Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Peter: Basic Bootcamp Lesson 2 – Basic Japanese - Nationality, "To be," Basic Sentence Structure. Hi, everyone. Welcome to Basic Bootcamp.
Naomi: This five-part series will help you ease your way into Japanese.
Peter: We’ll go over all the basics that will really help you understand Japanese in a quick and easy way.
Naomi: In this lesson, you will learn how to talk about nationality.
Peter: You’ll also learn about です (desu), the equivalent of the verb meaning “to be” in English. And this is really going to help you make some simple sentences. Naomi-sensei, what do you say we start with a recap of the previous lesson? Basic Bootcamp Lesson 1. Basically, what we want to cover here is the sentence structure. What do we have?
Naomi: 私は such and such です。(Watashi wa such and such desu.)
Peter: “My name is such and such.”
Naomi: Right.
Peter: In your case, it will be?
Naomi: 私はナオミです。(Watashi wa Naomi desu.)
Peter: “My name is Naomi.”
Naomi: And, for you?
Peter: 私はピーターです。(Watashi wa Pītā desu.) “My name is Peter.” We’re going to expand on this today. In the previous lesson, we exchanged the names. I’m Naomi, I’m Peter. I’m Tanaka. I’m Suzuki. In this lesson, we’re going to introduce nouns.
Naomi: Nationality.
Peter: As with the previous lesson, we’re going to listen to a conversation between two people. And, interestingly enough, Naomi-sensei, the conversation is between you and me.
Naomi: Oh, but the voice actors are different.
Peter: Yes, so please have a listen. Here we go.
Naomi: こんにちは。私はナオミです。日本人です。
(Kon'nichiwa. Watashi wa Naomi desu. Nihon-jin desu.)
“Hello. I'm Naomi. I'm Japanese.”
Peter: こんにちは。私はピーターです。アメリカ人です。
(Kon'nichiwa. Watashi wa Pītā desu. Amerika-jin desu.)
“Hello. I'm Peter. I'm American.”
Peter: One time slowly.
Naomi: こんにちは。私はナオミです。日本人です。
(Kon'nichiwa. Watashi wa Naomi desu. Nihon-jin desu.)
“Hello. I'm Naomi. I'm Japanese.”
Peter: こんにちは。私はピーターです。アメリカ人です。
(Kon'nichiwa. Watashi wa Pītā desu. Amerika-jin desu.)
“Hello. I'm Peter. I'm American.”
Peter: Naomi-sensei, one thing that I think is really interesting, is that when you study Japanese, you bound to new people who come from countries all over the world, that are studying Japanese, too.
Naomi: Yes. It’s really amazing. There are so many people from all over the world who study Japanese.
Peter: So, that’s why we’re being able to talk about where you come from is really handy.
Naomi: Right. Not only for introducing yourself to Japanese people, but also to your fellow learners.
Peter: It’s funny. If you’re studying at a Japanese language school, probably most of the Japanese you use is going to be spoken with other foreigners.
Peter: Ok, let’s take a look at the vocabulary used in this lesson. What we’re going to do is give you the word one time at natural native speed, then we’ll give you the English, and then we’re going to break down the word syllable by syllable. The goal here is to help you hear each syllable so you will remember the word and get used to the language. Finally, we’ll give the same word again at natural native speed. Let’s have a listen.
Peter: First we have…
Naomi: 日本人 (Nihon-jin)
Peter: “Japanese”
Naomi: 日本人 (Nihon-jin) (slow speed) 日本人 (Nihon-jin) (normal speed)
Peter: Next word?
Naomi: アメリカ人 (Amerika-jin)
Peter: “American”
Naomi: アメリカ人 (Amerika-jin) (slow speed) アメリカ人 (Amerika-jin) (normal speed)
Peter: Naomi-sensei, let’s take a look at this lesson’s dialogue line by line. First we have?
Naomi: こんにちは。(Kon'nichiwa.)
Peter: This was followed by…
Naomi: 私はナオミです。 (Watashi wa Naomi desu.)
Peter: “I’m Naomi.” As we learned in Bootcamp 1, you can introduce yourself by using the structure?
Naomi: 私は [you name] です。 (Watashi wa [your name] desu.)
Peter: So, in this case, it was?
Naomi: 私はナオミです。 (Watashi wa Naomi desu.)
Peter: “I’m Naomi.” Again, literally, “I, Naomi, am.” as the Japanese verb comes at the end of the sentence; but when we translate it, “I’m Naomi.” The new sentence, what’s new in this is…
Naomi: 日本人です。 (Nihon-jin desu.)
Peter: Literally,
Naomi: “Japanese, am”
Peter: So the subject, the “I” is not even in there. Of course, in English, we translate this as “I am Japanese.” We’ll explain this grammar in the grammar section later. Here, let’s learn how to form nationality. Naomi-sensei, how do we say “a Japanese person”?
Naomi: 日本人 (Nihon-jin)
Peter: This word 日本人 (Nihon-jin) is made up of two parts. It’s kind of two words. Can you say the first part, the first word?
Naomi: 日本 (Nihon)
Peter: “Japan,” that’s the Japanese way to say “Japan.” How about the next part, what did you have after that?
Naomi: 人 (jin). 人 (jin) means “person” or “people”.
Peter: So you simply add 人 (jin) to the name of the country and that means a person from that country.
Naomi: はい。(hai.) Right.
Peter: And this is a rule of thumb that works about 98.5% of the time. There are few cases where it doesn’t work, but most of the time, if you follow this rule, you’ll be ok. So, can we hear that one more time, “Japanese person”?
Naomi: 日本人 (Nihon-jin)
Peter: Break it down?
Naomi: 日本人 (Nihon-jin), 日本人 (Nihon-jin).
Peter: In the next line, Peter said?
Naomi: こんにちは。(Kon'nichiwa.)
Peter: “Hello.”
Naomi: 私はピーターです。(Watashi wa Pītā desu.)
Peter: “I’m Peter.”
Naomi: And Peter said, アメリカ人です。(Amerika-jin desu.) “American, am.”
Peter: Of course, “I’m American.” Can you say “American” again?
Naomi: Sure. アメリカ人 (Amerika-jin)
Peter: This much like 日本人 (Nihon-jin), is made up of two parts or two words. The first word is?
Naomi: アメリカ (Amerika)
Peter: “America,” the second?
Naomi: 人 (jin).
Peter: “Person.” Put them together?
Naomi: アメリカ人 (Amerika-jin)
Peter: “American,” iterally, “America person,” “American.” So the rule is quite simple. You take the name of your country and you attach…
Naomi: 人 (jin).
Peter: Let’s look at some examples. Naomi-sensei, where do you want to start?
Naomi: I am going to say a nationality. Can you guess the meaning?
Peter: I can do that.
Naomi: カナダ人。(Kanada-jin.)
Peter: That would be “Canadian”.
Naomi: Right.
Peter: There are two parts: the first part is?
Naomi: カナダ (Kanada)
Peter: “Canada”
Naomi: 人 (jin).
Peter: “Person”
Naomi: カナダ人。(Kanada-jin.)
Peter: “Canadian.”
Naomi: How about メキシコ人 (Mekishiko-jin)?
Peter: Umm… one more time?
Naomi: メキシコ人 (Mekishiko-jin)
Peter: “Mexican.”
Naomi: Right.
Peter: Now, I said 98.5% of the time. Here’s one that kind of falls into that 1.5%. How about “English” or “British”?
Naomi: イギリス (Igirisu) is the name of the country in Japanese, so イギリス人 (Igirisu-jin).
Peter: “English person.”
Naomi: イギリス (Igirisu), “England”; イギリス人 (Igirisu-jin), “English.”
Peter: Ok, on to the grammar section.

