Home Japanese Language Japanese Sentence Construction: A Newbie’s Information to Forming Japanese Sentences

Japanese Sentence Construction: A Newbie’s Information to Forming Japanese Sentences

Japanese Sentence Construction: A Newbie’s Information to Forming Japanese Sentences


japanese sentence structure

So that you’ve discovered some Japanese vocabulary.

Now, how do you string it into coherent sentences?

You’ll must study Japanese phrase order, appropriate particle utilization and the omnipresent です (“desu”).

This fast introduction will assist you determine how you can get began with Japanese sentence construction.


The Japanese Topic-Object-Verb (SOV) Construction

Japanese sentences observe an SOV format.

SOV means “subject-object-verb.” Which means the topic comes first, adopted by object or objects, and the sentence ends with the verb. You’ll see a number of examples of this all through this text.

Let’s have a look at an instance:

Jimbo — an apple — eats
(Jimbo eats an apple.)

“Jimbo” is the topic, “eats” is the verb and “an apple” is the article. This sentence follows the SOV method.

The Japanese Copula, です

If you happen to’ve ever heard somebody converse Japanese, be it in actual life or on TV, you’ve nearly actually come throughout the Japanese phrase です.

です is without doubt one of the most elementary phrases within the Japanese language, actually that means “to be” or “is.” Many consider it as only a formality marker, but it surely serves all kinds of features.

です is a copula, that means that it connects the topic of the sentence with the predicate, thus creating an entire sentence. Essentially the most fundamental Japanese sentence construction is “A は B です” (A is B).

My title is Amanda.

He’s American.

です additionally serves to mark the top of a sentence, taking the place of a verb. Additionally, です by no means comes on the finish of sentences which have verbs ending in ます.

Tom likes tea.

Tom drinks tea.

Previous Tense with でした

When describing one thing that occurred up to now, です turns into でした.

The examination was simple.

Yesterday was my birthday.

Ranges of Formality of です

As with many phrases in Japanese, です is available in totally different ranges of ritual: だ, です, である and でございます:

  • です is the fundamental well mannered kind and can be most helpful in on a regular basis dialog.
  • だ is present in informal speech amongst mates or household.
  • である is utilized in formal written Japanese, comparable to in newspapers. 
  • でございます is essentially the most formal kind, used when talking to your superior or somebody necessary.

If you happen to’re at a loss for which kind to make use of, simply stick to です. The individual you’re speaking to will know you’re making an attempt to be well mannered!

Japanese Verb Placement

As I simply stated, Japanese verbs have solely two tenses: previous and non-past.

Like English, you kind the previous tense by altering the top of the verb.

I ran to the shop.

Mayu studied final evening.

Alice made cookies.

Not like English, Japanese verbs are extremely common.

Japanese Verb Classes

Many may be divided into two classes: う verbs and る verbs. It’s necessary to know the distinction between the 2, as they conjugate in a different way.

Every verb additionally is available in a dictionary kind and a well mannered kind—the dictionary kind is used for informal speech, or when you’re making an attempt to look it up in, nicely, a dictionary.

う verbs are verbs which finish within the sound う, ある, うる or おる of their dictionary types. They change into well mannered while you drop the う and exchange it with います.

  • 話す/話します (はなす/はなします, to speak)
  • 行く/行きます (いく/いきます, to go)
  • 飲む/飲みます (のむ/のみます, to drink)
  • 作る/作ります (つくる/つくります, to make)

Verbs ending within the sound いる and える are nearly all the time る verbs. る verbs change into well mannered by dropping the る and changing it with ます。

  • 食べる/食べます (たべる/たべます, to eat)
  • 見る/見ます (みる/みます, to see)
  • 起きる/起きます (おきる/おきます, to stand up)

There are solely two considerably irregular verbs, する (to do) and くる (to come back). Their well mannered types are します and きます, respectively.

Japanese Verb Negations

Unfavorable types are additionally made by altering the top of the verb, which varies relying on the verb sort. As an example:

  • For う verbs, exchange the う sound with あない.
  • For る verbs, drop る and exchange it with ない. する turns into しない, and くる turns into こない.

You may study far more about negating Japanese verbs right here.

