JapanesePod101 to learn how to read numbers in Japanese.

2- Examples

  • 昼食の時間は午後1時です。

Chūshoku no jikan wa gogo ichi-ji desu. 

Lunch time is at one o’clock p.m.

  • 会議は10時からですか。

Kaigi wa jū-ji kara desu ka.   

Is the meeting at ten o’clock?

  • 明日の朝7時に来てください。

Ashita no asa shichi-ji ni kite kudasai.

Please come at seven o’clock tomorrow morning.

Man Tapping His Wrist Watch

Toki wa kane nari (Time is money).

3. Telling Time in Japanese: Minutes

1- Minutes in Japanese

Unlike in English, 分  (fun) or (pun) meaning “minute” is always added after the numbers when telling minutes in Japanese. 

  • “Minute(s)” in Japanese is 分 and it’s pronounced either fun or pun depending on which number comes before 分.
  • Minutes are usually written with Arabic numbers rather than Kanji.
EnglishKanjiHiraganaReading
1 minute一分いっぷんippun
2 minutes二分にふんni-fun
3 minutes三分さんぷんsan-pun
4 minutes四分よんふんyon-fun
5 minutes五分ごふんgo-fun
6 minutes六分ろっぷんroppun
7 minutes七分ななふんnana-fun
8 minutes八分はっぷんhappun
9 minutes九分きゅうふんkyū-fun
10 minutes十分じゅっぷんjuppun
20 minutes二十分にじゅっぷんni-juppun
30 minutes三十分さんじゅっぷんsan-juppun
40 minutes四十分よんじゅっぷんyon-juppun
50 minutes五十分ごじゅっぷんgo-juppun

2- Examples

  • 地震は朝9時24分に起きました。

Jishin wa asa ku-ji ni-jū yon-fun ni okimashita. 

The earthquake occurred at 9:24 in the morning.

  • 次の電車は3時47分に来ます。

Tsugi no densha wa san-ji yon-jū nana-fun ni kimasu.     

The next train comes at 3:47.

  • 今の時間は午後6時18分です。

Ima no jikan wa gogo roku-ji jū happun desu.

The current time is 6:18 p.m.

A Wall Clock

It is jū-ji jū ippun (10:11) in Japanese.

4. The Hours Divided into Minutes

Telling time with minutes in Japanese is quite simple and there are no special terms or phrases to express certain groups of minutes, except for 半 (han) meaning “half.” On the other hand, English has more specific expressions, such as “quarter,” “XX past two (XX minutes after two o’clock),” and “XX to seven (XX minutes before seven o’clock).” 

  • To express “thirty minutes past XX o’clock” in Japanese, just add 半 (han), meaning “half,” after “number + 時 (ji).”
  • There’s no particular word for “quarter” when telling time in Japanese. It‘s simply “fifteen minutes”: 15分 (jū go-fun).
  • “Five past six,” or 6:05, is 6時5分 (roku-ji go-fun) in Japanese.
  • “Ten to seven” is 7時10分前 (shichi-ji juppun mae) in Japanese, which literally means “Ten minutes before seven o’clock.”

 Examples

  • 飛行機は朝8時半に出発します。

Hikōki wa asa hachi-ji han ni shuppatsu shimasu. 

The airplane departs at 8:30 in the morning.

  • 明日の会議は3時15分前に来てください。

Ashita no kaigi wa san-ji jū go-fun mae ni kite kudasai.     

Please come to tomorrow’s meeting fifteen minutes before three o’clock.

  • 今の時間は9時10分前です。

Ima no jikan wa ku-ji juppun mae desu.

The current time is ten minutes before nine o’clock.

  • あの学校は朝6時半に開きます。

Ano gakkō wa asa roku-ji han ni akimasu.

That school opens at 6:30 in the morning.

5. General Time Reference of the Day

What if you want to give a nonspecific or approximate time in Japanese? Here’s some basic vocabulary for describing time in Japanese based on the general time of day.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaReading
AM午前ごぜんgozen
PM午後ごごgogo
morningあさasa
early morning早朝そうちょうsōchō
sunrise日の出ひのでhinode
noon正午しょうごshōgo
midday日中にっちゅうnicchū
early evening夕方ゆうがたyūgata
sunset日没にちぼつnichibotsu
evening / nightよるyoru
midnight深夜しんやshin’ya
Hearts Drawn in the Sand

The sunset time in summer is around seven o’clock p.m. in Japan.

 Examples

  • 夏の日の出は早朝の4時半です。

Natsu no hinode wa sōchō no yo-ji han desu. 

The sunrise in summer is at 4:30 in the early morning.

  • 明日の夜8時に夕食を食べましょう。

Ashita no yoru hachi-ji ni yūshoku o tabemashō.     

Let’s have dinner at eight o’clock tomorrow evening.

  • 私の飛行機は深夜12時3分に出発します。

Watashi no hikōki wa shin’ya jū ni-ji san-pun ni shuppatsu shimasu.

My flight departs at 12:03, at midnight.

  • 私は今日正午から夕方まで忙しいです。

Watashi wa kyō shōgo kara yūgata made isogashii desu.

I’m busy from noon to early evening today.

