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
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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
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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!

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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。
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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







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Lesson 7: Days of the Week, Month, and Time

Now that you’ve learned how to count in Japanese, it’s a good time to learn how to say the days of the week, the months, and time. The kanji for the days of the week can get rather complicated, so for now they will be displayed only in hiragana. The months of the year and time of day use the same number kanji symbols from the previous lesson; they should be easy to pick up on!

The days of the week are formed in Japanese like days of the week are in English. For example, the “day” part remains the same while the first part of the word changes. The same is true for Japanese. The Japanese ending that means “day” is writtenようび in hiragana and pronounced as “youbi.” The only changes between the days of the week are the syllables in front of the word for day. See the list below for all seven days:

にちようび    nichiyoubi        Sunday

げつようび    getsuyoubi       Monday

かようび        kayoubi            Tuesday

すいようび    suiyoubi           Wednesday

もくようび    mokuyoubi      Thursday

きんようび    kinyoubi           Friday

どようび        doyoubi           Saturday

The months of the year are written with the kanji numbers plus the symbol for month. The word for month is written がつin hiragana and 月in kanji. This kanji is pronounced as “gatsu.”

一月                January

二月                February

三月                March

四月                April

五月                May

六月                June

七月                July

八月                August

九月                September

十月                October

十一月            November

十二月            December

When telling time in Japanese, the number kanji are still used. They are combined with the word for time (pronounced “ji”). The kanji for time is 時and the hiragana is じ.

一時                ichi ji               1:00

二時                ni ji                  2:00

三時                san ji                3:00

四時                yoji                  4:00

五時                goji                  5:00

六時                roku ji             6:00

七時                shichi ji           7:00

八時                hachi ji            8:00

九時                kuji                  9:00

十時                jyuu ji              10:00

十一時            jyuuichi ji        11:00

十二時            jyuuni ji           12:00

*note that the pronunciation for 4:00 and 9:00 differ slightly from the original numbers.

If you want to say 12:30 instead of 12:00, you simply add one more kanji after the time. The kanji used to mark the half hour is written as 半and pronounced “han.” 12:30 would be written 十二時半and pronounced “jyuuni ji han.”

You can further modify time by specifying AM or PM. AM isごぜんand PM isごご. For example, 1:00PM would be written ごご一時.

Look at the following practice conversation for some basic review. Be sure to look for how to ask a question and how to tell time!

A: たちばなさんこんにちは!おげんきですか。






A: Tachibana-san, konnichiwa! Ogenki desu ka?
(Good afternoon Tachibana-san! How are you?)

B: Nanahara-san, konnichiwa! Genki desu. Genki desu ka?
(Good afternoon Nanahara-san. I’m fine. How are you?)

A: Hai, genki desu. Sumimasen, ima nanji desu ka?
(Yes, I’m well. Excuse me, what time is it now?)

B: Gogo san ji han desu.
(It is 3:30 PM.)

A: Sou desu ka? Arigatou gozaimasu. Jyaa, mata!
(Is that so? Thank you. I’ll see you later!)

B: Jyaa ne!
(See you!)

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Lesson 6: Basic Kanji Through Numbers

By now you should be able to read hiragana fairly well. Learning kanji can sometimes scare off new students to the Japanese language, but don’t get discouraged! You can learn very basic kanji by learning how to count in Japanese.

The Japanese language has evolved with modern times; many Japanese natives still use kanji for numbers, but an increasing amount of people are using Arabic numerals as well. The numbers are pronounced the same in Japanese no matter what type of character is used. Learning how to count in Japanese brings some basic kanji into the picture which will help you become familiar with writing these symbols.

First, you should learn to count from one to ten. The following list details the kanji for the number along with the hiragana and Romanization. Try to read the hiragana and associate it with the kanji instead of relying on romaji!

