Lesson 27: ~ How To Say ‘While’ In Japanese Using ながら、

So far, you have learned how to use the present progressive tense, aka the ている form. But in this lesson, we are going to step it up a notch by learning how to say while in Japanese. This grammar conjugation is referred to as ながら.

Conjugating Verbs To Use ながら

Luckily for you guys, this verb form is quite easy. The general rule of thumb is Verb-ます stem + ながら. However, there are still a few instances where this conjugation can be a little bit deceiving. Let’s go over it some more by separating its forms in verb groups.


As mentioned before, all you need to do to use ながら is to use the verb stem. In other words, cut off the る and add ながら。

Here are some examples of this verb form in action.


る Verbs Stem Form ながら
食べる 食べ たべながら
見る 見ながら
伝える 伝え 伝えながら
開ける 開けながら 開けながら




IMPORTANT NOTE: Keep in mind that ながら always goes with a verb and shouldn’t stand by itself at any given moment in time.




う Verbs are in the same category, but since the stem of う verbs isn’t syllabic like those of る verbs, usually another character is needed to fill in the gap before making a conjugation.

Here are some examples of this verb form in action in うverbs


う Verbs Stem Form ながら
書く かk 書きながら
歩く あるk 歩きながら
買う 買いながら
踊る 踊r 踊りながら


As you can see I left some characters in romaji because that is where the stem ends. I just did this to show you that you must be careful using conjugating うverbs with ながら. However, if it is one thing you can always count on when dealing with うverbs, it’s the use of いなが. Just remember to drop the うbefore you do anything though.

Irregular Verbs

Using ながらwith irregular verbs is a common way of expressing “while doing something” in Japanese. The conjugations are simple, so you shouldn’t have too much of a problem when dealing with them.


The most important irregular verbs you ought to pay attention to are:

する(to do)


来る (to come)


With their conjugations being:

する―→ しながら

来るー→ 来ながら


When to use ながら

Think of ながら as a more advanced form of ている. Yes, its used to describe the present progressive tense, but it also used to describe actions done at the SAME time. This is the main distinction between the two. Here are some examples to further explain its usage:



While I was walking, I dropped my food.


While using the computer, I was also on the phone.


While singing, I lost my voice.


While studying, I was listening to music.

Okay, so you see just how useful this little particle/ grammar point can be right? Once again, use it to describe simultaneous actions in either the past, present or future. Let’s put what you’ve just learned to the test in a short homework assignment. 頑張って 皆さん。


Conjugate the following verbs using ながら

  1. 食(た)べる
  2. 飲(の)む
  3. 歩(ある)く
  4. 泳(およ)ぐ
  5. 読(よ)む
  6. 歌(うた)う
  7. 死(し)ぬ
  8. する
  9. くる
  10. 見(み)る
  11. 掃除(そうじ)する
  12. 聴く


Answer Key


  1. 食(た)べながら
  2. 飲(の)みながら
  3. 歩(ある)きながら
  4. 泳(およ)ぎながら
  5. 読(よ)みながら
  6. 歌(うた)いながら
  7. 死(し)にながら
  8. しながら
  9. きながら
  10. 見(み)ながら
  11. 掃除(そうじ)しながら
  12. 聴きながら



Lesson 26: TE IRU Form

In the last lesson, you learned a pretty handy grammar point known as the TEて form, and as you’ve come to realize its great at making connections. Today we’ll be adding on a little something extra to the TE form known as the TE IRU form. The ている form of a verb is used to express the -ing, or in a more technical term, the present progressive.

Conjugating ている Form

The conjugation of the ている form isn’t too tricky, but there are certain things you need to be careful of when doing so. We’ll be looking at る, う、 and irregular verbs to make this lesson as in-depth as possible.


Think of conjugating these verbs in the て form first, and then simply add いる. A nifty trick is to remember that いる by itself means ‘to be/to exist.’ So, let’s apply that trick to our favorite る verb, 食べる (to eat). First comes the て form, 食べて, then add いる、食べている. “To exist eating.”


Unfortunately, うverbs always have to go and make things hard in Japanese. Conjugating these won’t be as easy since うverbs can end in つ, る, む, ぬ, く, ぐ, and す.  The same rule still applies, but you need to conjugate with caution.

Here are some examples




持つ― もっている

書くー かいてる

If you looked at that and went “これはなに? “It’s okay, I did too.

  1. For verbs ending in む, remove the う, replace the ‘m’ sound with ん and て becomes で. As for the rest, add いる。
  2. For う verbs ending in る, take off the る add a small っ, and then follow up with ている。
  3. For verbs ending in ぐ, take off the ぐ、and add いでいる。
  4. For verbs ending in く, take off the く, and add いている.
  5. For verbs ending in つ, replace the つ with a small っ and add ている。

Irregular verbs

Irregular verbs with the ているform are much more forgiving than that of the うverbs. So, you won’t have to struggle as much. The irregular verbs you’ve learned so far are する、くる。

する becomes している。

くる becomes きている 。

It’s that simple!



