Review and more sentence-ending particles

We are coming to the end of the fourth major section of the guide. Do you feel like your Japanese has improved? We’ve come to the point where we’ve learned enough conjugations to be able to start mixing them together in various useful combinations. Of course this can be a little difficult to do without some practice, which is the reason for this lesson. But first, since we’ve come to the end of yet another section, let’s learn some more sentence-endings particles.

「な」 and 「さ」 sentence-ending particles


  1. あのう/あの – say; well; errr
  2. うん – yes (casual)
  3. この – this (abbr. of これの)
  4. 間 【あいだ】 – space (between); time (between); period
  5. ディズニーランド – Disney Land
  6. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  7. すごい (i-adj) – to a great extent
  8. 込む 【こ・む】 (u-verb) – to become crowded
  9. 何 【なに/なん】 – what
  10. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) – to be able to do
  11. 今 【いま】 – now
  12. 図書館 【と・しょ・かん】 – library
  13. 何で 【なん・で】 – why; how
  14. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 – Japanese (language)
  15. たくさん – a lot (amount)
  16. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 – study
  17. する (exception) – to do
  18. まだ – yet
  19. 全然 【ぜん・ぜん】 – not at all (when used with negative)
  20. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) – to understand
  21. 大丈夫 【だい・じょう・ぶ】 (na-adj) – ok
  22. なる (u-verb) – to become
  23. いい (i-adj) – good
  24. 今日 【きょう】 – today
  25. 雨 【あめ】 – rain
  26. 降る 【ふ・る】(u-verb) – to precipitate
  27. 大学 【だい・がく】 – college

After the 「よ」 and 「ね」, 「さ」 and 「な」 are the next most commonly used sentence-ending particles.

「さ」, which is basically a very casual form of 「よ」, is similar to the English “like” in that some people throw it in at the end of almost every single phrase. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a very sophisticated manner of speech but just like using “like” all the time, I cannot deny that it is an easy habit to fall into. In that sense, due to its over-use, it has almost lost any specific meaning. You may overhear a conversation like the following:

A: Hey…

B: Yeah.

A: This one time…

B: Yeah.

A: I went to Disney Land and it was really crowded…

B: Uh huh.

A: Couldn’t do anything, you know…

And it goes on like this, sometimes the other person might break in to say something related to the topic.

You can use 「な」 in place of 「ね」 when it sounds too soft and reserved for what you want to say or for the audience you are speaking to. Its rough sound generally applies to the male gender but is not necessarily restricted to only males.

Example 1

Yousuke: You are going to the library now huh? (seeking explanation)

Tomoko: Yeah, why?

Example 2

Bob: I studied Japanese a lot, right? But, I still don’t get it at all.

Alice: No problem. You’ll become able to understand for sure, you know?

Bob: If so, it would be good.

The 「な」 sentence-ending particle is often used with the question marker 「か」 to indicate that the speaker is considering something.

  1. 今日降るかな
    I wonder if it’ll rain today.
  2. いい大学行けるかな
    I wonder if I can go to a good college.

「かい」 and 「だい」 sentence-ending particles


  1. おい – hey
  2. どこ – where
  3. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  4. 呼ぶ 【よ・ぶ】 (u-verb) – to call
  5. いい (i-adj) – good
  6. 一体 【いったい】 – forms an emphatic question (e.g. “why on earth?”)
  7. 何時 【なん・じ】 – what time
  8. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) – to go home
  9. つもり – intention, plan
  10. 俺 【おれ】 – me; myself; I (masculine)
  11. 土曜日 【ど・よう・び】 – Saturday
  12. 映画 【えい・が】 – movie
  13. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) – to see
  14. 一緒 【いっ・しょ】 – together

「かい」 and 「だい」 are strongly masculine sentence endings for asking questions. 「かい」 is used for yes/no questions while 「だい」 is used for open-ended questions.


  1. おい、どこに行くんだい
    Hey, where are (you) going?
  2. さきちゃんって呼んでもいいかい
    Can (I) call you Saki-chan?
  3. 一体何時に帰ってくるつもりだったんだい
    What time were (you) planning on coming home exactly?
  4. 俺は土曜日、映画を見に行くけど、一緒に行くかい
    I’m going to see a movie Saturday, go together?

Gender-specific sentence-ending particles

These sentence-ending particles are primarily used just to emphasize something and doesn’t really have a meaning per se. However, they can make your statements sound much stronger and/or very gender-specific. Using 「わ」 is just like 「よ」 except it will make you sound very feminine (this is a different sound from the 「わ」 used in Kansai dialect). 「かしら」 is also a very feminine version of 「かな」, which we just went over. 「ぞ」 and 「ぜ」 are identical to 「よ」 except that it makes you sound “cool” and manly, or at least, that is the intent. These examples may not be very helpful without actually hearing what they sound like.


  1. もう – already
  2. 時間 【じ・かん】 – time
  3. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  4. おい – hey
  5. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  6. これ – this
  7. 終わり 【お・わり】 – end
  8. いい (i-adj) – good
  9. 大学 【だい・がく】 – college
  10. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) – to enter
  1. もう時間ない
    There is no more time.
  2. おい行く
    Hey, we’re going!
  3. これで、もう終わり
    With this, it’s over already.
  4. いい大学入れるかしら
    I wonder if I can enter a good college.

That’s a wrap!


  1. 加賀 【か・が】 – Kaga (last name)
  2. 先生 【せん・せい】 – teacher
  3. ちょっと – a little
  4. 質問 【しつ・もん】 – question
  5. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen
  6. いい (i-adj) – good
  7. はい – yes (polite)
  8. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 – Japanese (language)
  9. 何 【なに/なん】 – what
  10. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  11. そう – (things are) that way
  12. 大体 【だい・たい】 – mostly
  13. こんにちは – good day
  14. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) – to think
  15. ただし – however
  16. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) – to write
  17. 時 【とき】 – time
  18. 他 【ほか】 – other
  19. 表現 【ひょう・げん】 – expression
  20. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  21. これ – this
  22. 覚える 【おぼ・える】 (ru-verb) – to memorize
  23. 朝 【あさ】 – morning
  24. おはよう – good morning
  25. でも – but
  26. 上 【うえ】 – above
  27. 人 【ひと】 – person
  28. おはようございます – good morning (polite)
  29. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) – to understand
  30. 間違える 【ま・ちが・える】 (ru-verb) – to make a mistake
  31. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 – study
  32. なる (u-verb) – to become
  33. 洋介 【よう・すけ】 – Yousuke (first name)
  34. あのう/あの – say; well; errr
  35. 英語 【えい・ご】 – English (language)
  36. 教える 【おし・える】 (ru-verb) – to teach; to inform
  37. もらう (u-verb) – to receive
  38. もし – if by any chance
  39. 時間 【じ・かん】 – time
  40. うん – yes (casual)
  41. アメリカ – America
  42. 留学 【りゅう・がく】 – study abroad
  43. する (exception) – to do
  44. 去年 【きょ・ねん】 – last year
  45. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  46. お金 【お・かね】 – money
  47. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  48. いつ – when
  49. 欲しい 【ほ・しい】 (i-adj) – wanted; desirable
  50. 来週 【らい・しゅう】 – next week
  51. 木曜日 【もく・よう・び】 – Thursday
  52. ありがとう – thank you
  53. 怠ける 【なま・ける】 (ru-verb) – to neglect, to be lazy about
  54. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  55. そんな – that sort of
  56. こと – event, matter

We learned quite a lot of things in this section. Let’s try to put it all together by seeing how different kinds of conjugations are used in different combinations. This is of course by no means an exhaustive list but merely an illustration of how we can use what we learned in various combinations to create a lot of useful expressions.

Example 1

アリス: 加賀先生ちょっと質問聞いていいですか?
言えば = quoted sub-clause + if conditional of 言う

「と言う思います」 = quoted sub-clause + quoted sub-clause
「じゃなくて」 = negative sequence of states


覚えといて」 – 覚える +
abbreviated form of ~ておく + casual ~てください with ください dropped.


Literal translation of Example 1

Alice: Kaga-sensei, is it ok to ask you a question?
Kaga-sensei: Yes, it’s ok.
Alice: If you say what for “hello” in Japanese, is it ok?
Kaga-sensei: Well, mostly, I think people say “konnichiwa”. Only, when you write it, you must write “konnichiha” and not “konnichiwa”.
Alice: Is that so? Are there any other good expressions?
Kaga-sensei: Please memorize this too (in preparation for the future). In the morning, everybody says, “ohayou”. But, please say, “ohayou-gozaimasu” to a higher person.
Alice: Yes, I understood. I’ll do in the manner of not making mistake. It became good study!

Interpretative translation of Example 1

Alice: Kaga-sensei, is it ok to ask you a question?
Kaga-sensei: Sure.
Alice: How do you say “Hello” in Japanese?
Kaga-sensei: Well, most of the time, I think people say “konnichiwa”. Only, when you write it, you must write “konnichiha” and not “konnichiwa”.
Alice: Is that so? Are there any other good expressions?
Kaga-sensei: You should know this too. In the morning, everybody says, “ohayou”. But, please say, “ohayou-gozaimasu” to a higher person.
Alice: Ok, I got it. I’ll try not to make that mistake. That was very informative!

Example 2


教えてもらいたい」 = receiving favor + to want (たい)


してみたいなと思って」 = to try something out (~てみる) + want to (たい) + な sentence-ending particle + quoted subquote + te-form of 思う
行こうした」 = volitional of 行く + to attempt (とする


怠けた来なかったしないで」 = List of actions (~たりする) + negative request of する.


Literal translation of Example 2

Yousuke: Oh! It’s Alice. Hey, is it ok to ask a question?
Alice: What?
Yousuke: I want to receive the favor of you teaching English and if, by any chance, you have time, will you give the favor of teaching?
Alice: Huh? You are going to study English?
Yousuke: Yeah, I was thinking that I want to try studying abroad in America. I tried to make motion toward going last year too but, without money…
Alice: Is that so? It’s good. When do you want me to teach you?
Yousuke: Anytime is good.
Alice: Then what about from next week Thursday?
Yousuke: Yeah, ok. Thanks!
Alice: Don’t do things like shirk on your studies or not come, ok?
Yousuke: I won’t do anything like that!

Interpretative translation of Example 2

Yousuke: Oh! It’s Alice. Hey, can I ask you a question?
Alice: What up?
Yousuke: I want to learn English so if you have time, can you teach me?
Alice: Huh? You’re going to study English?
Yousuke: Yeah, I was thinking about studying abroad in America. I tried going last year too but I didn’t have the money.
Alice: Really? No problem. When do you want me to teach you?
Yousuke: Anytime is fine.
Alice: What about from next week Thursday then?
Yousuke: OK, thanks!
Alice: You’re not going to shirk on your studies or not come or anything right?
Yousuke: I won’t do anything like that!

Casual Patterns and Slang

So far, for every grammar we have covered, we also went over all the casual variations as well. However, even though we have already covered all the casual forms, truly mastering casual speech in Japanese requires far more than just learning the various casual forms. There are countless numbers of ways in which wordings and pronunciations change as well as differences between male and female speech. Understanding slang also requires knowing various vocabulary that is also growing with every new generation. Many adults would be hard-pressed to understand the kind of slang being used by kids today.

While comprehensively covering slang and relevant vocabulary would require a book in and of itself (a book that would soon become out of date), I’ll instead cover some broad patterns and common phenomenon which will at least help you get started in understanding the most common aspects of Japanese slang. There is no particular order in the material presented here and I expect this page to grow continuously as I find different things to cover.

Please note that slang is also heavily influenced by local dialects. Although all the material presented here is valid for the greater Tokyo area, your mileage may vary depending on where you are located.

Basic Principles of Slang

In the world of slang, anything goes and rules that apply to written Japanese are often broken. The most difficult part is that, of course, you can’t just say whatever you want. When you break the rules, you have to break it the correct way. Taking what you learned from textbooks or Japanese classes and applying it to the real world is not so easy because it is impossible to teach all the possible ways things can get jumbled up in the spoken language. Learning how to speak naturally with all the correct idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies in a language is something that requires practice with real people in real-world situations. In this section, we’ll look at some common patterns and themes that will at least help you get an idea of where the majority of slang originates from.

