All posts by Courtney

Destination Kyoto – Japan's Ancient Capital


Looking for a cultural getaway? A great place for anyone to visit, especially if you have never visited Asia, is Kyoto. The name “Kyoto” in Japanese literally translates to “capital city.” Although Kyoto is not the modern day capital of Japan, it was once the imperial capital of this ancient country. Due to its long and intricate history, Kyoto is a beautiful (and culturally rich) city that will delight adventurers, honeymooners, historians, and more!


Kyoto is located in the Kyoto Prefecture on Japan’s largest island, Honshu. With around 1.5 million people as permanent residents and many year-round tourists, this city is a busy place. The atmosphere is different from a typical big city; Kyoto gives you plenty of space so you hardly realize just how many people traverse the ancient capital daily. The climate of Kyoto varies depending on which time of year you chose to travel—the summers can get really humid and the winters can be freezing! However, Kyoto has very nice weather in the spring months.


Kyoto has seen so much throughout its long and vibrant life. Natural disasters, wars, rebellions, samurai fights, and other negative events have taken place on the same soil that you can tread on today. Although the city suffered a great deal of damage several times throughout its history, Kyoto’s magnificent temples and buildings still stand—some restored, some ancient. The traditional economy of Kyoto was sake brewing. In the modern world, this gave way to information technology. Despite Kyoto’s modernization, there are still plenty of remnants of the old world for you to explore.



Kyoto has an abundance of religious sites including temples, palaces, and shrines. Some of the very famous sites include Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji, and Kiyomizu-dera.

Kinkaku-ji literally translates to “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.” The name is very literal—the top portion of this Zen Buddhist temple is shielded in pure gold. The temple complex was originally established in 1397 and suffered damage during the Onin War. The original building was later burned down by accident. The current structure was raised in 1955. Tourists can visit the grounds of this magnificent temple and explore the beautiful surrounding gardens.

Ginkaku-ji is another scenic temple in Kyoto. The same of this temple, although very similar to Kinkaku-ji, means “The Temple of the Silver Pavilion.” This temple is also known as “The Temple of Shining Mercy.” Like Kinkaku-ji, it is a Zen Buddhist temple. The original idea for the temple grounds and gardens was initiated around 1460, and the actual construction of the temple began around 1482. Since this temple was meant to imitate Kinkaku-ji, the exterior was supposed to be covered in silver; however, these plans fell through. The temple and its gardens are still a beautiful and serene sight to visit while in Kyoto.

For a different temple experience, consider visiting Kiyomizu-dera (“The Temple of Clear Water”). This temple was originally founded in 798, but the current buildings date back to only 1633. Kiyomizu-dere is also a Buddhist temple, but there are several unique characteristics of this holy place. First, there are absolutely no nails in the temple structure. Second, there is a natural waterfall that runs through the temple complex. The water from this waterfall is clean and safe to drink, thus giving the temple its name of “clear water.” Visitors to Kiyomizu-dera can climb up to this waterfall and, with the help of a metal pole with a cup on the end, drink some of the refreshing water. It is said that the water of the Kiyomizu-dera waterfall grants the drinker his or her wishes.


A great way to explore Kyoto’s culture and history is to take a trip to one of the many museums. You can find art museums, history museums, and even some museums with a very specific focus.

The Kyoto National Museum specializes in pre-modern Japanese art. This museum has been open since 1897, but recently went through renovations. Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Handicrafts are the main divisions of this museum. Visitors can see displays of calligraphy, sculptures, pottery, fabrics, and other items from years past at this museum.

Kyoto is also home to some history museums including the Ryozen Museum of History. This particular museum has exhibits from the Meiji Restoration and Bakumatsu period.

Two very unique museums are the Kyoto International Manga Museum and the Iwatayama Monkey Park. The aim of the Kyoto International Manga Museum is to collect every manga title ever printed (and if you know anything about Japan, you know that manga is very popular)! The museum current has around 200,000 manga books. After paying the entrance fee, visitors can relax around the museum and read as much manga as they want.

The Iwatayama Monkey Park, while not a traditional museum, allows visitors a unique experience. Here, Japanese macaque monkeys walk about as they please. There is a special area for visitors to feed the monkeys. Although they are wild animals, these monkeys are used to human interaction, so they will not hesitate to take food from you!

Nightlife and Eateries

There are plenty of clubs in Kyoto, including international pubs. For a quiet atmosphere during the week, try out the bar Rub-A-Dub. This same club offers a livelier atmosphere on weekends. Want a cheap bar with an extensive menu? Give A-Bar a chance. If you are looking for something international, you can pay a visit to Gael Irish Pub. This is a great place to meet other English speakers! One of Kyoto’s most popular clubs is Metro. This club offers themed events and sometimes has live music.