As mentioned earlier this form is used for when you want to express the act of doing something, hence the -ing form. Whether it’s eating, swimming, walking, running, singing, dancing, drinking, etc., the ているcan help you with expressing all of that. It can also be used in connection with the て form to make connections to present progressive actions (-ing). Let’s practice with dialogue; it’ll be easy I promise. But a few notes before we start our practice! Think of ている like any other verb conjugation; it can be used in the negative, polite, or short form, along with many other ways that we won’t get into in this exact lesson, so keep that in mind.

See if you can translate the dialogue while identifying the uses of the ている form.

Practice I

See if you can translate the dialogue while identifying the uses of the ている form.





メアリ:ありませんよ。今、ピッザを食べています ?。

Practice II

Conjugate these verbs into the ているform.

  1. かつぐ







Answer Key

Practice I

Mary: Takeshi, what are you doing?

Takeshi: I am doing my homework, how about you?

Mary: I’m watching T.V and drinking water

Takeshi: Oh, I see. So, you don’t have any homework I assume?

Mary: Nope. Now, I’m eating pizza ?.


Practice II

1. かついでる

  1. おどっている
  2. かりている
  3. のぞんでいる
  4. きている


Visit Osaka – Japan's Commercial Center


Osaka is the third largest city in all of Japan. It is a large city with big skyscrapers, plenty of sights to see, and lots of activities to do. If you are interested in touring large, modern cities while in Japan, Osaka should definitely be on your list!


Although Osaka is a large, modernized city, it wasn’t always this way. The area now known as Osaka has been around since the 5th or 6th century, but at this time, the area was not called “Osaka.” As this area developed, it became a large center that connected this part of Japan to the rest of the country. Even today, Osaka is considered the traditional commercial area of Japan.


Osaka Castle

Even though Osaka is a highly modern city, you can still see several important historical sites. One such sight you should definitely make time to visit is Osaka Castle. While this is not the original castle, it still functions as a type of museum and is still worth visiting.


There are other museums you can visit in Osaka. Two examples are the Osaka Science museum and the Osaka Museum of History. The science museum has interactive activities and a planetarium. At the history museum, you can learn all about the history of the city. It is best to visit these museums if you have a tour guide or know a native speaker of Japanese.

Umeda Sky Building

This building is a city landmark which is 173 meters (40 stories) tall. There is an open-air view of Osaka on the observatory deck in this structure, and the view is really nice when the weather is good. In the basement, there is a Meiji-style street with bars and restaurants made to look like the establishments would have during that era.

Sumo Spring Grand Tournament

During March, you can watch a sumo wrestling tournament in Osaka’s Prefectural Gymnasium. Sumo wrestling is Japan’s national sport, and it is a very interesting spectacle to observe.

Universal Studios Japan

This theme park is one of the largest in Japan. It features many typical theme park rides and attractions. Tickets cost about $6-$7 for adults for a one day pass.

National Bunraku Theater

Bunraku is a style of puppet show that was created during the Edo period. The puppets are large and very complex; they each require three operators. Puppeteers for this style of theater must train for many years. This particular theater is one of the few places to see live bunraku shows. The plays are all from the 1600s and 1700s. This is a great cultural experience to take advantage of while in Osaka!


Osaka is widely known for its cuisine and many restaurants. In some sections of the city, you will encounter nothing but restaurant upon restaurant! While you’re in Osaka, you should try out the following types of food that are famous in Osaka:

Okonomiyaki – this is a style of Japanese pancake which may look more like an omelette to westerners. There is often cabbage and other vegetables mixed into these pancakes.

Takoyaki – these are fried dumplings that contain octopus. You can often find them in ball shapes. Sometimes, you can see people handing out free samples of these in front of restaurants! Takoyaki is considered a type of “street food” because of the many street vendors who sell it. Don’t worry—you may not trust street food in some western countries, but street food is very popular and safe in Japan!

Kushikatsu – these are skewers that contain different pieces of food that have been deep fried. There can be meats mixed in with vegetables and other foods.

In order to enjoy some of the best cuisine Osaka has to offer, you should choose restaurants in the Umeda and Dotonbori sections of the city.


Nightlife in Osaka is easy to find and very popular. It doesn’t matter what night of the week it is, there is always something to do!

There are plenty of bars that cater specifically to foreigners, but there are also nightclubs and other places to go.

The Dotonbori area is a huge center for nightlife (for foreigners and Japanese alike). A good foreigner bar to visit is Coolabah. It is known for its friendly atmosphere. You may even see a few locals here who speak some English!

Other Notes

Osaka often gets a bad reputation as not being safe. Although this reputation exists, be advised that the city is very safe when compared to western cities of the same size. Japan is overall a very safe country! It is best to avoid the areas of Shinsekai, Tobita, Airin, and Kamagasaki at night. The rest of the areas of Osaka are safe, and the overall crime rates of the city are about the same as Tokyo, which is still low by western standards.

