Duolingo Japanese Walkthrough (Part 3)
Introduction two in Duolingo provides us the chance to expand on the foundations we had learned throughout Introduction one. Learn more Japanese particles, how to modify statements, and more essential Japanese phrases. The examples in this guide will be written in the following formats.
- K: Kana (kanji, katakana).
- H: Hiragana.
- R: Romaji.
*See below for the overview of what's covered in this walkthrough.
- Making negative statements.
- Asking questions in Japanese.
- Japanese particles, mo (も), to (と), and no (の).
- Boku vs Watashi.
- Wa (は) vs Ga (が).
- Sentence enders (desu and masu).
- Stating names in Japanese, name orders.
- What is your name?
- How to say yes in Japanese.
- Asking how many people are there?
- Stating and asking what language you can speak.
- Asking and stating how are you?
JAPANESE SENTENCE ENDERS.
MASU (ます) - STATING AN ACTION.
Masu (ます) is used to end a sentence that states a current action. You will see masu (ます) tagged onto the end of a verb to complete a sentence. The previous sentence ender we had learned desu (です) cannot be added to actions or verbs. Desu (です) is simply used to make a statement, not to describe an action.
See example to compare desu (です) vs masu (ます).
|DESU (です) STATEMENT.||MASU (ます) ACTION.|
|I AM KYLE.|
R: Watashi wa Kyle (desu).
H: わたし は かいる (です).
|I CAN SPEAK ENGLISH.
R: Boku wa eigo ga hanase(masu).
H: ぼく は えいご が はなせ(ます).
KA (か) - ASKING QUESTIONS IN JAPANESE.
In Japanese, when you wish to turn a statement into a question simply add ka (か) to the end of your statement. Think of ka (か) as a question mark in the Japanese language. When reading a Japanese sentence, even if you don't yet understand anything, at least if you see ka (か) you know it’s a question.
|I AM FULL.|
R: onaka ga ippai desu.
H: おなか が いっぱい です.
|ARE YOU FULL?
R: onaka ga ippai desuka?
H: おなか が いっぱい です か.
HINT ON OMISSION
Notice the use of Omission here? This example phrase doesn’t state the subject, such as are YOU hungry. It just says stomach (お腹) + empty? In this context as I would be asking you this question, it’s already clear that you are the subject.
STATING JAPANESE NAMES (NAME ORDER).
JAPANESE NAME ORDER (LAST, FIRST).
One of the biggest challenges I came across within this section was translating a subject's name from Japanese to English. I couldn't first recognize that the first and last names are reversed between languages. In a Japanese sentence, last names are stated before the first, as opposed to English. Keep this in mind when reading a Japanese sentence or listening to a Japanese speaker. First comes the last name followed by the first.
One reason I had discovered for this that I found interesting was the following. In Japanese culture, family names are very significant towards reputation. Rather than being known as an individual within your family, your reputation was based on the actions of your entire family. Another explanation is that it’s simply more polite to refer to one’s last name when in formal situations.
JAPANESE - (LAST NAME), FIRST.
- MY NAME IS (JACKSON) MICHAEL.
- R: Watashi no namae wa (Jackson) Michael desu.
- K: 私の名前は (ジャクソン)・マイケルです.
- H: わたし の なまえ は (じゃくそん) まいける です.
ENGLISH - FIRST NAME, (LAST).
- MY NAME IS MICHAEL (JACKSON).
JAPANESE PARTICLES (の, も, と).
This section introduces new particles along with a complicated variation to the one we currently know, wa (は). These new particles are very fundamental markers in Japanese, understanding how they work will greatly help you understand Japanese particles in general. Let's review them now.
NO (の) - MINE, YOURS.
No (の) clarifies a possession, something one has. Such as to say this is mine, that is yours. When the No (の) particle is used to mark a subject, the following item now is understood to belong to that subject.
My (name) is Kyle.
- R: Boku no (namae) wa Kyle desu.
- K: 僕の(名前)はカイルです.
- H: ぼく の (なまえ) は かいる です.
That is my (sushi).
- Boku no (sushi) desu.
- K: 僕の(寿司)です。
- H: ぼく の (すし) です。
This is Chisa’s (tea).
- Chisa-san no (ocha) desu.
- K: 千紗さんの(お茶)です.
- H: ちさ さん の (おちゃ) です.
MO (も) - ALSO, ME TOO.