As far as restaurants go, you have ample choices in Kyoto. There are plenty of international places to eat (including many Italian restaurants with superb food), but there are also lots of great Japanese restaurants to check out. Ramen shops and other noodle shops (such as soba and udon shops) are easy to find and always worth checking out. Visits to sushi places are a must! One traditional Kyoto-style restaurant to check out is Uosue. Uosue offers great lunches for around 1000 yen (that’s roughly $10 USD). Fujino-ya is also a good place to stop by for dishes such as tempura and yakisoba. One unique restaurant is Cocohana. This café serves Korean cuisine and is known for its friendly staff.

Kyoto is an enchanting, historical, and cultural getaway for any type of visitor. Whether you travel to Kyoto for business, pleasure, or school, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Make the most of your stay in Kyoto by getting out of your hotel and exploring the city!

Lesson 19: Supplementary Vocabulary and Practice Part 2

Here is another lesson that will cover some supplementary vocabulary and practice. Some of this may be review, and some of it you may have never seen before. It is good to practice new words so that you will be prepared for future lessons, but it is also good to revisit some of the vocabulary you have used previously. It can be hard to learn and remember all of the vocabulary words you are taught in a lesson, especially if you do not use them on a regular basis.

It is also a good idea to make flash cards for new words that you learn. You should write the Japanese script on one side and the English on the other. Try not to write the romaji on the flash card. You can then test yourself by looking at the English side of the card and saying the Japanese word. You can also look at the Japanese and see if you can translate it into English. Flash cards are a useful tool, and you can sometimes find online programs to make flash cards with!

Look at the table of vocabulary words below. Study them over, and then complete the exercises that follow. You should be able to complete the exercises without looking at the chart. It may take you a while to remember all of the words; do not worry, this is completely normal!

Japanese Romaji English
クラス Kurasu Class
おみやげ Omiyage Souvenir
かく Kaku To write (verb)
びょういん Byouin hospital
かう Kau To buy (verb)
わかる Wakaru To understand (verb)
アルバイト Arubaito Part time job
こども Kodomo Child
せんしゅう Senshuu Last week
ホテル Hoteru hotel
ひと Hito Person
スーパー Suupaa Supermarket
本や Honya bookstore
かいもの Kaimono shopping
あした Ashita tomorrow
まち Machi Town/city
しゃしん Syashin Picture/photo
バスてい Basutei Bus stop
こうえん Kouen Park
きのう Kinou Yesterday
ごはん Gohan Meal (or rice)
きょう Kyou today
てがみ Tegami Letter (to someone)
おてら Otera temple
とる Toru To take a picture



Translate the following sentences into English.

  1. わたしはおてらにいきます。
  2. わたしのいぬはこうえんにいます。
  3. こどもがいますか。
  4. あしたはとしょかんでにほんごをべんきょうします。
  5. かいものにいきませんか。
  6. とこどきおみやげをかいます。
  7. げつようびクラスがありますか。
  8. なにをかいますか。
  9. えいごをわかりますか。
  10. わたしはおかあさんにてがみをかきます。
  11. どんなまちにいきますか。
  12. いっしょにごはんをたべましょう。
  13. きのうはどうようびでした。
  14. あのひとはだれですか。
  15. わたしはバスていにまちます。
  16. びょういんはがっこうのみぎです。
  17. このまちで本やがありますか。
  18. せんしゅうテニスをしました。
  19. たくさんしゃしんをとります。
  20. スーパーでコーラがありますか。
  21. わたしはいそがしいです。アルバイトがありますから。
  22. そのホテルはとてもきれいですね。
  23. このしゃしんはたかいです。
  24. あなたのてがみは本のうえです。
  25. きょうはわたしのたんじょうびです。

Now take a look at the following conversation. You should read the conversation out loud to practice your pronunciation. It is also good to practice this conversation with a partner. You can change some of the phrases around to get some more practice, but first just read the conversation as it is written. Then translate the entire conversation into English. The answer key is at the bottom of this lesson!

A: B-さん, こんばんは! おげんきですか。

B: こんばんは! はい、げんきです。あなたは?

A: はい、わたしもげんきです。いっしょになにかをしましょう。

B: はい。でも、わたしはとてもいそがしいです。アルバイトがあるますから。



A: いいえ、もくようびはテストをべんきょうします。

B: そうか。きにょうびはどうですか。



A: はい、いきましょう。きょうとでなにをしますか。



B: じゃあ、きにょうびに!



Answer Key

  1. I am going to a temple.
  2. My dog is in the park.
  3. Do you have children?
  4. Tomorrow I will study Japanese at the library.
  5. Would you like to go shopping?
  6. I sometimes buy souvenirs.
  7. Do you have class on Monday?
  8. What are you going to buy?
  9. Do you understand English?
  10. I am writing a letter to my mother.
  11. What kind of city are you going to?
  12. We should eat a meal together.
  13. Yesterday was Saturday.
  14. Who is that person?
  15. I am waiting at the bus stop.
  16. The hospital is to the right of the school.
  17. Is there a bookstore in this town?
  18. I played tennis last week.
  19. I am taking a lot of photos.
  20. Does the supermarket have soda?
  21. I am busy because I have a part time job.
  22. That hotel is very pretty, isn’t it?
  23. This picture is expensive.
  24. Your letter is on top of the book.
  25. Today is my birthday.