One thing you’ll soon realize when you first start talking to Japanese people in real life is that many sounds are slurred together. This is especially true for males. The fact is voices in instructional material such as language tapes often exaggerate the pronunciation of each letter in order to make aural comprehension easier. In reality, not all the sounds are pronounced as clearly as it should be and things end up sounding different from how it’s written on paper.

There is one major driving factor behind the majority of slang in Japanese. The primary goal of most slang is to make things easier to say. In other words, the goal is to reduce or simplify the movement of your mouth. There are two primary ways in which this is accomplished, 1) By making things shorter or, 2) By slurring the sounds together. We have already seen many examples of the first method such as shortening 「かもしれない」 to 「かも」 or preferring 「と」 to the longer conditional forms. The second method makes things easier to say usually by substituting parts of words with sounds that fit better with the sounds surrounding it or by merging two or more sounds together. For example, the same 「かもしれない」 might be pronounced 「かもしんない」 since 「しん」 requires less movement than 「しれ」.

The fundamental goal of slang is to reduce mouth movement

Let’s see some more examples of words that get shortened or slurred. Try saying both versions to get a feel for how the slang saves space and some calories for your mouth.



  1. ここ – here
  2. つまらない (i-adj) – boring
  3. 私 【わたし】 – me; myself; I
  4. 家 【1) うち; 2) いえ】 – 1) one’s own home; 2) house
  5. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  6. まったく – entirely; indeed; good grief (expression of exasperation)
  7. いつ – when
  8. こんな – this sort of
  9. 所 【ところ】 – place
  10. ぐずぐず – tardily; hesitatingly
  11. する (exception) – to do
  1. ここはつまらないから私の家に行こう。
  2. ここつまんないから、私んち行こう。
  1. まったく、いつまでこんなところで、ぐずぐずするんだよ。
  2. ったく、いつまでこんなとこで、ぐずぐずすんだよ。

You’ll see that a great deal of slang in Japanese stems from this single principle of making things easier to say. It’s very natural because it’s guided by how your mouth moves. With a fair amount of practice, you should be able to naturally pick up shorter, alternative pronunciations and incorporate them into your own speech.

Sentence ordering and particles (or the lack thereof)


  1. それ – that
  2. 何 【なに/なん】 – what
  3. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) – to see
  4. あの – that (over there) (abbr. of あれの)
  5. 人 【ひと】 – person
  6. もう – already
  7. 食べる 【たべ・る】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  8. 昨日【きのう】 – yesterday
  9. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  10. アイス – ice (short for ice cream)

While written Japanese already has fairly loose rules regarding sentence order, casual spoken Japanese takes it one step further. A complete sentence requires a verb at the end of the sentence to complete the thought. However, we’ll see how this rule is bent in casual conversations.

Conversations are sporadic and chaotic in any language and it’s common for people to say the first thing that pops into their head without thinking out the whole proper sentence.

For example, if you wanted to ask what something was, the normal, proper way would be to ask, 「それは何?」 However, if the first thing that popped into your head, “What the?” then it would be more natural to say 「何」 first. However, since 「何はそれ?」 doesn’t make any sense (Is what that?), you can simply break it up into what are essentially two sentence fragments asking “what” first (何?), and then following it up with the explanation of what you were talking about (「それ」 in this case). For the sake of convenience, this is lumped into what looks like one sentence.


  1. それは何?
    What is that?
  2. 何それ?
    What? That. (Two sentences lumped into one)

Sometimes, the first thing that pops into your head might be main verb. But if the main verb has already slipped out of your mouth, you’re now left with the rest of the sentence without a verb to complete the thought. In conversational Japanese, it’s perfectly acceptable to have the verb come first using the same technique we just saw by breaking them into two sentences. The second sentence is incomplete of course, but that kind of thing is common in the speech of any language.

  1. 見た? あの人?
    Did you see? That guy?
  2. もう食べた?昨日買ったアイス。
    You ate it already? The ice cream I bought yesterday.

Using 「じゃん」 instead of 「じゃない」 to confirm


  1. サラリーマン – office worker (salary man)
  2. 残業 【ざん・ぎょう】 – overtime
  3. たくさん – a lot (amount)
  4. する (exception) – to do
  5. まあ – well
  6. いい (i-adj) – good
  7. ほら – look
  8. やはり/やっぱり – as I thought
  9. レポート – report
  10. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) – to write
  11. 駄目 【だめ】 – no good
  12. 誰 【だれ】 – who
  13. いる (ru-verb) – to exist (animate)
  14. ここ – here
  15. 着替える 【きが・える】 (ru-verb) – to change clothes
  16. ~君 【~くん】 – name suffix
  17. 知る 【し・る】 (u-verb) – to know
  18. やはり/やっぱり/やっぱ – as I thought
  19. 駅 【えき】 – station
  20. 近い 【ちか・い】 (i-adj) – close, near
  21. カラオケ – karaoke
  22. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  23. うん – yes (casual)
  24. あそこ – over there
  25. すぐ – soon; nearby
  26. 隣 【となり】 – next to

「じゃん」 is an abbreviation of 「じゃない」, the negative conjugation for nouns and na-adjectives. However, this only applies to 「じゃない」 used in the following fashion.

  • サラリーマンだから、残業はたくさんするんじゃない
    Because he’s a salaryman, doesn’t he do a lot of overtime?

The important thing to note about the example above is that 「じゃない」 here is actually confirming the positive. In fact, a closer translation is, “Because he’s a salaryman, he probably does a lot of overtime.” But it’s still a question so there’s a slight nuance that you are seeking confirmation even though you are relatively sure.

「じゃん」 is a shorter slang for expressing the same type of thing except it doesn’t even bother to ask a question to confirm. It’s completely affirmative in tone.

In fact, the closest equivalent to 「じゃん」 is 「じゃない」 used in the following fashion.

  • まあ、いいじゃない。
    Well, it’s probably fine (don’t you think?).

This type of expression is the only case where you can attach 「じゃない」 directly to i-adjectives and verbs. Once you actually hear this expression in real life, you’ll see that it has a distinct pronunciation that is different from simply using the negative. Plus, you have to realize that this type of 「じゃない」 sounds rather mature and feminine, unlike 「じゃん」, which is gender-neutral.

Like the above, specialized use of 「じゃない」, you can also attach 「じゃん」 directly to verbs and i-adjectives as well as the usual nouns and na-adjectives. Because slang is usually created to make things easier, it’s not surprising that the rules for using 「じゃん」 are so lax and easy.


  • Though derived from 「じゃない」, 「じゃん」 is always used to confirm the positive.
  • It can be attached to the end of any sentence regardless of whether it ends in a noun, adjective, verb, or adverb.

Finally, let’s get to the examples. Hopefully, you can see that 「じゃん」 is basically saying something along the lines of, “See, I’m right, aren’t I?”


  1. ほら、やっぱりレポートを書かないとだめじゃん
    See, as I thought, you have to write the report.
  2. 誰もいないからここで着替えてもいいじゃん
    Since there’s nobody, it’s probably fine to change here.

A: Is Takashi here?

B: Dunno.

A: Ah! See, he is here!

There’s also another variation, which attaches the question marker as well. The meaning is mostly the same but it adds more to the questioning, confirming tone.

A: There’s a karaoke place near the station, right?

B: Yeah.

A: It’s right next to there.

Using 「つ」 for 「という」


  1. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  2. 何で 【なん・で】 – why; how
  3. お前 【お・まえ】 – you (casual)
  4. ここ – here
  5. いる (ru-verb) – to exist (animate)
  6. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 – homework
  7. 時間 【じ・かん】 – time
  8. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  9. デート – date
  10. する (exception) – to do
  11. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  12. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen
  13. 明日 【あした】 – tomorrow
  14. 試験 【し・けん】 – exam
  15. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 – study
  16. 違う 【ちが・う】 (u-verb) – to be different

As we learned in the defining and describing section, 「いう」 serves many more functions than the equivalent English verb, “to say”. It is used all the time and therefore, it’s not too surprising that a number of variations and slang have developed. Here’s one more that I felt was too “slangy” to cover so early at that point of the guide.

This may sound hard to believe but if you really slur 「という」 together, it becomes something resembling 「つ」. Or least, that’s what somebody thought when he or she began replacing 「という」 with 「つ」 or in some case 「つう」.

Now, in my opinion, 「つ」 is a lot harder to say than 「という」 so using it like a native might take a bit of practice. Rather than making things easier to say, as is usually the case, the real purpose of this substitution is to sound rougher because 「つ」 has a harder, hissing sound. This is ideal for when you’re pissed or for that young and rough image you’ve always wanted. As you might expect, this type of speech is usually used by males or very tough females.


  1. つうか、なんでお前がここにいんのよ!
    Or rather, why are you here?!
  2. 宿題で時間がないつってんのに、みきちゃんとデートしにいったと聞いたよ。
    Although he’s saying he doesn’t have time due to homework, I heard he went on a date with Miki-chan.
  3. 明日は試験だぞ。つっても、勉強はしてないだろうな。
    Yo, tomorrow’s the test. Even if I say that, you probably didn’t study anyway, huh?
  4. だから、違うんだつうの!
    Like I said, you’re wrong!

If you want even more emphasis, you can even add a small 「つ」. This usually means you are really at the brink of your patience.

  • だから、違うんだっつうの!
    Like I said, you’re wrong!

Using 「ってば」 and 「ったら」to show exasperation


  1. もう – already
  2. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  3. あなた – you
  4. いつも – always
  5. 忘れる 【わす・れる】 (ru-verb) – to forget

「ってば」 and 「ったら」 is yet another type of abbreviation for 「という」 similar to 「って」 as discussed in the defining and describing section. In this case, it’s an abbreviation of the conditional form of 「という」, which is 「といえば」 and 「といったら」. By using this abbreviation, you are essentially saying something along the lines of, “If I told you once, I told you a million times!” You can use this expression when you tired of repeating yourself or when you are exasperated with somebody for not listening to you.


  1. もう行くってば
    I told you I’m going already!
  2. あなたったら、いつも忘れるんだから。
    You’re always forgetting.

Using 「なんか」 just about everywhere


  1. 何 【なに/なん】 – what
  2. 食べる 【たべ・る】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  3. 今日 【きょう】 – today
  4. 忙しい 【いそが・しい】 (i-adj) – busy
  5. 風呂 【ふ・ろ】 – bath
  6. 超 【ちょう】 – super
  7. 気持ち 【き・も・ち】 – feeling
  8. いい (i-adj) – good
  9. お母さん【お・かあ・さん】 – mother (polite)
  10. 明日 【あした】 – tomorrow
  11. 戻る 【もど・る】 (u-verb) – to return
  12. 私 【わたし】 – me; myself; I
  13. こと – event, matter
  14. 本当 【ほん・とう】 – real
  15. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) – likable; desirable

By now, you’re probably aware that 「何」 can be either read as 「なに」 or 「なん」 depending on what comes after it such as 「何色」(なにいろ) versus 「何人」(なんにん). In the case of 「何か」, while 「なにか」 is the correct reading, it is often contracted to just 「なんか」 in casual speech.

  • なにか食べる?
    Eat something?
  • なんか食べる?
    Eat something?

However, 「なんか」 also has a function similar to the word “like” in English. By “like”, I’m not talking about the actual word but the kind that has no meaning and some people use just about anywhere in the sentence. Similarly, 「なんか」 can also be used as a filler without any actual meaning. For instance, take a look at the example below.

  • 今日は、なんか忙しいみたいよ。
    I guess he’s like busy today.

While 「なんか」 is a shorter version of 「なにか」, only 「なんか」 can be used in this way as a filler.

  • 今日は、なにか忙しいみたいよ。
    (「なにか」 cannot be used as a filler word.)

Let’s take a look at a few more examples.


