Basic Japanese

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Posted 3/6/09 , edited 3/6/09

Lesson 2

"Nouns "

Japanese nouns have no gender, no singular/plural, and no articles. ("the" and "a" etc.) For example, the word "tomodachi" can be "a friend," "the friend," "friends," or "the friends." Usually the context tells the particular meaning of a word.

"~ desu"

"~ desu (~です)" is equivalent to English "am," "are," or "is." Unlike English, it doesn't change its form according to the subject. "~ desu" always comes at the end of a sentence.

Watashi wa gakusei desu.
私は学生です。 I am a student.

Kochira wa Yamada-san desu.
こちらは山田さんです。 This is Ms. Yamada.

Watashitachi wa tomodachi desu.
私達は友達です。 We are friends.

When it is obvious to the other person what the topic is, it is generally omitted.

(Watashi wa) Hiroko desu.
(私は)ひろ子です。 I am Hiroko.
(Watashi wa) gakusei desu.
(私は)学生です。 I am a student.

The negative form of "~ desu (~です)" is "~ ja arimasen (~じゃありません)" or "~ dewa arimasen (ではありません)." "~ dewa arimasen" is more formal, and "~ ja arimasen" is common in casual conversation.

Gakusei dewa arimasen.
学生ではありません。 I am not a student.

Nihon-jin ja arimasen.
日本人じゃありません。 I am not Japanese.

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