Ms. Honda and Mr. Smith are in a store.
Honda: Are, kaimasu ka. Will you buy that?
Smith: Ee, kaimasu kedo… Yes, I will, but…
Honda: Kore wa?How about this?
Smith: Aa, sore mo chotto irimasu ne.Oh, we need a few of those, too, don’t we?
are あれ that (GN 1-2-1)
kaimasu かいます 買います buy
kedo けど but (GN 1-2-2)
kore これ this (GN 1-2-1)
wa は Particle of contrast (GN 1-2-3)
sore それ that near you (GN 1-2-1)
mo も Particle of Addition (GN 1-2-4)
chotto ちょっと little bit, a few
irimasu いります need
＋ga が but (more formal than kedo)
＋takusan たくさん a lot
＋mimasu みます 見ます look, watch
＋tsukaimasu つかいます 使います use
＋kikimasu ききます 聞きます listen, ask
＋yomimasu よみます 読みます read
＋kakimasu かきます 書きます write, draw
＋hanasimasu はなします 話します talk, speak
As seen in Dialogue 1 above, subject, object and other elements are usually not explicitly mentioned in Japanese when they are clear from the context. But when not clear, you can place them before the verb.
Are, tabemasu ka. Do you eat that?
Kore, zenzen wakarimasen. I don’t understand this at all.
Nouns can relate to sentence verbs in a variety of ways.
Subject: Honda-san nomimasu ka. Does Ms. Honda drink?
Object: Kore tsukaimasu ne. We’re going to use this, right?’
More categories will be introduced later.
More than one of these can appear in a sentence. The common word order is:
Watashi kore ypoku wakarimasu. I understand this well.
However, while the verb needs to appear at the end, noun order is relatively flexible. When sentence elements are not in the common order above, the element moved forward has more focus.
Kore, watashi yoku wakarimasu. This, I understand well.
When referring to things in English, a two-way distinction between this (close to the speaker) and that (away from the speaker) is made. In Japanese, a three-way distinction is made:
kore this thing (close to me) or this thing I just mentioned
sore that thing (close to you) or that thing which was just mentioned
are that thing (away from both of us) or that thing we both know about
dore which one
This is the first set of expressions based on the ko-so-a-do distinction. There are more sets that are based on the same distinction. We refer to that group as the Ko-so-a-do series, which includes expressions such as ‘X kind’, ‘X way’, X place’, etc. These will be introduced later.
Kedo ‘but’ connects two sentences to make one. The two sentences typically contain contrasting ideas but sometimes the first sentence simply serves as an introduction and prepares the listener for the second sentence.
Kore wa kaimasu kedo, are wa kaimasen. I’ll buy this, but I won’t buy that.
Sumimasen kedo, wakarimasen. I’m sorry but I don’t understand.
Honda desu kedo, shiturei-shimasu. I’m Honda. Excuse me. (entering a room)
The second sentence is often left unexpressed because it is clear from the context or because the speaker hesitates to mention it for some reason. In the dialogue above, Mr. Smith probably wanted to sound less abrupt and is inviting comments from the other speakers.
Kaimasu kedo… I’ll buy it but … (Is it okay with you? / Why did you ask?)
Ga is more formal than kedo and is more common in writing and formal speeches. There are also several variations of kedo such as keredo, kedomo, and keredomo, which are more formal than kedo.
Particle wa follows nouns and indicates a contrast between that noun under discussion and other possibilities. The noun can be subject, object, or some other category.
Watashi wa mimasu kedo… I watch it, but…(someone else may not)
Kore wa wakarimasu.I understand this (but not the other one)
Ashita wa kaimasu.Tomorrow, I will buy it (but not today)
When particle wa attaches to a noun with a question intonation, it means ‘how about X?’ as in the dialogue above. In answering this type of question, make sure you do not reply “yes” or “no”, since it’s not a yes-no question.
The particle mo performs the opposite function of that performed by the particle wa. The particle mo means ‘too’ or ‘also’ with an affirmative verb and ‘(n)either’ with a negative verb. It can attach to a subject, object or time, among others.
Honda-san mo mimasu. Ms. Honda watches it, too (as well as someone else)
Kore mo wakarimasen.I don’t understand this, either (in addition to something else)
Ashita mo kaimasu.Tomorrow, I will buy it, too (as well as some other time)
Cue: Kore, mimasu ka. Do you watch this?
Response: Hai, sore wa mimasu kedo, are wa mimasen.
Yes, I watch it, but I don’t watch that one.
Cue: Kore, shimasu ka.Do you do it?
Response: Hai, sore wa shimasu kedo, are wa shimasen.
Yes, I do it, but I don’t do that one.
Cue: Mimasu yo. I watch them.
Response: Kore mo mimasu ka. Do you watch this, too?
Cue: Shimasu yo. I do it.
Response: Kore mo shimasu ka. Do you do this, too?
Say it in Japanese.
You are talking about smartphone apps. You’ve been asked if you use them.
- Yes, I use them sometimes.
- Yes, I use them a lot, but I don’t buy them.
- No, I do not use these (while I do use others).
- Yes, I will use this one, but not that one.
- Yes, I often use that one you mentioned, but I don’t use this one at all.
- No, I don’t use them. I don’t need them at all.
- I hear a lot about them but I don’t understand.
Act in Japanese.
- A coworker shows you a smartphone music application. Ask if she listens a lot.
- You’ve been asked if you read Japanese newspapers online. Tell Ms. Honda that you read them a lot.
- You’ve been asked if you know the meaning of a particular Japanese word. Tell Ms. Honda that you hear it every now and then, but you don’t understand.
- You are looking at a menu at a restaurant. Ask Ms. Honda if she would take a look at this one (a wine list) as well.
- You’ve been asked if you buy Japanese comics. Tell Ms. Honda that you read them a lot but you don’t buy them.