  1. なんかね。お風呂って超気持ちいいよね!
    Like, baths feel really good, huh?
  2. お母さんが、なんか明日まで戻らないんだってよ。
    Mom said she’s not coming back until like tomorrow.
  3. なんかさ。ボブは、私のことなんか本当に好きかな?
    -Hey like, do you really think that Bob likes somebody like me?

Showing contempt for an action with 「~やがる」


  1. あんな – that sort of
  2. 奴 【やつ】 – guy (derogatory)
  3. 負ける 【ま・ける】 (ru-verb) – to lose
  4. どう – how
  5. する (exception) – to do
  6. やる (u-verb) – to do
  7. 気 【き】 – mood; intent
  8. さっさと – quickly
  9. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come

「やがる」 is a verb suffix used to indicate hatred or contempt for the person doing the action. Unlike the rest of the slang covered here, this extremely strong language is not used in normal, everyday conversations. You will probably never hear this expression outside of movies, comic books, games, and the like. However, it is covered here so that you can understand when it is used in those mediums.

In order to use 「やがる」, you simply attach it to the stem of the verb. After that, 「やがる」 is conjugated just like a regular u-verb.


  1. あんなやつに負けやがって。じゃ、どうすんだよ?
    Losing to a guy like that. Well, what are you going to do?
  2. やる気か?だったらさっさと来やがれ
    You want to fight? If so, then hurry up and come on!

Numbers and Counting

Numbers and counting in Japanese are difficult enough to require its own section. First of all, the number system is in units of four instead of three, which can make converting into English quite difficult. Also, there are things called counters, which are required to count different types of objects, animals, or people. We will learn the most generic and widely used counters to get you started so that you can learn more on your own. To be honest, counters might be the only thing that’ll make you want to quit learning Japanese, it’s that bad. I recommend you digest only a little bit of this section at a time because it’s an awful lot of things to memorize.

The Number System

The Japanese number system is spread into units of four. So a number such as 10,000,000 is actually split up as 1000,0000. However, thanks to the strong influence of the Western world and the standardization of numbers, when numbers are actually written, the split-off is three digits. Here are the first ten numbers.

Kanji and readings for numbers 1 to 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
いち さん よん ろく しちなな はち きゅう じゅう

As the chart indicates, 4 can either be 「」 or 「よん」 and 7 can either be 「しち」 or 「なな」. Basically, both are acceptable up to 10. However, past ten, the reading is almost always 「よん」 and 「なな」. In general, 「よん」 and 「なな」 are preferred over 「」 and 「しち」 in most circumstances.

You can simply count from 1 to 99 with just these ten numbers. Japanese is easier than English in this respect because you do not have to memorize separate words such as “twenty” or “fifty”. In Japanese, it’s simply just “two ten” and “five ten”.

  1. 三十一 (さんじゅういち) = 31
  2. 五十四 (ごじゅうよん)= 54
  3. 七十七 (ななじゅうなな)= 77
  4. 二十 (にじゅう) = 20

Notice that numbers are either always written in kanji or numerals because hiragana can get rather long and hard to decipher.

Numbers past 99

Here are the higher numbers:

Numerals 100 1,000 10,000 10^8 10^12
ひらがな ひゃく せん まん おく ちょう

Notice how the numbers jumped four digits from 10^4 to 10^8 between and ? That’s because Japanese is divided into units of four. Once you get past 1万 (10,000), you start all over until you reach 9,999万, then it rotates to 1億 (100,000,000). By the way, is 100 and is 1,000, but anything past that, and you need to attach a 1 so the rest of the units become 一万 (10^4)、一億 (10^8)、一兆 (10^12).

Now you can count up to 9,999,999,999,999,999 just by chaining the numbers same as before. This is where the problems start, however. Try saying 「いちちょう」 、「ろくひゃく」、or 「さんせん」 really quickly, you’ll notice it’s difficult because of the repetition of similar consonant sounds. Therefore, Japanese people have decided to make it easier on themselves by pronouncing them as 「いっちょう」、 「ろっぴゃく」、and 「さんぜん」. Unfortunately, it makes it all the harder for you to remember how to pronounce everything. Here are all the slight sound changes.

Numerals 漢字 ひらがな
300 三百 さんびゃく
600 六百 ろっぴゃく
800 八百 はっぴゃく
3000 三千 さんぜん
8000 八千 はっせん
10^12 一兆 いっちょう
  1. 四万三千七十六 (よんまんさんぜんななじゅうろく)
  2. 七億六百二十四万九千二百二十二 (ななおくろっぴゃくにじゅうよんまんきゅうせんにひゃくにじゅうに)
  3. 五百兆二万一 (ごひゃくちょうにまんいち)

Notice that it is customary to write large numbers only in numerals as even kanji can become difficult to decipher.

Numbers smaller or less than 1


  1. 零 【れい】 – zero
  2. ゼロ – zero
  3. マル – circle; zero
  4. 点 【てん】 – period; point
  5. マイナス – minus

Zero in Japanese is 「」 but 「ゼロ」 or 「マル」 is more common in modern Japanese. There is no special method for reading decimals, you simply say 「」 for the dot and read each individual number after the decimal point. Here’s an example:

  • 0.0021 = ゼロゼロゼロ

For negative numbers, everything is the same as positive numbers except that you say 「マイナス」 first.

  • マイナス二十九 = -29

Counting and Counters

Ah, and now we come to the fun part. In Japanese, when you are simply counting numbers, everything is just as you would expect, 、 and so on. However, if you want to count any type of object, you have to use something called a counter which depends on what type of object you are counting and on top of this, there are various sound changes similar to the ones we saw with 六百, etc.. The counter themselves are usually single kanji characters that often have a special reading just for the counter. First, let’s learn the counters for dates



  1. 平成 【へい・せい】 – Heisei era
  2. 昭和 【しょう・わ】 – Showa era
  3. 和暦 【わ・れき】 – Japanese calendar
  4. 一日 【いち・にち】 – one day

The year is very easy. All you have to do is say the number and add 「」 which is pronounced here as 「ねん」. For example, Year 2003 becomes 2003年 (にせんさんねん). The catch is that there is another calendar which starts over every time a new emperor ascends the throne. The year is preceded by the era, for example the year 2000 is: 平成12年. My birthday, 1981 is 昭和56年 (The Showa era lasted from 1926 to 1989). You may think that you don’t need to know this but if you’re going to be filling out forms in Japan, they often ask you for your birthday or the current date in the Japanese calendar (和暦). So here’s a neat converter you can use to convert to the Japanese calendar.

Saying the months is actually easier than English because all you have to do is write the number (either in numerals or kanji) of the month and add 「」 which is read as 「がつ」. However, you need to pay attention to April (4月), July (7月), and September (9月) which are pronounced 「しがつ」、 「しちがつ」、and 「くがつ」 respectively.

Finally, we get to the days of the month, which is where the headache starts. The first day of the month is 「ついたち」 (一日); different from 「いちにち」 (一日), which means “one day”. Besides this and some other exceptions we’ll soon cover, you can simply say the number and add 「」 which is pronounced here as 「にち」. For example, the 26th becomes 26日にじゅうろくにち). Pretty simple, however, the first 10 days, the 14th, 19th, 20th, 29th have special readings that you must separately memorize. If you like memorizing things, you’ll have a ball here. Notice that the kanji doesn’t change but the reading does.

Days of the month
Day Kanji Reading
What day 何日 なん・にち
1st 一日 ついたち
2nd 二日 ふつ・か
3rd 三日 みっ・か
4th 四日 よっ・か
5th 五日 いつ・か
6th 六日 むい・か
7th 七日 なの・か
8th 八日 よう・か
9th 九日 ここの・か
10th 十日 とお・か
11th 十一日 じゅう・いち・にち
12th 十二日 じゅう・に・にち
13th 十三日 じゅう・さん・にち
14th 十四日 じゅう・よっ・か
15th 十五日 じゅう・ご・にち
16th 十六日 じゅう・ろく・にち
17th 十七日 じゅう・しち・にち
18th 十八日 じゅう・はち・にち
19th 十九日 じゅう・く・にち
20th 二十日 はつ・か
21st 二十一日 に・じゅう・いち・にち
22nd 二十二日 に・じゅう・に・にち
23rd 二十三日 に・じゅう・さん・にち
24th 二十四日 に・じゅう・よっ・か
25th 二十五日 に・じゅう・ご・にち
26th 二十六日 に・じゅう・ろく・にち
27th 二十七日 に・じゅう・しち・にち
28th 二十八日 に・じゅう・はち・にち
29th 二十九日 に・じゅう・く・にち
30th 三十日 さん・じゅう・にち
31st 三十一日 さん・じゅう・いち・にち

In Japan, the full format for dates follows the international date format and looks like: XXXX年YY月ZZ日. For example, today’s date would be: 2003年12月 2日


Now, we’ll learn how to tell time. The hour is given by saying the number and adding 「」 which is pronounced here as 「」. Here is a chart of exceptions to look out for.

英語 4 o’clock 7 o’clock 9 o’clock
漢字 四時 七時 九時
ひらがな よじ しちじ くじ

Notice how the numbers 4, 7, and 9 keep coming up to be a pain in the butt? Well, those and sometimes 1, 6 and 8 are the numbers to watch out for.

The minutes are given by adding 「」 which usually read as 「ふん」 with the following exceptions:

英語 1 min 3 min 4 min 6 min 8 min 10 min
漢字 一分 三分 四分 六分 八分 十分
ひらがな いっぷん さんぷん よんぷん ろっぷん はっぷん じゅっぷん

For higher number, you use the normal pronunciation for the higher digits and rotate around the same readings for 1 to 10. For instance, 24 minutes is 「にじゅうよんぷん」 (二十四分) while 30 minutes is 「さんじゅっぷん」 (三十分). There are also other less common but still correct pronunciations such as 「はちふん」 for 「八分」 and 「じっぷん」 for 「十分」 (this one is almost never used).

All readings for seconds consists of the number plus 「」, which is read as 「びょう」. There are no exceptions for seconds and all the readings are the same.

Some examples of time.

  1. 1時24分(いちじ・にじゅうよんぷん)
  2. 午後4時10分 (ごご・よじ・じゅっぷん)
    4:10 PM
  3. 午前9時16分 (ごぜん・くじ・じゅうろっぷん)
    9:16 AM
  4. 13時16分 (じゅうさんじ・じゅうろっぷん)
  5. 2時18分13秒 (にじ・じゅうはっぷん・じゅうさんびょう)

A Span of Time

Ha! I bet you thought you were done with dates and time, well guess again. This time we will learn counters for counting spans of time, days, months, and years. The basic counter for a span of time is 「」, which is read as 「かん」. You can attach it to the end of hours, days, weeks, and years. Minutes (in general) and seconds do not need this counter and months have a separate counter, which we will cover next.

  1. 二時間四十分 (にじかん・よんじゅっぷん)
    2 hours and 40 minutes
  2. 二十日間 (はつかかん)
    20 days
  3. 十五日間 (じゅうごにちかん)
    15 days
  4. 二年間 (にねんかん)
    two years
  5. 三週間 (さんしゅうかん)
    three weeks
  6. 一日 (いちにち)
    1 day

As mentioned before, a period of one day is 「一日」 (いちにち) which is different from the 1st of the month: 「ついたち」.

Pronunciations to watch out for when counting weeks is one week: 「一週間」 (いっしゅうかん) and 8 weeks: 「八週間」 (はっしゅうかん).

To count the number of months, you simple take a regular number and add 「か」 and 「」 which is pronounced here as 「げつ」 and notがつ」. The 「か」 used in this counter is usually written as a small katakana 「ヶ」 which is confusing because it’s still pronounced as 「か」 and not 「け」. The small 「ヶ」 is actually totally different from the katakana 「ケ」 and is really an abbreviation for the kanji 「箇」, the original kanji for the counter. This small 「ヶ」 is also used in some place names such as 「千駄」 and other counters, such as the counter for location described in the “Other Counters” section below.

In counting months, you should watch out for the following sound changes:



英語 1 month 6 months 10 months
漢字 一ヶ月 六ヶ月 十ヶ月
ひらがな いっかげつ ろっかげつ じゅっかげつ





Just like minutes, the high numbers rotate back using the same sounds for 1 to 10.