Osaka is a great place to take trips to other neighboring cities. It is a good idea to make your hotel reservations in Osaka and travel to the neighboring cities for the day. Osaka is close to Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, and Kobe. You can get to each of these cities in anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour if you stay in Osaka.

Osaka is one city you must visit if you are taking a trip to Japan. There is plenty of history, culture, and entertainment to experience, and the city itself is breathtakingly beautiful at night (just go up into the Umeda Sky Building and see for yourself)!

Lesson 25: TE Form

This lesson will discuss a new form of verb conjugation. This form is called “て form” and it is used when you want to ask for or give permission, ask someone to do something, and when you want to put two verbs in a sentence together.

This form is really important to the Japanese language, so you must understand it very clearly! It may take you a while to get used to this new form, but after studying the information presented in this lesson a few times, you should have a good understanding of what て form is and how to get it.

Conjugating Form

て form is rather a complicated form of conjugation. There are several different rules and a few exceptions that you must learn. First, we will learn how to conjugate る verbs into て form. Then we will move on to the different rules for う verbs. Finally we will look at the rules for irregular verbs and exceptions.


The rule for conjugating る verbs is the simplest rule of them all. For these verbs, you must start with the dictionary form of the verb. For example, use みる, the dictionary form of みます which means “to see/to watch.”

Take みる and remove the る. Replace the る with て. You are left with みて. This rule applies the same for all る verbs.

たべる would become たべて in て form, and so on.


う verbs are a bit more complicated than る verbs. Remember that う verbs do not have to end in う. They can also end in つ, る, む, ふ, ぬ, く, ぐ, and す.

For う verbs that end in う, つ, and る, remove the final syllable and replace it with って. For example, あう becomes あって. This is the same for verbs that end in つ and る. You must remove theつ and る and replace it with って.

For う verbs that end in む, ふ, or ぬ, you must remove the final syllable and replace it with んで. For example, よむ, becomes よんで. You just remove む and replace it with んで. The same applies for the verbs that end in ふ and ぬ. ふ and ぬ are removed and んで is added.

For verbs that end in く, you should drop the final く and add いて. There is an exception to this rule, and it is the verb いく. For いく, you drop the く and add って. Be sure to remember this!

Similarly, with verbs that end in ぐ, you drop the final ぐ and add いで.

If the う verb ends in す, you drop the final す and add して. An example is はなす, which becomes はなして.

Irregular Verbs

For the two irregular verbs, する and くる, you must memorize the て forms. する becomes して and くる becomes きて.

Form Uses

て form is commonly used to ask someone to do something for you. It is also commonly used to ask or give permission.

In order to make a request, you must use the てください form. This means you take the てform of whatever verb is relevant to what you are asking and add ください to it. This will have the effect of politely asking the person to do something for you.

For example, if you want to ask someone to watch something, you can say みてください. If you want to add the subject and subject particle to the sentence, that is acceptable too. For example, you could ask someone to watch a specific movie. You could say えいがをみてください.

To use the て form to ask or give permission, you need the てもいいですand てはいけません. If asking for permission, you would add か to てもいいです.

For example, if you want to ask someone if you can watch a movie that belongs to him or her, you can say えいがをみてもいいですか. If the person is okay with you watching the movie, he or she can say みてもいいですよ. Theよ is optional. If the person does not want you to watch the movie, he or she could say みてはいけません.

Another way you can use て form is to link two activities together in a sentence. For example, if you want to say “I will listen to music and watch a movie,” you would say わたしはおんがくをきいて、えいがをみます. Notice how the first verb in the sentence is in て form and the second verb is in the regular present tense ます form. You can do this with any verb.

Read through this lesson a few times to ensure you understand て form and how to conjugate. Once you have memorized the forms and feel comfortable, proceed to the exercises below.

Practice I

Write five sentences that use two verbs. Remember when and how to use the TE form to link them together.

Practice II

Write theて form of the following verbs.

  1. する
  2. たべる
  3. あう
  4. かく
  5. よむ

Answer Key

Practice II

  1. して
  2. たべて
  3. あって
  4. かいて
  5. よんで


Lesson 24: Adjectives in Past Tense and Like/Dislike

Lesson 22 detailed how to conjugate  い and な adjectives in the present tense. You learned both affirmative and negative conjugations. Now, we will learn both the negative and positive conjugations for adjectives in the past tense. If you are still uncomfortable with the present tense forms of the adjectives, review Lesson 22 before moving on to this lesson. You will also learn how to say your likes and dislikes in this lesson. The adjectives for “like” and “dislike” function the same way the other adjectives in this lesson do.


In order to conjugate an い adjective into the affirmative past tense, you must drop the final い symbol and add かったですto the end. For example, おもしろい would become おもしろかったです. This would mean that something in the past was interesting. You could say “That movie was interesting,” by saying そのえいがはおもしろかったです.