Lesson focus

Peter: Let’s take a look at word order. In the dialogue, we had?
Naomi: 私はピーターです。(Watashi wa Pītā desu.)
Peter: “I’m Peter.”
Naomi: It’s important to remember that the verb or copular です(desu) comes at the end.
Peter: So first, the topic subject here is…
Naomi: 私 (watashi)
Peter: After that, we have?
Naomi: は (wa)
Peter: We went over this a little bit last time, the は (wa) after 私 (watashi) is a particle that marks the topic. Remember, “as for,” and in this case, “as for me.”
Naomi: 私は (watashi wa)
Peter: Then we have the person’s name, in this case,
Naomi: ピーター (Pītā), the person’s name.
Peter: Then we have the verb “to be” in Japanese, です (desu).
Naomi: 私はピーターです。(Watashi wa Pītā desu.)
Peter: “I’m Peter.” There you have it! You made the full sentence.
Naomi: But when he said his nationality, he dropped 私は (watashi wa)
Peter: Yes, Naomi-sensei, you’re right. I just said アメリカ人です。(Amerika-jin desu.) When the topic or subject is already clear from context, you can drop it, meaning you don’t have to say it, the topic is already established so it’s redundant.
Naomi: Of course it’s still okay to say 私はアメリカ人です。(Watashi wa Amerika-jin desu.)
Peter: Now, we can try out this structure in other sentences. Naomi-sensei, how would you say “We are American.”?
Naomi: “I” is 私 (watashi) and “we” is 私たち (watashitachi).
Peter: 私たち (watashitachi).
Naomi: Right. So, 私たちはアメリカ人です。(watashitachi wa Amerika-jin desu.)
Peter: “We are American.” Can you say “I am American.” Again?
Naomi: 私はアメリカ人です。(Watashi wa Amerika-jin desu.)
Peter: Now, “We are American.”.
Naomi: 私たちはアメリカ人です。(watashitachi wa Amerika-jin desu.)
Peter: So, please notice that the only difference here is?
Naomi: 私 (watashi)
Peter: “I” and?
Naomi: 私たち (watashitachi)
Peter: “We”. The rest of it stays the same.
Naomi: Right. As we explained in the previous lesson, Japanese verb doesn’t change according to the subject.
Peter: So in English, “I am American” or “We are American”.
Naomi: You are, he is…
Peter: The verb is conjugated. In Japanese, you don’t have that. It’s kind of like “I be American.”, “We be American.”. The subject changes, but the verb stays the same making it easier. So, Naomi-sensei, how would you say “I’m Japanese.”?
Naomi: 私は日本人です。(Watashi wa Nihon-jin desu.)
Peter: How about “We are Japanese.”?
Naomi: 私たちは日本人です。(watashitachi wa Nihon-jin desu.)


Peter: All right. We hope that this lesson has helped you get a grasp of basic Japanese sentence structure.
Naomi: Stick with us and we get into more of the basics in this Basic Bootcamp serie.
Peter: See you next time!