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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of *your* most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is…
What does DESU mean?
Desu is called a copula, and it’s the same as ‘am’, ‘are’ and ‘is’ in English. For example, ‘これはほんです’ means ‘this is a book’ and ‘この本はおもしろいです’ means ‘this book is interesting.’
Let’s break down the sentence, この本はおもしろいです。この本 means “this book”, and は is a topic marking particle, おもしろい means “interesting” and です is a copula. So, it’s literally “as for this book, interesting is.” But, its natural translation is ‘this book is interesting’. です is the same as “is” in this case, but it’s placed at the end. In Japanese, verbs come at the end of a sentence. Therefore, です which works as a linking verb, is always placed at the end of a sentence.
So, a very basic English sentence, “A is B” would be “A は Bです.” in Japanese.
It really is that simple, so try not to overthink it!.
Lastly, have you ever had your Japanese friend say, “これはおみやげです。” giving you a souvenir? Your friend meant “this is a souvenir for you.” Then you might have a question, “does this です include the meaning of ‘for you’?” No, です is just the same as “is”. It just implies “for you” from the context, without any specific word saying it.
Again, です is just same as as ‘am’, ‘are’ and ‘is’ in English.
I hope this makes sense to you.
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!