Utilizing Verbs to Specific Nuances

Though there are solely two tenses, verbs in Japanese change to precise nuances. Japanese sentence construction is a sort that’s referred to as agglutinative.

It is a fancy phrase utilized by linguists which suggests, in layman’s phrases, “You add a bunch of stuff to the top of verbs.” Every verb has a root kind that ends with てor で.

You may add to those root kind endings to offer extra that means. However this isn’t actually important for making simple Japanese sentences, so we’ll go over it for now.

Japanese Publish-positions

Whereas English has prepositions, Japanese has post-positions.

Prepositions are phrases that present relationships between components of a sentence, comparable to “to,” “at,” “in,” “between,” “from” and so forth. 

They arrive earlier than nouns in English. However in Japanese, they observe nouns. へ means “to,” so this subsequent sentence is actually, “Spain to went.”

I went to Spain.
すぺいん いきました。

Within the subsequent instance, 彼女 means “her,” so what you’re saying is “her from” fairly than “from her.” 

Did you hear from her?
かのじょから ききましたか?

Japanese Particles

In the identical vein as post-positions, Japanese has little grammatical items referred to as particles.

Japanese particles come immediately after the noun, adjective or sentence they modify, and are essential to understanding the that means of what’s being conveyed.

There are dozens of particles in Japanese, however we’ll cowl 9 widespread ones: は, が, を, の, に, へ, で, も and と.

は (matter marker)

marks the subject of the sentence, and may be translated as “am,” “is,” “are” and “as for.” Take word that although it makes use of the character for ha, it’s truly pronounced wa.

I am a scholar.

The pen is black.

In these sentences, 私 (わたし, I) and ペン (pen) are marked by は, making all the info that follows immediately pertaining to 私 and ペン, respectively.

が (topic marker)

signifies in addition to emphasizes the topic of the sentence, the one performing the motion. As well as, it might probably be part of sentences as a “however,” and serves because the default particle for query sentences.

That hen is singing.

Who can be coming?

Yuta studied overseas in China (emphasis on Yuta)

は and が are two particles that may be simple to get combined up, so listed below are some ideas for holding them straight:

は is a basic topic, whereas が is extra particular. は can be used as a distinction marker in sentences with が, to indicate that there’s some form of distinction between the 2 topics:

My little sister doesn’t like cats, however she likes canines.

を (object marker)

reveals the direct object of a sentence, that means that it signifies that the verb is doing one thing or the verb is being accomplished to the article. It follows nouns and noun phrases.

I eat greens.

Tonight, he’ll make dinner.

Within the first sentence, “greens” are the article, and “eat” is the motion being accomplished to them. The identical goes for “dinner” and “make” within the second sentence.

の (possession marker)

serves as a possessive particle, marking one thing as belonging to one thing else. It additionally serves as a generic noun, that means “this one.”

That’s the instructor’s bag.

I wish to purchase the yellow one.

に (time and motion marker)

is the motion and time particle, which reveals the place in direction of which a factor strikes when accompanied by a shifting verb.

It additionally signifies locations and locations the place one thing exists when it’s accompanied by いる/ある. It may well translate as “to,” “in/at” or “for.”

Yukako got here to the movie show.

There’s a bench in the park.

へ (course and vacation spot marker)

is a directional particle just like に, however used completely for marking locations. へ emphasizes the course wherein one thing is heading. It’s additionally learn as e regardless of being spelled he.

I went to the restaurant.

When indicating course, に and へ are sometimes interchangeable, whereas へ is rarely used as “for/at.”

で (location and means marker)

can have a number of meanings, relying on the context. It may well designate the situation of an motion, present the means by which an motion is carried out or join clauses in a sentence.

Shigeo went procuring on the division retailer.

I got here to Canada by aircraft.

That individual is known and sort.

も (similarity marker)

, which interprets as “additionally/too,” is used to state similarities between details. It comes after a noun, changing the particles は and が.

Each rice and bread are tasty.

Erika’s interest is mountaineering. My interest can be mountaineering.

On the same word, saying 私もです (わたしもです, me too) is sufficient to present that you just agree with what somebody stated.

と (noun connector)

is used to make an entire checklist of nouns. It corresponds to “and.”

