Pimsleur Japanese I: 9-16, summary

# pronouns nouns adverbs verbs adject. particles pre/suffix. conjun.
9 ni (at) ji soretomo
10 kaiwa chotto kiite
11 kyou kurikaeshite
12 en ikura soshite
13 doko okane douzo iru
doru ikura moteru
14 takusan agemasu
15 sushi zenzen he (to)
to (and)
ni (for)
16 sutoppu sugiru juubun(na) ga (but)
denwa hoshi(i)


watashiわたし, 私
I, me (formal)

anataあなた, 貴方 (honorific + lady/gentleman)
you (formal); it is also a way to address someone dear in private, e.g., ‘dear’, ‘darling’

dokoどこ,何処 (what + place)
doko-de means ‘where at?’

kokoここ,此処 (this + place)
a place near the speaker, or where the speaker is pointing to on a map.

asokoあそこ,彼処 (that + place)
over there
somewhere far from both speaker and listener but that it can be pointed to

naniなに, 何
nanika (なにか, 何か) means ‘something’

dareだれ, 誰
dare-to (だれと, 誰と) means ‘who with?’, i.e., ‘with whom?’


eiえい, 英
British, Britain

nihonにほん, 日本 (sun + origin)

amerikaアメリカ, 亜米利加
United States

jinじん, 人
nihon-jin (にほんじん, 日本人) means ‘Japan person’, i.e., Japanese

goご, 語
eigo (えいご, 英語) means ‘British language’, i.e., English

tenkiてんき, 天気 (heaven + atmosphere)
o-tenki (おてんき, お天気) means ‘respectable weather’

ekiえき, 駅

kouenこうえん, 公園 (public + garden)
public park

imaいま, 今

atoあと, 後
ato-de (あとで, 後で) means ‘afterwards’

tokoroところ, 所

cola, soda

sakeさけ, 酒
rice wine
o-sake (おさけ, お避け) means ‘respectable rice wine’



hirugohanひるごはん, 昼ご飯 (noon + rice)

negaiねがい, 願い
desire, request, wish
o-negai (おねがい, お願い) means ‘favor’
o-negai shimasu (おねがいします, お願いします) means ‘do me the favor’


following, next

kyouきょう, 今日

ashitaあした, 明日


enえん, 円

senせん, 千

okaneおかね, お金




denwaでんわ, 電話


sukoshiすこし, 少し
a little, a few

yokuよく, 良く
nicely; properly; well; skillfully

again; and; also; still (doing something)​

so; having the appearance of

Its a placeholder word that adapts to any situation respectfully:

  • hello – in person and on the phone
  • goodbye
  • please
  • thank you
  • You’re welcome
  • sorry
  • quite
  • really


Indicates that there has not been any change in the state, for either positive or negative states:

  • positive state – still:
    mada jouzu desu – I’m still skilled (I was skilled before, and I’m skilled now)
    mada genki desu – I’m still healthy (I was healthy before, and I’m healthy now)
  • negative state – not yet:
    mada jouzu ja arimasen – I’m not skilled yet (I wasn’t skilled before, and I’m not skilled now)
    mada genki ja arimasen – I’m not healthy yet (I wasn’t healthy before, and I’m not healthy now)

chottoちょっと, 一寸

  • a little bit:
    chotto matte, kudasai – wait a little bit, please
  • declining, polite no:
    ima wa chotto.. – Now? Now (it’s) a little bit.. (difficult)

how much, how many?

many, a lot

none at all


to be – desu – です
present / future


[dewa/ja] [arimasen/nai]

All combinations of [dewa/ja][arimasen/nai] are valid, but the longer the combination, the more formal the form. Hence, we would say the formal ‘dewa arimasen’ to our boss, and the causual ‘ja nai’ to a sibling. For example,

You are skilled. (formal)
You are skilled. (casual)
You aren’t skilled. (most formal)
You aren’t skilled. (formal)
You aren’t skilled. (casual)
You aren’t skilled. (most casual)

anata wa jouzu desu
anata wa jouzu da
anata wa jouzu dewa arimasen
anata wa jouzu ja arimasen
anata wa jouzu dewa nai
anata wa jouzu ja nai

to exist

imasu – います
present / future



arimasu – あります
present / future



imasu is used when referring to things that move by themselves, like people and animals; arimasu is used for things that do not move, like plants and objects, e.g.,