For the past tense negative, you must drop the final い and add く. After く, you need to add ありませんでした. Notice how theです in the affirmative changes to でした (the past tense of です). This occurs even though both phrases are in the past tense. If you wanted to say “That movie was not interesting,” you could say そのえいがはおもしろくありませんでした.


To make the affirmative past tense form of a な adjective, you first need to drop the な ending. After this, simply add でした. Likewise, for the negative past tense form, drop the な ending first. Then, add じゃありませんでした. Take きれいな as an example. You could say “That town was pretty,” by saying そのまちはきれいでした. You could also say “That town was not pretty,” by saying そのまちはきれいじゃありませんでした.

Irregular Adjectives

The only irregular adjective you really need to worry about is いい. When you conjugate this into the past affirmative form, you must change いい to よかったです. When conjugating いい into the past negative form, you must change いい to よくありませんでした. This adjective does not follow any established patterns, so you will just have to memorize it.

Talking About Likes and Dislikes

There is a specific adjective for “like” and also an adjective for “dislike.” すきな is “like” and きらいな is “dislike.”

The sentence structure for talking about your likes and dislikes is like this:

X は Y がすきです.

In the above structure, すき can be replaced with きらい. The subject is not necessary if you are talking about yourself, but if you are referring to someone else’s likes and dislikes, you can add a subject. It is important to remember that すき and きらい always use が as their particle.

You can also amp up these two adjectives by adding だい in front of the word. This changes “like” to “really like” or even “love” whereas “dislike” changes to “hate.”

だいすきです= to really like something, or love something

だいきらいです = to hate something


Practice I

Conjugate the following い adjectives into the past affirmative and past negative forms.

  1. おもしろい
  2. いそがしい
  3. あたらしい
  4. おおきい
  5. あつい
  6. さむい
  7. こわい
  8. ちいさい
  9. たのしい
  10. むずかしい

Practice II

Conjugate the following な and irregular adjectives into the past affirmative and past negative forms.

  1. げんきな
  2. きれいな
  3. きらいな
  4. ひまな
  5. しずかな
  6. にぎやかな
  7. いい

Answer Key

Practice I

  1. おもしろかったです おもしろくありませんでした
  2. いそがしかったです いそがしくありませんでした
  3. あたらしかったです あたらしくありませんでした
  4. おおきかったです おおきくありませんでした
  5. あつかったです あつくありませんでした
  6. さむかったです さむくありませんでした
  7. こわかったです こわくありませんでした
  8. ちいさかったです ちいさくありませんでした
  9. たのしかったです たのしくありませんでした
  10. むずかしかったです むじかしくありませんでした

Practice II

  1. げんきでした げんきじゃありませんでした
  2. きれいでした きれいじゃありませんでした
  3. きらいでした きらいじゃありませんでした
  4. ひまでした ひまじゃありませんでした
  5. しずかでした しずかじゃありませんでした
  6. にぎやかでした にぎやかじゃありませんでした
  7. よかったです よくありませんでした

Lesson 23: Kanji Part 3

Lessons 17 and 20 focused on teaching you some kanji characters. This lesson will serve as a follow up to those lessons and help you add more kanji to your vocabulary. Keep in mind that you should review the previous kanji lessons—this will help you keep those kanji fresh in your mind, even if you are not using them right away. Kanji is definitely necessary for serious students of Japanese! Keep practicing until you learn all of these new kanji, but remember to refresh your memory on the older kanji as well!

First look at the chart below, then read through the paragraphs that follow. Move on to the exercises when you feel comfortable with the kanji. The answer key is below the assignment as always.

1. ひがし East
2. 西 にし West
3. みなみ South
4. きた North
5. ぐち/くち Mouth/exit
6. To exit
7. みぎ Right
8. ひだり Left
9. ふん Minute
10. がい Outside


The kanji in the chart above have their most common readings listed beside them. The English for those readings are found in the final column. Keep in mind that kanji can have multiple meanings. Read the paragraphs below for some more details on each individual kanji.

The first kanji character, which means “east,” is used when talking about the direction, but it is also used to write the word “Tokyo.” In kanji, “Tokyo” is written as 東京. This kanji can be combined with kanji number five to write the word for “east exit” (東口). The hiragana for “east exit” is ひがしぐち.

The second kanji is used alone to write “west,” but it is also combined with kanji number five. This forms the word for “west exit.” It is written 西口in kanji.

Kanji number three is used to write “south,” “south east,” and “south exit.” You can write “south east” by combining this kanji with the kanji for “east” (南東). You can write “south exit” like so: 南口.

Kanji number four works like kanji number three does. You can write “north” and “north exit.” “North exit” would be 北口.

Kanji number five can be used to write ぐち or くち. ぐち means “exit” and くち means “mouth.” The kanji symbol stays the same even though the meaning and pronunciation differ.

