Learn Basic Japanese

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					Learn Japanese

                                         About Japanese: A Short Description

The Japanese language is a unique and fascinating language. It's written form consists of various picture image
characters called kanji (ex. the character to the left stands for learning). The kanji were imported from Chinese
written language to create the base of the Japanese written language. Japanese also contains picture characters
called kana, which are two syllabaries derived from kanji. Hiragana is akin to cursive kana, and katakana (Square-
looking characters) is akin to italics. Kanji is used more to convey meaning, whereas hiragana are used to indicate
functions of words, and katakana is used to emphasize words. Japanese is a language with strong foundation in
and connections to the social organization, way of thinking, customs, and habits of Japanese culture. This is
evidenced in their preference for polite, and non rude or boasting speech.

A popular form of 'Americanized' Japanese called Romanized Japanese has been used in the U.S. in order to make
it easier and faster to learn the spoken language. Romanized Japanese enables one to learn the spoken language
without knowing the written format ( i.e. memorizing all of the written characters). This is the method that is
utilized by this page, since a lot of people don't have the Asian fonts installed and active.

OK, now that you have some background, it's on to lesson 2.....

                                                     Japanese Syllables

1. Short and Long syllables

Short syllables are the Japanese basic unit of pronunciation. But, letters with a bar over them are long syllables.
They need to be pronounced for twice as long. For example: Tokyo should be pronounced like To-o-kyo-o.

2. Table of Basic Japanese Syllable Structure

These are the basic sounds that are used to form Japanese words. The left hand column consists of vowels. Each
corresponding row consists of sounds utilizing that vowel. These sounds are used to form the words that make up
the Japanese language. The consonants below are pronounced pretty much the same as in English, but refer to
the next lesson for vowel pronunciation technique. Notice how there is no sound in Japanese equivalent to the
English sounds 'l', 'v', or 'r'. Also note that the only consonant that can be written alone is n.

                  a   ka      ga   sa    za    ta    da   na   ha   pa    ba   ma   ya   ra    wa n

                  i   ki      gi   shi    ji   chi        ni   hi   pi    bi   mi        ri

                  u   ku      gu   su    zu    tsu        nu   fu   pu    bu   mu   yu   ru

                  e   ke      ge   se    ze    te    de   ne   he   pe    be   me        re

                  o   ko      go   so    zo    to    do   no   ho   po    bo   mo   yo   ro

                      kya gya sha         ja   cha        nya hya pya bya mya            rya

                      kyu gyu shu ju chu                  nyu hyu pyu byu myu            ryu

                      kyo gyo sho         jo cho          nyo hyo pyo byo myo            ryo
A Japanese Syllable consists of a vowel alone, a combination consonant + vowel, or a consonant + glide + vowel.
There are also two types of syllabic consonants, one which is used to double consonants other than n and m in a
non-initial syllable, and another (-n), which is used to double the consonants n and m, or can be at the end of
another syllable.

                             Japanese Vowels and How They Are Pronounced

                                   Vowel                Pronounced as in the Word:

                                      a                             father

                                      i                            macaroni

                                      u                              zulu

                                      e                              edge
                                      o                              oasis

                    Note: The vowels i and u are often devoiced or whispered when spoken.

                                               Japanese Currency

                                      Japanese                   English

                                                            One thousand yen
                                          sen yen
                                                             (roughly $9.35)

                                                            Two thousand yen
                                      nisen yen
                                                             (roughly $18.70)

                                     sanzen yen            Three thousand yen

                                     yoncen yen             four thousand yen

                                      gosen yen             five thousand yen

                                     Rokusen yen
                                                             six thousand yen
                                 (pronounced loksen)

                                     nanasen yen           seven thousand yen

                                     hachisen yen          eight thousand yen

                                      kusen yen             nine thousand yen

                                      juusen yen            ten thousand yen

                                    Ikura des ka?            How much is it?
                               Japanese Colors

                        Japanese                    English

             aka                         red

             orenji                      orange

             ki (iro)                    yellow

             midori                      green

             aoi                         blue

             murasaki                    purple

             momoiro                     pink

                           Useful Japanese Phrases

       Japanese Phrase                          English Translation

1. o hayou gozaimasu                1. good morning

2. kon-nichiwa                      2. good afternoon

3. konban wa                        3. good evening

4. oyasuminasai                     4. good night

5. wakarimasen                      5. I do not understand

6. Anata no namae wa nan to
                                    6. What is your name
iimasu ka?

7. o-ai dekite ureshii desu         7. nice to meet you

8. o-genki desu ka                  8. how are you?