A: B-san, good evening. How are you?

B: Good evening! I am well. And you?

A: Yes, I am also well. We should do something together.

B: Yes. But, I am very busy because I have a part time job.

A: I see. Um, how is Wednesday?

B: Wednesday I have class. How is Thursday?

A: No, Thursday I have to study for a test.

B: I see. Then, how is Friday?

A: Friday? I’m going to Kyoto.

B: I am also going to Kyoto. Shouldn’t we go together?

A: Yes, let’s go. What are you going to do in Kyoto?

B: Um…I’m going shopping. I’m also going to a temple.

A: I will go shopping with you. See you later!

B: See you Friday!

Traveling to Japan

Do you want to travel to Japan?

Japan is an ancient country with loads of history and culture to share with you. If you have never traveled to Asia before, you will be awed and intrigued by the many historical sites and temples located in Japan. You can also experience unique culture, cuisine, and entertainment while in Japan. Even if you are not particularly interested in Japanese culture or history, Japan’s sprawling cities will keep you occupied!

Getting There

It is a good idea to prepare and research thoroughly before traveling to Japan, especially if you have never traveled internationally. It is important to make sure you acquire your passport in advance! It can take several weeks to get a new passport, so make sure you fill out the required forms, have your picture taken, and mail the request at least eight weeks before you depart. If you are leaving from the United States, you will likely have the option of flying via Japanese airlines or USA airlines. Research both airlines to figure out while flight and price works best for you.

Your airline should have guidelines posted on their websites. Even Japanese airlines such as ANA (All Nippon Airways) have English guidelines posted. Make sure to read these before you pack—many airlines have strict regulations on luggage size, carry-ons, and liquids. Pack accordingly!

If you are going to be in Japan for a while, it is a good idea to pack your clothes in travel vacuum bags. These bags allow you to pack more clothes because you have to push the air out of the bags. This condenses the space your clothes will take up in your suitcase. Also, it is a good idea to buy small travel bottles for your liquids.

The flight itself can be up to fourteen hours (if you are flying out of the United States). It’s a good idea to sleep as much as you can on the flight! When you get to Japan, it will seem like you have lost an entire day!

What to Bring

Depending on what country you are traveling from, your personal appliance chargers may not work in Japan. Japanese outlets have a smaller voltage than outlets in the USA, so chargers from the USA can still be used in Japan. However, if the plug on your charger has uneven prongs, you will need an adapter. Japanese outlets support two prongs that are the same size (this means that you can still plug in the charger no matter which way you flip it). Adapters can be purchased at most electronic stores.

If you are going to be in Japan for more than a week or if you just want to keep in touch with family and friends, consider purchasing a phone card before you leave. You can buy “Call Asia” cards at most supermarkets. These cards allow your family and friends to call you in Japan for a decent price. This works best if you have also rented a cell phone to use in Japan. Some US cell phones can be altered to work in Japan, so it is best to talk to your cell phone provider to see how much this would cost. Renting a Japanese cell phone to use on your trip is easy—there are many websites based in Japan that will rent cell phones to travelers for good prices. Many companies also offer free incoming calls!

The season you are traveling in is important. If you are going in the winter, be sure to bring a thick jacket! It can get really cold in Japan. Likewise, the summers can also get extremely hot. A fan and some shorts are great for the summer time. The spring time weather is mild, so light jackets as well as summer clothes are a good option.


yen dollar 300x195 Euro surges against the Japanese YenJapan is still mostly a cash-based society. Because of this, it will make it much easier for you if you exchange your currency for yen. You can do so in the airport, but for a cheaper rate, consider changing your chase through your bank before you leave. You can also change it once you get to Japan. Debit cards and credit cards are good to have on hand, but not all places will accept cards. Debit cards can sometimes be more of a hassle in Japan, especially if you are trying to use an ATM. If your card is from the US, it is not likely that it will even work on Japanese ATMs. Japan is a very safe country, so you do not have to feel wary about carrying a lot of yen on you.


English is a common second language for many Japanese people, but most of the English speakers will be of the younger generations. Most businesses you go to and restaurants you eat at will not have English-speaking staff. In some of the larger cities, there are restaurants with at least one English-speaking staff person, but you should not count on this. It is best to learn some Japanese before going to Japan. Give yourself plenty of time so that you can learn basic phrases, how to order in a restaurant, and the hiragana writing system. You probably will not have time to learn kanji, but if you can learn some basic ones it will really help you! It is also a good idea to carry around a travel Japanese guide. These guides will list the most common phrases for any type of situation.

Cities and Sites to Visit

Some interesting Japanese cities are listed below, along with some great sites to check out.