The sixth kanji is used to write 出る(でる) (to exit), 出口 (でぐち)(exit), and 出す (だす) (to take something out).

The seventh symbol is read みぎand means “right” (as in the direction). You can also say “right turn” by saying 右折 (うせつ). Likewise, the eighth kanji symbol on the list is the word for “left” and is read ひだり. You can say “left turn” by saying 左折which is read させつ.

Kanji number nine is often read as ふん. This symbol is used to represent minutes. For example, if you want to say ten minutes, you would say じゅっぷん which is written as 十分. The reading of the kanji symbol will change depending on how many minutes you are talking about. Five minutes, for example, is read as ごふん and written as 五分.

The final kanji symbol is the symbol for “outside.” It is normally read as がい but can sometimes be read as そと. Use it to write “foreign country” (外国, read asがいこく), “foreigner” (外国人, read asがいこくじん), and “outside” (外, read asそと).

Once you have read all of the kanji notes and thoroughly studied the chart, move on to the exercises below. As you learn more and more kanji, be sure to review the previous lessons, including this one, by reading over the charts and filling in the exercises again!

Practice I

  1. Write each kanji symbol out ten times, making sure to follow the correct stroke order. It’s also a good idea to write the English meaning beside the symbols, and sometimes the hiragana (if you don’t know how to pronounce a kanji).

Practice II

Write the correct kanji for the following English definitions.

  1. North
  2. South
  3. East
  4. West
  5. To exit
  6. Mouth
  7. Minute
  8. Left
  9. Outside
  10. Right

Practice III

Write to following words in Japanese, using kanji where appropriate.

  1. Foreign country
  2. Left turn
  3. Foreigner
  4. Exit
  5. Right turn
  6. North exit
  7. Tokyo
  8. West exit
  9. South exit
  10. East exit


Answer Key

Practice II

  1. 西

Practice III

  1. 外国
  2. 左折
  3. 外国人
  4. 右折
  5. 北口
  6. 東京
  7. 西口
  8. 南口
  9. 東口

Travel to Nara – An Old Japanese Capital


If you are planning on traveling to Japan, you should consider stopping by the city of Nara. This city is home to eight sites that are recognized collectively by UNESCO as the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.” You can spend time exploring these eight sites and learn a great deal about the history of this ancient city. Modern Nara is the capital of its prefecture, so now the city has its own centers of commerce. The population of the city is roughly 373,000, so this city is a great place to visit if larger cities (like Tokyo) aren’t appealing to you.


The city of Nara in Japan functioned as the capital city from 710 to 784. During this time period, Nara grew because of Buddhism’s influence and popularity. This explains why there are many Buddhist temples in this city which are still preserved to this day. Unfortunately, Nara is not as well-known as Japan’s other ancient capital, Kyoto, so many tourists do not pay a visit to this wonderful historic city.



If you visit Nara, you must visit this temple! This temple is home to the Daibutsu, the biggest Buddha statue in Japan. This temple is also unique because of the deer that roam the grounds freely. You can purchase food to feed them, pet them, and take pictures of them—they are really tame and don’t mind people at all! But be careful, sometimes they can get angry if provoked. The temple grounds are beautiful, so plan to stay a while and enjoy the scenery!


While in Nara you can also pay a visit to the Nara National Museum in order to see some of the history of the city. There are English speaking guides at this museum who can answer your questions about the exhibits. Another museum you can check out is the Nara City Museum of Photography.


There are two well-known gardens in Nara. You can visit these for a relaxing experience in a park with beautiful scenery. There is the Yoshikien Garden and the Isui-en Garden. Foreigners actually get in to the Yoshikien Garden for free!

Mount Wakakusa Fire Festival

This festival is held the night before the second Monday in January, weather permitting. At this festival, you can see a large section of dry grass set on fire and watch fireworks.


This is a section of Nara that was founded in the eight century. There are unique shops and cafes to visit here, as well as Harushika. Harushika is a sake brewery where you can go on tours of the establishment and participate in sake tastings.


While in Nara, you should check out a restaurant that offers local cuisine. Hiraso is a good place to dine for this type of meal! This restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from ten in the morning until eight in the evening. There is an English picture menu available here, so you should have no trouble ordering, even if you don’t speak any Japanese.

You may also want to pay a visit to Udon-tei. This restaurant serves udon noodles in different forms, so you can find a dish you’ll enjoy. Udon noodles are very popular in Japan, but be advised that these noodles are much thicker than ramen noodles! Some tourists don’t like udon because of its thickness, but you should at least give it a try!

You can also find a few take out places in Nara, if that is more your style. There are a few places that will serve western-styled dishes as well.


If you enjoy alcohol, there are a few places you should visit besides just a sake brewery. Kuramoto Hoshuku is a popular place which serves sake, beer, and snacks. If you rather be in an atmosphere with foreigners, House of the Rising Sun is a bar where many tourists hang out. Wembly Crown is a British pub which caters to foreigners and locals alike.