That retailer sells sandwiches and occasional.

She went to the films with Brad and Connor.

Japanese Adjective Placement

Like in English, adjectives come earlier than nouns in Japanese. A blue automobile in English continues to be a blue automobile in Japanese, however as a substitute, you’d say 青い車 (あおいくるま).

There are two forms of Japanese adjectives: い adjectives and な adjectives. The distinction is of their conjugation.

い adjectives finish within the character い, comparable to 面白い (おもしろい, attention-grabbing) and 難しい (むずかしい, troublesome). The exception is phrases ending in えい, like きれい (stunning), that are な adjectives.

い Adjectives

adjectives come immediately earlier than the noun that they modify.

Cute cat

Sluggish bus

“Costly shirt”

な Adjectives

な adjectives, with a couple of exceptions just like the aforementionedえい ending, don’t finish in い. Whereas they go earlier than nouns identical to い adjectives, the character な is positioned between the adjective and the noun.

Form instructor

Impolite youngster

Protected city

Modifying Japanese Adjectives

One factor that’s a little bit tough is that い adjectives change to precise unfavorable or previous tense. That is accomplished by dropping the ultimate い within the phrase and tacking on modifiers. As an example:

The phrase for chilly is 寒い (さむい) however when you’re speaking about yesterday being chilly, you’d say 寒かった (さむかった). If it’s not chilly, you’d say 寒くない (さむくない).

な adjectives are modified precisely like nouns. For instance:

The phrase 静か (しずか) means quiet. To say one thing was quiet, you’d say 静かだった (しずかだった), and to say it’s not quiet, you’d say 静かではない (しずかではない) or 静かじゃない (しずかじゃない).

Like verbs, these changeable adjectives are additionally agglutinating, which suggests you possibly can add stuff to them.

Japanese Query Construction

Lastly, questions are a lot simpler to kind in Japanese than in English. To ask a sure or no query, you merely tack on か on the finish of the sentence.

Is he a pleasant individual?

For what we’d name the “Wh- questions” in English, you merely substitute the query phrase usually:

What did you eat?

I ate octopus.

The place is he?

He’s on the home.

Inferred Topics in Japanese

By now, you’ve in all probability observed that the topic disappears from the sentence very often. It is a explicit quirk of the Japanese language the place the topic is inferred at any time when doable.

However there are hints that let you know what or who you’re speaking about. It truly works the identical means as pronouns in English. For instance:

My father is a instructor. He teaches on the college. On weekends, he barbecues and drinks beer. He likes soccer however he doesn’t like baseball.

The best way I see it, Japanese does the identical factor however goes one step additional—the topic disappears utterly. On this subsequent instance, it’s inferred that the speaker is referring to himself:

わたしは せんせいです。えいごをおしえています。
I’m a instructor. Educate English.

Breaking Japanese Sentence Construction Guidelines

Though technically the verb all the time comes on the finish of a Japanese sentence, this isn’t all the time the case. Not like in English, the sentence construction may be very free.

In writing, you’d stick with the precise grammatical guidelines; in talking folks typically break the foundations and put components of the sentence wherever they see match.

For instance, if you wish to say, “I ate fried hen,” the grammatically appropriate Japanese sentence could be:

わたしは ふらいどちきんをたべた。
I — fried hen — ate

However in informal, on a regular basis dialog, you possibly can transfer the components round and it’s no downside:

Ate — fried hen

Fried hen — ate — I

However every of the above utterances means the identical factor. In English, it will be mighty unusual when you stated this.

For the needs of studying fundamental Japanese sentence construction, nevertheless, stick with Topic-Object-Verb. That’s correct Japanese and you’ll study the extra informal types of speech later.


A great way to recollect the sentence construction is by exposing your self to the language as a lot as you possibly can.


As an example, you need to use an immersive program like FluentU to look at genuine Japanese movies, comparable to film clips, commercials, talks and music movies, making it simple to see how sentences are fashioned.

Every video additionally comes with interactive subtitles, customized quizzes, a downloadable transcript and the choice to avoid wasting any phrase as a flashcard.

With a little bit of endurance and follow, you’ll quickly be in your approach to talking pure Japanese!