  • Tokyo Tower
  • Akihabara
  • Shinjuku
  • Tokyo Bay
  • Roppongi Hills
  • Asakusa


  • Kyoto Tower
  • Kiyomizu-dera
  • Ginkaku-ji
  • Kinkaku-ji
  • Nijo Castle
  • Imperial Palace


  • Todai-ji
  • Nara Park
  • Nara National Museum


  • Himeji Castle
  • Himeji City Zoo
  • Kokoen Garden


  • Osaka Castle
  • Osaka Museum of History
  • Sumiyoshi Shrine

No matter where you choose to visit in Japan, you can easily travel throughout the country to take advantage of all the wonderful sights and sounds. Japan is a beautiful, peaceful destination for travelers of all kinds. Historical sites, culture, native cuisine, and entertainment all abound in this magnificent country.

Lesson 18: Location Words


Describing where things are is an important skill to have in Japanese. Being able to describe where things are not only enhances your ability to describe locations; it also aids you in asking for and giving directions. In order to do so, there is a set of words known as “location” words. These words are used to describe where something is (a noun) in relation to other noun. These words are not used only in the scenarios described in this lesson, but we are just going to focus on their main uses for now.

First, here is a list of the location words and their English equivalent.

To the right of みぎ
To the left of ひだり
In front of まえ
Behind うしろ
Inside なか
On/above うえ
Under/beneath した
Near そば
Next to となり


Explanation – Part I

X は Y の “location word” です.

This is the basic sentence structure that you will follow in order to describe where something is. To start with, let’s say that you want to describe where the bank is. If the bank is in front of the library, you would say ぎんこうはとしょかんのまえです。

の must always go between the second location and the location word. As seen in the above sentence, the second location is the library, and the location word is まえ. So, when saying the bank is in front of the library, the word for library must go with the location word. That’s how we get ぎんこうはとしょかんのまえです. If the bank was behind the library instead of in front of it, you would say ぎんこうはとしょかんのうしろです. You can change the location word to any on the above list; just place it in the same place that まえ and うしろ previously occupied in the sentence.

Take a look at the following sentence pairs to see some more examples of how location words look.

A: 本はどこですか。

B: 本はテーブルのうえです。

A: デパートはどこですか。

B: デパート はぎんこうのひだりです。

A: えんぴつはどこですか。

B: 本のしたです。

As you can see, in the final sentence the subject was omitted. Keep in mind that this is acceptable in Japanese as long as the listener knows what the subject is.

Explanation – Part II    

Now that you have an idea of the basic structure for location words, let’s go a little more in depth.

You will recall from an earlier lesson (Lesson #10) the Japanese pronouns それ, これ, and あれ. You were also taught another form of these pronouns (その, この, and あの). Now we are going to learn a third form of these pronouns because these forms can be used with location words. The new forms are そこ, ここ, and あそこ. Take a look at the chart below in case this does not make sense.

それ (that) これ (this) あれ (that over there)
その (that noun) この (this noun right here) あの (that noun over there)
そこ (there) ここ (here) あそこ (over there)

*Note that where it says “noun” in the chart, a noun should be filled in.

Here are the new pronouns in examples:

ぎんこうはどこですか。 (Where is the bank?)
ぎんこうはあそこです。 (The bank is over there.)

ぎんこうはどこですか。 (Where is the bank?)
そこです。(It is there.)

ぎんこうはどこですか。(Where is the bank?)
ぎんこうはここです。レストランのまえです。(The bank is here. In front of the restaurant.)

These pronouns work best when you can point to the location of the building or noun.

Finally, let’s learn how to say that something is in between two other things. You will use this structure.

X は Y と Z のあいだです.

For example, if the pencil is in between the book and the bag, you would say:


This structure also works for buildings.

Practice I

Translate the following from English to Japanese. If you aren’t sure of the Japanese word for a noun, look it up in a dictionary. You may want to purchase a Japanese dictionary or use one online. There is a link to a Japanese dictionary on the right hand menu of this website. Using a dictionary will help you learn new words. Don’t look at the answer key until you have finished the exercises!

  1. The umbrella is under the chair.
  2. The restaurant is near the department store.
  3. The school is next to the bank.
  4. The pen is in the bag.
  5. The book is near the bag.

Practice II

Translate the following into English.

  1. 日本の本はどこですか。
  2. じしょはどこですか。
  3. としょかんはどこですか。
    (としょかんは) ゆうびんきょくとぎんこうのあいだです。
  4. えんぴつはどこですか。かばんのなかですか。
  5. 水はどこですか。

Answer Key

  1. かさはいすのしたです。
  2. レストラン はデパート のそばです。
  3. かっこうはぎんこうのとなりです。
  4. ペンはかばんのなかです。
  5. 本はかばんのそばです。


  1. Where is the Japanese book?
    It is under the newspaper.
  2. Where is the dictionary?
    It is over there, on top of the desk.
  3. Where is the library?
    (The library is) between the post office and the bank.
  4. Where is the pencil? Is it inside the bag?
    Yes, the pencil is inside the bag.
  5. Where is the water?
    The water is next to the soda.