  1. 一        いち                Ichi
  2. 二        に                    Ni
  3. 三        さん                San
  4. 四        し/よん           Shi (sometimes written/pronounced as “yon.”)
  5. 五        ご                    Go
  6. 六        ろく                Roku
  7. 七        なな/しち       Nana (sometimes written/pronounced as “shichi.”)
  8. 八        はち                Hachi
  9. 九        きゅう            Kyuu

10.  十        じゅう            Jyuu

By examining this list, you will notice that there are two ways to write and pronounce both four and seven. Most of the time, you can use them interchangeably. Sometimes it is more common to hear one than the other; for example, when saying seven o’clock, many Japanese will say “shichi ji” instead of “nana ji.” You can use either one. The syllable shi しon its own can actually mean “death” in Japanese. The kanji is different for this word than the kanji for the number four, but it is pronounced the same way. For this reason, four and seven are often unlucky numbers in Japan (notice seven also begins with “shi”).

In order to make the next set of numbers, you simply take the kanji for ten and combine it with the kanji for the other number. For example, eleven is made up of the kanji for one and ten. The kanji for ten comes first, so eleven is written 十一 (じゅういち)and pronounced “jyuu ichi.” See the list below for eleven through thirty. Notice that the 十 symbol changes to二 when we get to twenty, but the process stays the same. The pattern keeps repeating all the way through number ninety-nine.

11.  十一                じゅういち                Jyuu ichi

12.  十二                じゅうに                    Jyuu ni

13.  十三                じゅうさん                Jyuu san

14.  十四                じゅうよん                Jyuu yon

15.  十五                じゅうご                    Jyuu go

16.  十六                じゅうろく                Jyuu roku

17.  十七                じゅうなな                Jyuu nana

18.  十八                じゅうはち                Jyuu hachi

19.  十九                じゅうきゅう            Jyuu kyuu

20.  二十                にじゅう                    Ni jyuu

21.  二十一            にじゅういち            Ni jyuu ichi

22.  二十二            にじゅうに                Ni jyuu ni

23.  二十三            にじゅうさん            Ni jyuu san

24.  二十四            にじゅうよん            Ni jyuu yon

25.  二十五            にじゅうご                Ni jyuu go

26.  二十六            にじゅうろく            Ni jyuu roku

27.  二十七            にじゅうなな            Ni jyuu nana

28.  二十八            にじゅうはち            Ni jyuu hachi

29.  二十九            にじゅうきゅう        Ni jyuu kyuu

30.  三十                さんじゅう                San jyuu

Once you become familiar with the pattern of Japanese numbers, you’ll be able to say any number very quickly. One hundred is the first number that is different. One hundred is pronounced “hyaku” and written ひゃくas in hiragana and 百in kanji.

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Lesson 5: Possessive Structure

The next basic structure you should understand is the の phrase structure. This type of phrase will allow you to make nouns possessive in Japanese. This structure involves three main components: the main topic, the modifier, and the particle の. The particle の often acts as an apostrophe, but it is also used to connect two nouns.

The basic structure is: nounのnoun. In terms of modifier and main topic, the phrase looks like this: modifierのmain topic. Look at the examples below.

だいがくのせんせい            daigaku no sensei                               a college professor

わたしのいぬ                        watashi no inu                                     my dog

これはわたしのほんです。Kore wa watashi no hon desu.            This is my book.

In the first example, の is used to connect two nouns in order to modify the main topic. For example, you could say せんせいです(I am a teacher). If you wanted to elaborate on that and say you were a college professor, you can use のto add the extra information. Since teacher/professor is the main topic, it comes after の. “I am a college professor,” would be だいがくのせんせいです(daigaku no sensei desu) in Japanese.

In the second example, の is used liked an apostrophe in order to show ownership. Again, since the main idea is  the dog, the word for dog appears after の. You can place any name before の in order to show ownership. For example: しゅうやさんのねこ (Shuuya-san no neko) which means “Shuuya’s cat.”

In the third example, の acts as an apostrophe again. のtells you who the book belongs to. Notice that the のphrase can appear at different places in a sentence. In the example above, the の phrase comes after “This” and before “is.” In this same sentence, これは could be omitted. Then the の phrase would appear first in the sentence. Either sentence is grammatically correct.