  1. 十一ヶ月 (じゅういっかげつ)
    Eleven months
  2. 二十ヶ月 (にじゅっかげつ)
    Twenty months
  3. 三十三ヶ月 (さんじゅうさんかげつ)
    Thirty three months

Other Counters

We’ll cover some of the most common counters so that you’ll be familiar with how counters work. This will hopefully allow you to learn other counters on your own because there are too many to even consider covering them all. The important thing to remember is that using the wrong counter is grammatically incorrect. If you are counting people, you must use the people counter, etc. Sometimes, it is acceptable to use a more generic counter when a less commonly used counter applies. Here are some counters.

日本語 When to Use
To count the number of people
To count long, cylindrical objects such as bottles or chopsticks
To count thin objects such as paper or shirts
To count bound objects usually books
To count small animals like cats or dogs
To count the age of a living creatures such as people
To count small (often round) objects
To count number of times
ヶ所(箇所) To count number of locations
To count any generic object that has a rare or no counter
Counting 1 to 10 (some variations might exist)
1 ひとり いっぽん いちまい いっさつ いっぴき いっさい いっこ いっかい いっかしょ ひとつ
2 ふたり にほん にまい にさつ にひき にさい にこ にかい にかしょ ふたつ
3 さんにん さんぼん さんまい さんさつ さんびき さんさい さんこ さんかい さんかしょ みっつ
4 よにん よんほん よんまい よんさつ よんひき よんさい よんこ よんかい よんかしょ よっつ
5 ごにん ごほん ごまい ごさつ ごひき ごさい ごこ ごかい ごかしょ いつつ
6 ろくにん ろっぽん ろくまい ろくさつ ろっぴき ろくさい ろっこ ろっかい ろっかしょ むっつ
7 しちにん ななほん ななまい ななさつ ななひき ななさい ななこ ななかい ななかしょ ななつ
8 はちにん はちほん はちまい はっさつ はっぴき はっさい はっこ はちかい はっかしょ やっつ
9 きゅうにん きゅうほん きゅうまい きゅうさつ きゅうひき きゅうさい きゅうこ きゅうかい きゅうかしょ ここのつ
10 じゅうにん じゅっぽん じゅうまい じゅっさつ じゅっぴき じゅっさい じゅっこ じゅっかい じゅっかしょ とお

The changed sounds have been highlighted.
You don’t count 0 because there is nothing to count. You can simply use 「ない」 or 「いない」. The chart has hiragana for pronunciation but, as before, it is usually written with either numbers or kanji plus the counter with the single exception of 「とお」 which is simply written as 「」.

For higher numbers, it’s the same as before, you use the normal pronunciation for the higher digits and rotate around the same readings for 1 to 10 except for 「一人」 and 「二人」 which transforms to the normal 「いち」 and 「」 once you get past the first two. So 「一人」 is 「ひとり」 while 「11人」 is 「じゅういちにん」. Also, the generic counter 「~つ」 only applies up to exactly ten items. Past that, you can just use regular plain numbers.

Note: The counter for age is often sometimes written as 「」 for those who don’t have the time to write out the more complex kanji. Plus, age 20 is usually read as 「はたち」 and not 「にじゅっさい」.

Using 「」 to show order

You can attach 「」 (read as 「」) to various counters to indicate the order. The most common example is the 「」 counter. For example, 「一番」 which means “number one” becomes “the first” when you add 「」 (一番目). Similarly, 「一回目」 is the first time, 「二回目」 is the second time, 「四人目」 is the fourth person, and so on.

Making Requests

Politely (and not so politely) making requests

Similar to asking for favors, which we learned in the last lesson, there are also various ways to make requests in Japanese. This is effectively the Japanese way of saying, “please do X”. We’ll first learn the most common way to make requests using a special conjugation of the verb 「くださる」 and the firmer 「なさる」. Finally, we’ll learn the rarely used excessively strong command form for the sake of completeness. You can safely skip the last part unless you’re an avid reader of manga.

「~ください」- a special conjugation of 「くださる


  1. それ – that
  2. くれる (ru-verb) – to give
  3. 漢字 【かん・じ】 – Kanji
  4. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) – to write
  5. ここ – here
  6. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  7. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 – Japanese (language)
  8. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) – to speak
  9. 消しゴム 【け・し・ごむ】 – eraser
  10. 貸す 【か・す】 (u-verb) – lend
  11. 遠い 【とお・い】 (i-adj) – far
  12. 所 【ところ】 – place
  13. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  14. お父さん【お・とう・さん】 – father (polite)
  15. 時計 【と・けい】 – watch; clock
  16. 壊れる 【こわ・れる】 (ru-verb) – to break
  17. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say

ください」 is a special conjugation of 「くださる」, which is the honorific form of 「くれる」. We will learn more about honorific and humble forms in the beginning of the next major section. We are going over 「ください」 here because it has a slight difference in meaning from the normal 「くれる」 and the honorific 「くださる」. 「ください」 is different from 「くれる」 in the following fashion:

  1. それください
    Please give me that.
  2. それくれる
    Can you give me that?

As you can see 「ください」 is a direct request for something while 「くれる」 is used as a question asking for someone to give something. However, it is similar to 「くれる」 in that you can make a request for an action by simply attaching it to the te-form of the verb.

  1. 漢字書いてください
    Please write it in kanji.
  2. ゆっくり話してください
    Please speak slowly.

The rules for negative requests are same as the rules for 「くれる」 as well.

  1. 落書き書かないください
    Please don’t write graffiti.
  2. こここないでください
    Please don’t come here.

In casual speech, it is often common to simply drop the 「ください」 part.

  1. 日本語話して
    Please speak in Japanese.
  2. 消しゴム貸して
    Please lend me the eraser.
  3. 遠い行かない
    Please don’t go to a far place.

For those who want to sound particularly commanding and manly, it is also possible to use 「くれる」 with the 「る」 removed.

  1. 日本語話してくれ
    Speak in Japanese.
  2. 消しゴム貸してくれ
    Lend me the eraser.
  3. 遠い行かないくれ
    Don’t go to a far place.

Because 「ください」 like the masu-form must always come at the end sentence or a relative clause, you cannot use it to directly modify a noun. For example, the following is not possible with 「ください」.

  • お父さんくれた時計壊れた
    The clock that father gave broke.

Of course, since direct quotes is merely repeating something someone said in verbatim, you can put practically anything in a direct quote.

  • それくださいお父さん言った
    Father said, “Please give me that.”

Using 「~ちょうだい」 as a casual request


  1. 頂戴 【ちょうだい】 – receiving (humble)
  2. 致す 【いたす】 (u-verb) – to do (humble)
  3. スプーン – spoon
  4. ここ – here
  5. 名前 【な・まえ】 – name
  6. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) – to write

A casual alternative of 「ください」 is 「ちょうだい」. While it can be used by anyone, it has a slightly feminine and childish nuance and is always written in Hiragana. Written in Kanji, it is usually used in a very formal expression such as 「頂戴致します」. Grammatically, it’s used exactly the same way as 「ください」.


  1. スプーンちょうだい
    Please give me the spoon.
  2. ここ名前書いてちょうだい
    Please write your name here.

Using 「~なさい」 to make firm but polite requests


  1. 食べる 【たべ・る】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  2. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  3. する (exception) – to do
  4. いい (i-adj) – good
  5. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen
  6. ここ – here
  7. 座る 【すわ・る】 (ru-verb) – to sit
  8. まだ – yet
  9. いっぱい – full
  10. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  11. たくさん – a lot (amount)
  12. それ – that
  13. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) – to think
  14. そう – (things are) that way

なさい」 is a special honorific conjugation of 「する」. It is a soft yet firm way of issuing a command. It is used, for example, when a mother is scolding her child or when a teacher wants a delinquent student to pay attention. Unlike 「ください」, 「なさい」 only applies to positive verbs and uses the stem of the verb instead of the te-form. It also cannot be used by itself but must be attached to another verb.

Using 「なさい」 to make firm but polite requests

  • Conjugate the verb to its stem and attach 「なさい

    1. 食べ食べなさい
    2. 飲みなさい
    3. するなさい


  1. よく聞きなさい
    Listen well!
  2. ここ座りなさい
    Sit here.

You can also drop 「さい」 portion of the 「なさい」 to make a casual version of this grammar.

  1. まだいっぱいあるから、たくさん食べな
    There’s still a lot, so eat a lot.
  2. それいい思うなら、そうよ。
    If you think that’s fine, then go ahead and do it.

The Command Form


  1. くれる (ru-verb) – to give
  2. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 (u-verb) – to die
  3. する (exception) – to do
  4. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  5. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  6. 着る 【き・る】 (ru-verb) – to wear
  7. 信じる 【しん・じる】 (ru-verb) – to believe
  8. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) – to sleep
  9. 起きる 【お・きる】 (ru-verb) – to wake; to occur
  10. 出る 【で・る】 (ru-verb) – to come out
  11. 掛ける 【か・ける】 (ru-verb) – to hang
  12. 捨てる 【す・てる】 (ru-verb) – to throw away
  13. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) – to speak
  14. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen
  15. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】 (u-verb) – to play
  16. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) – to wait
  17. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  18. 直る 【なお・る】 (u-verb) – to be fixed
  19. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  20. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) – likable
  21. あっち – that way (over there) (abbr of あちら)
  22. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  23. 早い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) – fast; early
  24. 酒 【さけ】 – alcohol
  25. 持つ 【も・つ】 (u-verb) – to hold

We will go over the command form in the interest of covering all the possible verb conjugations. In reality, the command form is rarely used as Japanese people tend to be too polite to use imperatives. Also, this coarse type of speech is rarely, if indeed at all, used by females who tend to use 「なさい」 or an exasperated 「くれる」 when angry or irritated. This form is only really useful for reading or watching fictional works. You may often see or hear 「死ね!」 (“Die!”) in fiction which, of course, you’ll never hear in real life. (I hope!)

Be sure to note that, in addition to the familiar 「する」, 「くる」 exception verbs, 「くれる」 is also an exception for the command form.

Rules for creating command form

  • For ru-verbs: Replace the 「る」 with 「ろ」
  • For u-verbs: Change the last character from an / u / vowel to an / e / vowel
  • Exceptions:
    1. するしろ
    2. くるこい
    3. くれるくれ
Sample ru-verbs
Plain Command
食べ 食べ
信じ 信じ
起き 起き
掛け 掛け
捨て 捨て
Sample u-verbs
Plain Command
Exception Verbs
Plain Command
する しろ
くる こい
くれる くれ


  1. 好きしろ
    Do as you please.
  2. あっち行け
    Go away!
  3. 早く持ってきてくれ
    Hurry up and bring me some alcohol.

Negative Command


  1. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  2. する (exception) – to do
  3. それ – that
  4. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  5. 変 【へん】 (na-adj) – strange
  6. こと – event, matter
  7. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say

The negative command form is very simple: simply attach 「な」 to either ru-verbs or u-verbs. Don’t confuse this with the 「な」 sentence-ending particle we will be learning at the end of this section. The intonation is totally different.

Using the negative command form

  • Attach 「な」 to the verb

    1. 行く → 行く
    2. する → する


  1. それ食べる
    Don’t eat that!
  2. こと言う
    Don’t say such weird things!

This is not to be confused with the shortened version of 「~なさい」 we just learned in the last section. The most obvious difference (besides the clear difference in tone) is that in 「~なさい」, the verb is first converted to the stem while the negative command has no conjugation. For example, for 「する」, 「しな」 would be the short version of 「しなさい」 while 「するな」 would be a negative command.

