Lesson 2: Useful Expressions

Read this page briefly and spend most of your time on the drill exercise for quick memorization.

Expressions

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How are you?
Are you well?
Yes, I'm well.
No, I'm not well.
Yes, I'm very well.
So so.

genki: well

"o" in front of genki is a prefix which makes the word more polite.

Genki desu.: I'm well.

Genki dewa (ja) arimasen.: I'm not well.

"ja arimasen" sounds more casual, and is used more in daily conversation.

Informal: Genki?

Understand?
Do you understand?
Yes, I understand.
No, I don't understand.
I understand a little.
Do you understand Japanese?
Do you understand English?

wakaru: to understand, to know

Wakari masu.: I understand.

Wakari masen.: I don't understand.

Wakari mashita.: I understood. (I got it. All right.)

[Nihongo] ga wakari masu.: I understand [Japanese].

ga: Particle which comes after the object. Used with the verb "wakaru".

Please. (to request)
Please.
One more time, please.
Slowly please.
Menu please.

Used to ask some favor.

[Menyū] o onegaishimasu.: [Menu] please.

o: Particle which comes after the object.

Please. (to offer)

Please.

Used to offer something. (Here you are. After you. etc.)

Wait!
One moment, please.

chotto: a little

matte kudasai: Please wait.

Informal: Chotto matte.

What?
What is it?
What's this? (in speaker's hand)
What is it? (in the listener's hand)
What's that? (in the sky)

[Kore] wa nan desuka?: What is [this]?

wa: Particle which comes after the subject.

kore: this (something close to you - the speaker)

sore: it (close to the person you are talking to - the listener)

are: that (some distance away from the both)

nan (nani): what

You will learn more in the lesson 3.

What time?
What time is it?
What time is the departure?
What time is the arrival?

[Shuppatsu] wa nanji desuka?: What time is [the departure]?

You will learn more in the lesson 4.

Where?
Where is it?
Where is the toilet?

[Toire] wa doko desuka?: Where is [the toilet]?

You will learn more in the lesson 5.

Is there...?
Do you have? Is there?
Do you have vegetarian dishes?
Is there an internet cafe?

[Bejitarian ryōri] wa ari masuka?: Do you have [vegetarian dishes]?

[Intānetto kafe] wa ari masuka?: Is there [an internet cafe]?

You will learn more in the lesson 6.

How much?
How much is it?
How much is a double room?

[Kore] wa ikura desuka?: How much is [this]?

You will learn more in the lesson 7.

Why?
Why is it?

Informal: Naze? Dōshite? Nande?

You will learn more in the lesson 9.

OK?
Are you all right?
Yes, I'm all right.

Informal: Daijōbu?

You will learn more in the lesson 10.

Basic Rules

The following rules are very simplified. Please note that there are some exceptions.

Word Order

Usually, the subject is placed at the beginning, and the verb at the end of the sentence.

Watashi wa Nihongo ga wakarimasu. I / Japanese / understand

The subject (sometimes the object too) of the sentence is usually omitted when it can be clearly known from the context.

(Anata wa) eigo ga wakari masuka? Do (you) understand English?

Particles (joshi)

Particles (joshi in Japanese) are usually attached after a word to indicate the function of that word.

For example, "wa" in the following sentence indicates that "watashi (I)" is a subject, and "ga" indicates that "Nihongo (Japanese)" is an object of the verb "wakarimasu (understand)".

Particles
Watashi wa Nihongo ga wakarimasu.

I understand Japanese.

Each particle has different functions and meanings. And some are used with the particular verbs.

When you are not sure which particle should be used, you can try to say without it like "Watashi, Nihongo, Wakarimasu.". In most cases, people will understand if the word order is correct.

Sentence Forms

You can easily make different forms by changing the end of the sentence. Word order stays the same.

Affirmative

Affirmative sentences normally end with "desu" or "masu".

You can assume that the sentences with the verb "be" (am, is, are...) end with "desu". And the sentences with other verbs end with "masu".

Genki desu. I am well.
Wakari masu. I understand.

Negative

Change "desu" into "dewa arimasen" or "ja arimasen". "ja" sounds more casual, and is used more often in daily conversation.

Change "masu" into "masen".

Genki dewa (ja) arimasen.

I am not well.
Wakari masen. I don't understand.

Question (Interrogative)

To make a question sentence, add "ka" at the end of the sentence.

This "ka" is pronounced with a rising intonation.

(O) Genki desuka? Are you well?
Genki dewa (ja) arimasenka? Aren't you well?
Wakari masuka? Do you understand?
Wakari masenka? Don't you understand?
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Communication Tips

You would probably be shocked when you come to Japan and realize that the most people don't speak English.

The main reason is that what they learn in school is mostly grammatical rules and they are not trained to use it for the actual communication.

If your Japanese doesn't work, you can try to speak in English simply and slowly. Or people would understand more if you write it down on a paper.

The good news is that many nouns especially for the name of foods or drinks are English (with a bit different pronunciation). The basic rules you learn in this course plus some extra vocabulary should work pretty well.

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Drill Exercise

Drill. A Drill. B Drill. C
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逢いたくていま
[aitakute ima]
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