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Easy Japanese, Lesson 4, Post Position Particles and the State of Being Verbs

A concept arises when studying Japan that you only find you must study if you don’t already speak Korean or Chinese. It is the post position particles. “Post” is exactly what it means, it comes after. “Particle” is also exactly what it means, it is small, like an English article. English articles are: a, an, and the, but there is no equivalent for these articles in Japanese. They have another concept for what their particles are for. The particles are similar to the articles, but not exactly. You know that if you want to talk about a specific thing in English, you use “the.” You also know that if it is not specific, but there is only one, you use “a,” and if the noun or adjective it comes before begins with a vowel, you must use “an.” There is no such distinction in Japanese. Here are the distinctions:

Post Position Particles:

  1. After a subject, put は. If you memorized your hiragana, you will be thinking this is pronounced: “ha,” however, if it is a post position particle, it is pronounced: “wa.”
  2. You can also use が (ga) after a subject or a direct object if you are putting emphasis on that subject or direct object.
  3. Usually, after a direct object, use を which you recognize from the hiragana as “o” or “wo.” Usually, as the post position particle, it is pronounced: “o.” If you want to pub more emphasis on this direct object, and I said, use が (ga).
  4. If you want to say “and” in Japanese, and so having a compound subject or compound direct object, use と (to). Example: 女と男はうちへ行きました。(onna to otoko wa uchi e ikimashita) = The man and the woman went home. おんな (onna) means “woman.” おとこ (otoko) means “man.” They form a compound subject, and in English are joined with “and.” In Japanese, they are also a compound subject, and they are joined with と (to), and you still use that は (wa) after おとこ (okoko) (man). You can only use と (to) between two nouns.
  5. Next, the prepositions come after the noun or object of the preposition instead of before like in English. In the sentence in number 4, うちへ (uchi e) means (to the house) or (to home). Yes, you recognize へ (he) as a hiragana, and as a preposition, it is not pronounced “he.” It is pronounced: “e,” simple the short “e” sound when used for “to,” the preposition. へ (he or e) means “to” or “at,” There is another preposition that means the same thing. It is: に (ni). You can replace へ with に, and it means the same thing. We will talk more about different prepositions later. It is enough for you to know the preposition also comes after the object of the preposition.

State of Being Verbs:

There are two basic state of being verbs in Japanese. They are: です (desu) and あります (arimasu). These verbs are used to identify things. However, あります and です are slightly different. If there is no direct object, use です. If you want to say “there is,” “there are, ” or even “have” or “has,” you can use あります。There is also another state of being verb that is used when you are talking about people: います。(imasu). It is used in place of あります. If you want to negate these, for です or あります, you can say では ありません (dewa arimasen). There are more ways to negate, but I will tell you later. This is very basic. You can still use です or あります when talking about people. Here are some examples:

これは ほん です (kore wa hon desu.) = This is a book.

ほんが あります(hon ga arimasu) = There is a book. (It may also mean: I have a book, you have a book, he or she has a book, we have a book, or they have a book, according to context.) If you notice, I used が (ga) after ほん (hon) which means “book.” You need to use a post position particle before あります, but never before です。

わたしはせんせいです。(watashi wa sensei desu.) = I am a teacher. (Since you used です, you don’t need a post postion particle after せんせい(sensei) (teacher).)

せんせいが います.(sensei ga imasu) = There is a teacher. (Here, since I used います, I need to put a post position particle after せんせい (sensei). )

If I introduce myself, I simply have to say: わたしはロンダです。(watashi wa Ronda desu.) which means “I am Ronda.” わたし (watashi) is a basic pronoun. If you put わたしは (watashi wa), it is the subject, “I.” If you put わtしを.(watashi wo) it is the direct object, “me.” If you use as the object of the preposition, it also becomes “me.” I wrote my name in katakana:ロンダ (Ronda) because my name is not a Japanese word.

ロンダはせんせいです. (Ronda wa sensei desu.) = Ronda is a teacher. (There is no “a” in this sentence in Japanese, and remember, in Japanese, the main verb always comes last. The subject comes first, and everything else goes between them.)

ロンダは べんごし では ありません (Ronda wa bengoshi dewa arimasen) = Ronda is not a lawyer.

わたしは べんごし では ありません (watashi wa bengoshi de wa arimasen) = I am not a lawyer.

これは ペン です (kore wa pen desu.) = This is a pen. (ペン (pen) is also written in katakana because they use the English word for “pen.” You are identifying the pen, so just use です (desu).

これは ペン では ありません (kore wa pen dewa arimasen) = This is not a pen.

Well, I keep trying to think of more good information to give you, but I don’t want to give you too much and confuse you or make it too hard to study. Now, try to introduce yourself to someone in Japanese. Pick up a book and say: これは ほん です(kore wa hon desu.)= This is a book. Pick up a pen, and say: これはペンです (kore wa pen desu.) = This is a pen. Pick up a book and say: これはペンではありません (kore wa pen deha arimasen) = This is not a pen. Then, pick up a pen and say: これは ほん では ありません (kore wa hon dewa arimasen.)= This is not a book. There was a big sign out in front of the university where I studied Japanese, and it said, “Practice, practice, practice.” That is the only way to learn anything, just keep practicing.

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