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Lesson Transcript

Hi!
Welcome to Introduction to Japanese.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone.
I'm Risa!
In *this* lesson, you'll learn the basics of Japanese grammar.
Word Order
"Word Order" refers to the order in which words are structured to form a sentence in a given language.
Consider the English sentence "I ate an apple." But first, let's remove the article "an" here for simplicity, so we're just left with "I ate apple."
The basic Word Order for English is subject, verb, object, or SVO for short.
If we breakdown the English sentence "I ate apple", we can see that the subject "I" is presented first, followed by the verb "ate", and then finally the object "apple" is positioned last.
This is the basic word order for sentences in English.
Now let's compare that same sentence "I ate an apple.", in Japanese.
私がりんごを食べました。
Like before, let's remove the particles to keep it simple, so we're just left with the words.
If we break down the Japanese sentence, we get the subject 私 meaning "I", then comes the object りんご meaning "apple", and finally we have the verb 食べました meaning "ate".
The word order for Japanese then, is subject, object, verb, or SOV for short.
In both languages, the subject is presented first. In *English* though, it's followed by the verb and *then* the object. Compared to the object being *first*, and the verb *last*, in Japanese.
The same sentence in Japanese is essentially "I apple ate" – subject first, then object, and verb last – SOV.
This is the basic word order for sentences in Japanese.
Okay. Let's move on to the next section.
Topic vs. Subject Prominent Language
English is what is called a "subject-prominent" language. This simply means that the subject is slightly more important than other components in the sentence. It's the key piece of information other components in the sentence relate to.
"Who" is doing the action, is slightly more important than what is being done or which object it's been done to, in English.
If we had to slowly remove pieces of information from a sentence, while trying to keep its essence intact, logically we would do so in order of least important to most important.
If we were to omit the subject, we would get "ate an apple" – which sounds strange.
On the other hand, if we were to omit the object *instead*, the sentence would become "I ate...".
Even though in each instance we omitted a piece of information, the reason "I ate..." sounds *less* strange, is because we've yet to break any grammatical rules, and so there's still potential for the sentence fragment to become a complete sentence and to become grammatically correct.
Since the *latter* is logical, this indicates that the subject is *more* important than the object in English. The same is true if we had omitted the verb. Since the subject is the integral component in the sentence, this makes English a "subject-prominent" language.
*Japanese* on the other hand, is a "Topic-prominent" language. Unlike English, the focus of each Japanese sentence is the topic, not the subject.
Essentially, the "ate an apple" portion, りんごを食べました is the main focus of the sentence, whereas "I" is deemed less important and can be omitted.
In fact, if it's obvious what the subject is, or if it's already been established, it's quite normal to omit the subject from the conversation altogether in Japanese. Let's look at this aspect in a bit more detail.
Omission of the Subject in Japanese
More often than not, if you wanted to say "I ate an apple." in Japanese, you would not say...
私がりんごを食べました。
instead, you would *more* likely say "apple ate" in Japanese...
りんごを食べました。
Since Japanese is a "Topic-prominent" language, the information to be shared is the act of eating the apple. Less important, is the subject, which is omitted altogether. Most Japanese sentences are constructed and spoken like this in real life.
In most situations, such as a one-on-one conversation, it's clear that the person who's speaking is the subject. In cases where it's obvious who or what the subject is, it's almost guaranteed that the subject will be omitted. And so you're left with...
りんごを食べました。
On the other hand, when it's unclear who or what the subject is, or if you wanted to place emphasis on the subject, like if you wanted to declare from a group of people that it was *you* who ate the apple, then you would include the subject.
私がりんごを食べました。
But more often than not, most sentences spoken in daily Japanese conversation can be spoken without including the subject at all, particularly if that subject is you.
箱を開けました。
電車で帰りました。
Knowing this, we can easily express any simple action in Japanese using just the object and the verb.
Try to create the sentence "I ate a hot dog." from these sets of words:
食べました
ホットドッグ
OK. Got it?
The object goes first... so let's put "hot dog" here.
And the verb goes last... so let's put "ate" at the end.
Finally, we connect them using the appropriate particle – And that's it!
ホットドッグを食べました。
Which means "I ate a hot dog" in Japanese!
ホットドッグを食べました。
You can create any basic sentence like this in Japanese if you simply know the word for the object and the verb in Japanese!
Well done! Let's wrap up this lesson by recapping what we've learned.
In this lesson, you learned that Japanese sentences are formed using a subject, object, verb, or "SOV" word order.
The most important aspect of Japanese sentences is not the *subject* of the sentence, but the *topic*.
Most sentences spoken in Japanese will not actually contain a subject, especially if that subject is obvious, like when it's yourself, the speaker.
And lastly, you can create basic sentences in Japanese by putting the object first, and the verb last!
We've covered only the very *basics* of Japanese grammar. If you're interested in learning more, check out our "Learn Basic Japanese" video series. In that course, we teach you useful phrases while covering the fundamentals of Japanese grammar!
In the next lesson, we'll introduce you to the basics of Japanese writing.
See you in the next lesson. Bye!
Bye~!

