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.

Lesson 11: Grammar Bits

The purpose of this lesson is to teach you some “grammar bits” that will help broaden your understanding of Japanese. These structures are simple and basic, but are very important and common.

The Particle

In previous lessons, you have learned the basic sentence structure (X は Y です). This is how you say “X is Y.” Now, by changing the particle は to a new particle, you can say “Z is also Y.” This new particle is も.

Take a look at the examples below to understand how も functions in a sentence.

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

これもねこです。(Kore mo neko desu.) This is also a cat.

わたしはアメリカじんです。(Watashi wa amerikajin desu.) I am American.

わたしもアメリカじんです。(Watashi mo amerikajin desu.) I am also American.

Notice in the above sentences that when もoccurs, は is not present. はis replaced by も. もmust follow the topic of the sentence.

Negating Sentences

Now that you should have a firm grasp on the basic sentence structure, you should learn how to form the negative of this structure. In order to say “X is NOT Y,” you will need to use じゃありません.

This new sentence form is:


This negative sentence structure only works when Y is a noun. If Y is an adjective, a different sentence must be formed (you will learn more about this in later lessons).

Take a look at the following examples.

これはほんじゃありません。  This is not a book.

あれはいぬじゃありません。   That over there is not a dog.

みなみさんはせんせいじゃありません。 Mrs. Minami is not a teacher.


In Japanese, you will notice many statements end in ね or よ. ね is added to the end of the sentence when the speaker is trying to get confirmation from the listener. よ is added to the end of a sentence when the speaker wants to assure the listener of his or her statement. よ makes the statement take on an authoritative tone.

For example:


Kore wa sakana desu ne.  This is fish, right?


Sono kaban wa watashi no kaban jya arimasen ne. That bag is not my bag, right?


Sore wa inu jya arimasen yo.   I’m sure that is not a dog.


Take-san wa nihonjin desu yo.  Mr. Take is Japanese (for sure).

Lesson 10: This & That – Japanese Pronouns

This lesson will explain in better detail how to use これ それ あれ(kore, sore, are) andこの その あの (kono, sono, ano).

これ それ あれ are used on their own. They do not have to come before a noun. They will typically come before the subject marker は (wa).これmeans “this.”それ means “that.” あれ means “that over there.” The word you are using to refer to an object will depend on where that object is located. If the object is near you but far away from your speaker, you should useこれ. If the object is far away from you but close to your listener, you should use それ. If the object is far away from both the speaker and listener, あれ is the best choice.

この その あのare used before nouns. They mean the same thing as their counterparts described above, but can only be used before nouns. Which one you use depends, again, on where the object is located.

For example, say you are walking down the street and see a building. The building is far away from both you and your listener. If you wanted to know what the building was, you could say:

あれはなんですか。(Are wa nan desu ka?) What is that place over there?

あれはデパートです。(Are wa depaato desu.) That place over there is a department store.


You could say it like this:

あのビルはなんですか。(Ano biru wa nan desu ka.) What is that building over there?

あのビルはデパートです。(Ano biru wa depaato desu.) That building over there is a department store.

Both ways of asking the question and giving the answer basically mean the same thing. The difference is one is saying generally “that place over there” while the other is saying specifically “that building over there.” Either is acceptable. The most important thing to remember is that the latter of the two groups can ONLY be used before nouns.

So, you can either be general or specific. Here are some more examples:

それはなんですか。(Sore wa nan desu ka?) What is that?

これはいぬです。(Kore wa inu desu.) This is a dog.

そのとけいはいくらですか。(Sono tokei wa ikura desu ka.) How much is that watch?

このとけいはせんえんです。(Kono tokei wa sen en desu.) This watch is 1,000 yen.

あれはとしょかんですか。(Are wa toshokan desu ka?) Is that place over there a library?

いいえ、あれはデパートです。(Iie, are wa depaato desu.) No, that place over there is a department store.

Lesson 9: Shopping in Japan

The purpose of this lesson is to teach you the basic phrases needed in order to shop in Japan. First off, you need to learn some basic money phrases.

The Japanese currency is the yen. In Japanese, it is written えんand Romanized as “en.” The kanji for yen is円. 円 always appears after the amount. Roughly speaking, one hundred yen equals about one dollar (USD).

The chart below will give you some numbers to start with.

