Japanese I: 1-8, summary

# pronouns nouns adverbs verbs adject. particles pre/suffix. conjun.
1 watashi ei sukoshi desu ka/no (?)
anata nihon -masu (non-past) wa (topic)
amerika dict. form ga (subject)
jin wakaru
go sumu
2 tenki sou i-i ne/na o- (hon) de
mata jouzu-na ja
haya-i
3 hayou doumo iya-na demo
nichi mada genki-na
yoku
4 doko eki hanasu ko- (this)
koko kouen a- (that)
asoko tokoro do- (?)
nani -na/-ni (na-adj)
5 taberu kekkou-na -ka (some)
nomu
6 itsu ima no (')
ato mo (too)
koura de (at)
wo (dir.obj)
7 sake hoshi-i ga (dir.obj)
biiru
resutoran
8 dare hiru-gohan suru to (with) -san (hon)
negai kau ka (or) -hon (counter)
hoteru

verbs

The verb ‘to be’ – desu, is special. Its formal form is ‘desu’ and its casual form is ‘da’.
For the other verbs, the ‘masu’ form is formal, and the dictionary form is casual.

English dict kanji masu kanji
to understand/know wakaru 分かる wakari-masu 分かります
to feel at ease sumu 済む sumi-masu 済みます
to speak/talk hanasu 話す hanashi-masu 話します
to eat taberu 食べる tabe-masu 食べます
to drink nomu 飲む nomi-masu 飲みます
to do suru する shi-masu します
to buy kau 買う kai-masu 買います

In many cases, a verb might be usually written in hiragana even if it has a kanji.

verb groups

There are three Japanese verb groups [Patrick Chauri].

  • group 1 – u verbs: end with a termination from one of these 5 groups:
    • u, tsu, [a/u/o]ru
    • nu, bu, mu
    • ku
    • gu
    • su
  • group 2 – ru verbs: end in [i/e]ru
  • group 3 – irregular verbs: kuru and suru

Some -[i/e]ru verbs are exceptions and belong in group 1 instead of group 2:


English
to go home
to kick
to chat/talk
to slide
to decrease


-eru group 1
kaeru
keru
shaberu
suberu
heru


English
to need
to cut
to know
to enter
to run


-iru group 1
iru
kiru
shiru
hairu
hashiru


dict. → masu

To change the form of a verb from dictionary to masu [Patrick Chauny]:

  • group 1 – u verbs: replace -u with -imasu
    exceptions: there is no ‘tsi’ nor ‘si’, so -tsu → -chimasu, and -su → -shimasu.

    • hanasu → hanashimasu (exception: -su → -shimasu)
    • wakaru → wakarimasu
    • nomu → nomimasu
    • kau → kaimasu
    • aru → arimasu
  • group 2 – ru verbs: -ru → -masu
    • taberu → tabemasu
    • miru → mimasu
  • group 3 – irregular verbs: no rule, memorize them
    • kuru → kimasu
    • suru → shimasu

dict. → negative

To change the form of a verb from dictionary to negative [Patrick Chauny]:

  • group 1 – u verbs: replace -#u with -#anai (e.g., -mu → -manai)
    exceptions: ‘-u’ turns to ‘-wanai’ and the verb ‘aru’ becomes ‘nai’.

    • hanasu → hanasanai
    • wakaru → wakaranai
    • nomu → nomanai
    • kau → kawanai (exception: -u → -wanai)
    • arunai (exception: aru → nai)
  • group 2 – ru verbs: -ru → -nai
    • taberu → tabe-nai
    • miru → mi-nai
  • group 3 – irregular verbs: no rule, memorize them
    • kuru → konai
    • suru → shinai

dict. → masu/negative

With the above knowledge under our belt, let’s see the masu and casual negative forms of the verbs in units 1-8:

group casual (dict) casual neg formal (masu) formal neg
1 wakaru wakaranai wakari-masu wakari-masen
1 sumu sumanai sumi-masu sumi-masen
1 hanasu hanasanai hanashi-masu hanashi-masen
2 taberu tabenai tabe-masu tabe-masen
1 nomu nomanai nomi-masu nomi-masen
3 suru shinai shi-masu shi-masen
1 kau kawanai kai-masu kai-masen