Mo (も) is basically the same as the English word also. Such as to say, I ALSO like tea, I ALSO went for a walk today, I ALSO am a student. The mo (も) particle is also used to say the phrase “Me too.”
Yes, I also am a student.
- R: hai, watashi mo gakusei desu.
- K: はい、私も学生です.
- H: はい、わたし も がくせい です.
I also like reading manga.
- R: watashi mo manga wo yomunoga suki desu.
- K: 私も漫画を読むのが好きです.
- H: わたし も まんが を よむ のが すき です.
- R: watashi mo.
- K: 私も.
- H:わたし も.
TO (と) - AND.
To (と) is similar to AND in the English language (pronounced the same as saying toe). The to (と) particle is used to list multiple items within a sentence, such as saying this AND that, please. This particle is a must if you wish to order off a Japanese menu. Who doesn't!?
Chisa can speak (Japanese) and (English).
- R: Chisa-san wa (nihongo) to (eigo) wo hanase masu.
- K: 千紗さんは(日本語)と(英語)を話せます.
- H: ちさ さん は (にほんご) と (えいご) を はなせ ます.
(This), (this), and (that) please.
- R: (kore) to, (kore) to, (sore) wo, kudasai.
- K: (これ)と(これ)と(それ)を下さい.
- H: (これ) と (これ) と (それ) を ください.
I like (sushi) and (natto).
- R: (sushi) to (natto) ga suki desu.
- K: (寿司)と(納豆)が好きです.
- H: (すし) と (なっとう) が すき です.
WA (は) OR GA (が).
WA (は) VS GA (が).
What is the difference between wa (は) and ga (が)? Duolingo has not quite gone into detail on this difference yet. So let me share some basic rules, I will also add a few tips provided by my Japanese Guide. There are more subtle changes between these two particles beyond what I can simply state here. These will be recognized over time, for now just keep these general rules in mind to get started and avoid getting too confused. No need for that!
WHEN TO USE WA (は)
*Only when there are other possible things as comparisons, options, or choices. See the following example to understand what I mean.
EX. Do you speak English?
This question implies there are one or more languages questioned. Such as when asking, you don’t speak Japanese so what about English?
See example one.
Example one - Do you speak English?
- R: Eigo wa hanase masuka?
- K: 英語は話せますか.
- H: えいご は はなせ ます か.
Used when stating something that is clearly true or factual.
See example two.
Example two - Today it is raining.
- R: Kyo wa, ame desu.
- K: 今日は雨です.
- H: きょう は あめ です.
*Only when there are other possible things as comparisons, options, or choices.
EX - I do not like busy trains.
This statement implies there are one or more comparisons such as.
- I generally enjoy riding on trains but not busy trains.
- She likes busy trains, but I do not like busy trains.
See example three.
Example three - I do not like busy trains.
- R: kondeiru densha wa suki dewa arimasen.
- K: 混んでいる電車は好きではありません.
- H: こんでいる でんしゃ は すき では ありません.
WHEN TO USE GA (が)
EMPHASIZING THE SUBJECT.
A basic rule shared in Duolingo was to use ga (が) in statements. Such as the phrase, I can speak English. However, this is not always the case. My understanding so far after a bit of research is ga (が) is used to emphasize the subject or distinguish it from others within a sentence. So when saying I speak ENGLISH this emphasizes that its the ENGLISH language, not any others. Again no need to get all worked up about completely understanding the difference between these two particles at our current level of Japanese, we will gain more understanding over time.
See example one.
I can speak English.
- R: Eigo ga hanase masu.
- K: 英語が話せます.
- H: えいご が はなせ ます.
STATING UNKNOWN SUBJECTS.
In the provided example phrase, (who) will come? The ga (が) particle is used to clarify a particular subject that is unknown such as who? If we said something like Chisa will be coming. In this case we would know that Chisa is the subject so we would use wa (は).
See example two.
(Who) will come?
- R: (Dare) ga kimasu ka?
- K: 誰が来ますか.
- H: だれ が き ます か.
This was just a fun one I wanted to include. If you ever need to blame someone in Japanese such as to say, who ate my onigiri!? Ga can be used (が).
See example three.
Who ate my onigiri!?
- R: Dare ga watashi no onigiri wo tabe mashita ka!?
- K: 誰が私のおにぎりを食べましたか.