100                  ひゃく                        hyaku

200                  にひゃく                    nihyaku

300                  さんびゃく                sanbyaku

400                  よんひゃく                yonhyaku

500                  ごひゃく                    gohyaku

600                  ろっぴゃく                roppyaku

700                  ななひゃく                nanahyaku

800                  はっぴゃく                happyaku

900                  きゅうひゃく            kyuuhyaku

1000                せん                            sen

2000                にせん                        nisen

3000                さんぜん                    sanzen

4000                よんせん                    yonsen

5000                ごせん                        gosen

6000                ろくせん                    rokusen

7000                ななせん                    nanasen

8000                はっせん                    hassen

9000                きゅうせん                kyuusen

10,000             いちまん                    ichiman

20,000             にまん                        niman

30,000             さんまん                    sanman

40,000             よんまん                    yonman

50,000             ごまん                        goman

60,000             ろくまん                    rokuman

70,000             ななまん                    nanaman

80,000             はちまん                    hachiman

90,000             きゅうまん                kyuuman

If you want to ask how much something is, you should use “いくらですか” (ikura desu ka). If you know what the item is called in Japanese, you can name it. If you don’t know what it is called, you can simply point to it and say “this,” “that,” or “that over there” (“これ” “それ” “あれ” in Japanese). If you want to say “this,” “that,” or “that over there” before a noun, you must change the words to “kono,” “sono,” and “ano” (“この” “その” “あの”).

Look at the example below:







A: Kore wa ikura desu ka? (How much is this?)

B: Sore wa nanahyaku en desu. (That is 700 yen.)

A: Yasui desu ne. Ano kaban wa ikura desu ka? (Cheap, isn’t it? How much is that bag over there?)

B: Sono kaban wa gosen en desu. (That bag is 5,000 yen.)

A: Totemo takai desu! (That’s very expensive.)

In the conversation above, you see how to ask the price of something, whether you know what the noun is in Japanese or not. “Ikura desu ka?” is a very useful phrase. It can be used when shopping but also at restaurants, especially if you cannot read the kanji.

If you want to call something expensive, you use the word “たかい” (takai). You can simply say “たかいです” (takai desu) for “It’s expensive.” The word for cheap is “やすい” (yasui), which can be used the same way. Both words can function with just “desu” or in a full sentence like “sono kaban wa takai desu” (そのかばんはたかいです) which means “That bag is expensive.” Totemo (とても) is a modifier that means “a lot” or “very.”

Lesson 8: Supplementary Vocabulary

This lesson will focus on teaching you vocabulary. The best way to learn vocabulary for a foreign language is to simply try and memorize it. Using flash cards can help you easily memorize many vocabulary words. Also, practicing your new vocabulary on a daily basis will help ingrain the words into your brain. Take a look at the supplementary vocabulary listed below and the example sentences (some of this vocabulary may be a review).

Hiragana/Katakana Romaji English
いま ima now
あの ano um
えいご eigo English
がくせい gakusei student
せんせい sensei teacher
こうこう koukou high school
がっこう gakkou school
だいがく daigaku college
だいがくせい daigakusei college student
Xねんせい X-nensei year of school (Replace X with a number)
Xさい X-sai year of age (Replace X with a number)
Xじ X-ji time (Replace X with a number)
Xじん X-jin nationality (Replace X with country)
せんもん senmon major (in college)
ともだち tomodachi friend
なまえ namae name
でんわ denwa telephone (landline)
ばんごう bangou number
りゅうがくせい ryuugakusei international student
かがく kagaku science (major)
れきしがく rekishigaku history (major)
けいざい keizai economics (major)
せいじ seiji politics (major)
ぶんがく bungaku literature (major)
しごと shigoto job, occupation
かいしゃいん kaishain company employee, general term
こうこうせい koukousei high school student
だいがくいんせい daigakuinsei graduate student
べんごし bengoshi lawyer

Once you have reviewed the above vocabulary, take a look at the practice sentences below. These sentences include some of the words listed above.

わたしはだいがくせいです。(Watashi wa daigakusei desu.)

I am a college student.

わたしはじゅうななさいです。(Watashi wa jyuunana sai desu.)

I am 17 years old.

でんわばんごうはなんですか。(Denwa bangou wa nan desu ka.)

What is your phone number?

わたしはにほんじんです。(Watashi wa nihonjin desu.)

I am Japanese.

しごとはどうですか。(Shigoto wa dou desu ka.)

How is your job?

せんもんはなんですか。(Senmon wa nan desu ka.)

What is your major?

わたしのせんもんはれきしがくです。(Watashi no senmon wa rekishigaku desu.)

My major is history.

えいごをはなしますか。(Eigo wo hanashimasu ka.)

Do you speak English?

にほんごをはなしますか。(Nihongo wo hanashimasu ka.)

Do you speak Japanese?いまなんじですか。(Ima nanji desu ka.)

What time is it right now?

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!)

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.

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.

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.