Kanjis

1st grade + JLPT N5 kanjis

Additonal 1-8


English
I,me
you
I,me
British
rice wine
desirable
station
to eat
to drink
likable


romaji
watashi
kimi
boku
ei
sake
hoshii
eki
taberu
nomu
suki


kanji





欲しい

食べる
飲む
好き


JLPT – kentei lv.
N5
N4 – 8
N4
N7 – 7
N3 – 8
N5 –
N5 – 8
N5 – 8
N5
N5 – 7


わたし – I/me きみ – you 所・処 ところ – place
ぼく – I/me さけ – sake 欲しい ほしい – wanted

‘boku and ‘kimi’ do not appear in the recordings, but we use them as the casual forms of ‘watashi’ and ‘anata’.

last names

There are many common Japanese last names that use the elementary kanjis from 1st grade and JLPT N5:


romaji
kuchi/guchi
ishi
yama
kawa/gawa
ki/gi
hayashi/bayashi
mori
mura
ta/da
ko
oo
taka
naka
mae
shita
moto
nishi


kanji
















西


English
mouth, entrance
rock, stone
mountain
river
tree
grove
forest
village
rice field
small
big
tall
middle
front
under
base
west


For example:

kani romaji meaning common surname
田中 ta-naka rice field-middle 4th
山本 yama-moto mountain-base 7th
中村 naka-mura middle-village 8th
小林 ko-bayashi small-grove 9th
山田 yama-da mountain-rice field 12th
山口 yama-guchi mountain-entrance 14th
木村 ki-mura tree-village 18th
hayashi grove 19th
mori forest 22nd
山下 yama-shita mountain-under 26th
石川 ishi-kawa rock-river 27th
前田 mae-da front-rice field 29th
西村 nishi-mura west-village 43th
中川 naka-gawa middle-river 50th
田村 ta-mura rice field-village 54th
中山 naka-yama middle-mountain 58th
石田 ishi-da rock-rice field 59th
上田 ue-da above-rice field 60th
森田 mori-ta forest-rice field 61th
高木 taka-gi tall-tree 70th
円山 maru-yama circle-mountain 74th
村田 mura-ta village-rice field 79th
本田 hon-da base-rice field
中田 naka-da middle-rice field
中西 naka-nishi middle-west
西田 nishi-da west-rice field
西川 nishi-kawa west-river
西山 nishi-yama west-mountain
小西 ko-nishi little-west
森山 mori-yama forest-mountain
川口 kawa-guchi river-entrance

The stats for how common a surname is are from https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2009/10/11/lifestyle/japans-top-100-most-common-family-names/#.W5U95IbjW50.

Although all the last names above can be spelled as described, most names can be spelled in many different ways. For example, ‘Tanaka’ can be spelled as 田中, as we spelled it, or as 田仲, because both 中 (middle) and 仲 (relation) are pronounced ‘naka’. Most last names – and first names – have many ways to spell them. We can use a tool like that in “hi!Penpal!” to see the different spellings.

The specific kanjis in a first or last name give a specific meaning to the name. The following snap of the manga ‘Kimi ni todoke’, #109, shows the three spellings of the name ‘Kazehaya Shouta’ that his father had considered when Shouta was born (tatsukida.blogspot.com):

  • 将太 – ‘leader’
  • 勝太 – ‘victory’
  • 翔太 – ‘to soar’

Three different spellings of the name ‘Kazehaya Shouta’


In the end, Shouta’s father decided to spell Shouta’s name as 翔太.

All in all, the result is that knowing the name of a person doesn’t necessarily help us to write it down in kanjis; in most cases, the person would have to tell us how s/he spells his or her name.