- H: だれ が わたし の おにぎり を たべ ました か.
BOKU OR WATASHI
In introduction one we learned to say watashi (私) when referring to ourselves, such as to say “I”. This section now introduces the term Boku (僕). So what’s the difference between watashi (私) and boku (僕)? You may find the answer below.
Used to state “I” for anyone. Generally used by females for any formality, casual or formal. Males may also use this phrase when they wish to speak more formally.
Used to state “I” only for males. The formality level is midline so it can be casual yet also formal. However, in very formal situations like a business meeting or an event like a wedding or funeral, I would use watashi (私).
DEWA ARIMASEN (ではありません)
At this point, you are familiar with making positive statements using the sentence ender desu (です). Such as to say I am a student, I can speak English, or my name is Kyle. How can we take these simple positive statements using desu (です) and make them negative? Simple! All you need to do is replace desu (です) with its negative form dewa arimasen (ではありません).
- Desu (です) states - I am, or this is.
- Dewa arimasen (ではありません) states - I am NOT, or this is NOT.
R: Dewa arimasen
|I AM A STUDENT.|
R: Gakusei desu
H: がくせい です
|I AM NOT A STUDENT.
R: Gakusei dewa arimasen
H: がくせい では あり ません
|I AM A CANADIAN.|
R: Canada jin desu
H: かなだじん です
|I AM NOT A CANADIAN.
R: Canada jin dewa arimasen
H: かなだじん では ありません
WA (は) OR WA (わ)?
You may notice that in hiragana wa has two characters (は, わ). So, what wa is what!? How can you tell which one to use? See below.
WA VERSION ONE (は)
You will see は (ha) pronounced as (wa) only when written as a particle. It typically appears after a subject (noun). Also, as far as I can tell it is also written as (ha) to write all the basic Japanese greetings.
I am a Canadian (Particle format).
- R: Watashi (wa) Canada jin desu.
- K: 私はカナダ人です.
- H: わたし は かなだじん です.
- R: O(ha)you.
- H: お(は)よう.
- R: Konnichi(wa).
- H: こんにち(は).
- R: Konban(wa).
- H: こんばん(は).
WA VERSION TWO (わ)
Wa in this written form (わ) is used to write an adjective or a noun in most cases.
- R: Ka(wa)ii.
- H: か(わ)いい.
- R; Ko(wa)i.
- H: こ(わ)い.
- R: (Wa)tashi.
- H: (わ)たし.
PHRASES & VOCABULARY.
|What||Of Course, Certainly||Well, Good||Language||English Language||Japanese Language|
Stating Language Tips (語).
As go (語) means language, when stating any language in Japanese whatever location you mention before go (語) shows where the language is from.
- Ex. Japanese language (JAPAN) + GO (語)
- (日本) 語.
- Ex. Hawaiian language (HAWAII) + GO (語)
- (ハワイ) 語.
WHAT IS YOUR NAME?
Let's learn two ways to ask for someone’s name in Japanese.
- ONE, how it’s taught in Duolingo.
- TWO, the way my Japanese guide taught me.
TIP* - In the following examples, you will notice nani (なに) meaning what, spoken as nann (なん). When nani (なに) is used in a sentence before a sentence ender, counter, or a particle. It becomes nann (なん) instead of nani (なに).
(ONE) What is your name?
This version is more direct and can come across demanding, such as “give me your name.”
- (name) + (wa) + (what) + (question sentence ender?)
- R: Onamae wa nan desuka?
- K: お名前 は 何 ですか
- H: お なまえ は なん です か
(TWO) What is your name?
This version is more polite and kind sounding, such as “may I have your name?”
- (name) + (may I have)?
- R: Onamae wo itadake masu ka?
- K: お名前を頂けますか
- H: お なまえ を いただけ ます か
HOW TO SAY YES IN JAPANESE.
There are two ways to say yes in Japanese taught within this section. The casual method sounds very similar to no in Japanese, so be careful! I will show you how to say no as well below so you easily recognize how to avoid this common beginner mistake.
- Hai (はい).
- *This version is more formal and polite. I would use this version to be safe.
- i, (ええ) - Pronounced as (eh).
- *This version can sound slightly arrogant unless in a casual setting.
WARNING, DONT SAY NO!
- When using i, (ええ) to say yes be careful as this can easily be mistaken with NO in Japanese, iie (いいえ). Pronounced as ee-eh, the same as saying the letter E + eh.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE THERE?