You can also have more than one のphrase in a sentence. They can even be right beside each other! See the examples below:

これはわたしのにほんごのほんです。(Kore wa watashi no nihongo no hon desu.)

This is my Japanese book.

わたしのねこのなまえはきりです。(Watashi no neko no namae wa kiri desu.)

My cat’s name is Kiri.

In the first sentence, the の phrase appears twice. The first time it appears it is establishing ownership of the book. The second time it appears it is modifying the book by describing what type of book it is.

In the second sentence, のfirst shows whose cat is being talked about. Then, のprovides further details by telling the name of the cat. ___のなまえmeans “the name of.” It is important to notice that in the second sentence, XはYです form is used. The subject is longer this time (わたしのねこのなまえ), but the structure is still the same. “My cat’s name” is the subject, so it all has to appear before は in this case.

のis a very useful particle and occurs frequently in the Japanese language. When you need to modify a noun with any other noun, you will most likely use の.

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Lesson 4: Asking a Question in Japanese

Asking a question in Japanese is very simple if you understand the X は Y です sentence structure. You can take almost any sentence like this and turn it into a question simply by adding the question particle か to the end of the sentence.

For example:

これはねこです。(Kore wa neko desu.)                  This is a cat.

これはねこですか。(Kore wa neko desu ka.)         Is this a cat?

The first sentence is a statement in the basic sentence structure form. By adding か to the end of the statement, a question is formed.

か acts as a question mark, so when writing in Japanese you should not place an actual question mark at the end. A period typically follows か even though the sentence is a question. Whenever か is used at the end of a sentence, a Japanese speaker will understand it as a question instead of a statement.

If you want to ask someone a question that doesn’t involve the basic sentence structure, you still use か. For example, if you wanted to ask someone “What time is it?” you would say: なんじですか。Notice です still appears at the end of the sentence with か. This is very common when asking basic questions.

Simple questions often use the word なん orなに, both of which mean “what.” The rule of thumb is that  なん is used when “what” appears before です.  なん is also used before a noun when counting (such as the earlier example of “What time is it?” じmeans “time”, so なんじ means “what time.”) なに is typically used when “what” appears before a particle.

Here are some examples that use なん.

せんもんはなんですか。(Senmon wa nan desu ka?)                     What is your major?

せんもんはれきしがくです。(Senmon wa rekishigaku desu.)      My major is history.

おなまえはなんですか。(Onamae wa nan desu ka?)                    What is your name?

ななはらちなつです。(Nanahara Chinatsu desu.)                         Nanahara Chinatsu.

Notice that in the last statement, only the name of the person was given. The subject (わたしは) was omitted. The subject can often be omitted in many Japanese sentences. This also applies for questions. “I,” “I am,” “You,” and “You are,” are the most frequently omitted subjects from Japanese sentences. Examine the following mini conversations. Notice when the subjects are omitted (shown in parentheses) and when the question particle is used.

A: (あなたは)にほんじんですか。(Anata wa) nihonjin desu ka?

B: はい、(わたしは)にほんじんです。Hai, (watashi wa) nihonjin desu.

A: Are you Japanese?

B: Yes, I am Japanese.


A: (いま)なんじですか。(Ima) nanji desu ka?

B:  (いま)いちじです。 (Ima) ichiji desu.

A: What time is it now?

B: It is 1:00.


A: (あなたは)なんねんせいですか。(Anata wa) nan nensei desu ka?

B: (わたしは)さんねんせいです。(Watashi wa) san nensei desu.

A: What year are you? (in college)

B: I am a junior (third year).


A: ふじまるさんはなんさいですか。(Fujimaru-san) nansai desu ka?

B: わたしはじゅうきゅうさいです。(Watashi wa) jyuu kyuu sai desu.

A: Fujimaru-san, how old are you?

B: I am 19 years old.


Keep in mind that you will see か often. When asking a question in Japanese, it can appear after almost any verb.

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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.

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