Friday, November 23, 2012

There Are 2 Kinds of Verbs! - る Version

In Japanese, there are two main kinds of verbs. Since it might be confusing for new learners, I'll split it up into two lessons (る and う) and then compare them in the latter lesson.

All Japanese verbs either end in る or う (not necessarily う, but the う sound). For now, we'll focus on る verbs.What is a る verb? Simply put, it's a verb that ends in る. The character BEFORE the る is either an え (e) or い (i) sound. This is very important, and you'll have to remember that. る and う verbs are conjugated differently, with る being the more simple one. Here are a few examples of る verbs in their short form.

たべる (taberu) = to eat
でる (deru) = to exit
みる (miru) = to look; see
おきる(okiru) = to wake up

Notice that they all end with る, and the character before る is either an え (e) or い (i) sound. For the most part, conjugating る verbs is pretty simple. Generally, you'd just drop the る and add the verb suffix to it. For example, if you were to conjugate the verbs above into their -masu form, you'd drop the る and add ます at the end.

たべます (tabemasu) = to eat
でます (demasu) = to exit
みます (mimasu) = to look; see
おきます(okimasu) = to wake up

Pretty simple, right? That's basically how る verbs work. Hopefully this isn't too difficult to understand now, although I understand if it still feels like it. Slowly but surely, we'll learn more about grammar and things will begin to fall in place.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Introduction to Verbs

In Japanese, there are two kinds of verbs: る and う. Well, there are actually three, with the third kind being "irregular verbs." But since there are only two irregular verbs, we'll cover those really quick!

So why are there three different kinds of verbs? It's mainly because they are conjugated differently. Let's take a look at the two irregular verbs:

する (suru) = to do
くる (kuru) = to come

The regular, unchanged form of these verbs is called the "Dictionary" or "Short" form. This form is also used in casual speech, so it may also be viewed as a casual form. The importance of this is that all verbs are conjugated FROM their dictionary forms. します (shimasu) is the -masu form conjugation of する. Although we'll cover -masu forms later, I'll use a little bit here to explain the two irregular verbs.

る and う verbs have their own rules of conjugation, but since する and くる irregular, you'll have to learn these two specifically. To change する and くる to their -masu forms:

する becomes します.
くる becomes きます.

These two verbs will have their own specific forms when it comes to the many Japanese conjugations. For now, the important thing to remember is that する and くる are both irregular verbs! Whenever you learn a new conjugation or verb form, you'll have to find out what する and くる is specifically, since they don't have their own set rules. This may sound confusing, but when you learn about the other verbs and forms of conjugation, I promise it'll be easier to understand.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Particle の

の denotes ownership. Putting の after a noun makes it possessive. For example, わたし means I, or me. わたしの means my, or mine. By doing this, you can put a noun after の to make the first noun possessive of the second noun. That sounds a little confusing, but it's just like this:

A の B

A and B are nouns. A has ownership over B. わたしのねこ (my cat), ともだちのほん (friend's book), せんせいのけんきゅうしつ (teacher's office) are some examples. の can be thought of as "of" or apostrophe S ('s). So those translations can also be "cat of mine," "book of a friend's," "office of the teacher," and it would all generally still have the same meaning. English just has many ways to say one thing.

Hopefully this isn't all too difficult to understand. Start practicing this grammar! You will see it everywhere in Japanese writing and speech.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sentence Structure

Before we move onto verbs and sentences with verbs, it's important to take a look at sentence structure. To understand the sentence structure of Japanese, we have to take a look at English sentence structure and compare them. Take for example:

I go to school.

I is the subject, go is the verb, and school is the object. So for English, the sentence structure for this is subject, verb, object. Now let's take a look at Japanese.

(Watashi wa gakkou ni ikimasu.)
I go to school. (A literal translation would be 'I school go')

わたし (I) is the subject, がっこう (school) is the object, and いきます (to go) is the verb. As you can see, this is different from English, as the sentence structure is subject, object, verb. It may seem a little confusing, but this is important for forming sentences in Japanese when you use verbs.

So to recap, sentence structure for English and Japanese is like this:
English: subject, verb, object
Japanese: subject, object, verb

This will become more apparent later and especially once you begin forming sentences. Study hard! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Name Is...

In this lesson, we'll learn how to introduce ourselves and say our name. Let's take a look at this sentence:

わたしY です。
I am Y.

Does this look familiar? It should, because it's the basic "X は Y です" format. X is わたし (watashi = I), and Y is your name. By using this sentence, you are saying "I am (name)." Let's look at another sentence:

わたしのなまえY です。
My name is Y.

It still uses the same format, except X is わたしのなまえ (watashi no namae = my name). の is a particle that denotes ownership and is like the equivalent of apostrophe S ('s), or "of." The possessive of me is my or mine, which is why わたし itself means "I" and わたしの means "my" or "mine." We'll learn more about particles later.

わたし is used by both males and females, but only males (usually young boys) use ぼく (boku). It would be strange to hear a girl use ぼく. For now, this should be enough information to tell someone your name.

Now that you know how to say your name, go ahead and practice!