Japanese I-5

Kanjis: 1st grade + JLPT N5; Additional kanjis for lessons 1-8:

わたし – I/me きみ – you えい – Britain, British
ぼく – I/me さけ – sake 欲しい ほしい – wanted

Sample Conversation

This is not a transcript of the dialog in the recording.

Two co-workers, a man (Mr. Ueda) and a woman (Mrs. Mori), are at a restaurant. Mr. Ueda is spaced out, looking at the menu.


English
1: Mr. Ueda; 2: Mrs. Mori

2: Mr. Ueda?
1: Yes, what?
2: Do you want something to eat?
1: No, thank you.
    However, I’ll drink something.
2: Wine?
1: err… let me think… no.
2: Juice?
1: Ah. Yes.
2: Orange juice?
1: Yes, that’s fine.


romaji
1: ueda shi; 2: mori fujin

2: ueda san?
1: hai, nani ka?
2: nani-ka tabe-masu ka?
1: iie, kekkou desu.
    demo nani-ka nomi-masu.
2: wine?
1: eeto… sou desu ne… iie.
2: juusu?
1: aa. hai.
2: orenji juusu?
1: hai, i-i desu.



kana
1: うえだし; 2: もりふじん

2: うえだ さん?
1: はい、なに か?
2: なにか たべますか。
1: いいえ、けっこう です。
    でも なにか のみます。
2: ワイン?
1: ええと… そうですね… いいえ。
2: ジュース?
1: ああ。はい。
2: オレンジジュース?
1: はい、いいです。


kanji (show me)
1: 上田氏; 2: 森夫人

2: 上田さん?
1: はい、何 か?
2: 何か食べますか。
1: いいえ、けっこうです。
    でも何か飲みます。
2: ワイン?
1: ええと… そうですね… いいえ。
2: ジュース?
1: ああ。はい。
2: オレンジジュース?
1: はい、いいです。


Vocabulary


English
what
what’s the matter?

something
formal
casual

fine

to eat
masu (formal)
dict (casual)

to drink
masu (formal)
dict (casual)


romaji
nani
nani ka

 
nani-ka
nanka

kekkou-na

 
tabemasu
taberu

 
nomimasu
nomu


kana
なに
なにか

 
なにか
なんか

けっこうな

 
たべます
たべる

 
のみます
のむ


kanji

何か

 
何か
 

 

 
食べます
食べる

 
飲みます
飲む


  • Words ending in -i and -na are i-adjectives and na-adjectives.
  • Even though ‘nani ka’ and ‘nani-ka’ look the same in kanji and hiragana, they are not the same thing; ‘nani ka’ (two words) means ‘What’s the matter?’, while ‘nani-ka’ (one word) means ‘something’.
  • Japanese teenagers use ‘nanka’, the casual version of ‘nani-ka’, in the same way that American teenagers use ‘like’ [Tae Kim]. Hence, it appears often in dramas and animes, but it will seldom show up in adult conversations.

Sample sentences

Won’t you eat something?


formal
nani-ka tabe-masen ka?

なにか たべませんか。

何か食べませんか。


casual
nanka tabe-nai?

なにか たべない?

なにか食べない?



Comments

The following comments explain some of the grammar in more detail.

Adjectives

kekkou-na – けっこうな

‘kekkou’ is a na-adjective that means ‘fine’, but the interpretation changes depending on the context:

  • for positive contexts it means ‘Yes, it’s fine’, i.e., ‘go ahead’:


    Is it ok (to pay) in dollars? Yes, it’s fine.


    doru de i-i desu ka? hai, kekkou desu.


  • For negative contexts it means ‘No, it’s fine (as it is, thank you)’, i.e., ‘No, thank you’:


    Sake? No, I’m fine. (No, thank you)


    o-sake? iie, kekkou desu.


Pronouns

nani – なに, 何

‘nani’ and ‘nan’ are the two basic forms of ‘what’; they have the same kanji, 何, which appears as part of many question words:


English
what?
where?
when?

what hour?
how many people?
by what means?


romaji
nani
doko
itsu

nan ji
nan nin
nan de


kana
なに
どこ
いつ

なんじ
なんにん
なんで


kanji

何処 (what place)
何時 (what time)

何時 (what hour)
何人 (what people?)
何で (what means?)


‘nan de’ means ‘by what means?’, e.g., ‘by car’, ‘by train’, ‘by foot’, etc. Very often we will find these question words written in hiragana instead of kanji.

Prefixes and suffixes

-ka –

-ka is a suffix that we add to a question pronoun to get words that indicate that there is ‘some’ or ‘a little’ of that quantity, e.g.,


pronoun
nani (what?)
doko (where?)
itsu (when?)
dare (who?)


pronoun-ka
nani-ka
doko-ka
istu-ka
dare-ka


literal
[some/any]-what
[some/any]-where
[some/any]-when
[some/any]-who


meaning
[some/any]-thing
[some/any]-where
[some/any]-time
[some/any]-one


And this is why ‘nani-ka’ means ‘something’.

Expressions

sou desu ne… – そうですね…

‘sou desu ne…’ is an expression where ‘ne’ is not playing the role of seeking agreement (ne?) nor providing confirmation (ne!), but instead it is a stalling expression (ne…); we use to gain time while considering a reply, same as ‘err…’:


let me think…


sou desu ne…


そう ですね…


Two other common stalling expressions are:


let me see…, uhh…
errr…, um…


eeto…
anou…


ええと…
あのう…