Suzuki? He is there (formal)
Suzuki? He is there (casual)
There is money (formal)
There is money (casual)

suzuki san wa soko ni imasu
suzuki san wa soko ni iru
okane ga arimasu
okane ga aru

the masu form – ます
present / future



The masu form is always formal, e.g.,

I [do/will] understand
I [don’t/won’t] understand
I understood


# verb masu kanji
1 to understand wakarimasu 分かります
to feel at ease sumimasu 済みます
4 to talk hanashimasu 話なします
5 to eat tabemasu 食べます
to drink nomimasu 飲みます
8 to do shimasu します
to buy kaimasu 買います
14 to give agemasu あげます
15 to come kimasu 来ます
16 to be excessive sugimasu すぎます

-tai – たい
present / future

-tai [desu]

-taku [arimasen/nai][desu]

The -tai form indicates we ‘want to’.

I want to eat something (formal)
I want to eat something (casual)
I don’t want to eat (most formal)
I don’t want to eat (formal)
I don’t want to eat (casual)
I don’t want to eat (most casual)

nanika tabetai desu
nanka tabetai
tabetaku arimasen desu
tabetaku arimasen
tabetaku nai desu
tabetaku nai

the te form –

The te form is used in two ways:

  • It allows the joining of sentences, each with its own verb. All the verbs have to be in the -te form, except the last one that defines the tense for all the verbs, e.g.,

    I’m buying sake, drinking beer, and eating sushi.
    I bought sake, drank beer, and ate sushi.

    osake wo kaite, biiru wo nonde, sushi wo tabemasu.
    osake wo kaite, biiru wo nonde, sushi wo tabemashita.

  • It is a gentle imperative:

    kiite, kudasai
    kurikaeshite, kudasai
    kiite kurikaeshite kudasai

    listen, please
    repeat, please
    listen and repeat, please

# verb masu te form
10 to listen kikimasu kiite
11 to repeat kurikaesu kurikaeshite
13 to possess moteru motte
15 to go kuru itte

the potential form

In English we indicate our ability to perform an action using the auxiliary verb ‘can’, e.g., I can play. In Japanese, we express this ability modifying the verb. The resulting verb is always of a type called a ‘ru’ verb, that can be further conjugated in a particularly simple way.

The rules to form a potential form are the following. If the verb is a ‘ru’ verb, replace ‘ru’ with ‘rareru’, e.g., taberu -> taberareru:

eat (casual)
eat (formal)
dont’ eat (formal)
ate (formal)
didn’t eat (formal)

can eat (casual)
can eat (formal)
can’t eat (formal)
was able to eat
couldn’t eat



If the verb is not a ‘ru’ verb, replace the last u sound with an ‘e’ sound, and add ‘ru’, e.g., kau -> kaeru:

buy (casual)
buy (formal)
dont’ buy (formal)
bought (formal)
didn’t buy (formal)

can buy (casual)
can buy (formal)
can’t buy (formal)
was able to buy
couldn’t buy



As usual, suru and kuru are the only two exceptions:

suru -> dekiru
kuru -> korareru

Potential forms do not have a direct object, so they do not take the を particle; instead they take は or が:

osake! That I can buy.
sushi? I can eat it.

osake ga kaemasu
sushi wa taberaremasu


There are two types of adjectives in Japanese: i-adjectives and na-adjectives.


i-adjectives do not change when used as nouns or when applied to nouns:

kiite, kudasai
kurikaeshite, kudasai
kiite kurikaeshite kudasai

listen, please
repeat, please
listen and repeat, please

The stem of an i-adjective is the adjective without the final i, e.g., the stem of hoshii is hoshi

present / future


-ku [arimasen/nai]

For example:

I [do/will] want
I [do/will] not want (formal)
I [do/will] not want (casual)

hoshii desu.
hoshiku arimasen.
hoshiku nai.

An exception to the conjugation of i-adjectives is ii (good). This stem of this i-adjective for the present positive is i-, but for other tenses is yo-.

It [is/will] be good
It [isn’t/won’t] be good (formal)
It [isn’t/won’t] be good (casual)

ii desu.
yoku arimasen.
yoku nai.

iiよい, 良い
good; excellent; fine; nice; pleasant; agreeable

hoshiiほしい, 欲しい
wanted; wished for; in need of; desired


na-adjectives don’t change when used as nouns, but we have to add the suffix ‘na’ when we apply them to nouns:

the weather is bad, right?
it’s bad weather, right?

otenki wa iya desu ne?
iya na otenki desu ne?