Giving and Receiving

Japanese people like gifts


  1. お歳暮 【お・せい・ぼ】 – year-end presents
  2. お中元 【お・ちゅう・げん】 – Bon festival gifts
  3. あげる (ru-verb) – to give; to raise
  4. くれる (ru-verb) – to give
  5. もらう (u-verb) – to receive

One thing about Japanese culture is that they’re big on giving gifts. There are many different customs involving giving and receiving gifts (お歳暮お中元、etc.) and when Japanese people go traveling, you can be sure that they’re going to be picking up souvenirs to take back as gifts. Even when attending marriages or funerals, people are expected to give a certain amount of money as a gift to help fund the ceremony. You can see why properly learning how to express the giving and receiving of favors and items is a very important and useful skill. For some reason, the proper use of 「あげる」、「くれる」、and 「もらう」 has always haunted people studying Japanese as being horribly complex and intractable. I hope to prove in this section that it is conceptually quite straightforward and simple.

When to use 「あげる


  1. あげる (ru-verb) – to give; to raise
  2. 私 【わたし】 – me; myself; I
  3. 友達 【とも・だち】 – friend
  4. プレゼント – present
  5. これ – this
  6. 先生 【せん・せい】 – teacher
  7. 車 【くるま】 – car
  8. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  9. 代わり 【か・わり】 – substitute
  10. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  11. 学生 【がく・せい】 – student
  12. 父【ちち】 – father
  13. いい (i-adj) – good
  14. こと – event, matter
  15. 教える 【おし・える】 (ru-verb) – to teach; to inform

あげる」 is the Japanese word for “to give” seen from the speaker’s point of view. You must use this verb when you are giving something or doing something for someone else.


  1. 友達プレゼントあげた
    I gave present to friend.
  2. これ先生あげる
    I’ll give this to teacher.

In order to express the giving of a favor (verb) you must use the ever useful te-form and then attach 「あげる」. This applies to all the other sections in this lesson as well.

  1. 買ってあげるよ。
    I’ll give you the favor of buying a car.
  2. 代わり行ってあげる
    I’ll give you the favor of going in your place.

For third-person, this verb is used when the speaker is looking at it from the giver’s point of view. We’ll see the significance of this when we examine the verb 「くれる」 next.

  1. 学生これ先生あげる
    The student give this to teacher. (looking at it from the student’s point of view)
  2. 友達いいこと教えてあげた
    Friend gave the favor of teaching something good to my dad. (looking at it from the friend’s point of view)

Using 「やる」 to mean 「あげる


  1. 犬 【いぬ】 – dog
  2. 餌 【えさ】 – food for animals
  3. やる (u-verb) – to do

Usually used for pets, animals, and such, you can substitute 「やる」, which normally means “to do”, for 「あげる」. You shouldn’t use this type of 「やる」 for people because it is used when looking down on someone and can be offensive.

  • やった
    Did you give the dog food?

Here, 「やる」 does not mean “to do” but “to give”. You can tell because “doing food to dog” doesn’t make any sense.

When to use 「くれる


  1. くれる (ru-verb) – to give
  2. 友達 【とも・だち】 – friend
  3. 私 【わたし】 – me; myself; I
  4. プレゼント – present
  5. これ – this
  6. 先生 【せん・せい】 – teacher
  7. 車 【くるま】 – car
  8. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  9. 代わり 【か・わり】 – substitute
  10. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  11. 学生 【がく・せい】 – student
  12. 父【ちち】 – father
  13. いい (i-adj) – good
  14. こと – event, matter
  15. 教える 【おし・える】 (ru-verb) – to teach; to inform
  16. あげる (ru-verb) – to give; to raise
  17. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 – everything
  18. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat

くれる」 is also a verb meaning “to give” but unlike 「あげる」, it is from the receiver’s point of view. You must use this verb when someone else is giving something or doing something for you (effectively the opposite of 「あげる」).


  1. 友達プレゼントくれた
    Friend gave present to me.
  2. これは、先生くれた
    Teacher gave this to me.
  3. 買ってくれるの?
    You’ll give me the favor of buying a car for me?
  4. 代わり行ってくれる
    Will you give me the favor of going in my place?

Similarly, when used in the third-person, the speaker is speaking from the receiver’s point of view and not the giver.

  1. 先生これ学生くれる
    The teacher give this to student. (looking at it from the student’s point of view)
  2. 友達いいこと教えてくれた
    Friend gave favor of teaching something good to my dad. (looking at it from the dad’s point of view)

The following diagram illustrates the direction of giving from the point of view of the speaker.

Favor Diagram

From the speaker’s point of view, all the giving done to others “go up” to everybody else while the giving done by everybody else “goes down” to the speaker. This is probably related to the fact that there is an identical verb 「上げる」 meaning “to raise” that contains the character for “above” () and that the honorific version of 「くれる」 is 「下さる」 with the character for down (). This restriction allows us to make certain deductions from vague sentences like the following:

  • 先生教えてあげるんですか。
    Teacher, will you be the one to give favor of teaching to… [anybody other than the speaker]?

Because all giving done to the speaker must always use 「くれる」, we know that the teacher must be doing it for someone else and not the speaker. The speaker is also looking at it from the teacher’s point of view as doing a favor for someone else.

  • 先生教えてくれるんですか。
    Teacher, will you be the one to give favor of teaching to… [anybody including the speaker]?

Because the giver is not the speaker, the teacher is either giving to the speaker or anyone else. The speaker is viewing it from the receiver’s point of view as receiving a favor done by the teacher.

Let’s see some mistakes to watch out for.

  • 全部食べてくれました
    くれる」 is being used as giving done by the speaker. (Wrong)
  • 全部食べてあげました
    I gave favor of eating it all. (Correct)
  • 友達プレゼントあげた
    あげる」 is being used as giving to the speaker. (Wrong)
  • 友達プレゼントくれた。- Friend gave present to me. (Correct)

When to use 「もらう


  1. 私 【わたし】 – me; myself; I
  2. 友達 【とも・だち】 – friend
  3. プレゼント – present
  4. もらう (u-verb) – to receive
  5. これ – this
  6. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  7. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 – homework
  8. チェック – check
  9. する (exception) – to do
  10. 時間 【じ・かん】 – time
  11. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  12. 無理 【む・り】 – impossible
  13. その – that (abbr. of それの)
  14. 時計 【と・けい】 – watch; clock

もらう」 meaning, “to receive” has only one version unlike 「あげるくれる」 so there’s very little to explain. One thing to point out is that since you receive from someone, 「から」 is also appropriate in addition to the 「に」 target particle.


  1. 友達プレゼントもらった
    I received present from friend.
  2. 友達からプレゼントもらった
    I received present from friend.
  3. これ友達買ってもらった
    About this, received the favor of buying it from friend.
  4. 宿題チェックしてもらいたかったけど、時間なくて無理だった。
    I wanted to receive the favor of checking homework but there was no time and it was impossible.

「もらう」 is seen from the perspective of the receiver, so in the case of first-person, others usually don’t receive things from you. However, you might want to use 「からもらう」 when you want to emphasize that fact that the other person received it from you. For instance, if you wanted to say, “Hey, I gave you that!” you would use 「あげる」. However, you would use 「もらう」 if you wanted to say, “Hey, you got that from me!”

  • その時計からもらったのよ。
    (He) received that watch from me.

Asking favors with 「くれる」 or 「もらえる


  1. 千円 【せん・えん】 – 1,000 yen
  2. 貸す 【か・す】 (u-verb) – lend
  3. する (exception) – to do
  4. くれる (ru-verb) – to give
  5. もらう (u-verb) – to receive
  6. あなた – you
  7. 私 【わたし】 – me; myself; I
  8. ちょっと – a little
  9. 静か 【しず・か】 (na-adj) – quiet
  10. 漢字 【かん・じ】 – Kanji
  11. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) – to write

You can make requests by using 「くれる」 and the potential form of 「もらう」 (can I receive the favor of…). We’ve already seen an example of this in example 4 of the 「くれる」 section. Because requests are favors done for the speaker, you cannot use 「あげる」 in this situation.


  1. 千円貸してくれる
    Will you give me the favor of lending 1000 yen?
  2. 千円貸してもらえる
    Can I receive the favor of you lending 1000 yen?

Notice that the two sentences essentially mean the same thing. This is because the giver and receiver has been omitted because it is obvious from the context. If we were to write out the full sentence, it would look like this:

  1. あなた千円貸してくれる
    Will you give me the favor of lending 1000 yen?
  2. あなた千円貸してもらえる
    Can I receive the favor of you lending 1000 yen?

It is not normal to explicitly include the subject and target like this when directly addressing someone but is provided here to illustrate the change of subject and target depending on the verb 「くれる」 and 「もらえる」.

You can use the negative to make the request a little softer. You’ll see that this is true in many other types of grammar.

  1. ちょっと静かしてくれない
    Won’t you be a little quieter?
  2. 漢字書いてもらえませんか。
    Can you write this in kanji for me?

Asking someone to not do something


  1. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 – everything
  2. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  3. くれる (ru-verb) – to give
  4. 高い 【たか・い】 (i-adj) – high; tall; expensive
  5. 物 【もの】 – object
  6. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy

In order to request that someone not do something, you simply attach 「で」 to the negative form of the verb and proceed as before.

  1. 全部食べないくれますか。
    Can you not eat it all?
  2. 高い買わないくれる
    Can you not buy expensive thing(s)?

Trying or attempting something

Let’s try some stuff

In English, we use the word, “try” to mean both “to try something out” and “to make an effort to do something”. In Japanese, these are separate grammatical expressions. For instance, “I tried the cherry flavor” and “I tried to do homework” mean quite different things and though English does not make a distinction, Japanese does.

To try something out


  1. 見る 【み・る】 – to see; to watch
  2. 切る 【き・る】 (u-verb) – to cut
  3. お好み焼き 【お・この・み・や・き】 – okonomiyaki (Japanese-style pancake)
  4. 初めて 【はじ・めて】 – for the first time
  5. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  6. とても – very
  7. おいしい (i-adj) – tasty
  8. お酒 【お・さけ】 – alcohol
  9. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  10. すごい (i-adj) – to a great extent
  11. 眠い 【ねむ・い】(i-adj) – sleepy
  12. なる (u-verb) – to become
  13. 新しい 【あたら・しい】(i-adj) – new
  14. デパート – department store
  15. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  16. 広島 【ひろ・しま】 – Hiroshima

To try something out, you simply need to change the verb to the te-form and add 「みる」. If it helps you to remember, you can think of it as a sequence of an action and then seeing the result. In fact 「みる」 conjugates just like 「見る」. However, just like the 「~てほしい」 grammar we learned, this is a set phrase and 「みる」 is usually written in hiragana.

To try something out

  • Conjugate the verb to the te-form and add 「みる」.
  • Example: 切るって切ってみる
  • You can treat the whole result as a regular verb just as you would with 「見る」.
  • Example: 切ってみる切ってみた切ってみない切ってみなかった


  1. お好み焼き初めて食べてみたけど、とてもおいしかった
    I tried eating okonomiyaki for the first time and it was very tasty!
  2. お酒飲んでみましたが、すごく眠くなりました
    I tried drinking alcohol and I became extremely sleepy.
  3. 新しいデパート行ってみる
    I’m going to check out the new department store.
  4. 広島お好み焼き食べてみたい
    I want to try eating Hiroshima okonomiyaki!

To attempt to do something


  1. する (exception) – to do
  2. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  3. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) – to think
  4. 考える 【かんが・える】 (ru-verb) – to think
  5. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) – to see
  6. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  7. 毎日 【まい・にち】 – everyday
  8. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 – study
  9. 避ける 【さ・ける】 (ru-verb) – to avoid
  10. 無理矢理 【む・り・や・り】 – forcibly
  11. 部屋 【へ・や】 – room
  12. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) – to enter
  13. 早い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) – fast; early
  14. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) – to sleep
  15. 結局 【けっ・きょく】 – eventually
  16. 徹夜 【てつ・や】 – staying up all night
  17. お酒 【お・さけ】 – alcohol
  18. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  19. 奥さん【おく・さん】 – wife (polite)
  20. 止める 【と・める】 (ru-verb) – to stop
  21. なるべく – as much as possible
  22. ジム – gym
  23. 決める 【き・める】 (ru-verb) – to decide

We already learned that the volitional form was used to indicate a will to set out to do something. If you guessed that this next grammar for attempting to do something would involve the volitional form, you were right. To say that you tried (as in attempted) to do something, you need to conjugate the verb into the volitional, enclose it in a quotation (so that we can perform an action on the clause) and finally add the verb 「する」. Or put more simply, you just add 「とする」 to the volitional form of the verb. This is simply an extension of the quoted relative clause from the last section. Instead of saying the quote (言う) or treating it as a thought (思う考える), we are simply doing it with 「する」.