Places to Stay

There are many places to choose from, and the prices vary greatly. If you are traveling to Japan during the holidays or in August (or even just during peak season), you should make your reservations very early in advance. This will ensure you get the rates and rooms you want! Many hotels book up during the peak seasons, and this drives the prices up for other hotels that still have vacancies.

The Yuzan Guest House is very small and cozy, but the owner speaks good English so you can communicate well. This house also offers great accommodations such as free wireless internet and a Western-style breakfast.

Ryokan Seikanso is a traditional Japanese-style hotel. While ryokans are more expensive, they are very, very nice to stay at. If you can afford to splurge a little, even just for a night or two, make sure you book a ryokan!

There are a few mid-range hotels in Nara. These include the Hotel Fujita Nara and Nara Washington Hotel Plaza. Both of these offer nice amenities and are western-style. The rooms are small, which is typical of Japan, but the hotels are still really nice and comfortable.

No matter where you choose to stay in Nara or what you choose to do, don’t leave this wonderful ancient capital out of your tour of Japan! Nara is a nice, fairly quiet city that has a lot to offer!

Lesson 22: I and Na Adjectives in Present Tense

This lesson will teach you about a Japanese part of speech that we have not yet discussed: adjectives. Adjectives function a very specific way in Japanese. You must learn to conjugate them into the past, present, negative, and affirmative forms just like you learned with verbs. The rules for conjugating adjectives are different than the rules for conjugating verbs, so read the following lesson to learn how it’s done!

The Japanese language has two kinds of adjectives. Both kinds will conjugate differently, so you must memorize both sets of rules. The two types of adjectives are い and な. Adjectives are named for the syllable that comes at the end of the word.

To learn how to conjugate い adjectives, let’s take the word たかい, which means “expensive.” If we want to use this adjective in the present affirmative form, for example to say that something is expensive, we simply leave the word as it is and place it in front of the noun it modifies. For example: それはたかいほんです(That is an expensive book). You can also leave the noun out any simply say that something is expensive. For example: それはたかいです(That is expensive). If your listener knows what subject you are speaking about, then this form is okay.

If you wish to negate an い adjective, you must change the い to く and add ありません. Let’s use たかい like in the example above. それはたかくありません(That is not expensive). そのほんはたかくありません(That book is not expensive).

You can also leave off the subject completely, so long as your listener knows what you are talking about. たかいですor たかくありません can each be a sentence, expressing that you think something is expensive or not expensive. As long as the subject is understood, it is okay to just use these words.

The second type of adjectives in Japanese is な adjectives. These words will end in な, but only if they precede a noun. For example, take the な adjective きれいな. If you are talking about a cat and want to say it is pretty, you could simply say きれいです. Notice that the な part of the word is dropped since a verb follows the adjective, not a noun. If you place the noun cat after the adjective, you leave な in place: きれいなねこです. Use きれいですonly if the subject is understood!

If you want to negate a な adjective, you drop the な and add じゃありません. For example: きれいじゃありません(It’s not pretty). Or, このねこはきれいじゃありません(This cat is not pretty).

Besides these two types of adjectives, there is one irregular one. This one is いい. This means “good.” When in the affirmative present form, you simply say いいです. If you want to negate this, you would change the いい to よ and add くありません. It then becomes よくありません.

This is the only irregularity you should worry about for now. The rest of the adjectives conjugate according to the patterns described above.

The best way to learn these new adjectives is to practice conjugating them. Check out the exercises below to learn more adjectives and get some practice with writing and conjugating them.

Exercise I

Conjugate the following adjectives into present negative form.

  1. たかい
  2. きれいな
  3. おもしろい
  4. ちさい
  5. むずかしい

Exercise II

Write a sentence for each of the following adjectives. You can use the adjective n present negative or affirmative ways. There will be no answers to this section of the lesson since you are making up your own sentences! If you want to check your answers, refer back to the lesson!

  1. つまらない (boring)
  2. げんきな (healthy)
  3. いそがしい (busy)
  4. あつい (hot)
  5. さむい (cold)
  6. ひまな (not busy)
  7. しずかな (quiet)
  8. にぎやかな (lively)
  9. たのしい (fun)
  10. おおきい (large, big)

Exercise III

Translate the following sentences into English. If you are not familiar with a word, look it up in a dictionary.

  1. このまちはきれいです。
  2. それはおもしろいほんです。
  3. えいがはおもしろくありません。
  4. にほんごはむずかしくありません。
  5. わたしはいそがしいです。
  6. わたしはひまじゃありません。


Answer Key

Exercise I

  1. たかくありません
  2. きれいじゃありません
  3. おもしろくありません
  4. ちさくありません
  5. むずかしくありません

Exercise III

  1. This city is pretty.
  2. That is an interesting book.
  3. The movie is not interesting.
  4. Japanese is not difficult.
  5. I am busy.
  6. I do not have a lot of free time.