9. ja mata                          9. so long (lit. then again)

10. Toire wa doko desu ka?          10. Where is the bathroom?

11. So desu ka                      11. Is that so?
12. Do itashimashite             12. You are welcome

13. O-negai shimasu              13. I beg of you (please give me)

14. Sumimasen                    14. I'm sorry; also used for excuse me

15. Kekko desu                   15. That's fine or I'm fine

16. Meri Kurisumasu              16. Merry Christmas

17. Toshi wa o-ikutsu desu ka    17. How old are you?

18. Iku na                       18. Don't go

19. Naku na                      19. Don't cry

20. Hanasu na                    20. Don't speak

21. O-namae wa?                  21. What is your name?

22. Mata aimasho                 22. Let's meet again

23. Do ka shimashita ka          23. Is something wrong?

24. O-ki ni irimashita ka        24. Do you like it?

25. ano                          25. pardon me..., well..., 'er', 'uh'

26. O-kinodoku desu              26. I'm sorry to hear that

27. Do shimashita ka             27. What's the matter?

28. O-matase shimashita          28. I'm sorry to keep you waiting

29. O-daiji ni                   29. Take care

30. Mata, dozo                   30. Please come again

31. Suteki desu, ne              31. It's just great or that's fine

32. ja matashta                  32. see you tomorrow

33. Nihongo ga hanashimasu ka?   33. Do you speak Japanese?

34. Watashi no tokolo de         34. at my place
                    35. Nanio shimasu ka?                35. What are you doing?

                    36. watashimo                        36. me too

                    37. ii otenki desu ne?               37. Nice weather isn’t it?

                    38. yana otenki desu ne?             38. Bad weather isn’t it?

                                                    Periods of Time

 Japanese Word or Phrase                      Meaning in English

kino no asa                         yesterday morning

kesa                                this morning

ashita no asa                       tomorrow morning

maiasa                              every morning

kino no ban                         last evening

komban                              this evening

ashita no ban                       tomorrow evening

maiban                              every evening

kino no yoru                        last night

konya                               tonight

ashita no yoru myoban               tomorrow night

maiyo                               every night

kino                                yesterday

kyo, konnichi                       today

ashita, myonichi                    tomorrow

mainichi, ichinichi goto ni         every day

senshu                              last week
konshu                     this week

raishu                     next week

maishu, isshukan goto ni   every week

sengetsu                   last month

kongetsu                   this month

raigetsu                   next month

maitsuki                   every month

kyonen                     last year

kotoshi                    this year

rainen                     next year

maitoshi                   every year

maijikan                   every hour

ototoi                     day before yesterday

ototoshi                   year before last

asatte                     day after tomorrow

goto ni                    at intervals of

ima                        now

kore kara                  from now on

sore kara                  after that
           Japanese Word         Meaning in English

ichiji                       one o'clock

niji                         two o'clock

sanji                        three o'clock

yoji                         four o'clock

goji                         five o'clock

rokuji (pronounced lokugi)   six o'clock

shichiji                     seven o'clock

hachiji                      eight o'clock

kuji                         nine o'clock

juji                         ten o'clock

juichiji                     eleven o'clock

juniji                       twelve o'clock

gozen                        a.m.

gogo                         p.m.

byo                          second

fun                          minute

ji                           hour

                             Add after the time to say ‘at’
ni                           that time ex. Ichiji ni means
                             at 1:00

Nanji desu ka?               What time is it?

Nanji ni?                    At what time?

Calendar Months
 Japanese Word or Phrase               Meaning in English

ichi-gatsu                   January

ni-gatsu                     February

san-gatsu                    March

shi-gatsu                    April

go-gatsu                     May

roku-gatsu                   June

shichi-gatsu                 July

hachi-gatsu                  August

kugatsu                      September

jugatsu                      October

juichi-gatsu                 November

juni-gatsu                   December

                                           Days of the Week

                 Japanese Word or Phrase                   Meaning in English

                getsuyo-bi                       Monday

                kayo-bi                          Tuesday

                suiyo-bi                         Wednesday

                mokuyo-bi                        Thursday

                kinyo-bi                         Friday

                doyo-bi                          Saturday

                nichiyo-bi                       Sunday

 Japanese Word or Phrase                     Meaning in English

haru                                spring

natsu                               summer

aki                                 autumn

fuyu                                winter

                                               How to Form Sentences

The Japanese form their sentences differently than we do in English. The usual word order in Japanese is as

Subject -- Object -- Verb or

Subject --Adjective or

Topic (Notional Subject) -- Immediate subject -- Verb

Many times, sentences are begun with an introductory 'topic' word that sets the stage for the later content of the

                                                  Singular VS Plural

Japanese nouns have no plural forms. i.e. the word neko can be used to mean cat or cats. This means one must
infer whether it is singular or plural from the context of the sentence.

                                             Suffixes: Usage and Meaning

                     Japanese Name Suffix                   Suffix Usage and Meaning

                                                    Term of respect that is used when referring to
                                  -san              a person older than yourself, or with whom
                                                    you are not very familiar

                                                    Term used to indicate affection or endearment
                                 -chan              among friends

                                                    Term used to indicate formal respect. Often
                                 -sama              used when addressing ones teachers.

                                                    Term used towards male friends or
                                  -kun              acquaintances who are younger or the same
                                                    age as you

                                                    Used as a permanent suffix on a female
                               For more Japanese terms, see the encyclopedia on this site.

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