Attempting a certain action

  • Change the verb to the volitional form and add 「とする」.
  • Examples

    1. 見るよう見ようする
    2. 行くこう行こうする


  1. 毎日勉強避けようする
    Everyday, she attempts to avoid study.
  2. 無理矢理部屋入ろうしている
    He is attempting to force his way into the room.
  3. 早く寝ようしたけど、結局徹夜した
    I attempted to sleep early but ended up staying up all night.
  4. お酒飲もうしたが、奥さん止めた
    He tried to drink alcohol but his wife stopped him.

Though we use the verb 「する」 to say, “to do attempt”, we can use different verbs to do other things with the attempt. For instance, we can use the verb 「決める」 to say, “decide to attempt to do [X]”. Here are some examples of other actions carried out on the attempt.

  1. 勉強なるべく避けよう思った
    I thought I would attempt to avoid studying as much as possible.
  2. 毎日ジム行こう決めた
    Decided to attempt to go to gym everyday.

Defining and Describing

The various uses of 「いう

In the previous lesson, we learned how to quote a relative clause by encasing it with 「と」. This allowed us to talk about things that people have said, heard, thought, and more. We also took a look at some examples sentences that used 「と」 and 「言う」 to describe how to say something in Japanese and even what to call oneself. In this section, we will learn that with 「と」, we can use 「いう」 in a similar fashion to define, describe, and generally just talk about the thing itself. We’ll also see how to do the same thing with the casual 「って」 version we first learned about in the last lesson.

Using 「いう」 to define


  1. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  2. これ – this
  3. 何 【なに/なん】 – what
  4. 魚 【さかな】 – fish
  5. この – this (abbr. of これの)
  6. 鯛 【たい】 – tai (type of fish)
  7. デパート – department store
  8. どこ – where
  9. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  10. 知る 【し・る】 (u-verb) – to know
  11. 友達 【とも・だち】 – friend
  12. 英語 【えい・ご】 – English (language)
  13. 意味 【い・み】 – meaning

In the last lesson, we briefly looked at how to introduce ourselves by using 「と」 and 「いう」. For instance, we had the following example, which Alice used to introduce herself.

  • はアリスいいます
    I am called Alice. (lit: As for me, you say Alice.)

This sentence pattern is probably one of the first things beginner Japanese students learn in the classroom. In this case, the verb 「いう」 doesn’t mean that somebody actually said something. Rather, Alice is saying that people in general say “Alice” when referring to her. While using kanji for 「いう」 is perfectly acceptable, in this case, since nothing is actually being said, using hiragana is also common.

This idea of describing what a person is known or referred to as can also be extended to objects and places. We can essentially define and identify anything we want by using 「という」 in this manner. As you can imagine, this is particularly useful for us because it allows us to ask what things are called in Japanese and for the definition of words we don’t know yet.


  1. これは、なんいうですか。
    What is this fish referred to as?
  2. このは、いいます
    This fish is known as “Tai“.
  3. ルミネというデパートどこあるか、知っていますか?
    Do you know where the department store called “Lumine” is?
  4. 友達」は、英語「friend」という意味です。
    The meaning of “tomodachi” in English is “friend”.

Using 「いう」 to describe anything


  1. 主人公 【しゅ・じん・こう】 – main character
  2. 犯人 【はん・にん】 – criminal
  3. 一番 【いち・ばん】 – best; first
  4. 面白い 【おも・しろ・い】(i-adj) – interesting
  5. 日本人 【に・ほん・じん】 – Japanese person
  6. お酒 【お・さけ】 – alcohol
  7. 弱い 【よわ・い】(i-adj) – weak
  8. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  9. 本当 【ほん・とう】 – real
  10. 独身 【どく・しん】 – single; unmarried
  11. 嘘 【うそ】 – lie
  12. リブート – reboot
  13. パソコン – computer, PC
  14. こう – (things are) this way
  15. そう – (things are) that way
  16. ああ – (things are) that way
  17. どう – how
  18. 再起動 【さい・き・どう】 – reboot
  19. あんた – you (slang)
  20. いつも – always
  21. 時 【とき】 – time
  22. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  23. 困る 【こま・る】 (u-verb) – to be bothered, troubled
  24. 人 【ひと】 – person
  25. 結婚 【けっ・こん】 – marriage
  26. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) – to be able to do
  27. 幸せ 【しあわ・せ】 – happiness
  28. なる (u-verb) – to become
  29. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) – to think
  30. 大学 【だい・がく】 – college
  31. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  32. 意味 【い・み】 – meaning

We learned how to use 「という」 to describe what something is known or referred to as. However, we can take this idea even further by attaching two relative clauses. At this point, 「いう」 is so abstract that it doesn’t even really have a meaning. When a relative clause is encapsulated with 「と」, you must have a verb to go along with it and 「いう」 is simply being used as a generic verb to enable us to talk about any relative clause. This allows us to describe and explain just about anything ranging from a single word to complete sentences. As you can imagine, this construction is quite useful and employed quite often in Japanese.


  1. 主人公犯人だったいうのが一番面白かった
    The most interesting thing was that the main character was the criminal.
  2. 日本人お酒弱いいうのは本当
    Is it true that Japanese people are weak to alcohol?
  3. 独身いうのは、だったの?
    It was a lie that you were single?
  4. リブートいうのは、パソコン再起動するいうことです。
    Reboot means to restart your computer.

We can abstract it even further by replacing the relative clause with a generic way of doing something. In this case, we use 「こう」、「そう」、「ああ」、and 「どう」, which when combined with 「いう」 means “this way, “that way”, “that way (far away in an abstract sense)” and “what way” respectively.


  1. あんたは、いつもこういう来るんだから、困るんだよ。
    It’s because you always come at times like these that I’m troubled.
  2. そういう一緒仕事するのは、だよね。
    (Anybody would) dislike doing work together with that type of person, huh?
  3. ああいう結婚できたら、幸せなれる思います
    I think you can become happy if you could marry that type of person.
  4. 大学行かないって、どういう意味なの?
    What do you mean, “You’re not going to go to college?”

Rephrasing and making conclusions with 「という


  1. あんた – you (slang)
  2. 彼女 【かの・じょ】 – she; girlfriend
  3. 友達 【とも・だち】 – friend
  4. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  5. 何 【なに/なん】 – what
  6. お酒 【お・さけ】 – alcohol
  7. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) – likable
  8. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  9. 生きる 【い・きる】 (ru-verb) – to live
  10. 多分 【た・ぶん】 – maybe
  11. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  12. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) – to think
  13. お金 【お・かね】 – money
  14. もう – already
  15. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) – to go home
  16. 駄目 【だめ】 – no good
  17. 洋介 【よう・すけ】 – Yousuke (first name)
  18. 別れる 【わか・れる】 (ru-verb) – to separate; to break up
  19. こと – event, matter
  20. 今 【いま】 – now
  21. 彼氏【かれ・し】 – boyfriend
  22. いる (ru-verb) – to exist (animate)
  23. そう – (things are) that way

We can attach the question marker 「か」 to 「という」 in order to add a questioning element. This construction is used when you want to rephrase or redefine something such as the following dialogue.

Example Dialogue

A: Miki-chan is your girlfriend, right?

B:Um, you might say girlfriend, or friend, or something…

This construction is used all the time, particularly in casual conversations. It can be used to correct something, come to a different conclusion, or even as an interjection.


  1. お酒好きいうない生きていけない
    I like alcohol or rather, can’t live on without it.
  2. 多分行かない思ういうお金ないから、行けない
    Don’t think I’ll go. Or rather, can’t because there’s no money.
  3. いうもう帰らないだめですけど。
    Rather than that, I have to go home already.

Rather than using 「か」 to rephrase a conclusion, we can also simply use 「こと」 to sum up something without rephrasing anything.

Example Dialogue

A: I heard that Miki-chan broke up with Yousuke.

B: Does that mean Miki-chan doesn’t have a boyfriend now?

A: That’s right. That’s what it means.

Using 「って」 or 「て」 for 「という


  1. 来年 【らい・ねん】 – next year
  2. 留学 【りゅう・がく】 – study abroad
  3. する (exception) – to do
  4. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  5. 智子 【とも・こ】 – Tomoko (first name)
  6. こと – event, matter
  7. 駄目 【だめ】 – no good
  8. 時間 【じ・かん】 – time
  9. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  10. 出来る 【で・き・る】 (ru-verb) – to be able to do
  11. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  12. いい (i-adj) – good
  13. 皆 【みんな】 – everybody
  14. 私 【わたし】 – me; myself; I
  15. 今 【いま】 – now
  16. 彼氏【かれ・し】 – boyfriend
  17. いる (ru-verb) – to exist (animate)
  18. もう – already
  19. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) – to go home

As mentioned in the previous lesson, 「って」 is very often used in causal slang in place of 「と」, because it allows us to leave out the rest of the sentence and assume context (or just plain assumption) will take care of the rest. We already saw that we can use 「って」 to replace 「という」 as well. However, since we just learned how to use 「という」 to do much more than just simply say something, there is a limit to just how much you can leave out. In any case, 「って」 will allow us to leave out not only 「いう」 but also any accompanying particles as you can see in the following example.


  1. 来年留学するいうのは智子こと
    The studying abroad next year thing, is that Tomoko?
  2. 来年留学するって智子こと
    The studying abroad next year thing, is that Tomoko?

「だって」 is also another phrase that leaves out just about everything. By convention, it is used to express disagreement or dissatisfaction usually to whine, complain, or to make an excuse but you can’t tell what it means just from looking at it. It is an abbreviation of something along the lines of 「とはいっても」 meaning, “even if that was the case”.

Example 1

A: Have to do it, you know.

B: But (even so), can’t do it because there is no time.

Example 2

A: Don’t have to go, you know.

B: But (even so), everybody said they’re going. I have to go too.

In some cases, the small 「つ」 is left out and just 「て」 is used instead of 「って」. This is done (as is usually the case for slang) in order to make things easier to say. In general, this is when there is nothing before the 「て」 or when the sound that comes before it doesn’t require the explicit separation the 「っ」 gives us in order to be understood.


  1. ことは、みきちゃんは、彼氏いないこと
    Does that mean Miki-chan doesn’t have a boyfriend now?
  2. いうか、もう帰らないだめですけど。
    Rather than that, I have to go home already.

Since slang tends to be used in whichever way the person feels like, there are no definite rules defining whether you should use 「って」 or 「て」. However, 「て」 is generally not used to express what people have actually said or heard, which is why it wasn’t covered in the last lesson.

  • みきちゃんが、明日こない
    (Can’t use 「て」 for something actually said)
  • みきちゃんが、明日こないって
    Miki-chan says she isn’t coming tomorrow.

Saying 「ゆう」 instead of 「いう


  1. もう – already
  2. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) – to go home
  3. そう – (things are) that way
  4. こと – event, matter

Because the 「という」construction is used so often, there are a lot of different variations and slang based on it. While I do not plan on covering all of them here, you can check out casual patterns and slang in the miscellaneous section for yet even more slang derived from 「という」.

The last thing I’m am going to briefly mention here is the use of 「ゆう」 instead of 「いう」. In conversations, it is quite normal to say 「ゆう」 instead of 「いう」. 「ゆう」 is easier to say because it is simply one letter with a long vowel sound instead of the two different vowel sounds of 「いう」.


  1. ゆうか、もう帰らないだめですけど。
    Rather than that, I have to go home already.
  2. そうゆうことじゃないって!
    I said it’s not like that (lit: it’s not that type of thing)!

Acting on relative clauses

In the section about modifying relative clauses, we learned how to treat a relative clause like an adjective to directly modify a noun. We will extend the functionality of relative clauses by learning how to perform an action on a relative clause. Obviously, we cannot simply attach the 「を」 particle to a relative clause because the 「を」 particle only applies to noun phrases. We need something to encapsulate the relative clause into a unit that we can perform actions on. This is done by making a quoted phrase.

