maandag 26 november 2012

Let's learn Japanese ~ Lesson 3: Grammar (1)

Hi everyone, I hope you all managed to learn the Kana by now, because you'll need them for this lesson. Today we're gonna start to learn some real grammar, so at the end of this lesson, you'll be able to introduce yourself and ask simple questions.

First, a little more theory.
The Japanese language is compromised of verbs, adjectives, nouns, adverbs, conjugations and particles.Particles are used to show the grammatical relation between words, to show the speaker's intention or to connect sentences.
Also, the Japanese language differentiate between impolite speech, known as くだけた and polite speech, known as 敬語 (けいご). Even in polite languages there are different degrees, namely 丁寧(ていねい)、尊敬(そんけい) and 謙譲(けんじょう). All these degrees of 敬語(けいご) are pretty confusing, I won't go into details right now. I'm merely giving this information to inform you I'll be teaching you 丁寧(ていねい) to start with, a neutral polite way to speak. As the lessons continue we'll also pay attention to the other 敬語(けいご) degrees and of course くだけた, the plain form.

For those who didn't notice yet. For example, if I write 敬語(けいご), than 敬語 is the word in Kanji and the bit between the brackets is the reading of that word I just wrote in Kanji. So 敬語 is read as けいご. Got that?
If you read Japanese texts, you'll often find little Kana written above or besides the Kanji to aid in reading. These are called 振り仮名(ふりがな).

Now, let's get started!

N1 は N2 です

1) は is a particle. It indicates that the word before it is the topic of the sentence.When used as a particle, you read it as わ.
2) Nouns used with です work as predicates. It indicates a judgment or assertion, but also conveys politeness towards the listener. です inflects when the sentence is negative or in the past tense. More about that later.

Let's take a look at some example sentences!

①わたし は マリア です。
①I am Maria.

②わたし は がくせい です。
②I am a student.

N1 は N2  じゃありますん

じゃありません is the negative form of です. It is the form used in daily conversation. Actually, じゃ is a shortened version of では. But, では is only used for formal speech or writing. De は in では is also read as わ.

More example sentcens!

わたし は ロビンさん じゃありません。
I am not Mr. Robin.

ロビン は がくせい じゃありません。
Mr. Robin isn't a student.


By adding か at the end of the sentence, it'll turn into a question. (A question ends with a rising intonation) The word order of the sentence doesn't change.

Let's see some examples!

ロビンさん は せんせい ですか。
...はい、ロビンさんは せんせい です。
Is Mr. Robin a teacher?
... Yes, Mr. Robin is a teacher.

ロビンさん は にほんじん ですか。
...いいえ、ロビン は アメリカじん です。
Is Mr. Robin Japanese?
...No, Mr. Robin is an American.

おまえ は だれ ですか。
...わたし は たなか です。
Who are you?
....I am Tanaka.


さん is added to the name of the listener or a third person. Never use it with your own name. さん is more or less equal to adding Mr. or Ms. in English before a name.
When referring to the listener, the word あなた or きみ (both meaning you) are not commonly used if you know the listeners name.


Because I can, here's some homework again. Except studying the grammar, I'd like all of you to learn the vocabulary list. Note that's not necessary to know how you write the words in Kanji, but it would be nice if you'd be able to recognize them and know their reading and meaning. I'll start using more and more Kanji (especially the easy ones) as the lessons move on, so better start memorizing them right from the start.
There's also a few example sentences. Please try to translate the Japanese sentence to English, and the English sentences to Japanese. If you'd like me to check them, please post them in a comment.


                               わたし                       I
                                    わたしたち              We
                                   あなた                       You
                               きみ                           You
あの人                       あのひと                   That person, he, she
皆さん                       みなさん                   Ladies and gentlemen, everyone
                               だれ                           Who

~さん                       suffix meaning Mr. or Ms.
~ちゃん                   suffix often added to child’s name
~くん                       suffix often added to boy’s name

~じん                       suffix meaning “a national of”

先生                            せんせい                   teacher, instructor (not used when referring to
one’s own job)
教師                           きょうし                   teacher, instructor
学生                           がくせい                   student
会社                           かいしゃ                   company
会社員                       かいしゃいん           company employee   
医者                           いしゃ                       medical doctor
研究者                       けんきゅうしゃ       researcher, scholar

~歳                           ~さい                       ~ years old
何歳                           なんさい                   How old

                                   はい                           Yes
                                   いいえ                       No

名前                           なまえ                       name

アメリカ                               USA
イギリス                               UK
インド                                   India
インドネシア                       Indonesia
韓国 (かんこく)           South Korea
タイ                                       Thailand
中国 (ちゅうごく)       China
ドイツ                                   Germany
日本 (にほん)               Japan
フランス                               France
ブラジル                               Brazil
スペイン                               Spain


English to Japanese
I am [your name].
I am [your age] years old.
I am a national of [choose country] .
Mr. Robin isn't a student.
Robin isn't Japanese.

Is Mr. Tanaka a company employee?
No, Mr. Tanaka is a doctor.

Japanese to English
たなかさん は  36歳 です。
わたし は オランダじん です。
ロビンさん は がくせい じゃありません。
わたし は せんせい じゃありません。
 ロビンさん は 誰 ですか。
あの人 は ロビンさん です。

Good luck! More grammar next time!

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