おてんきは いやですね。
いやなおてんき ですね。

Conjugate the na-adjectives as follows:

present / future


[dewa/ja] [arimasen/nai]

All combinations of [dewa/ja][arimasen/nai] are valid, but the longer the combination, the more formal the form. Hence, we would say the formal ‘dewa arimasen’ to our boss, and the causual ‘ja nai’ to a sibling. For example:

I [am/will be] skilled (formal)
I [am/will be] skilled (casual)
I [am not/will not be] skilled (most formal)
I [am not/will not be] skilled (formal)
I [am not/will not be] skilled (casual)
I [am not/will not be] skilled (most casual)

jouzu desu.
jouzu da.
jouzu dewa arimasen.
jouzu ja arimasen.
jouzu dewa nai.
jouzu ja nai.

jouzuじょうず, 上手
skillful; skilled; proficient; good (at); adept; clever

iyaいや, 嫌
disagreeable; detestable; unpleasant; reluctant

genkiげんき, 元気
energetic, healthy

sufficient; fine (in the sense of “I’m fine”); (by implication) no, thank you​:

Is it ok (to pay) in dollars? Yes, it’s fine.
Sake? No, I’m fine (thank you).

doru de ii desu ka? hai, kekkou desu.
osake? iie, kekkou desu.

juubunじゅうぶん, 十分
enough, sufficient


ka – か

  • written question mark

    here ?

    koko ka


  • or

    I’ll drink beer or sake

    biiru ka osake wo nomimasu

    ビール おさけを のみます

wa – は

The particle は used to be pronounced ‘ha’; later the pronunciation changed to ‘wa’, but the writing of the particle remained ‘ha’. は is the ‘topic marker’; although it emphasizes the topic of the conversation, the focus of the sentence is what comes after は, e.g.,

watashi wa nihon-jin desu

Here ‘wa’ indicates that the topic of the sentence is ‘watashi’, i.e., is ourselves, but what is important is that “watashi” happens to be Japanese.

‘wa’ is often translated as ‘Speaking of..’, but a better translation is just a question mark [Rubin], e.g.,

watashi wa nihon-jin desu.

Me? I’m Japanese. (instead of “Speaking of me, I’m Japanese.”)

Either way, the part that precedes は is secondary to the point that we can remove it if we can determine it from the context:

watashi wa nihon-jin desu.

The translation using the ? is natural and fits well with other uses of は:

nihon-jin desu. anata wa?

I’m Japanese. You?

ga – が

In the same way that wa (は) can be translated as ?, in many cases ga (が) can be translated as ! [Rubin]. が is used in different ways.

  • It is the ‘topic’ marker, i.e., it introduces something to talk about; in this case, the focus of the sentence is what comes before が, e g.,

    eigo ga wakarimasu

    English! That I understand. (I understand English)

    The subject that が introduces cannot be determined by context, so it cannot be removed.
  • In the same way that を marks the direct object of a verb, が marks the direct object of an adjective. In this example, sake is the direct object of the verb ‘to drink’, so it is marked with を, and of the adjective ‘to be desirable’, so it is marked with が:

    osake wo nomimasu
    osake ga hoshii desu

    I drink sake
    beer! That I want. (I want beer)

  • が can also mean ‘but’:

    osake ga hoshiin desu ga

    beer! That I want but.. (I’d understand if I can’t have it)

The following example shows the difference between ha and ga when they play the roles of subject and topic markers, respectively (from [Rubin]). When using は, the important thing is the part that follows the marker, e.g, what ‘watashi’ did was to go. When using が, the important thing is the part that precedes the marker, e.g., the person that went was ‘watashi’.

watashi wa ikimashita
watashi ga ikimashita

Me ? I went. (no big deal.. yes, I went)
Me ! That is who went. (It was me! I was the one that went!)

ne/na – ね/な

The formal version is ‘ne’ (ね), and the casual version is ‘na’ (な). This particle seeks agreement or confirmation.

  • seeking agreement
    In this case, the sentence is a question, and ‘ne’ means ‘right?’, or ‘don’t you agree?’

    Nice day, wouldn’t you agree?

    ii otenki desu ne

  • providing confirmation
    In this case the sentence is a statement, and ‘ne’ means ‘you are correct’, or ‘I agree’.

    That is so, I agree.

    sou desu ne

ni – に

ni (に) has many different uses: if you do not know what particle to use, chances are it is に.