Lesson 17: Elementary Kanji

In Lesson 6, we learned some very basic kanji by learning how to count. Now we can expand our kanji knowledge by learning some easy elementary level kanji symbols. Kanji is very important to the Japanese language because many of the symbols are used on a daily basis in Japan, so learning this complex writing system is essential for all serious students of Japanese.

Please keep in mind that some kanji symbols have more than one reading. Sometimes they even have more than one meaning. This is especially true for words that are made up of more than one kanji. You may recognize a kanji symbol or two, but not know the symbol before them or after them. The symbol that comes either before or after the symbol you know could change the reading of the symbols or the entire meaning of the symbol phrase. For our purposes in this lesson, I will be giving you the relevant readings and translations—just keep in mind there could be others. As you will see, some of the kanji taught in this lesson have a couple of readings and meanings, so I will explain these in more depth.

Part I – The Kanji

Study the following kanji symbols, their pronunciations, and their meanings. After the chart, there are brief comments about each symbol. After you have studied, try your hand at the exercises that follow.

1. にち/び/ひ Sun, day
2. げつ/がつ Moon, month
3. fire
4. すい water
5. もく tree
6. きん gold
7. Earth, dirt
8. ほん Book
9. にん/じん Person, people

These are the nine main kanji we will be focusing on in this lesson. Here are some more detailed explanations of these symbols.

As you can see in the chart, the symbol日 has three hiragana readings. The main meaning for this kanji is “day,” even though it has several readings. The first reading is used when this kanji symbol is referring to Sunday. The second hiragana reading is used when it comes after this symbol: 曜(よう). This is used when talking about days of the week. You will be asked to write out the days of the week in a later exercise—we have already learned how to do this, but now we are learning the kanji necessary for these words! The third reading for this symbol is used when simply talking about a day or for phrases like “that day.”

月 has two readings in the chart above. The first reading is used to mean “moon” kanji used for “Monday” (since the word is げつようび). You already know that げつ appears at the front of the Japanese word for Monday, so when writing the kanji for Monday, 月 will go first. Then, use the other two symbols taught in the explanation for 日, and you have the word “Monday” written entirely in kanji. The second reading for this kanji we have also covered in an earlier lesson. This reading is used when talking about months of the year. 月appears at the end of each month’s Japanese word (Ex: 一月for January).

火 is an easier kanji since we are only concerned with one reading and one meaning at the moment. Although the kanji means “fire,” it is used to write the Japanese word for “Tuesday.” The following kanji are used similarly to火, since they appear in the first part of the word for different days of the week: 水, 木, 金, 土.

本 looks very similar to木. This is because本 means “book” and 木 means “tree,” so you can see how they are related. 本 can be used to talk about a single book, or many books. This symbol is also used in conjunction with the symbol日to write “Japan” in kanji (日本, written in hiragana asにほん). In the kanji for “Japan,” 日is only read as に, but the reading for 本 remains the same. This is just one of the many examples of how kanji can be very complicated and confusing because any symbol can have multiple readings and meanings.

人is the symbol used when talking about people. You can be talking about one person, or several people. In order to specify how many people, simply place the kanji for the number of people before this kanji. For example, to say five people, write 五人. This is read as ごにん.  This works for most numbers, but “one person” and “two people” have a different pronunciation. Although you write them like this: 一人and二人, they are readひとりand ふたり. You can also use 人 when talking about a person’s nationality. In this case, you would use the second reading of じん.

Now that the kanji symbols have been discussed in more detail, try out the exercises below. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get them correct on your first try. Kanji is very difficult to get used to!

Exercise I – Writing Kanji

In order to remember kanji, it is important to practice writing them. Get a sheet of paper and write each symbol several times, while focusing on what the symbols mean and how to say them. Do this until you can look at each kanji symbol and translate it without needing to look at the information above!

Exercise II – Using Kanji

1. Use the kanji symbols above to write the days of the week. Each blank stands for a kanji symbol. Don’t look at the answer key (located at the bottom of the lesson) until you have finished all the exercises!

Sunday             __ __ __          Monday           __ __ __          Tuesday           __ __ __
Wednesday     __ __ __          Thursday         __ __ __          Friday              __ __ __
Saturday          __ __ __

2. Translate the following into Japanese, using kanji where appropriate.

I have a book.





That book is my book.

That day





Japanese person

Three people


Answer Key

Exercise II Part 1

日曜日            月曜日            火曜日

水曜日            木曜日            金曜日


Exercise II Part 2







Lesson 16: Arimasu / Imasu

The Japanese verbs ある and いる are very important and unique verbs. Neither of these verbs was presented in Lesson 13 (on verbs) because they require a bit more explanation.