Lesson 21: Negating Sentences and Past Tense Verbs

In one of our early lessons we learned the dictionary form and present tense long form of some Japanese verbs. Now it is time to build on that previous knowledge by learning how to negate the present tense long form. This lesson will also start to explain how past tense verbs work in Japanese.

For the purposes of teaching the different forms in this lesson, we will use the verb たべる. Remember, this is the dictionary form of the verb!

Present Tense Long Form:

Affirmative: たべます (to eat)

Negative: たべません  (to not eat)

This is similar to negative あります sentences (ありません) which you have already learned in a previous lesson. In order to negate other verbs, ます must become ません. This means that the verb is negated, unless you are using the ませんか structure to extend an invitation.

Now, in order to make verbs, both affirmative and negative, in the past tense, you need to follow the patterns below.

Present Tense Affirmative: たべます

Past Tense Affirmative: たべました

Present Tense Negative: たべません

Past Tense Negative: たべませんでした

As you can see, ます becomes ました and ません becomes ませんでした.

Exercise I

Below are the dictionary forms of several Japanese verbs. Put these verbs into the affirmative present tense form, the negative present tense form, the affirmative past tense form, and the negative past tense form.

  1. たべる
  2. のむ
  3. みる
  4. よむ
  5. する
  6. いく
  7. かく
  8. かう
  9. べんきょうする
  10. とる

You can also change the X は Y です form into the past tense. This occurs by changing です to でした. でした is the past tense form of です. Both of these verbs are affirmative. The negative form of X は Y です is X は Y じゃありません. This means that X is not Y. (This is review from a previous lesson!) This sentence form can also be changed into the past tense. じゃありません becomes じゃありませんでした in the past tense.

Exercise II

Translate the following sentences from Japanese to English.

  1. あなたはせんせいでしたか。
  2. これはにほんごのほんじゃありません。
  3. わたしのせんもんはれきしがくじゃありませんでした。
  4. せんしゅうなにをしましたか。
  5. せんしゅうにほんごをべんきょうしませんでした。
  6. わたしはだいがくせいじゃありませんでした。
  7. わたしはだいがくせいじゃありません。
  8. 火曜日がっこうにいきました。
  9. きょうとですしを食べました。
  10. かいものに行きませんでした。

Other phrases that go well with past tense verbs are こどものとき and こうこうのとき. こどものとき means “the time that you were a child” while こうこうのとき means “the time that you were in high school. You can ask questions and make sentences based on these time periods in the past like so:

Q: こどものときよくえいがを見ましたか。
(When you were a child, did you often watch movies?)

A: はい、よくえいがをみました。
(Yes, I watched movies often.)

You can replace よく with any of the frequency words you have already learned. Look at the following examples.

Q: こうこうのときあまり本をよみませんでしたか。
(In high school, did you rarely read books?)

A: はい、あまり本をよみませんでした。
(Yes, I rarely read books.)

Q: こうこうのときまいにちべんきょうしましたか。
(In high school, did you study every day?)

A: いいえ。よくべんきょうしました。
(No. I studied often.)

Q: こどものときなにをよくしましたか。
(When you were a child, what did you do often?)

A: よくゲムをしました。
(I often played games.)

Exercise III

Translate the following sentences into Japanese.

  1. Did you listen to music often as a child?
  2. I never read when I was a child.
  3. I read every day in high school.
  4. I rarely watched movies in high school.
  5. I studied Japanese every day in high school.
  6. Did you sometimes eat sushi as a child?
  7. I never drank sake in high school.
  8. I sometimes ate meat.
  9. I rarely played games as a child.
  10. I often played tennis in high school.



Answer Key

Exercise I

  1. 食べます、たべません、たべました、たべませんでした
  2. のみます、のみません、のみました、のみませんでした
  3. みます、みません、みました、みませんでした
  4. よみます、よみません、よみました、よみませんでした
  5. します、しません、しました、しませんでした
  6. いきます、いきません、いきました、いきませんでした
  7. かきます、かきません、かきました、かきませんでした
  8. かいます、かいません、かいました、かいませんであひた
  9. べんきょうします、べんきょうしません、べんきょうしました、べんきょうしませんでした
  10. とります、とりません、とりました、とりませんでした

Exercise II

  1. Were you a teacher?
  2. This is not a Japanese book.
  3. My major was not history.
  4. What did you do last week?
  5. Last week I did not study Japanese.
  6. I was not a college student.
  7. I am not a college student.
  8. Tuesday I went to school.
  9. I ate sushi in Kyoto.
  10. I did not go shopping.