6. Adverbs of Time in Japanese

Improve Listening

You can create more-detailed and specific time-related expression by using time adverbs. Japanese adverbs of time include:

EnglishKanjiHiraganaReading
right now今すぐいますぐima sugu
beforeまえmae
afterあと/ごato/go
soonもうすぐmō sugu
soonほとんどhotondo
aroundころ/ごろkoro/goro
aboutやくyaku
currently現在げんざいgenzai
meanwhileその間にそのあいだにsono aida ni
at the same time同時にどうじにdōji ni
at the same timeいつでもitsu demo
as soon as possible出来るだけ早くできるだけはやくdekirudake hayaku
in a while間もなく/しばらくまもなく/しばらくmamonaku/shibaraku
for a long time長い間ながいあいだnagai aida

 Examples

  • 今すぐ来きてください。会議は15分後に始まります。

Ima sugu kite kudasai. Kaigi wa jū go-fun go ni hajimarimasu.      

Please come right now. The meeting is starting after fifteen minutes.

  • 同時に、別のパーティーが午後7時半から始まります。

Dōji ni, betsu no pātī ga gogo shichi-ji han kara hajimarimasu.     

At the same time, another party will start at 7:30 p.m.

  • 私は午前8時から長い間待っています。出来るだけ早くここへ来てください。

Watashi wa gozen hachi-ji kara nagai aida matte imasu. Dekirudake hayaku koko e kite kudasai.

I have been waiting for a long time, since 8 o’clock a.m. Come here as soon as possible.

  • 今は午後2時58分で、もうすぐ3時になります。まもなく電車が来ます。

Ima wa gogo ni-ji go-jū happun de, mō sugu san-ji ni narimasu. Mamonaku densha ga kimasu.

It is 2:58 p.m. and it’s going to be 3:00 soon. The train comes in a while.

Two People Looking at the Train Schedule

Japanese trains are very punctual.

7. Time Proverbs and Sayings

When talking about time in Japanese culture, there are many ことわざ (kotowaza) and 慣用句 (kan’yōku), or “proverbs” and “sayings” regarding time in Japanese. Here are some of the most famous proverbs.

  • Time is money.

Japanese: 時は金なり

Reading: Toki wa kane nari

Meaning: It literally translates to “time is money,” and it means that time is as precious as money.

遅れないように! 「時は金なり」ですよ。

Okurenai yō ni! “Toki wa kane nari” desu yo.

Don’t be late! Time is money.

  • Time flies.

Japanese: 光陰矢のごとし

Reading: Kōin ya no gotoshi

Meaning: It literally translates to “time is like an arrow,” meaning that time flies fast, like an arrow. The word 光陰 (Kōin) comes from  漢文 (Kanbun), an old Chinese word which denotes “light and shade,” meaning “time.” Thus, time goes by with days and nights.

前回会った時から既に5年経ちました。「光陰矢のごとし」ですね。

Zenkai atta toki kara sude ni go-nen tachimashita. “Kōin ya no gotoshi” desu ne.

Five years have already passed since we last met. Time flies, doesn’t it?

  • Time and tide wait for no man.

Japanese: 歳月人を待たず

Reading: Saigetsu hito o matazu

Meaning: It literally translates to “years and months do not wait for man,” meaning that time goes by constantly without heeding one’s circumstances. It indicates that people shouldn’t waste time and should instead make each day count.

やるべき事ややりたい事は今すぐやりましょう。「歳月人を待たず」ですよ!

Yarubeki koto ya yaritai koto wa ima sugu yarimashō. ”Saigetsu hito o matazu” desu yo!

Do right now what you should do and what you want to do. It’s “time and tide wait for no man!”

  • Each day is like a thousand years.

Japanese: 一日千秋

Reading: Ichijitsu senshū 

Meaning: It literally translates to “one day is like a thousand autumns.” It means that one can hardly wait for something because it feels very far in the future, as if one day is like a thousand years (autumn comes a thousand times). 秋 (aki/shū) means “autumn,” but it also can mean “time” as a metaphor. It’s said that autumn is the time for harvest, and ancient people realized that a year had passed when autumn came.

彼女は来月行く予定のコンサートを一日千秋の思いで待っています。

Kanojo wa raigetsu iku yotei no konsāto o ichijitsu senshū no omoi de matte imasu.

She’s waiting for the concert she’s going to next month with the feeling that each day is like a thousand years.

8. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

Basic Questions

In this article, we introduced how to tell time in Japanese, including the basic vocabulary and phrases, such as the different units of time in Japanese. Now you can ask for the time and tell time in Japanese whenever you make an appointment or check times for your travels.

I hope you’ll enjoy meeting friends and getting around in Japan; make sure you’re on time when meeting them! 

Are there any time-related words in Japanese you still want to know? Let us know in the comments! 

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and other useful Japanese phrases, you’ll find a lot of helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons for you to improve your Japanese language skills. Here’s some more information about numbers and time in Japanese with audio: Talking about Time, Numbers, and Kanji for Numbers and Counters.

 To learn how to make conversation in Japanese, check out Top 15 Questions You Should Know for Conversations and Top 10 Conversational Phrases. Phrases You Need at the Bus or Train Station and Trains are also useful if you plan on getting around Japan with public transportation.

There’s so much more! Be a fast learner and enjoy studying Japanese at JapanesePod101.com!

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