Part One – ある

First, let’s look at ある. This is the dictionary form of the verb, and roughly means “to have” or “to exist.” When conjugated into present affirmative and negative, ある becomes あります and ありません. This verb is used when saying you or someone else possesses an inanimate object. The negative form of the verb would mean that you do not possess a specific item. For example, わたしはほんがあります(I have a book). The negation of this sentence would be わたしはほんがありません(I do not have a book). ある can also be used to simply state that an inanimate object exists somewhere. For example, あそこにくるまがあります(Over there, there is a car).

*Note that がis the particle that always appears with this verb.

ある can also be used to express experience. The form used for this type of sentence is ことがあります. This structure is more complicated and will be tackled in a later lesson. It involves the past tense of verbs, which will also be discussed later. Just keep that in mind: ある has more than one use!

Practice – Exercise One

Figure out how to say the following English sentences in Japanese. There is an answer key at the very end of this post for all of the exercises in this lesson. Don’t scroll down until you’re ready!! *Note: Some of the vocabulary in these sentences may not have been covered yet. If you run across a word you do not know, use a Japanese dictionary to look up the correct word.

  1. My little sister has an apple.
  2. My mom has a Japanese language book.
  3. I have a car.
  4. I do not have money.
  5. That person does not have a hat.
  6. There is a tree here.
  7. Is there a car over there?
  8. There is not a car over there.
  9. Do you have food?

10.  I do not have food.

Part Two – いる

Now, let’s move on to いる. This verb works as kind of a counterpart to ある.  The conjugated forms for this verb are います and いません. As stated previously, あるis used for inanimate objects. いる, on the other hand, is the verb that is used for living beings such as humans and animals. For example, わたしはねこがいます(I have a cat) and わたしはいぬがいません(I don’t have a dog). いる can also be used in conjunction with location words to talk about existence. が is always used with います and いません.

Practice – Exercise Two

  1. There is a cat over there.
  2. My dad is not over there.
  3. Is your mother here?
  4. My mother is not here.
  5. I have an older brother.

Part Three – The には Particle Cluster

The particles に and は can actually work together in the same sentence. Let’s look at this sentence construction: Yには X がいます/あります. This means that “In Y, there is X.” The purpose of placing は after the に phrase is that it makes the location the topic of the sentence. This can be used if the person being spoken to is familiar with the location.

Here are some examples:


In my room, there is a desk.


In my house, there is a cat.


In that school, there are Japanese people.


In Japanese class, there are Koreans and Americans.



Don’t read this section until you’ve done the exercises!!

*Exercise One

1. いもうとはりんごがあります。

2. おかあさんはにほんごのほんがあります。

3. わたしはくるまがあります。

4. わたしはおかねがありません。

5. あのひとはぼうしがありません。

6. ここにきがあります。

7. くるまがあそこにありますか。




*Exercise Two

1. あそこにねこがいます。

2. ちちがあそこにいません。

3. おかあさんがここにいますか。

4. おかあさんがここにいません。

5. わたしはあにがいます。

Lesson 15: Frequency Adverbs and Invitations

In the last few lessons, you learned how to conjugate verbs and use particles. Now, you can expand on that knowledge and make more complicated sentences by adding frequency adverbs. The purpose of adding frequency adverbs to your sentences is to add a description of how often you do or do not do something.

The frequency adverbs are as follows:

まいにち        every day

いつも            always

よく                often

たいてい        usually

ときどき        sometimes

あまり            not often

ぜんぜん        never

まいにち、いつも、よく、たいてい、andときどき are all positive adverbs. This means that they occur with verbs conjugated in the affirmative case. あまり and ぜんぜん are negative adverbs and must always appear with the negative conjugation of a verb.

Take a look at the following examples.

A: しゅうまつはたいていなにをしますか。

B: たいていおんがくをききます。でも、とこどきえいがをみます。

A: What do you usually do on the weekends?

B: I usually listen to music. But sometimes I watch movies.

A: にくをたべますか。

B: まいにちにくをたべます。

A: Do you eat meat?

B: I eat meat every day.

A: テレビ をみますか。

B: あまりみません。

A: Do you watch television?

B: Not very often.

A: さかなをたべますか。

B: ぜんぜんさかなをたべません。

A: Do you eat fish?

B: I never eat fish.

Previously, you learned how to form the present tense affirmative and negative forms of verbs. You can also use the negative form to invite someone to do something with you. This is known as the invitation sentence structure. Please note that you cannot use the affirmative form in order to extend an invitation.

To invite someone to an event, you must conjugate the verb into the negative form and add the question particle か.

いっしょに is a good vocabulary word to know for invitations. いっしょに means “together.”

For example:


Would you like to have dinner together at a restaurant?

ゲム をしませんか。

Would you like to play a game?

To respond to an invitation, you can say いいですね which means “That sounds good.” If you want to decline an invitation, you can do so politely by saying ちょっと。。。



Would you like to play tennis on Friday?


