Japanese Language, Lesson 2 (日本語)

I promised to teach you a little vocabulary and sentence structure to go with the hiragana in my last blog, so here you go.  I usually teach my language classes by speaking to students in Japanese and teaching them to respond to me, but since we can’t actually talk to one another here, I will present it and hope you read it out loud and try even though I am not there to hear.

black click pen on white paper
Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

kore wa penu desu.  (This is a pen.)これ は ぺン です。

Sore wa hon desu. (That is a book.) それ は 本 です。

Are wa hon desu. (That over there is a book.) あれ は 本 です。

Kore wa nan desuka? (What is this?) これ は なん ですか。

Sore wa nan desuka? (What is that?)  それ は なん ですか。

Are wa nan desuka? (What is that over there?) あれ は なん ですか。


Grammar explanations:

  1. In English, we only have “this” and “that,” but in Japanese, they have “this,” “that,” and “that over there.”  (これ、それ、あれ)
  2. In Japanese, always the verb comes last.
  3.  “wa” (は) is a subject marker.  Japanese sentences begin with the subject if they use a subject. However, sometimes the subject is left out.  Japanese use post position articles. Articles in English are “a, an, and the.”  However, the Japanese articles are not before the now, but after the noun, and they don’t mean the same thing. This “wa” (派)simply denotes the subject, and it is written with the letter “ha,” (は)but pronounced “wa.” (わ)
  4. There is more than one way to say “be, is, am, or are” in Japanese. This is one way. There is no difference between singular and plural like there is with
    “be, is, am, and are.”  This “desu” (です)verb identifies things and doesn’t take an article in front of it.
  5. In English, the word order changes if it changes from a sentence to a question. However, in Japanese the word order is the same between a question and a sentence.  To know that it is a question rather than a sentence, look at the end of the verb, the last word.  Question verbs end with “ka.”(か)
  6. Questions in English begin with the question words, but in Japanese, they don’t.  “nan” (なん)means “what.
  7. The computer has changed some of my hiragana above.  If you look at the word for ”pen” in Japanese, the letters are not hiragana, but katakana, the alphabet used for foreign words. (ペン)  If you look at the word for “book” in Japanese, they have changed it to Chinese character、本。 This program I am using is slightly cranky and doesn’t like to water Japanese down.


Kore wa nan desuka? これ は なん ですか。
  1.  Answer: ______________________________________________________________
、Sore wa nan desuka? それ は なん ですか。

2.  Answer: _____________________________________________________________________________

Are wa nan desuka? あれ は なん ですか。

3.  Answer: ________________________________________________________________________________

Kore wa nan desuka? これ は なん ですか。

4.  Answer: ________________________________________________________________________________

Sore wa nan desuka? それ は なん ですか。

5.  Answer:________________________________________________________________________________

Are wa nan desuka? あれ は なん ですか。

6.  Answer: ______________________________________________________________________________


  1. Sore wa penu desu. それ は ぺンです。
  2. Sore wa penu desu. それ は ペン です。
  3. Are wa penu desu. あれ は ぺン です。
  4. Sore wa hon desu.
  5. Sore wa hon desu.
  6. 6. Are wa hon desu.
    low angle view of pink flowers against blue sky
    Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

    Kore ha hana desu. これ は 花 です。This is a flower. Or, ”these are flowers.”

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