Lesson 3.1

Dialogue 1 Headphones

Michael is checking apartment listings.

Honda: Ii apaato, arimasu ka. Are there any good apartments?


Michael: Sukunai desu nee. Very few.




Honda: Kono apaato wa dou desu ka? How about this apartment?


Michael: Sou desu nee. Chotto takaku naidesu ka. Let’s see. Isn’t it a little expensive?



Vocabulary Headphones

apaato あぱあとアパート apartment

arimasu あります there is/are, exists

sukunai すくない少ない be few, there are few

dou どう how

sou desu nee そうですねえ Let me see, I’m thinking

takai たかい高い expensive

takakunai たかくない高くない is not expensive

manshon まんしょんマンション condominium

ie いえ家 house, home

heya へや部屋 room

ikaga いかが how (polite)

ooi おおい多い be a lot, there are a lot

yasui やすい安い cheap

ookii おおきい大きい large, big

chiisai ちいさい小さい small

atarashii あたらしい新しい new

furui ふるい古い old

Grammar Notes

3-1-1 Adjective Sentences

All adjectives in Japanese end in –i (Non Past), -katta (Past), and -ku. takai expensive

takaku nai not expensive

To make the Past form, change –i to –katta. For the negative form, change nai to nakatta.

takakatta was expensive

takaku nakatta was not expensive

To make a formal style adjective sentence, add desu.

Takai desu. It’s expensive. Takaku nai des. It’s not expensive. Takakatta desu. It was expensive. Takaku nakatta desu. It was not expensive.

In Lessons 1 and 2 verb sentences and noun sentences were introduced. With the adjective sentences introduced in this lesson you have now seen all three Japanese sentence types. The chart below shows the forms that have been introduced so far.

Table 4. Examples of affirmative and negative non-past types of verb, noun, and adjective sentences in Japanese.

Non-past – Affirmative

Non-Past – Negative

Verb Sentence





Nihon desu.

Nihon ja nai desu.

Adjective Sentence

Takai desu.

Takaku nai desu.

Table 5. Affirmative and negative past types of verb, noun, and adjective sentences in Japanese.

Past – Affirmative

Past – Negative

Past – Affirmative

Verb Sentence


Wakarimasen deshita.



Nihon deshita.

Nihon ja nakatta desu.

Adjective Sentence

Takakatta desu.

Takaku nakatta desu.


The adjective ii has special forms. This is the only exception in the entire class of adjectives.

Ii desu. – It’s good.

Yoku nai desu. – It’s not good.

Yokatta desu. – It was good.

Yoku nakatta desu. – It wasn’t good.

Yoku is one of the most commonly used adverbs and was already introduced in Lesson 1 as in

yoku wakarimasu, yoku tabemasu, etc. Yokatta desu nee is a common response to good news.

3-1-2 Adjective + Noun

In Lesson 2, you saw two ways of extending a noun into a noun phrase. One way is to modify a noun by another, as in the sequence /X no Y/ in the phrase Amerika no kaisha ‘American company.’ Another example is the kono-sono-ano-dono group that precedes a noun, as in ano kaisha ‘that company’. These two ways can be combined as in kono Amerika no kaisha ‘this American company.’

Adjectives can directly modify a noun to make a noun phrase (no need for the particle no).

takai keitai expensive cellphone

takaku nai keitai cellphone that is not expensive

It’s possible to combine more than one adjective or other modifying elements to extend a noun phrase.

chiisai takai keitai small, expensive cellphone

kono Amerika no chiisai takai keitai this small, expensive American cellphone

Note that all the modifying elements occur before the main noun, and that the particle no must be attached to a noun modifier wherever it occurs. The order of modifying elements is rather free, unlike in English, where there are certain restrictions.

chiisai takai kono Amerika no keitai this small, expensive American cellphone

kono watashi no keitai this cellphone of mine

watashi no kono keitai this cellphone of mine

3-1-3 arimasu ‘there is X’

The verb arimasu means ‘there is’ or ‘I have’. It indicates inanimate existence such as objects, plants, ideas, events, etc. A different verb is used for people and animals and will be introduced later. There are two negative forms for arimasu: arimasen and nai desu. The latter is less formal.