Um, Friday is a little… (inconvenient.)

ちょっとis a very common response when declining an invitation. The word implies the day or time is not convenient for you without giving a specific reason why. You can, if you wish, elaborate why the time is not good for you, but in most cases, ちょっとexplains enough. Japanese people are very, very polite, so that is why they reply with the politeちょっとinstead of “no,” when declining an invitation.

Check out the following invitation examples below. Try to translate them yourself before scrolling down to reveal the answers.








Would you like to eat lunch together?

Would you like to watch a movie?

Would you like to go shopping?

Would you like to study together at my house?

Would you like to study Japanese at school?

Would you like to read books at the library with me?


A note on sentence structure: Although Japanese is fairly lenient when it comes to sentence structure, there are patterns. The two most common patterns are listed below.

Topic, time, place, object, verb.


I will listen to music at home tomorrow.

Topic, frequency, time, goal, verb.


I return home around seven every day.

Lesson 14: Particles

This lesson will focus on common Japanese particles as well as vocabulary. Particles are very important to the Japanese language. They appear before many verbs and often after the subject of the sentence.

The particles covered in this lesson are:

で に へ を

で is used to talk about where an event or action takes place. It is like the English work “at.”

For example, if you read at the library, you would say:

わたしはとしょかんでよみます。 (I read at the library.)

Many sentences often use more than one particle. If you wanted to modify the above sentence to say, “I read books at the library,” you would actually use the particle を as well.

I read books at the library. わたしはとしょかんでほんをよみます。

The place where the event takes place usually appears first in the sentence, but Japanese does not have really strict rules about sentence placement.

に and へ are both used to mean “to.” If you want to say you are going somewhere or returning somewhere, you need to use に or へ. Both particles signify movement.

Examples: わたしはうちにかえります。 I will return home. (You can also use e instead of ni here).

わたしはにほんへいきます。 I am going to Japan. (You can also use ni instead of e here).

に can also be used to say “at x time” and “on x day.”

Examples: くじにクラスがあります。. I have a class at nine.

げつようびにうちへかえります。I return home Monday.

In the above sentences, に cannot be replaced by へ.

The particle を is used to indicate the direct object of a sentence. Many verbs use this particle.

Examples: みずをのみます。 (I drink water.)

えいがをみます。 (I am watching a movie.)

おんがくをききます。 (I am listening to music.)

にくをたべます。 (I eat meat.)

The particles for verbs stay the same regardless of what form the verb is in.

Below is a vocabulary list to help you form new sentences in Japanese.

Movie えいが

Magazine ざっし

Book ほん

Music おんがく

Date デート

Television テレビ

Breakfast あさごはん

Lunch ひるごはん

Dinner ばんごはん

Alcohol おさけ

Green tea おちゃ

Water みず

Coffee コーヒー

Home うち

House いえ

School がっこう

Morning あさ

Tomorrow あした

Today きょう

Tonight こんばん

Weekend しゅうまつ

But でも

*Note: For time words such as “tomorrow,” and “today,” you do not need to use a particle with the sentence (に).

Study the sentences below to become familiar with the new vocabulary.


I don’t eat breakfast.


I will eat dinner at a restaurant.


What will you do over the weekend?


I will watch a movie.


I will not go to school on Tuesday.


I will read a magazine at home.


I drink green tea.


What time will you be returning?


What time will you go to bed?


I will go to sleep at 10.


I will watch television at home.


When will you go?


I will come/arrive tomorrow.


I read the newspaper in the morning.


Do you eat lunch at school?


I eat lunch at home.


I will listen to music this weekend.

Lesson 13: Verbs

You should already know that verbs appear at the end of a sentence or phrase in Japanese. The language follows the subject-object-verb form instead of subject-verb-object form that English follows.

There are three types of verbs in Japanese: るverbs, うverbs, and irregular verbs. Verbs can be conjugated into several different forms, but for now we will stick with the dictionary form of the verb and the present tense long form.

Present tense long form demonstrates a basic level of politeness. You would use this type of speech with teachers, superiors, strangers, and elders. You can use this type of speech with almost anyone; however, Japanese people tend to use casual short form when conversing with friends or younger family members.

The dictionary form of the verb is kind of like the root. This is also the form you would come across when looking up a verb in the dictionary.


To learn how to conjugate るverbs, we will use the verb たべる.  たべる is the Japanese verb meaning, “to eat.”

The dictionary form of the verb is たべる. In order to get the present tense affirmative form, we simply replace the る with ます. たべる becomes たべます.

Example: わたしはりんごをたべます。 (I am eating an apple.)

It is important to note that not all verbs that end in る are actuallyる verbs. Some verbs that end in る, such as かえる (meaning “to return”), are actually うverbs.

In order to arrive at the present negative form of a るverb, we remove るand add ません.

たべる becomesたべません, meaning “to not eat.”