This phrase is very easy to misunderstand by reading its Kanji within Duolingo. Kanji characters often contain multiple translations, so written like this, 何 人 ですか. This phrase can have two unique translations depending on the context in which it's read. The Kanji for a person (人) can be read as either.
- Person (Jin, じん).
- The counter for people (Nin, にん).
*If you wish to learn more about Japanese counters, see lesson references at the bottom of this post. Or just continue using Duolingo as we will learn these as we go.
TRANSLATION ONE - WHAT NATIONALITY ARE YOU?
- (what) + (person) + (are you?)
- R: Nani jin desuka?
- K: 何 人 ですか
- H: なに じん ですか
TRANSLATION TWO - HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE THERE?
- (what) + (counter for people) + (are there?)
- R: Nan-nin desuka?
- K: 何 人 ですか
- H: なんにん ですか
HOW ARE YOU?
Genki, (元気) means well, or good. When we use this phrase to form the question, how are you? In translation you are literally asking are you well? This question typically adds an O (お) in front of genki (元気) to express respect towards others.
See example one.
I AM WELL, I AM NOT WELL.
When it comes to responding this is very simple. If you are well you can respond with genki (元気) in a positive form using desu (です). If you are not well you would respond using a negative form, dewa arimasen (ではありません).
See examples two, three.
Before we conclude this phrase I'd like to demonstrate one more response using another phrase taught throughout this section. Mochiron (勿論), meaning of course.
See example four.
ONE - QUESTION
- R: Ogenki desuka?
- K: お元気ですか
- H: おげんきですか
TWO - YES, I AM WELL.
- R: Hai, Genki desu.
- K: はい, 元気です
- H: げんきです
THREE - NO, I AM NOT WELL.
- R: iie, Genki dewa arimasen.
- K: いいえ, 元気ではありません
- H: いいえ, げんきではありません
FOUR - OF COURSE, I AM WELL.
- R: Mochiron, genki desu.
- K: 勿論, 元気です
- H: もちろん, げんきです
I SPEAK (LANGUAGE)
Stating what language you speak is quite easy in Japanese. In the following examples, I will use Eigo (英語) meaning English as I speak English. Feel free to replace this with whatever language you speak.
I can speak (English).
- (Language) + (*ga) + (speak) + (masu sentence ender).
- R: (Eigo) ga Hanase Masu.
- K: (英語) が 話せます
- H: (えいご) が はなせます
* Notice how we are using the particle ga (が) rather than wa (は)? To keep things simple, keep in mind when stating what language you speak use ga (が) instead of wa (は).
WHAT (LANGUAGE) DO YOU SPEAK?
To turn the previous statement into a question. We need to modify two aspects.
- Swap particles, we need to switch the particle ga (が) to wa (は). As stated above wa (は) is used to ask a question when there are multiple options to choose between. In this case, languages.
- Add Ka (か) to the end of this statement to convert this phrase officially into a question.
|I CAN SPEAK ENGLISH.|
R: Eigo (ga) Hanase masu.
K: 英語 (が) 話せます
H: えいご (が) はなせます
|DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?
R: Eigo (wa) Hanase masu(ka).
K: 英語 (は) 話せます(か)
H: えいご (は) はなせます(か)
Congratulations on making it through this massive guide! This along with the previous introduction one section should now have established a solid understanding of the basics of the Japanese language. Although certain details may seem a bit unclear at the moment. As this is all still only the basics, you will continue to put all of these concepts to use as you continue to grow your knowledge in Japanese. Don't worry, soon this will all be second nature!
JAPANESE GUIDE TIPS.
Video times for each answer provided below.
Q: Does ka always need to be used when asking a question?
- A: located at (01:54).
Q: Why does the last name appear first in Japanese.
- A: located at (03:49).
Q: What is the difference between wa and ga?
- A: located at (05:30).
Q: What is the difference between masu and desu sentence enders?
- A: located at (08:28).
Q: How do you say yes in Japanese?
- A: located at (09:29).
Q: How to ask how many people are there in Japanese, what does this Kanji mean (人)?
- A: located at (10:50).
COMING UP NEXT - GREETINGS.
- Leave your comments or questions below.
- Share this series with others trying to learn Japanese.
- Keep up your hard work!
Arigatou Gozaimasu (ありがとうございます) for reading!