As we have seen so far, nai desu is part of the negative forms for noun and adjective sentences. Arimasen can substitute for nai desu in these forms and sounds a little more elegant.

Sumaho ja nai desu.Sumaho ja arimasen. It’s not a smartphone.

Takaku nai desu.Takaku arimasen. It’s not expensive.

Similarly, the Past form arimasen deshita can substitute for nakatta desu.

Sumaho ja nakatta desu. Sumaho ja arimasen deshita. It wasn’t a smartphone.

Takaku nakatta desu.Takaku arimasen deshita. It wasn’t expensive.

The chart below shows all the forms including these alternatives.

Table 6. All the past forms of “arimasen” – affirmative and negative – as a verb sentence, noun sentence, and adjective sentence.

Affirmative – Non-past

Negative – Non-past

Verb Sentence


Nai desu. Arimasen.



Nihon desu.

Nihon ja nai desu.

Nihon ja arimasen

Adjective Sentence

Takai desu.

Takaku nai desu. Takaku arimasen.

Affirmative – Past

Negative – Past

Verb Sentence


Nakatta desu. Arimasen deshita.



Nihon deshita.

Nihon ja nakatta desu.

Nihon ja arimasen deshita.

Adjective Sentence

Takakatta desu.

Takaku nakatta desu. Takaku arimasen deshita.

 Table 7. All the non-past forms of “arimasen” – affirmative and negative – as a verb sentence, noun sentence, and adjective sentence.

Note the difference between the following sentences.

Kaisha ja arimasen / Kaisha ja nai desu. It’s not a company. (Identity)

Kaisha wa arimasen / Kaisha wa nai desu. There is no company. (Existence)

Drills and Exercises


Listen to the audio. Following the first two model exchanges, respond to each cue.


Cue: 高いですか。 Takai desu ka. Is it expensive? Headphones


Response: いえ、安いですよ。 Iie, yasui desu yo. No, it’s cheap, I assure you.


Cue: 安いですか。Yasui desu ka. Is it cheap?


Response: いえ、高いでよ。 Iie, takai desu yo. No, it’s expensive, I assure you.


Cue: いいですか。Ii desu ka. Is it all right? Headphones

Response: いいえ、あまりよくないです。 Iie, amari yoku desu. No, it’s not very good.


Cue: 安いですか。Yasui desu ka. Is it cheap?


Response: いいえ、あまり安くないです。Iie, amari yasuku desu. No, it’s not very cheap.


Cue: アパートですか。Apaato desu. Is it an apartment? Headphones

Response: いいえ、アパートじゃありません。

Iie, apaato ja arimasen. No, it’s not an apartment.


Cue: 安いですか。 Yasui desu ka. Is it cheap?


Response: いいえ、安くありません。Iie, yasuku arimasen. No, it’s not cheap.


Cue: あれ、高かったですか。Headphones

Are, takakatta desu ka. Was that expensive?

Response: いえ、高くなかったですよ。

Ie, takaku nakatta desu yo. No, it wasn’t.

Cue: あれ、新しかったですか。

Are, atarashikatta desu ka? Was that new?

Response: いえ、新しくなかったですよ。

Ie, atarashiku nakatta desu yo. No it wasn’t.

E. Say it in Japanese.

You’ve been asked your opinion about an apartment.

  1. Let me see…isn’t it big?
  2. It’s a little old. Aren’t there any new apartments?
  3. It’s not very expensive, but I wonder if it might not be small.
  4. I saw it yesterday. It was nice.
  5. There are many small apartments, but big ones are scarce, aren’t they?

F. Act in Japanese with a partner.

  1. Ms. Honda is checking apartment listings. Ask if there is anything good.
  2. Ms. Honda has recently moved into a new apartment. Find out how she likes it.
  3. At a store, you saw a nice bag, but it’s small. Get the attention of a clerk and ask if there is a big one.
  4. A co-worker just broke great news to you. Respond.
  5. Ms. Honda went to see an apartment yesterday. Ask her a) how it was, b) if it was good, c) if it wasn’t old.
  6. You’ve been asked about your a) apartment, b) school, c) company. Describe.




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