While in English, you can just add quotes and a comma to make a quotation, Japanese requires attaching 「と」 at the end of the quote. This is completely different from the 「と」 particle and the 「と」 conditional. Unlike quotes in English, we can perform many different types of actions on the quote besides the standard “he said”, “she said”, etc. For example, we can perform the action, “to think” or “to hear” to produce phrases such as, “I think [clause]” or “I heard [clause]” This is very important in Japanese because Japanese people seldom affirm definite statements. This is also why we will have to eventually cover many other types of grammar to express uncertainty or probability.

The direct quote


  1. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  2. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen
  3. 叫ぶ 【さけ・ぶ】 (u-verb) – to scream
  4. 呼ぶ 【よ・ぶ】 (u-verb) – to call
  5. 呟く 【つぶや・く】 (u-verb) – to mutter
  6. 寒い 【さむ・い】 (i-adj) – cold
  7. 今日 【きょう】 – today
  8. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 – class
  9. 先生 【せん・せい】 – teacher
  10. 田中 【た・なか】 – Tanaka (last name)

We’ll learn the simplest type of quoted phrase, which is the direct quote. Basically, you are directly quoting something that was said. This is done by simply enclosing the statement in quotes, adding 「と」 and then inserting the appropriate verb. The most common verbs associated with a direct quote would be 「言う」 and 「聞く」 but you may use any verbs related to direct quotation such as: 「叫ぶ」, 「呼ぶ」, 「呟く」, etc. This type of quotation is often used for dialogue in novels and other narrative works.


  1. アリスが、寒い」と言った
    Alice said, “Cold”.
  2. 今日授業ない」と先生から聞いたんだけど。
    It is that I heard from the teacher, “There is no class today.”

The verb does not need to be directly connected to the relative clause. As long as the verb that applies to the relative clause comes before any other verb, you can have any number of adjectives, adverbs or nouns in between.

  • 寒い」とアリスが田中言った
    “Cold,” Alice said to Tanaka.

The interpreted quote


  1. 先生 【せん・せい】 – teacher
  2. 今日 【きょう】 – today
  3. 授業 【じゅ・ぎょう】 – class
  4. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen
  5. これ – this
  6. 日本語 【に・ほん・ご】 – Japanese (language)
  7. 何 【なに/なん】 – what
  8. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  9. 私 【わたし】 – me; myself; I
  10. カレー – curry
  11. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  12. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) – to think
  13. 時間 【じ・かん】 – time
  14. 今 【いま】 – now
  15. どこ – where
  16. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  17. 考える 【かんが・える】 (ru-verb) – to think
  18. 彼 【かれ】 – he; boyfriend
  19. 高校生 【こう・こう・せい】 – high school student
  20. 信じる 【しん・じる】 (ru-verb) – to believe

The second type of quote is the quote along the lines of what someone actually said. It’s not a word-for-word quote. Since this is not a direct quote, no quotations are needed. You can also express thoughts as an interpreted quote as well. By using this and the verb 「思う」 you can say you think that something is so-and-so. You will hear Japanese people use this all the time. You can also use the verb 「考える」 when you are considering something.


  1. 先生から今日授業ない聞いたんだけど。
    I heard from the teacher that there is no class today.
  2. これは、日本語言いますか。
    What do you call this in Japanese? (lit: About this, what do you say in Japanese?)
  3. は、アリス言います
    I am called Alice. (lit: As for me, you say Alice.)

In an interpreted quote, the meaning of 「言う」 may change as you see in examples 2 and 3. Actually, as you can see from the literal translation, the meaning remains the same in Japanese but changes only when translated to normal English. (We’ll learn more about various ways to use 「いう」 in the next lesson.)

Here are some examples of thoughts being used as quoted relative clauses. In example 2 below, the question marker is used with the volitional to insert an embedded question.

  1. カレー食べよう思ったけど、食べる時間なかった
    I thought about setting out to eat curry but I didn’t have time to eat.
  2. どこ行こう考えている
    Now, I’m considering where to set out to go.

Unlike the direct quotation, which you can just copy as is, if the quoted relative clause is a state-of-being for a noun or na-adjective, you have to explicitly include the declarative 「だ」 to show this.

  1. は、これだと言いましたか。
    What did he say this is?
  2. 高校生だと聞いたけど、信じられない
    I heard that he is a high school student but I can’t believe it.

Notice how 「だ」 was added to explicitly declare the state-of-being that is highlighted in the English translation. You can really see how important the 「だ」 is here by comparing the following two sentences.

  • これだと言いましたか。
    What did (he) say this is?
  • 言いましたか。
    What did (he) say?

Using 「って」 as a casual version of 「と」


  1. 智子 【とも・こ】 – Tomoko (first name)
  2. 来年 【らい・ねん】 – next year
  3. 海外 【かい・がい】 – overseas
  4. もう – already
  5. お金 【お・かね】 – money
  6. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  7. 本当 【ほん・とう】 – real
  8. 明日 【あした】 – tomorrow
  9. 雨 【あめ】 – rain
  10. 降る 【ふ・る】(u-verb) – to precipitate
  11. すごい (i-adj) – to a great extent
  12. いい (i-adj) – good
  13. 人 【ひと】 – person

You may be surprised to hear that there is a shorter and casual version of the quoted relative clause since it’s already only one hiragana character, 「と」. However, the important point here is that by using this casual shortcut, you can drop the rest of the sentence and hope your audience can understand everything from context.


  1. 智子来年海外行くんだって
    Tomoko said that she’s going overseas next year.
  2. もうないって
    I already told you I have no money.
  3. え?って
    Huh? What did you say?
  4. 時間ないって聞いたんだけど、本当
    I heard you don’t have time now, is that true?
  5. 時間ないって本当
    You don’t have time now (I heard), is that true?

「って」 can also be used to talk about practically anything, not just to quote something that was said. You can hear 「って」 being used just about everywhere in casual speech. Most of the time it is used in place of the 「は」 particle to simply bring up a topic.

  1. 明日って降るんって
    About tomorrow, I hear that it’s going to rain.
  2. アリスってすごくいいでしょ?
    About Alice, she’s a very good person, right?

Desire and Suggestions

How to get your way in Japan

We will now learn how to say what you want either by just coming out and saying it or by making discreet suggestions. The major topics we will cover will be the 「たい」 conjugation and the volitional form. We will also learn specialized uses of the 「たら」 and 「ば」 conditionals to offer advice.

Verbs you want to do with 「たい」


  1. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  2. 何 【なに】 – what
  3. する (exception) – to do
  4. 温泉 【おん・せん】 – hotspring
  5. ケーキ – cake
  6. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  7. ずっと – long; far
  8. 一緒 【いっ・しょ】 – together
  9. いる (ru-verb) – to exist (animate)
  10. 犬 【いぬ】 – dog
  11. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】 (u-verb) – to play

You can express verbs that you want to perform with the 「たい」 form. All you need to do is add 「たい」 to the stem of the verb. However, unlike most conjugations we learned where the verb turns into a ru-verb, this form actually transforms the verb into an i-adjective (notice how 「たい」 conveniently ends in 「い」). This makes sense because the conjugated form is a description of something that you want to do. Once you have the 「たい」 form, you can then conjugate it the same as you would any other i-adjective. However, the 「たい」 form is different from regular i-adjectives because it is derived from a verb. Particles we normally associate with verbs such as 「を」、「に」、「へ」、or 「で」 can all be used with the 「たい」 form in addition to the particles commonly used with regular adjectives such as 「は」 and 「が」.

「たい」 conjugations
Positive Negative
Non-Past 行きたい 行きたくない
Past 行きたかった 行きたくなかった


  1. したいですか。
    What do you want to do?
  2. 温泉行きたい
    I want to go to hot spring.
  3. ケーキ食べたくないの?
    You don’t want to eat cake?
  4. 食べたくなかったけど食べたくなった
    I didn’t want to eat it but I became wanting to eat.

Example 4 was very awkward to translate but is quite simple in Japanese if you refer to the section about using 「なる」 with i-adjectives”. The past tense of the verb 「なる」 was used to create “became want to eat”. Here’s a tongue twister using the negative 「~たくない」 and past-tense of 「なる」: 「食べたくなくなった」 meaning “became not wanting to eat”.

This may seem obvious but 「ある」 cannot have a 「たい」 form because inanimate objects cannot want anything. However, 「いる」 can be used with the 「たい」 form in examples like the one below.

  • ずっと一緒いたい
    I want to be together forever. (lit: Want to exist together for long time.)

Also, you can only use the 「たい」 form for the first-person because you cannot read other people’s mind to see what they want to do. For referring to anyone beside yourself, it is normal to use expressions such as, “I think he wants to…” or “She said that she wants to…” We will learn how to say such expressions in a later lesson. Of course, if you’re asking a question, you can just use the 「たい」 form because you’re not presuming to know anything.

  • 遊びたいですか。
    Do you want to play with dog?

Indicating things you want or want done using 「欲しい


  1. 欲しい 【ほ・しい】 (i-adj) – wanted; desirable
  2. 好き 【す・き】 (na-adj) – likable; desirable
  3. 大きい 【おお・きい】(i-adj) – big
  4. 縫いぐるみ 【ぬ・いぐるみ】 – stuffed doll
  5. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 – everything
  6. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  7. 部屋 【へ・や】 – room
  8. きれい (na-adj) – pretty; clean

In English, we employ a verb to say that we want something. In Japanese, “to want” is actually an i-adjective and not a verb. We saw something similar with 「好き」 which is an adjective while “to like” in English is a verb. While I didn’t get too much into the workings of 「好き」, I have dedicated a whole section to 「欲しい」 because it means, “to want something done” when combined with the te-form of a verb. We will learn a more polite and appropriate way to make requests in the “Making Requests” lesson instead of saying, “I want this done.”

Though not a set rule, whenever words come attached to the te-form of a verb to serve a special grammatical function, it is customary to write it in hiragana. This is because kanji is already used for the verb and the attached word becomes part of that verb.


  1. 大きい縫いぐるみ欲しい
    I want a big stuffed doll!
  2. 全部食べてほしいんだけど・・・。
    I want it all eaten but…
  3. 部屋きれいしてほしいのよ。
    It is that I want the room cleaned up, you know.

Like I mentioned, there are more appropriate ways to ask for things which we won’t go into until later. This grammar is not used too often but is included for completeness.

Making a motion to do something using the volitional form (casual)


  1. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  2. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) – to enter
  3. 着る 【き・る】 (ru-verb) – to wear
  4. 信じる 【しん・じる】 (ru-verb) – to believe
  5. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) – to sleep
  6. 起きる 【お・きる】 (ru-verb) – to wake; to occur
  7. 出る 【で・る】 (ru-verb) – to come out
  8. 掛ける 【か・ける】 (ru-verb) – to hang
  9. 捨てる 【す・てる】 (ru-verb) – to throw away
  10. 調べる 【しら・べる】 (ru-verb) – to investigate
  11. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) – to speak
  12. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) – to write
  13. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) – to wait
  14. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  15. 取る 【と・る】 (u-verb) – to take
  16. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen
  17. 泳ぐ 【およ・ぐ】 (u-verb) – to swim
  18. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】 (u-verb) – to play
  19. 直る 【なお・る】 (u-verb) – to be fixed
  20. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 (u-verb) – to die
  21. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  22. する (exception) – to do
  23. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  24. 今日 【きょう】 – today
  25. 何 【なに】 – what
  26. テーマパーク – theme park
  27. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  28. 明日 【あした】 – tomorrow
  29. カレー – curry

The term volitional here means a will to do something. In other words, the volitional form indicates that someone is setting out to do something. In the most common example, this simply translates into the English “let’s” or “shall we?” but we’ll also see how this form can be used to express an effort to do something in a lesson further along.

To conjugate verbs into the volitional form for casual speech, there are two different rules for ru-verbs and u-verbs. For ru-verbs, you simply remove the 「る」 and add 「よう」. For u-verbs, you replace the / u / vowel sound with the / o / vowel sound and add 「う」.