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

JapanesePod101.com Verified
March 18th, 2016 at 06:30 PM
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We've covered only the very *basics* of Japanese grammar. If you have any questions, leave a comment below!

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 15th, 2021 at 03:58 PM
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Carlyさん、こんにちは!


ありがとうございます。

We are happy to know you enjoy our lessons.

Congratulations on mastering hiragana!!

Now good luck with your katakana and kanji study😊

You will find the effective way of learning kanji here in this lesson.

https://www.japanesepod101.com/lesson/introduction-to-japanese-kanji-1-introduction-to-kanji-script/?lp=159


Thank you for learning Japanese with us:)


Sincerely,

Miho

Team JapanesePod101.com

Carly
October 9th, 2021 at 08:26 AM
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こんにちは, I love this website so much! I just completed all of the hirigana lessons and will be moving onto katakana and then kanji. Do you have any suggestions on how I can learn and understand kanji quickly? ありがとうございます !

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 8th, 2021 at 01:40 PM
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Wes Upchurchさん


Thank you so much for your comment😄

That's great👍


Please let us know if you have any questions :)


Sincerely

りょうま(Ryoma)

Team JapanesePod101.com

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 6th, 2021 at 06:55 AM
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こんにちは Tanmayi,


Thank you for your comment. 😇

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

レヴェンテ (Levente)

Team JapanesePod101.com

Wes Upchurch
October 5th, 2021 at 05:13 PM
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I gather that in an object-oriented language context is very important.

Tanmayi
October 2nd, 2021 at 04:25 PM
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WOW WOW 😄😄😄😄😄😄😄😄😄😄😄😄

JapanesePod101.com Verified
September 28th, 2021 at 06:28 PM
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Hi Zuzana,


Thank you for your comment!

Your question is quite reasonable.

However, we usually understand whom the speaker is talking about by the context or the situation.

When the subject is not clear, we include the subject to make the listener understand.


Please let us know if you have any further question😊


Sincerely,

Miho

Team JapanesePod101.com

Zuzana
September 27th, 2021 at 05:14 PM
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Hi, a short question please, if usually Japanese people don't use subject in the sentence, how do we then recognize about whom are they talking? when they only say ate an apple how o I know if they mean themselves or someone else? thank you

JapanesePod101.com Verified
August 12th, 2021 at 07:39 AM
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こんにちは Koi,


Thank you so much for your positive message! 😇❤️️

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

レヴェンテ (Levente)

Team JapanesePod101.com

JapanesePod101.com Verified
August 10th, 2021 at 06:16 AM
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こんにちは Ilikefrogs and s,


Thank you so much for your positive message! 😇❤️️

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

レヴェンテ (Levente)

Team JapanesePod101.com