Exercise III

  1. こどものときよくおんがくをききましたか。
  2. こどものときぜんぜん本をよみませんでした。
  3. こうこうのときまいにち本をよみました。
  4. こうこうのときあまりえいがをみませんでした。
  5. こうこうのときまいにちにほんごをべんきょうしました。
  6. こどものときときどきすしをたべましたか。
  7. こうこうのときぜんぜんさけをのみませんでした。
  8. わたしはときどきにくをたべました。
  9. こどものときあまりゲムをしませんでした。
  10. こうこうのときよくテニスをしました。

Lesson 20: Elementary Kanji Part 2

Lesson 17 taught you some elementary kanji. I hope you have been practicing, because now it is time to learn another set! Review Lesson 17 if it has been a while since you practiced your kanji. Keep in mind that kanji is really essential for serious students of Japanese—the symbols are used in everyday written Japanese and appear on many signs and menus throughout Japan!

Take a look at the chart below, read through the notes, and complete the exercises to get started on this second set of kanji. There will be an answer key blow the exercises, so don’t scroll down too far until you have completed the work!

The Kanji

1. よう Weekday
2. うえ/じょう Up, above
3. した/か Down, below
4. なか/ちゅう/じゅう Middle, inside
5. わたし/し I, private
6. いま/こん Now
7. To see
8. い/こう To go
9. To eat
10. To drink


The kanji presented above have their most common readings listed beside them. The English listed in the last column is a rough translation (or one of the translations) that the kanji can have. After reading through this note section, you will be able to understand more clearly what each individual kanji is used for.

The first kanji is used when writing the days of the week. Each name for a day of the week has the syllables よう in it. You have already learned the kanji for each day of the week as well as the kanji for day. Now all you have to do is put the three together. Remember, the kanji for “day” will go at the end and this new kanji for よう will go in the middle!

The next three kanji symbols will help you with location words. 上 is used when you want to say that one object is on top of another. The second reading for this kanji is used when talking about a person being good at some activity. The adjective for “to be good at” is 上ずな. We will cover how to use this adjective in a later lesson.

The kanji forした is used when you want to say an object is below something else. The second reading for this kanji is commonly used when writing the word for “subway” (地下鉄). The kanji for なか is used when saying one object is inside of another. The second reading is used when reading the word for China (中国) and the third is used when talking about years.

Kanji number five is a very useful kanji. This is the kanji you use in place of私, or “I.” Both males and females can use this pronoun and this kanji. The second reading of this kanji is used when the kanji means “private” such as in “private university” (私立大学).

The sixth kanji is used when you are talking about something happening right “now.” いま means “now.” It is also used to write the words for “today” and “tonight” (hint: the word for “today is written with this kanji plus the kanji for day). Tonight is written as 今晩.

The final four kanji are used most often as verbs. We are going to concentrate on those readings and meanings the most. Each of the kanji represents a syllable that makes up a verb you have learned. For the remaining syllables of the verbs, hiragana symbols must be used. 行 can also be used to write the word for “bank” (銀行).

Now that you have learned some information about each kanji, take some time to memorize the symbols. It may also be helpful to look up a stroke dictionary on the internet (or buy a paper version). Stroke dictionaries will show you the stroke count and which stroke comes first. Practice writing the kanji until you feel comfortable with each symbol.

Exercise I

Write the following words using kanji where appropriate (it is okay to have some hiragana symbols in some of your answers).

  1. Verb for “to eat.”
  2. Today
  3. I
  4. Verb for “to see.”
  5. Inside
  6. Above
  7. Verb for “to drink.”
  8. Now
  9. Verb for “to go.”
  10. Monday
  11. Tuesday
  12. Wednesday
  13. Thursday
  14. Friday
  15. Saturday
  16. Sunday
  17. Under

Exercise II

Transcribe the following kanji and hiragana into romaji or English.

  1. 飲みもの
  2. 食べもの
  3. ぎん行
  4. 見る
  5. 飲む
  6. 行く
  7. 食べる
  8. 今日
  9. 今ばん

Exercise III

Translate the following sentences from Japanese to English.

  1. 月曜日私はぎん行に行きます。
  2. 今日はどう曜日です。
  3. なにを食べますか。
  4. えいがを見ましょう。
  5. 私の本はつくえの上です。


Answer Key

Exercise I

  1. 食べます
  2. 今日
  3. 見ます
  4. 飲みます
  5. 行きます
  6.  月曜日
  7. 火曜日
  8. 水曜日
  9. 木曜日
  10. 金曜日
  11. 土曜日
  12. 日曜日

Exercise II

  1. Nomimono / drinks
  2. Tabemono / food
  3. Ginkou / bank
  4. Miru / dictionary form “to see”
  5. Nomu / dictionary form “to drink”
  6. Iku / dictionary form “to go”
  7. Taberu / dictionary form “to eat”
  8. Kyou / today
  9. Konban / tonight
  10. Ima / now

Exercise III

  1. I will go to the bank on Monday.
  2. Today is Saturday.
  3. What will you eat?
  4. Let’s watch a movie.
  5. My book is on top of the desk.