Conjugations rules for the casual volitional form

  • For ru-verbs: Remove the 「る」 and add 「よう」
    Example: 食べ食べ + よう食べよう
  • For u-verbs: Replace the / u / vowel sound with the / o / vowel sound and add 「う」
    Example: + 入ろう

Here is a list of verbs you should be used to seeing by now.

Sample ru-verbs
Plain Volitional
食べ 食べよう
信じ 信じよう
起き 起きよう
掛け 掛けよう
捨て 捨てよう
調べ 調べよう
Sample u-verbs
Plain Volitional
Exception Verbs
Plain Volitional
する しよう
くる こよう


I doubt you will ever use 「死のう」 (let’s die) but I left it in for completeness. Here are some more realistic examples.

  1. 今日しようか?
    What shall (we) do today?
  2. テーマパーク行こう
    Let’s go to theme park!
  3. 明日食べようか?
    What shall (we) eat tomorrow?
  4. カレー食べよう
    Let’s eat curry!

Remember, since you’re setting out to do something, it doesn’t make sense to have this verb in the past tense. Therefore, there is only one tense and if you were to replace 「明日」 in the third example with, let’s say, 「昨日」 then the sentence would make no sense.

Making a motion to do something using the volitional form (polite)


  1. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  2. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) – to enter
  3. する (exception) – to do
  4. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  5. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) – to sleep
  6. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  7. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】 (u-verb) – to play
  8. 今日 【きょう】 – today
  9. 何 【なに】 – what
  10. テーマパーク – theme park
  11. 明日 【あした】 – tomorrow
  12. カレー – curry

The conjugation for the polite form is even simpler. All you have to do is add 「~ましょう」 to the stem of the verb. Similar to the masu-form, verbs in this form must always come at the end of the sentence. In fact, all polite endings must always come at the end and nowhere else as we’ve already seen.

Conjugations rules for the polite volitional form

  • For all verbs: Add 「~ましょう」 to the stem of the verb
    1. 食べ食べ + ましょう食べましょう
    2. + ましょう入りましょう

Sample verbs
Plain Volitional
する ましょう
くる ましょう
寝る ましょう
行く 行きましょう
遊ぶ 遊びましょう


Again, there’s nothing new here, just the polite version of the volitional form.

  1. 今日しましょうか?
    What shall (we) do today?
  2. テーマパーク行きましょう
    Let’s go to theme park!
  3. 明日食べましょうか?
    What shall (we) eat tomorrow?
  4. カレー食べましょう
    Let’s eat curry!

Making Suggestions using the 「ば」 or 「たら」 conditional


  1. 銀行 【ぎん・こう】 – bank
  2. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  3. たまに – once in a while
  4. 両親【りょう・しん】 – parents
  5. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) – to speak

You can make suggestions by using the 「ば」 or 「たら」 conditional and adding 「どう」. This literally means, “If you do [X], how is it?” In English, this would become, “How about doing [X]?” Grammatically, there’s nothing new here but it is a commonly used set phrase.


  1. 銀行行ったらどうですか。
    How about going to bank?
  2. たまに両親話せばどう
    How about talking with your parents once in a while?

Expressing “must” or “have to”

When there’s something that must or must not be done

In life, there are things that we must or must not do whether it’s taking out the trash or doing our homework. We will cover how to say this in Japanese because it is a useful expression and it also ties in well with the previous section. We will also learn how to the say the expression, “You don’t have to…” to finish off this section.

Using 「だめ」, 「いけない」, and 「ならない」 for things that must not be done


  1. 駄目 【だめ】 – no good
  2. ここ – here
  3. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) – to enter
  4. それ – that
  5. 食べる 【たべ・る】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  6. 夜 【よる】 – evening
  7. 遅い 【おそ・い】 (i-adj) – late
  8. ~まで (particle) – until ~
  9. 電話 【でん・わ】 – phone
  10. する (exception) – to do
  11. 早い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) – fast; early
  12. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) – to sleep

If you’re not familiar with the word 「だめ」(駄目), though it can be used in many different ways it essentially means “no good”. The other two key words in this section are 「いけない」 and 「ならない」 and they have essentially the same basic meaning as 「だめ」. However, while 「いけない」 can be used by itself, 「ならない」 must only be used in the grammar presented here. In addition, while 「いけない」 and 「ならない」 conjugate like i-adjectives they are not actual adjectives. Let’s learn how to use these words to express things that must not be done.

How to say: Must not [verb]  

  • Take the te-form of the verb, add the 「は」 (wa) particle and finally attach either 「だめ」、「いけない」、or 「ならない」.
    入る入って + は + だめいけない/ならない = 入ってだめ入っていけない入ってはならない
  1. ここ入っていけません
    You must not enter here.
  2. それ食べてだめ
    You can’t (must not) eat that!
  3. 遅くまで電話してならない。
    You must not use the phone until late at night.
  4. 早く寝てなりませんでした。
    Wasn’t allowed to sleep early.

The difference between 「だめ」、「いけない」、and 「ならない」 is that, first of all, 「だめ」 is casual. While 「いけない」 and 「ならない」 are basically identical, 「ならない」 is generally more for things that apply to more than one person like rules and policies.

Expressing things that must be done


  1. 毎日 【まい・にち】 – everyday
  2. 学校 【がっ・こう】 – school
  3. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  4. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 – homework
  5. する (exception) – to do

You may have predicted that the opposite of “You must not do” would use 「いける」 or 「なる」 because they look like the positive version of 「いけない」 and 「ならない」. However, 「いけない」 and 「ならない」 must always be negative, so this is not correct. In actuality, we still use the same 「だめいけない/ならない」 and use the opposite of the verb that goes in front of it instead. This double negative can be kind of confusing at first but you will get used to it with practice. There are three ways to conjugate the verb before adding 「だめいけない/ならない」 and two of them involve conditionals so aren’t you glad that you just learned conditionals in the previous section?

How to say: Must [verb]  

  1. Negative te-form + 「は」 (wa) particle + だめいけない/ならない
  2. Negative verb + 「と」 conditional + だめいけない/ならない
  3. Negative verb + 「ば」 conditional + だめいけない/ならない

The first method is the same as the “must not do” grammar form except that we simply negated the verb.

  1. 毎日学校行かなくてなりません。
    Must go to school everyday.
  2. 宿題しなくていけなかった
    Had to do homework.

The second method uses the natural conditional that we learned in the last lesson. Literally, it means if you don’t do something, then it automatically leads to the fact that it is no good. (In other words, you must do it.) However, people tend to use it for situations beyond the natural consequence characterization that we learned from the last section because it’s shorter and easier to use than the other two types of grammar.

  1. 毎日学校行かないだめです。
    Must go to school everyday.
  2. 宿題しないいけない
    Have to do homework.

The third method is similar to the second except that it uses a different type of conditional as explained in the last lesson. With the 「ば」 conditional, it can be used for a wider range of situations. Note that since the verb is always negative, for the 「ば」 conditional, we will always be removing the last 「い」 and adding 「ければ」.

  1. 毎日学校行かなければいけません
    Must go to school everyday.
  2. 宿題しなければだめだった。
    Had to do homework.

It may seem like I just breezed through a whole lot of material because there are three grammar forms and 「だめいけない/ならない」 adding up to nine possible combinations (3×3). However, some combinations are more common than others but I did not explicitly point out which were more common because any combination is technically correct and going over style would merely confuse at this point. Also, keep in mind that there is nothing essentially new in terms of conjugation rules. We already covered conditionals in the last lesson and adding the wa particle to the te-form in the beginning of this section.

※ Reality Check

Although we spent the last section explaining 「~なければ」 and 「~なくては」, the reality is that because they are so long, they are practically never used in real conversations. While they are often used in a written context, in actual speech, people usually use the 「と」 conditional or the various shortcuts described below. In casual speech, the 「と」 conditional is the most prevalent type of conditional. Though I explained in depth the meaning associated with the 「と」 conditional, you have to take it with a grain of salt here because people are inherently lazy.

Various short-cuts for the lazy


  1. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 – study
  2. する (exception) – to do
  3. ご飯 【ご・はん】 – rice; meal
  4. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  5. 学校 【がっ・こう】 – school
  6. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  7. ここ – here
  8. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) – to enter
  9. 駄目 【だめ】 – no good
  10. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 (u-verb) – to die

You may have been grumbling and complaining about how long most of the expressions are just to say you must do something. You can end up with up to eight additional syllables just to say “I have to…”!

Well, others have thought the same before and people usually use short abbreviated versions of 「なくては」 and 「なければ」 in casual speech. Teachers are often reluctant to teach these overly familiar expressions because they are so much easier to use which is bad for times when they might not be appropriate. But, on the other hand, if you don’t learn casual expressions, it makes it difficult to understand your friends (or would-be friends if you only knew how to speak less stiffly!). So here they are but take care to properly practice the longer forms so that you will be able to use them for the appropriate occasions.

Casual abbreviations for things that must be done  

  1. Simply replace 「なくて」 with 「なくちゃ」
  2. Simply replace 「なければ」 with 「なきゃ」

Right now, you may be saying, “What the?” because the “abbreviations” are about the same length as what we’ve already covered. The secret here is that, unlike the expressions we learned so far, you can just leave the 「だめいけない/ならない」 part out altogether!

  1. 勉強なくちゃ
    Gotta study.
  2. ご飯食べなきゃ
    Gotta eat.

The 「と」 conditional is also used by itself to imply 「だめいけない/ならない」.

  • 学校行かない
    Gotta go to school.

There is another 「ちゃ」 abbreviation for things that you must not do. However, in this case, you cannot leave out 「だめいけない/ならない」. Since this is a casual abbreviation, 「だめ」 is used in most cases.

One very important difference for this casual form is that verbs that end in 「む」、「ぶ」、「ぬ」 use 「じゃ」 instead of 「ちゃ」. Essentially, all the verbs that end in 「んだ」 for past tense fall in this category.

Casual abbreviations for things that must not be done  

  1. Replace 「ては」 with 「ちゃ」
  2. Replace 「では」 with 「じゃ」
  1. ここ入っちゃだめだよ。
    You can’t enter here.
  2. 死んじゃだめだよ! – You can’t die!

On a final note, in general, 「ちゃ」 sounds a bit cutesy or girly. You’ve already seen an example of this with the 「ちゃん」 suffix. Similarly, 「なくちゃ」 also sounds a bit cutesy or childish.

Saying something is ok to do or not do


  1. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 – everything
  2. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  3. いい (i-adj) – good
  4. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  5. 大丈夫 【だい・じょう・ぶ】 (na-adj) – ok
  6. 構う 【かま・う】 (u-verb) – to mind; to be concerned about
  7. もう – already
  8. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) – to go home
  9. これ – this
  10. ちょっと – just a little
  11. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) – to see

Now let’s learn how to say either that it’s ok to do or not do something. I decided to shove this section in here because in Japanese, this is essential how to say that you don’t have to something (by saying it’s ok to not do it). The grammar itself is also relatively easy to pick up and makes for a short section.

By simply using the te-form and the 「も」 particle, you are essentially saying, “even if you do X…” Common words that come after this include 「いい」, 「大丈夫」, or 「構わない」. Some examples will come in handy.

  1. 全部食べてもいいよ。
    You can go ahead and eat it all. (lit: Even if you eat it all, it’s good, you know.)
  2. 全部食べなくてもいいよ。
    You don’t have to eat it all. (lit: Even if you don’t eat it all, it’s good, you know.)
  3. 全部飲んでも大丈夫だよ。
    It’s ok if you drink it all. (lit: Even if you drink it all, it’s OK, you know.)
  4. 全部飲んでも構わないよ。
    I don’t mind if you drink it all. (lit: Even if you drink it all, I don’t mind, you know.)

In casual speech, 「~てもいい」 sometimes get shortened to just 「~ていい」 (or 「~でいい」 instead of 「~でもいい」 ).

  1. もう帰っいい
    Can I go home already?
  2. これちょっといい
    Can I take a quick look at this?