Example: わたしはにくをたべません。 (I don’t eat meat.)

るverbs are the easiest verbs to conjugate.


うverbs can sometimes be confusing. In order to conjugate an う verb into present affirmative form, you must remove the “u” part of the verb and add います。 For the negative form, you add いません instead of います.

For example: いく (“to go”) This verb ends in く, but we can still remove the u, leaving us with “ik.” Next, we add います. The verb now reads いきます.

わたしはとうきょうにいきます。 (I am going to Tokyo.)

わたしはとうきょうにいきません。 (I am not going to Tokyo.)

Another way to go about conjugating うverbs is to take the last syllable in the dictionary form of the verb and change it to the symbol that appears directly above it on the hiragana chart.

Take いく as an example again. く is the symbol at the end. Directly above く in the hiragana chart is き. We replace く with き and add ます. We still end up with いきます. For the negative, you follow the same process but add ません instead of ます.

Irregular verbs

In Japanese, there are two irregular verbs. Since they follow rules of their own, unrelated to any other verbs, you must simply memorize how they function. These verbs are also often found in compound verbs. When this is the case, they are still conjugated as irregular verbs. See the example below to learn how to conjugate the irregular verbs.

する    present affirmative: します               present negative: しません

くる    present affirmative: きます               present negative: きません

する is the verb that means “to do” andくる is the verb that means “to come/arrive.”

An example of a compound verb is べんきょうする. This means “to study.” It is conjugated like so.

べんきょうする        present affirmative: べんきょうします

present negative: べんきょうしません

Further information

Conjugating Japanese verbs is relatively simple once you understand the patterns. It may take a while to become familiar with conjugation patterns, especially with うverbs. You must watch out for うverbs that look like るverbs. Each time a new verb is taught in a lesson, the type of verb will be given.

Practice conjugating the verbs below. Don’t scroll down until you’re ready for the answers!

る verbs

Dictionary Form                      Present Affirmative                Present Negative

みる (to watch)

ねる (to sleep)

おきる (to wake)

たべる (to eat)

う verbs

Dictionary Form                      Present Affirmative                Present Negative

のむ (to drink)

よむ (to read)

はなす (to speak)

きく (to hear or listen)

いく (to go)

かえる (to buy)

Irregular verbs

Dictionary Form                      Present Affirmative                Present Negative

する (to do)

べんきょうする (to study)

くる (to come)


Answer Key:

みる                みます            みません

ねる                ねます            ねません

おきる            おきます        おきません

たべる            たべます        たべません

のむ                のみます        のみません

よむ                よみます        よみません

はなす            はなします    はなしません

きく                ききます        ききません

いく                いきます        いきません

かえる            かえります    かえりません

する                します            しません

べんきょうする        べんきょうします    べんきょうしません

くる                きます            きません


Below are some example sentences to help you become familiar with verbs. Try to translate them yourself before looking at the English.


I am going to Kyoto.


I don’t eat fish.


Miura-san is returning to Japan.


(Our) Teacher is studying Korean.

Lesson 12: Classroom Vocabulary

This lesson will provide you with a list of useful classroom vocabulary as well as some useful expressions.

Vocabulary List

でんき                        denki               light

こくばん                    kokuban           chalkboard

ほん                            hon                  book

けしゴム                    keshigomu       eraser

つくえ                        tsukue              desk

かばん                        kaban              bag/bookbag

じしょ                        jisho                 dictionary

えんぴつ                    enpitsu            pencil

いす                            isu                    chair

まど                            mado               window

きょうかしょ            kyoukasho       textbook

じゅぎょう                jyugyou            class

クラス                        kurasu             class

ドア                            doa                  door

テレビ                        terebi              television

ビデオ                        bideo               video

カーテン                    kaaten             curtain

ペン                            pen                  pen

Useful Phrases

わかりました。                                Wakarimashita.          I understand.

わかりません。                                Wakarimasen.             I don’t understand.

ゆっくりいってください。            Yukkuri itte kudasai.               Please speak slowly.

もういちどいってください。        Mou ichido itte kudasai.         Please say it again.

ちょっとまってください。            Chotto matte kudasai.            Please wait a moment.


The above vocabulary list is very useful for in the classroom, especially if you need to ask where something is. For example, if you need to know where the dictionary is, you can simply ask じしょはどこですか。This vocabulary is also useful for command sentences such as “close the door” and “open the window.” You will learn how to make command sentences in a later lesson.

The phrases in the list can be spoken to a teacher or a student. They are all given in the polite form. If someone asks you わかりますか(Do you understand?), you can reply withわかりました(Yes, I understand) or わかりません(No, I don’t understand). The bottom three phrases are especially useful when speaking with your Japanese teacher.

Please note that ちょっとまってくださいcan be used in many situations, not just in the classroom. Also note that わかりますcan also be used for “I understand.” There is not a huge difference between the two versions of the phrase.