  • In the following example, yoku and sukoshi are adverbs, while genki and jouzu are na-adjectives. In this case, ni works a little bit like ‘with’:

    I understand well
    I speak a little
    Become with health (“get better”)
    Speak with skill (“speak well”)

    yoku wakarimasu
    sukoshi hanashimasu
    genki ni narimasu
    jouzu ni hanashimasu

  • ni also works as ‘at’ with respect to time:

    At 2:00 o’clock.
    At what time?

    ni-ji ni
    nan-ji ni?



  • ni also works as ‘for’:

    For me.
    As for you?

    watashi ni
    anata ni wa?

    あなた  は?


no – の

  • possessive

    My sake.
    Ms. Tanaka’s place.

    watashi no osake
    Tanaka san no tokoro

  • place of origin/manufacturing

    American beer (America’s beer)
    Japanese car (Japan’s car)

    america no biiru
    nihon no kuruma

  • location

    inside the car (car’s middle)
    in front of my eyes (eye’s front)

    kuruma no naka
    me no mae

mo – も

Indicates ‘as well’ in both positive and negative contexts, i.e., it means ‘too’ in a positive context, and ‘neither’ in a negative one.

I want a beer. Me too.
I don’t want a beer. Me neither.

biiru ga hoshii desu. Watashi mo.
biiru ga hoshiku arimasen. Watashi mo.

de – で

Means ‘at’ a given location.

at my place
at Ueno park
I’m eating at the hotel
at a later moment

watashi no tokoro de
Ueno kouen de
hoteru de tabemasu
ato de

wo – を

を marks the direct object of a verb. In spite that it is written as ‘wo’, it is pronounced ‘o’ when it is used as a particle, which is almost always.

I drink sake
I eat sushi

osake wo nomimasu
sushi wo tabemasu

おさけ のみます
すし たべます

to – と

  • と means ‘with’, or ‘in the company of’:

    Won’t you eat with me?
    I am drinking with you.

    watashi to tabemasenka
    anata to nomimasu

  • と means ‘and’:

    beer and sake
    two and two are four

    biiru to osake
    ni to ni de yon desu.

he – へ

へ indicates direction, i.e., ‘to’. In spite that it is written as ‘he’, it is pronounced ‘e’ when it is used as a particle.

Where to?
To Tokyo.

doko he?
Toukyou he.


Prefixes and suffixes

o – お

お is a honorific; it’s added to a word to show respect.



respected weather
respected sake
respected request


san – さん

さん is a honorific for a person, that often can be translated as Mr., Mrs., or Ms.

Mr./Mrs. Tanaka

Tanaka san



hon – ほん, 本

Hon is a counter for things that are thin and long, like bottles, pencils, or cigarettes.

ni hon

two long thin things

two bottles

The counter is pronounced ‘bon’ or ‘ppon’ for some quantities, but the kanji remains 本:

romaji kana kanji
ippon いっぽん 一本
nihon にほん 日本
sanbon さんぼん 三本
yonhon よんぼん 四本
gohon ごほん 五本
roppon ろっぽん 六本
nanahon ななほん 七本
happon はっぽん 八本
kyuhon きゅうほん 九本
jyuppon じゅっぽん 十本

ji – じ, 時

ji means ‘time’, ‘hour’ and ‘o’clock’:

At what hour? (At what time?)
At two o’clock

nan-ji ni?
ni-ji ni



dewa/ja – では/じゃ

じゃ/じゃあ is the combination of the particles de (て) and wa (は), so:

  • dewa arimasen = ja arimasen
  • dewa nai = ja nai

‘dewa’ or ‘ja’ means “Well then..”.

dewa mata (formal)
Ja mata (casual)
Ja ne (casual)
Ja mata ashita
Ja mata ato de

well then.. (see you) again
well then.. (see you) again
well then.. (see you later,) right?
well then.. (see you) tomorrow
well then.. (see you) later

demo – でも

It’s one of the many ways of saying ‘but’. It has to be used at the beginning of a sentence.

demo mada jouzu ja arimasen
tabemasen. demo osake wo nomimasu.

But I am not skilled yet.
I am not eating, but I am drinking sake.

soretomo – それとも

One of the many ways to say ‘or’. It is used at the beginning of a sentence.

I want sake. Or beer.
Osake ga hoshii desu. Soretomo biiru.
おさけが ほしい です。それとも ビール。

soshite – そして

and; and then; thus; and now; and finally

one thousand yen and two thousand yen… three thousand yen.
sen-en soshite nisen-en… san-zen en.
せんえん そして にせんえん… さんぜんえん。